A recent dispute between an accused Ohio poacher and the state DNR resulted in the case being presented in front of the Ohio Supreme Court.
Back in 2011, when this case began, Huron County hunter Arlie Risner was charged with “taking a white-tailed deer from the lands of another without first obtaining written permission from the landowner or an authorized agent in violation of R.C. 1533.17,” reports Ohio State’s Agricultural Law Blog.
Risner was charged in court and was ordered to pay a $200 fine plus court costs. He also had to forfeit the meat from the animal in question, reimburse the ODNR $90 for meat processing costs, and turn over the deer’s rack which had been taken to a taxidermist.
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Sounds pretty cut and dry right? Risner violated the law, was tried in court, and charged. He then paid his fines and forfeited the animal’s meat and antlers to the ODNR. Case closed right? Well, not exactly.
A few months after the court hearing had been completed, the ODNR informed Risner that he was required to pay $27,851 in restitution for the deer and that his hunting license would be suspended until he paid up.
If that monetary amount seems like a random number, you probably aren’t alone. However, the ODNR has a mathematic formula to calculate these costs when the situation arises. This formula determines an illegally harvested antlered deer’s value depending on the gross antler score that the animal received. The formula is as follows: ((gross score-100)2x$1.65)=additional restitution value.
Following that formula, the ODNR came up with the figure above.
Not surprisingly, Risner balked at such a large additional fine levied upon him, and he refused to pay it. Risner had a solid argument to support his refusal to pay. The common language in the portion of the Ohio Revised Code that refers to this law and formula, according to Risner, disallowed the ODNR from giving him this additional penalty.
The wording of the law says that the ODNR has the right to reclaim possession of the illegally harvested animal’s carcass OR seek the restitution value of the animal. It seemed like the ODNR was attempting to do both of these things and Risner decided to fight it.
The Huron County court agreed with Risner and the ODNR appealed that decision to Ohio’s Sixth District Court of Appeals. After hearing the case, the higher court agreed with the ODNR’s claim that they had every right to apply both penalties to Risner. The hunter then appealed that decision to the Ohio Supreme Court.
“To allow the chief to bring a second action when a remedy has already been provided, chosen and carried out is nonsensical, frivolous, a violation of law and due process, and a waste of the Court’s time and resources,” argued Risner. “A second action provides for multiple sanctions and double (if not more) remedies…”
The Ohio Supreme Court has decided to hear the case and will do so later this year. It is an important case for Ohio hunters to keep tabs on. Does the statute allow the ODNR to claim possession of the poached animal and seek financial restitution equal to the calculated value of the deer? Or does it require the ODNR to choose between the two?
Of course we hope that all hunters would follow all of the rules and regulations for harvesting deer in the state of Ohio instead of resorting to the unethical act of poaching. Unfortunately, that does not happen and cases like this continue to arise.
Do you agree with the hunter or the ODNR in this case? In your opinion, what should the final ruling on this case be? Let us know in the comments section below!