Poaching Law and Legal Definition

Poaching is illegal hunting, killing, capturing or taking of wildlife violating local or international wildlife conservation laws. This can occur in a number of ways. For example, illegal shooting or trapping of an animal from a private or public property amounts to poaching.

Activities that are otherwise legal may amount to poaching if they are done violating wildlife laws. For example, harvests made without complying with the regulations for legal harvest result in the illegal taking of wildlife and come under poaching. Only wildlife can be poached. Stealing or killing domestic animals is theft.

In the U.S., poaching was not considered a serious problem before the twentieth century because there was vast area of undeveloped land with abundant sources of fish and game. But the rapid growth of town and cities and increased cultivation of land lead to reduced wildlife habitats in the twentieth century. These changing circumstances necessitated restrictions on hunting and fishing. Consequently, state and federal wildlife laws were framed to preserve wildlife.

In the U.S., animal poaching is usually done for commercial profit or as a sport. Poaching laws are enforced by game wardens. They patrol state and national parks and respond to violations on private property. Plant poaching is also on the rise, and is done mainly for commercial gains. Removal of ginseng growing in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is a good example of plant poaching.

Following are examples of some activities that amount to poaching:

Taking wild animals or plants without a license or permit.

Hunting and trapping animal with prohibited weapon or trap.

Taking animals from a gazzetted wildlife sanctuary such as a national park, game reserve, or zoo. Taking animal or plant from restricted land is illegal.

Taking plants/animals tagged by a researcher.