Thinking about doing a little spotlighting, also known as poaching? If you get caught - and in all likelihood, you will - be prepared to pay big bucks to the state.
That's because recent changes in state law have increased the penalties associated with illegally shooting whitetail deer. A front-page story last week in The Mining Journal penned by Staff Writer John Pepin had details.
Pepin wrote that the new laws include a progressive penalty system, which affects restitution for poaching antlered bucks. For poaching any deer, with or without antlers, the base restitution will be $1,000. Poaching an antlered deer will increase the restitution by another $1,000.
In addition to the restitution, poaching of any antlered deer with 8 to 10 points, another $500 fine will be assessed for each point and an additional $750 for each point for deer with 11 or more points.
In addition to the restitution, poachers will be subject to fines and court costs, Pepin noted.
Extended periods of lost hunting privileges will also be levied against poachers under the new laws.
The new laws also increase the civil damage award landowners may recover from recreational trespassers.
Previously, the maximum amount a landowner could recover from someone who trespasses to hunt or engage in other recreational activity was $250 or actual property damages. Under the new law, the civil action increases to $750 or actual property damages.
There is a temptation to grab a gun and light and just head for the woods. We hope area residents resist the temptation and opt to play by the rules.