A couple of winters ago, Andy Rzeznikiewicz, who manages the 702-acre sanctuary at Connecticut Audubon Society's Center at Pomfret, found the remains of several deer that had been shot and killed.
We don’t permit hunting on our sanctuaries, of course, and in any case deer season was over. That portion of the sanctuary was near a neighboring house, and Andy concluded that the neighbor himself had shot the deer. A conservation officer visited and the neighbor admitted it had been him: he had killed several deer out of season on a wildlife sanctuary that had been posted “no hunting.”
His fine? $100. And his gun was given back to him. Andy called it a slap on the wrist.
“Just beyond where he was shooting the deer, we have a public hiking trail,” he said. “Someone could have been hurt. The poacher asked the conservation officer if it was the woman walking her dog five minutes after he shot the deer who reported him. That’s how close we were to a potential injury.”
Last week, thanks to Andy and to a number of members of the state General Assembly, Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law an act that makes poaching Criminal Trespass in the third degree, a Class B misdemeanor. A person is guilty if he or she is hunting, trapping or fishing on posted property.
And it significantly increases the penalty, to a minimum of $500 or a maximum of $1,000 – a fine that is far more appropriate to the crime than $100.
Connecticut Audubon Society is not anti-hunting. But our wildlife sanctuaries are just that – sanctuaries where wildlife is protected. We send our thanks to the General Assembly and to Governor Malloy for enacting this important law. You can read the bill here.