Hunting is one of Oklahoma’s top tourism activities generating millions in revenue for communities and businesses around the state. This year, Sen. Josh Brecheen authored Senate Bill 780 to address hunters illegally killing deer only for their antlers and leaving the carcasses to rot – a growing problem brought to his attention by a game warden and rancher in his district.
“Hunting is one of Oklahoma’s greatest tourist attractions and pastimes so it’s important that ensure people respect nature and aren’t just killing for sport but rather for meat or furs,” said Brecheen, R-Coalgate. “Killing deer only for sport is already against the law but this bill will increase the penalty and hopefully stop this type of wasteful behavior. This kind of hunting harms the deer populations, the sport and the landowners who lease their land for hunting.”
The bill, which was supported by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife and the Department of Wildlife Conservation, increases the minimum fine from $100 to $500 for capturing, killing, mutilating or destroying wildlife, except furbearers and coyotes, with the intent to abandon the body without disposing of it in an appropriate manner.
“Most hunters hate this kind of wasteful behavior because it hurts the genetics for big bucks and simply goes against the true spirit of hunting, which is for food, not just to kill animals,” said Brecheen. “We must be good stewards of God’s creation and that means only taking what we need and no more.”
In addition, any hunting or fishing license will be revoked upon conviction for one to ten years. If the court does not set a period, revocation will be for one year.
Rep. Charles McCall served as the principal House author for the measure.
“Wasteful hunting is detrimental to deer populations and it’s important that we increase the penalties in order to deter this destructive behavior,” said McCall, R-Atoka. “This growing problem could actually hurt local economies and the law-abiding businesses involved in recreational hunting. I’m grateful for my colleagues and the governor’s support.”
The bill, which was signed Tuesday by Gov. Fallin, will become law on November 1, 2013.