It's no secret that poaching can have devastating impacts on protected wildlife. But, as it turns out, the human heart which commits this crime might sometimes be the slowest to recover from its own misdeed.
A few weeks back, officials from Washington State's Fish and Wildlife Department received a curious correspondence from a Montana man, identified simply as Roy, who was hoping to make amends for a crime he'd committed more than four decades earlier.
In his letter to wildlife officials, Roy confessed to illegally hunting three whitetail deer between 1967 and 1970, a crime which had continued to weigh heavy on his conscience for over forty years. In his reply, officer Richard Mann assured Roy that the statute of limitations had passed and that he was no longer subject to a fine -- but the man's feelings of guilt weren't so easily quelled by his immunity from prosecution.
From The Spokesman-Review:
The officer suggested he could sign up with the agency for volunteer jobs at a wildlife area or habitat project to soothe his conscience, but Roy said he lived in Montana.
Last week, Mann got a message from the department's Olympia headquarters that a $6,000 check had been delivered as a donation to the enforcement division.
"I was amazed," Mann said. "It's not uncommon for me to hear from people who are sorry for a wildlife infraction, but usually it's because the judge stuck them with a big fine."
Along with the check, Roy asked for forgiveness from the Wildlife Department, requesting that the money be used to prevent crimes like the one he himself committed all those years ago.
Mike Cenci, deputy chief of enforcement for the department says that he's never seen someone feel so compelled to donate out of remorse for past wildlife crimes: “
This doesn’t happen. We do get donations, but if any were related to misdeeds or conscience, we’re not aware of it.”