Offenders harming wild animals or nature will be made to pay higher fines and receive harsher punishments – both from the Nature and Park Authority rangers and the courts, due to new tariffs that came into effect and enable rangers and courts to aggravate penalties.
According to the new tariffs, a Nature and Park Authority ranger can hand out a maximum fine of NIS 730 (about $195) – instead of NIS 660 ($176) that was allowed thus far. According to the new rates, the maximum penalty for wildlife offences such as poaching can reach NIS 150,600 (about $40,360) instead of the previous amount of NIS 134,600 ($36,000).
Along with the higher fines, the adjustment to the law allows courts to sentence environmental offenders to a maximum two-year prison term. The Nature and Park Authority noted that the new rates came into effect two weeks ago, and rangers have already begun handing out the aggravated fines.
Head of investigations and intelligence at the Authority Gal Arieli said that raising the tariffs is part of a new punishment approach. "The tendency today is to aggravate punishment on offences that are aimed at harming the environment, and raising the fines is another implementation tool given to the rangers."
Arieli added that the idea came into being a year ago, when the Knesset's Interior Committee decided to double the maximum fine set by the law. However, Arieli noted, the success of these new measures hinges on the courts' verdicts, which refrained from handing out harsh sentences to environmental offenders.
"We hope the courts will adopt the new spirit. So far, the maximum fine for hunting offences or for trafficking natural monuments has not been handed out, so we would be happy if they would order to pay the amounts that are currently dictated by law," he said.