Deer poaching exists at the level it does in Minnesota because Minnesota, in the form of its Legislature, has decided it doesn't care much about it.
Restitution for the three bucks allegedly illegally killed near Cannon Falls, including what probably will become the highest-scoring 8-pointer of all time?
$500 for each of the lesser deer, and $1,000 for the "trophy.''
Sure, the alleged poacher will also be fined by a court, if convicted, and might even go to jail for a while. But Minnesota's poaching penalties remain far too small, and you have to wonder if they're kept that way intentionally.
Consider also the penalties in Minnesota for deer baiting, which has been a problem for a decade or more, and seems to be growing every year.
This year, the DNR has begun confiscating rifles from suspected baiters. That's a good start. But the state could go a lot further toward ending this practice, which has the potential in some parts of the state of ruining deer hunting.
Poach a deer? Get serious. Other states have. If convicted, you should lose your gun, your hunting privileges for 3-5 years and be fined a minimum of $2,000.
The book on what works and what doesn't to deter major game violations has already been written — in Louisiana, among other states.
Ticketed for a waterfowl violation in Louisiana? You must appear before a federal magistrate — there is no "mailing a check to cover it.''
And if it's a serious violation, such as a significant over-limit, you're going to jail. And you're doing community service. And paying fines. And losing equipment.
Minnesota isn't serious about stopping poaching or baiting. Yet.
Maybe the Legislature will get the message in its next session, if enough law-abiding hunters send it.