Thursday, June 2, 2016

Bargain Bear

Black Bear in Missouri- Noppadol Paothong- MDC
"A man who earlier this month killed a black bear in Jefferson County and tossed the head and hide into a creek paid more in court costs than the $99.50 fine he received." His final bill including court costs was $203.
That is the opening line of a story in today's News-Leader.  Before you read further, read the newspaper story.

Now lets do some comparison shopping, considering that we do not have a hunting season and have an estimated 300-350 bears.
  • Arkansas has an estimated bear population of 5,000.  A non-resident hunting license in Arkansas which includes bear is $350. 
  • Minnesota has an estimated black bear population of 20,000.  A non-resident bear hunting license in Minnesota is $230 but of course you would have travel expenses, etc.
It is illegal to kill a black bear in Missouri unless it is threatening a human or livestock or damaging property.  This case with a cost of $203 seems to make poaching a bargain.  The maximum fine in Missouri is $1,000 and a year in jail but that all goes away if you plead guilty to poaching.  Let's compare that to our neighbors, Iowa and Kansas, as reported in another News-Leader article. 
  • "Kansas recently implemented a trophy poaching law that bases its fines on the size of a deer or elk's antlers. An illegally killed deer whose antlers scored 200 inches could cost a poacher up to $20,000, while an elk with antlers scoring 350 inches would set a poacher back as much as $45,000."
  • "Like Missouri, Iowa can seek civil penalties in county courts for poaching cases. But it also sets costly restitution fines for some of its game animals. Restitution fines for a deer with antlers that score more than 150 inches, for example, range from $5,000 to $10,000 with community service, or up to $20,000 if the poacher declines to do community service."
If you read the article at the top of the page you know that this case was even more egregious.  (If you didn't read it, shame on you - go back to the start.)  A bill proposed by State Representative Linda Black never made it out of committee this year.
"Under Black's bill, anyone who illegally killed an elk or black bear in Missouri would face an additional fine of $3,500. Killing a turkey illegally could cost an extra $750, while taking a deer illegally could add $1,500 to whatever civil penalty a local judge might order. "
 I think you will agree that at $203, that was a bargain bear.


  1. Bargain Bear reminds me of another term, Utility Bird, both which connote low value. Laws without consequence of hefty fines and restitution, incarceration, and community service, do little to change the perception of value for all wildlife.

  2. After reading the News Leader's article I was dumb founded. Why Missouri would apply such small fines on an illegal kill is beyond me.
    But then to learn Rep. Black's bill to increase the fines never came to a vote because House Agriculture Policy Chairman Jay Houghton, wouldn't let it is astonishing! Houghton should be ashamed.