One hunter was ordered to pay $15,510 in restitution after he was caught with an illegal trophy buck.
Hunters in Michigan are allowed to kill no more than two antlered deer in a season. Scott Malinowski had already killed two antlered deer in October when the trophy deer walked in front of him a month later while he was in the woods.
Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Conservation Officer Ken Kovach said he learned on Nov. 15 that a hunter had killed three bucks and had taken the third to a buck pole. He found the deer later that day and Malinowski had admitted to taking a deer over the limit.
Officer Kovach said it did not appear that Malinowski set out to poach the third buck.
"He had the legal right to be out in the woods," Kovach told reporters. "The deer came out in front of him, and it was just opportunistic."
The hefty fines are one of the ways that lawmakers are hoping to deter poachers from taking trophy animals. Rather than a flat restitution fee of $1,000, Public Act 175 of 2013 scales the fines according to the size of the poached deer:
- A base fee of $1,000.
- An additional $1,000 for an antlered deer.
- Another $500 per point if the deer has 8-10 points.
- An additional $750 per point if the deer has 11 or more points.
According to court documents, Malinowski paid the fines on Jan. 14 after pleading guilty to the misdemeanor charge of general violation of wildlife conservation.