Poaching cases increase in Nevada County
NEVADA COUNTY “-Poaching is on the rise in Nevada County, but a bill working its way through the legislature may give law enforcement more teeth for fighting bear poachers.
Six cases involving the illegal poaching of deer are pending in Nevada County, said Jerry Karnow, a Fish and Game warden who patrols both Nevada and Sierra counties. Deer season ended six weeks ago yet wardens continue to go out on nightly patrols looking for poachers.
“I’ve investigated more poaching cases in the last couple months then I have in the last several years. It has been significantly bad,” Karnow said.
Statewide, the number of extreme poaching cases have also increased, said warden Patrick Foy.
“These cases are characterized by excessive killing of fish and wildlife species and repeat poaching offenders undeterred by prior poaching convictions,” according to Fish and Game.
“These kinds of poaching cases used to be once in a warden’s career,” Foy said.
Locally, poachers are largely driven by the opportunity to kill a trophy animal, Karnow said. Rocky mountain mule deer are known to migrate into Nevada County, a species sought after by hunters for its larger bucks with big antlers. A call of a poached goose on private property was also documented in Nevada County this year.
But the Bear Protection Act, introduced by U.S. Representative Raul M. Grijalva, D ” Ariz, and John Cambell, R ” Calif, could make one form of poaching; killing bears for body parts, easier to enforce against, according to a release from Concerned Citizens To Save Our Bears.
H.R. 5534, the Bear Protection Act would prohibit the import, export, and interstate commerce of bear viscera such as the gall bladder and bile.
This summer a bear had it’s gall bladder removed near Truckee on Highway 89 South, a case that’s still in progress, said Ann Bryant with the BEAR League.
“To illegalize the possession or use of bear body parts will definitely help,” Bryant said. “It could cut California bear poaching in half.”
It’s already illegal to kill a bear specifically for parts or to sell a gall bladder in California, Bryant said, but the new legislation could equalize the law from state to state and make punishment stronger.
“The Bear Protection Act is getting very favorable reception ” a lot of letters of support,” Bryant said. “This would only help to eliminate something truly despicable.”
Still, as long as there is a demand for animals and animal parts, Wardens say poaching will likely continue.
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