A top deer hunting advocacy group says some states don’t do enough to deter poaching, with fines so low and penalties so light they’re doing little to keep illegal hunters at bay.

According to a report published by the Quality Deer Management Association, states like Pennsylvania and Virginia charge poachers as little as $25 for illegal kills, with the Northeast region charging the least of the main U.S. regions at an average of about $280. In its recently-released “Whitetail 2015” report, the QDMA says sates like Iowa, Maine and Wisconsin take poaching seriously, with fines as high as $1,500 and three days in jail.

But the organization argues the fines across the U.S. are inconsistent and need to be standardized to send a stronger message that illegally killing deer is a serious crime.

“Minimum fines are all over the board,” QDMA says. “And in our opinion, [they are] well below the value of loss of that animal to the ethical sportsmen and women who follow the rules, as well as to all citizens who enjoy them.”

QDMA compiled the table below, and recommends that states stop sending mixed messages to poachers and they develop consistent minimum fines for deer poaching that are high enough to act as a real deterrent.

After all, when fines may even be less than a legally acquired hunting license, what kind of message does that send?

We here at Whitetail Journal could not agree more.

State Minimum Fines Comments
Illinois $250  
Indiana $500 $1,000 per deer over 1
Iowa $1,500  
Kansas $500 Restitution based on buck antlers
Kentucky $754  
Michigan $200  
Minnesota $185  
Missouri $150  
Nebraska $250 Buck $1,500 + $5,000 if over 18-inch spread
North Dakota No Data  
Ohio $0 Court determines restitution for illegal kills
South Dakota $250  
Wisconsin $1,000  
Midwest Avg. $462  
Connecticut No Data  
Delaware $50 $1,000 for antlered deer
Maine $1,000 Three days jail
Maryland $500  
Massachusetts $300  
New Hampshire $248 Must also pay processing for donation
New Jersey $100  
New York $0 Court determines fine
Pennsylvania $25  
Rhode Island $500 90 days in jail
Vermont $500  
Virginia $25  
West Virginia $20 $200 restitution, $169 court cost
Northeast Avg. $283  
Alabama $250  
Arkansas $300  
Florida No Data  
Georgia $0  
Louisiana No Data  
Mississippi $250 Additional court costs
North Carolina $250  
South Carolina no more than $200  
Tennessee $0  
Texas $500 Plus restitution of $881
Oklahoma $946 Restitution up to $5,000
Southeast Avg. $319  
3-Region Avg. $354