New law will make poachers pay reward to those who turn them in

CorrespondentAugust 21, 2013 

Getting caught poaching will become more expensive on Dec. 1 – because poachers will have to pay the rewards that go to the people who turn them in.

North Carolina’s new Wildlife Poacher Reward Fund adds the reward fee to court costs and fines. An offender also may have to compensate the state for the value of game or fish taken illegally and for the cost of any investigation, according to the text of Session Law 2013-380.

The innovative law “gives the court the right to make the violator pay his own reward,” said Ramon Bell, past president of the N.C. Bowhunters Association who worked on the measure with Rep. John Faircloth of Guilford County and former N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission director Dick Hamilton.

The commission will administer the fund, which will be partially funded by the offenders’ payments for replacement value as well as by donations and other contributions.

Until now, hunters on the right side of the law paid the rewards. The bowhunters organization led that effort, contributing $2,000 to $3,000 a year for about 35 years, Bell said.

“We plan to make a donation. Since we put so much into it over the years, we’re going to continue to put into it. We hope we can get some of these other groups to do the same thing,” said Bell, 70, a retired police officer from Stokesdale who used his time during many months of rehabilitation after a stroke to help draft the bill.

The purpose of the fund is to help catch the people who steal resources. Deer hunting violations are a constant for the commission’s Enforcement Division, and violations are increasing as turkey hunting increases, Capt. Robert Sharpe said.

“This (reward) is great as far as we’re concerned because we depend on public input for people to report poachers,” said Sharpe, whose District 5 territory covers Orange, Durham, Lee, Chatham, Randolph, Alamance, Guilford, Rockingham, Caswell, Person and Granville counties. “… What this will do is entice those folks who might be on the fence about whether they should turn somebody in.”

Durham deciding: Durham’s City Council will meet at 1 p.m. Thursday for a work session that will include a vote on allowing bowhunting for deer.

Durham would fall under Central Deer Season regulations and would become eligible for the Urban Archery Season.

Fleming and Long win: Vernon Fleming of Raleigh and Glenn Long of Henderson topped 36 other teams to win the Piedmont Bass Classics End of Year Team Tournament Bass Fishing Trail Qualifier No. 3 on Kerr Lake on Aug. 10. The duo won $1,006 with five bass totaling 17.45 pounds, organizer Phil McCarson reported.

Qualifier No. 4 takes place Saturday on Falls Lake. For results, go to www.piedmontbassclassics.com.

Mark your calendar: The N.C. Marine Fisheries Commission will meet Aug. 28-30 in Raleigh at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Raleigh-Brownstone-University.

Send news and announcements to outdoors@newsobserver.com.

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