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Poaching of

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POACHING (OF. pochcr, from pochc, pocket, probably from Ir. pee, Gael. puce, pocket, or less probably connected with OF. pot-her, poacher, to thrust, hit, and ultimately with Eng. pochard, which see for etymology). In English criminal law, the act of unlawfully trespassing on another's lands for the purpose of killing or taking game, or for the purpose of catching fish. It embraces a variety of statutory offenses, with respect to game and fish, by persons having no sporting rights. These statutes were enacted in the inter ests of the public, primarily for the purpose of protecting game and fish which are valuable for food. Such animals are not treated by English law as the subjects of larceny, and, but for spe cial legislation, persons taking them from an other's lands would be liable only to a civil ac tion for trespass. English game and poaching statutes make such taking a crime. The exist ing legislation on this topic begins with the Night Poaching Act, 1828 (Geo. IV., e. 60), and the Day Poaching Act of 1S31 (1 and 2 Geo. IV., c. 32). These were called forth by the rapid increase of poaching which followed the close of the Napoleonic wars. Such increase has been ascribed to the distress prevailing in agricultural districts during the third decade of the last century. and to the large number of tur bulent spirits thrown out of military employ ment and cast back into the ranks of ordinary laborers. The acts referred to above made poach ing a crime instead of treating it, in its various forms, as an offense which could be condoned by a money penalty. They also legalized the sale of game which had been lawfully captured or killed.

Poacuixo GAME. By the Night Poaching Act, it is provided that any person unlawfully tres passing in search of game by night—i.e. between the first hour after sunset and the first hour be fore sunrise—shall for a first offense be committed by the justices to the house of correction for three months, or in some cases for six months; for a second offense shall be committed for six months, or in some cases for twelve months; and for a third offense shall be guilty of a misde meanor and be imprisoned for two years. In ease such night poachers are found on the lands and in the act, the owner or occupier of the land or his servants may arrest the poachers and take them before justices. If the night poacher. when arrested, use firearms, sticks, or offensive weapons, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and be pun by two years' imprisonment in addition. In case of three or more night poachers being armed with guns, bludgeons. or other offensive weapons, each is guilty of a misdemeanor. and is liable to imprisonment for three years. Poachers have no right to kill game on the highway any more than in fields or inelosures. for the owners

of the adjoining land are entitled to the game on the highway.

By the Day Poaching Act. whoever unlawfully goes upon lands not his own to pursue or kill game of any kind is liable to a penalty of £2. When a poacher is found trespassing on lands in search of game, the person entitled to the game there, or the tenant, or a gamekeeper. or servant of either. may demand the poacher's name and place of abode, and if it is refused may arrest such poacher. and take him before a justice of the peace; but the poacher must he taken within twelve hours before the justice, otherwise he is entitled to go at large. It is only the persons named (and not any one of the public, or even a constable) who oan arrest the poacher, and it can only be done when he is caught in the act on the very lands; for if the poacher clear the fence, and go on to other lands, he cannot then lie ar rested at all. If the poacher when convicted does not pay the penalty within the time fixed by the justices, he may be committed to the house of correction for a period not exceeding two calen dar months. The party may appeal against his conviction to the Court of Quarter Sessions; but he must either remain in custody in the interval or give security for the costs.

By the Poaching Prevention Act, 1862 (25 and 26 Viet., c. 114), which applies to the United Kingdom, if a constable now meet a suspected poacher on the highway, whom he has reason to suspect of coming from land where he has been poaching, such constable may stop and search the poacher; and if game, or implements for tak ing game, are found on him. may seize and detain them, and summon him before the justices. When before the justices, if it be proved by circumstan tial evidence or otherwise that such game was procured by poaching, or that the implements were used, the poacher may he fined in a penalty of f5, besides forfeiture of the game, and guns, nets, and other implements which he may have so used. The person convicted may appeal if he chooses to the next Quarter Sessions, or in cer tain cases to the Court of King's Bench. Except as provided otherwise, the rule applies that who ever first catches (whether legally or illegally) a wild animal is entitled to the property in it; and as game is in the category of wild animals, the poacher is entitled to keep the game, except where it was both started and caught on one and the same person's lands. The game-laws have often been described as too severe against poachers, as most of the penalties are cumula tive, and the magistrates are usually, as game preservers, inclined to convict.