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Poaching in western states on rise

November 9, 2010

Poaching in western states on rise

ELY, Nev., Dec. 9 (UPI) -- More poachers and unlicensed guides are hunting big-antlered game, causing alarm for wildlife officials in Nevada, Montana and other western states.

Authorities said these rings chase and kill animals with the largest antlers to trade on Internet auction sites or to submit photos to hunting magazines, The New York Times said Saturday.

"There is almost a fixation on possessing or obtaining trophy-class animals," said Jim Kropp, Montana's wildlife law enforcement chief. "People will go to any length to have these things in their possession."

The National Park Service wrote in a 2005 budget statement that poaching contributed to the decline of 29 species of wildlife in the areas it oversees.

"We treat these as essentially homicides," said Jerry Smith, a Nevada supervising game warden.

An interstate compact established 15 years ago among a few Western states to punish hunting law violators has grown to 24 states, including New York. Authorities said poaching-related crimes made up about 42 percent of the compact violations last year.

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