Prosecutors, lawmakers propose felony hunting chargesBISMARCK — Under current North Dakota law, a person who wants to shoot deer or ducks illegally can kill dozens or hundreds and no matter how egregious the acts, only be charged with misdemeanor crimes and lose his hunting privileges no more than three years.
By: Janell Cole, The Dickinson Press
BISMARCK — Under current North Dakota law, a person who wants to shoot deer or ducks illegally can kill dozens or hundreds and no matter how egregious the acts, only be charged with misdemeanor crimes and lose his hunting privileges no more than three years.
It’s time to put the hammer down on such aggravated violations, repeat offenders and those whose activities amount to criminal enterprises, a prosecutor and lawmaker told a House committee Thursday.
House Bill 1188 includes a change in law allowing judges to suspend the worst offenders’ hunting and fishing privileges in North Dakota and other states for life.
House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Todd Porter, R-Mandan, said lifetime suspension needs to be in law to match other states that have the penalty.
North Dakota and other states have a cooperative agreement in which they honor each others’ hunting and fishing license suspensions. But there’s a hitch, Porter said. Someone suspended for life from hunting and fishing in Wyoming can come to North Dakota and hunt or fish after just three years, because North Dakota’s three-year maximum applies to them here.
Under current law, no matter how flagrant, no game-and-fish violation can be charged as more than a misdemeanor.
For the worst offenders, misdemeanor prosecutions become unwieldy, Erickson said.
Sometimes wardens come to prosecutors with evidence of someone committing 100 or more separate violations. For prosecutors, that’s unmanageable, he said, so rather than manage that many separate counts, those prosecutions should be treated the same way certain sex crimes are charged. North Dakota has a criminal charge known as “continual sexual abuse of a child,” to deal with a situation in which a suspect has repeatedly raped, molested or otherwise abused a youngster over the course of several years.
A similar category for a chronic “exploiter” of wildlife, which is what HB 1188 terms such offenders, would give prosecutors a way to lump together hunters, anglers and guides who have flagrant or repeat patterns of violations, Erickson said.