Poaching in American Media

If I’m being honest, if it wasn’t for the Internet I don’t think I would even know what poaching is. That’s how much the issue is covered here in the United States.

          There are certain groups, as in The Humane Society, who spend their time and resources to try to spread the word and stop animal cruelty, including poaching. An example of this is on August 17th, The Humane Society offered a reward of $2,500 for information leading to the identification, arrest and conviction of the person(s) responsible for illegally killing a bear in Lake Tahoe, California. Jennifer Fearing, the California senior state director for the Humane Society of the United States, gave a statement on the Humane Society website that said,

“Poaching is a serious threat to California’s wildlife and we hope this reward will bring the person responsible for this appalling crime to justice.”

It is estimated that ONLY 1 to 5% of poached animals come to the attention of the law enforcement here in the U.S. Part of the problem is that we don’t hear about any of this in national or local news. The closest thing I have, and I’m sure most of us have come close to, is some hunters going out and illegally killing deer or turkey  out of season. But there are prized animals such as bear, puma and birds that make illegal trades very wealthy. Trophy heads, furs, paws and feathers bring in enormous profits.

The North American black bears are being threatened with extinction due to poachers looking to make some quick cash from the Asian medical market. Bear gall bladders are used in traditional Chinese medicine. Poachers also get money from bear claws, which is used in other Asian medication and for decoration.

As I have stated before, even though it’s not really covered in U.S. media, illegal poaching does affect our environment in several different ways.

  1. It damages the ecosystem. As soon as a number of animals are threatened and extinction becomes possible. The young may be living without their mothers and their chances of surviving are slim.
  2. One extinction leads to another. Animal species need predators and prey and they depend on each other to survive. This becomes disrupted with poaching.
  3. It disrupts the food chain. As stated above, it’s a predator/prey thing. The food chains are disrupted when animals are captured and pointlessly killed. It can become so bad that certain areas of the world may become devoid of animals that are vital to the ecosystem and environmental interactions.

Currently, poaching laws vary by state. In Pennsylvania, poaching is considered an offense with no chance of imprisonment but has very high fines. West Virginia has lower fines but have tough jail sentences. If you get a third offense, it’s a felony conviction with up to a $10,000 fine and up to 5 years in prison. The effects of poaching have a very wide range throughout the United States.

And as for media.. well like I said it’s just barely covered if at all. I still haven’t come across anything other than what animal right/protection agencies put out.. which doesn’t get much attention either. Hopefully, within the near future all that can change.

By:Abigail Tackett

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