Poachers Fined Thousands After Jacklighting Trophy Buck in PA

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Two men were fined for jacklighting and shooting a trophy buck in central Pennsylvania early last month. In a Facebook post published on Jan. 20, the Pennsylvania Game Commission-Southwest Region said Zachary Burgan and Matthew Koenig shot the buck from inside a vehicle then took it to a taxidermist the following day. The incident occurred in Cambria County, about 80 miles east of Pittsburgh.

The post doesn’t say wether it was Burgan or Koernig that pulled the trigger, but Koernig was ordered to pay the bulk of the combined $7,450 in fines. “This deer was shot at approximately 12:15 a.m. on Dec. 8, 2023,” it reads. “Koenig was sentenced to pay over $6,350 in fines and restitution with multiple years license revocation. Burgan was sentenced to pay over $1,100 in fines and multiple years of license revocation.”

State Game Warden April Whitsell spearheaded the investigation. According to the statement, her case work revealed that the two men used the headlights of the vehicle they were sitting in to shine the deer—which was later scored at 169 inches B&C—before illegally shooting it from Hufford Hill Road in Cambria County’s Portage Township. They took the buck to the taxidermist on Dec. 9 “with last year’s tag on it,” the post reads.

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Members of the public weighed in on the Commission’s Facebook post, with some saying that Burgan and Koenig’s punishment was too lenient. “This should be a felony,” one commenter wrote. “Never own a firearm or hunt again. Law needs to change.” Another commenter, claiming to be one of the poachers fathers, indicated that social media may have played a role in Whitsell’s investigation. The Pennsylvania Game Commission says that anyone who witnesses a wildlife crime in Keystone State should contact the Operation Game Thief toll-free hotline.



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