Elk NetworkWhat Motivates Poachers?

General | November 12, 2019

Poaching is ugly. It is the intentional killing of wildlife by those who disregard rules and regulations. Unfortunately, it also reflects poorly on hunters who purchase mandatory licenses and fees, and care about wildlife and wild landscapes.

Those unfamiliar with the practice of regulated hunting may confuse poaching with hunting. A professor in Montana spent years looking into the practice. More specifically, he wanted to know why poachers poach.

“As for the poachers themselves, what I’ve found is that most of them don’t want to talk about it,” Steve Eliason, Montana State University-Billings sociology professor, told Montana Public Radio. “In the hunting community, the worst thing you can be is a poacher, and so a lot of people, even if they admit they’ve done something wrong, they don’t want to be referred to as a poacher, and it has a stigma in the hunting community.”

Eliason says most poachers are men and they’re younger—either in the late teens or 20s. He also says poaching has changed over the years. Authorities used to just find a gut pile but that has changed to headless carcasses or just the antlers being removed.

According to statistics quoted by Montana Public Radio, Montana wildlife officials wrote nearly 4,000 citations for poaching from 2000 to 2009.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation strongly advocates for fair chase, ethical hunting.

(Photo source: Oregon State Police)