Target: Jay Nixon, Governor of Missouri
Goal: Stop allowing people caught hunting illegally to get off with tiny fines.
A Missouri man who illegally killed a black bear for its meat has been let off with a paltry $99.50 fine. After finding the bear’s head and hide thrown in a creek, authorities traced the killing back to a man living in the nearby woods. The man, Chris Keown of House Springs, had the bear’s meat and paws in his freezer.
Keown was cited for the pursuing, taking, killing, possessing or disposing of wildlife, a misdemeanor charge. Because he plead guilty to the citation, he faced only a $99.50 fine. This, added to approximately $104 in court and associated costs, means that the man got off with a slap on the wrist despite a possible $1,000 fine and a one year jail sentence.
While this situation is outrageous, it is what lax Missouri wildlife laws allow. Any poacher who pleads guilty to a citation for illegal hunting is sent on their way with a small fine. Unfortunately, until state wildlife protection laws change, poachers will continue to kill protected or out-of-season species with little to no penalty.
Keown is a convicted felon and has had several run-ins with conservation officers before this incident. Because of lax laws, he will likely continue to illegally hunt and kill animals without fear of serious punishment. In order to stop people like these, lawmakers must move to increase punishments for illegal hunters, regardless of whether or not they plead guilty to their crimes. Sign the petition below to demand that Missouri stop letting poachers off nearly scot-free.
Dear Mr. Nixon,
A man who illegally killed a black bear and dumped its remains in a creek has been let off with a fine of less than $100. Officials investigating the crime found the bear’s meat and paws in a nearby resident’s home. The resident, Chris Keown, has had several run-ins with conservation police but was still let off with a tiny fine.
As long as these lax punishments stand, hunters will illegally kill protected and out-of-season species with near-impunity. In order to stop this destruction of Missouri’s wildlife, it is imperative that punishments are increased for poachers. We, the undersigned, demand a thorough review of wildlife protection laws with both increased penalties and improved oversight.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fidelis Orozco