What are the consequences for poaching protected animals?

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    The consequences for the poachers are often that they make a lot of money. Other consequences are their own deaths, as shown in the first citation, below. While poaching in Africa, for example, can be a substantial part of a year’s salary, poaching is taken seriously even on a small scale in the USA. As an example, South Dakota offers rewards of up to $300 for turning in a poacher of big game, and even $100 for fish! (And note that they’ll give even more in certain situations!)

    The consequences for animals are terrible. For an animal to get through the huge political resistance and red tape to be at such risk that taxpayers are willing to fund game preserves and stake rewards! — that animal is likely to be at such extreme risk that there aren’t any other rational alternatives. Generally one can assume that poaching a protected animal brings it one step closer to extinction. Or at least to extinction in one particular area.

    But it’s not just poachers who are at fault. Here in California, I happened to talk with a cook in a Sushi bar. She said her manager had been put in jail for taking abalone! Where did that abalone go? High-end restaurants in San Francisco and other cities. Now, consider. Did the restaurant owners know they were buying illegal, poached animals? Of course! And did the big spenders who went to those restaurants know? Well, at least some of them must have. (The San Francisco Bay Area is quite environmentally aware.)

    So it’s not just the fault of the poachers, it’s the fault of business owners to whom making money is more important than species survival. And it’s the very great fault of heedless rich people who care more about what they can shove in their mouths than the survival of a species. Their behavior is obscene, and the consequences, like the guy who was fishing for them, should be jail time.

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