Which US States Have the Worst Poaching Problems?

by | Mar 28, 2022 | Politics Featured

Think poaching is only a problem in other countries? Unfortunately, the capturing, killing, and exploitation of animals is an activity that is alive and well in the US. There are multiple motivations for why poachers partake in this illegal activity, and poaching isn’t only prevalent in certain corners of the world. It’s here, and some states have disproportionately higher levels of poaching.

Learn which US states have the worst issues with Poaching below.


Many people think of this northeastern state and associate it with Lobster, lighthouses, and delicious blueberries. There’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the mistreatment of wildlife in Maine.

Poaching doesn’t only refer to large land wildlife and game; it also refers to sea animals. One example of this kind of poaching has to do with baby eels. While the market for baby eels is legal in Maine, an incline in the price has led many poachers to target this sea creature.

Fortunately, one federal operation known as Operation Broken Glass was able to thwart one poaching operation targeting eels. Still, the fact remains that this creature has become more valuable, and is therefore a target for unscrupulous poachers.


Nevada is a state that is well-known for its casinos in its biggest city, Las Vegas. Many people visit the state to have a good time and forget their worries. Although the state draws in a number of good-natured tourists, it also attracts poachers.

In Nevada, Elk are a sought-after animal, and many people enjoy eating its meat at dinners. The issue is that people seek to shoot these animals out of season or without a proper hunting license. Similar to driving a car, hunting elk is fine when someone has a license and follows the rules. When they don’t do so, it results in poaching, which is punishable by probation and hefty fines in Nevada.


Some states are serious about ending poaching. In Oklahoma, one of the more popular types of game to poach is deer. While many people can hunt deer in-season, to do so without a license or out of season is illegal.

A second popular type of poaching occurs with fishing in illegal sites. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation has launched Operation Game Thief to help put a stop to illegally caught or hunted wildlife.

Whether people kill animals for sport, food, or to sell meat is beside the point. It’s outside of bounds to take an animal from its natural habitat in an illegal way.


This US state is home to exquisite national parks and breath-taking views. Many people seek to visit this part of the country, hoping to enjoy its beautiful scenery and wildlife. Unfortunately, this state also has a significant poaching problem. In fact, between the years 2012 and 2020, poachers have illegally harvested above 100, 000 animals

Oregon is home to many types of wildlife that are targets of poaching –– clams, crabs, deer, elk, turkey, and quail are just a few. When poachers seek out these animals, they do so at the expense of those who live, hunt, and fish legally in that state

Facts About Poaching

Let’s look a little more closely at poaching to see what makes it an illegal activity, and how the consequences play out.

1.    Hunting Isn’t Poaching

Killing animals isn’t synonymous with poachin. Those who wish to hunt wildlife legally within their state’s bounds have the right to do so. Whenever someone hunts, fishes, or captures an animal out of season, on illegal grounds, or without a license, that’s when it becomes poaching.

2.    Poaching Doesn’t Only Happen to Rare Animals

When many people talk about poaching, they may be referring to the killing and harvesting of rare animals for their expensive by-products. However, poaching can happen when any kind of animal is killed or captured illegally. It doesn’t have to be an exotic creature or rare animal species.

3.    Poaching Can Be Costly

Every state has their own consequences for poaching. In some states, hunting big game animals can cost a person $25,000. In some instances it can result in a citation or arrest.

On the other hand, many states also give hefty rewards to those who offer information about known poachers. This illegal activity is expensive for those who get caught and causes problems for those who follow the rules and hunt according to the law.

What’s the Answer?

Poaching is an unfortunate issue in the United States and Worldwide. As states seek to reform their populations’ hunting and fishing practices, citizens can do their part by ensuring they are hunting and fishing legally, during the correct season, within state bounds, and with the proper license. It helps conserve wildlife so that others can enjoy these beautiful species for decades to come.

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