A bill under consideration at the statehouse would address what wildlife experts call "outdated" laws on the illegal taking of animals. The measure, recently approved by the House Natural Resources Committee, would sharply increase the damages that convicted poachers pay to cover the replacement value of animals. Indianola Democrat Mark Davitt is a member of that committee.
"The only person that would qualify for paying any of this repayment to the citizens of Iowa are people that have already broken the law and been criminally prosecuted, which is where the fine delivered," Davitt said. "This is about the property only and what they owe back to the state of Iowa for taking this property illegally."
Davitt says the current replacement value of $50 for bobcats, for example, is way too low. "If you can find a bobcat skin on Ebay for as much as $600, a poacher would look at $50 as just a matter of doing business," Davitt said. Under the bill, the replacement value for a bobcat would increase to $200. Damages for certain fish would go from $15 to $500 because of the current high market value of their eggs.
"The fish eggs are being harvested out of illegally taken fish and that caviar can go for hundreds of dollars per pound. The fish then becomes a waste product for these poachers," Davitt said. The bill has already passed the senate, but is yet to go before the full house.