Russian Poacher Fined $155,000 for Illegal Hunting But Escaped Jail

The poacher was ordered by a court to reimburse damage to the environment caused by the killing of rare birds and other animals, including 6 Amur tigers, one of the most endangered species.

Police had discovered extraordinary evidence of the Nakhodka man’s illegal hunting, including the tiger skins, body parts of no less than 34 Himalayan – or black – bears, and a dozen brown bears, all endemic to eastern Russia.

In a refrigerating container was found 4 dead Steller’s sea eagles, a cinereous vulture and a mandarin duck. The trawl included 7 spotted deer.

The raid on Romanov’s premises was on 8 April 2012, but only now is the poacher punished. He has been described as an ‘influential businessman’. A picture shows him proudly displaying a dead Amur tiger.

A criminal case against him failed in 2015 after the legal expiry of the criminal investigation, but instead civil action as taken resulting in this week’s 9.3 million fine from the Primorsky region court.

Police had discovered extraordinary evidence of the Nakhodka man’s illegal hunting, including the tiger skins, body parts of no less than 34 Himalayan – or black – bears, and a dozen brown bears,¬†Steller’s sea eagles.

Since his poaching exploits, the Russian laws have been tightened and – for example – the populations of Amur tigers and even more endangered leopards are now rising.

There are genuine hopes both species will survive in their native habitat, after coming perilously close to extinction in the wild caused substantially by illegal hunting.

Olga Zherebkina, senior legal expert of the Amur branch WWF Russia, said: ‘It is the largest fine for causing damage to the environment paid by a poacher in Primorsky region.

‘In this sense, the decision makes history for environment legislation. But the scale of the crime is massive: nature lost 6 tigers and many other wild animals.

‘There were all the legal grounds to fine the guilty individual and it is important that the court panel on civil cases took that into consideration. Only the inevitability of punishment can stop poachers and preserve rare species.’

Evgeniy Romanov was detained in Nakhodka in 2012, but only now the court made the decision.

Sergey Aramiliyev, director of the Far Eastern branch of the Amur Tiger centre called for further tightening of the law. ‘We are working on that with our partners,’ he said.

Pavel Fomenko, head of the Amur branch of WWF Russia, and an honoured environmental protection worker, said: ‘We have been talking for quite a long time about fraudulent poachers easily avoiding criminal liability because of the expiration (of investigations).

‘There are a number of examples of that. Apart from this Nakhodka case, there was a scandalous incident in Arsenyev in the same year, 2012. A reseller managed to avoid criminal liability when 8 tiger skins were found on him.

‘In our opinion, it is necessary to reconsider this legal standard and increase expiration date for illegal hunting and trading rare animals.’

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