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First Poachers Convicted Under New State Law


WV Natural Resources Police Sgt. Gary Johnson with illegally killed buck in Preston Co. which cost the poachers a $1,000 replacement fee–previously the cost would have been $200.

The timing couldn’t have been worse for a pair of poachers in Preston County.  Natural Resources Police Officers arrested 22-year old Mike Chapman of Aurora and a Tucker County juvenile earlier this month.

The pair was eventually convicted of spotlighting, taking illegal wildlife, and carrying a loaded weapon in a vehicle.    Each carries stiff penalties, but the illegal killing of an eight-point buck in velvet was further enhanced by a new law enacted by the 2010 legislature which took effect a month before the violation.

"Before this law went into place we had a replacement fee, but it was only a 200-dollar replacement fee and that was assessed if it was a doe or a trophy buck," said Lt. Colonel Jerry Jenkins. "This past year the legislature put additional fees on people who are taking our trophy bucks illegally.   The cost is assessed on the size of the antlers."

Where a month earlier, the replacement fee would be $200, Chapman will have to pay $1,000 due to the new law.   The scale for assessing the replacement fees on big bucks is fairly steep.   Bucks with an antler spread of 14" to 16" is $1,000,  16"-18"–$1,500, 18" to 20"–$2,000, and over 20"–$2,500.   The total fine and replacement fee assessed agianst the culprits in the case was $2,414.

"I’m sure anytime it’s going to cost a person extra money it is a deterrent and does cut down on the illegal activity," said Jenkins.

West Virginia is one of the latest states to create the sliding fee scale for trophy bucks.  Other states have had the scale in place for several years and some have significantly higher fees than West Virginia.

Jenkins says the DNR’s Natural Resources Police make 20 to 30 arrests every year for illegally killed big bucks, most of those in the southern coalfield counties where hunting with firearms is prohibited.  He says the number of illegally killed trophy bucks which aren’t discovered is likely much, much higher. 

"We want the trophy resource to be out there for hunters who are buying hunting license and legally harvesting these animals," said Jenkins. "Not have somebody out there before the season stealing this resource."



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