Deterring Defiance: 'Don’t Give a Poacher a Reason to Poach'

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Poaching threatens species biodiversity and ecological integrity, but criminologists largely overlook this form of crime. The purpose of this study is to expand criminological theory on poaching by documenting the strategies poachers andgame wardens suggest as successful deterrents. Defiance theory is used to understand how the interaction between game wardens and poachers is an important consideration for garnering voluntary compliance. Qualitative interviews with game wardens (N=16) and poachers (N=13) demonstrate that these parties ideologically agree about fish and wildlife conservation, and both parties offer similar methods for deterring poaching. However, because poachers are negatively disposed toward indiscriminant game wardens, the perception of unfair treatment/punishment may lead to future poaching. This study examines trajectories for future research on poaching and contributes to contemporary criminological theory by linking defiance theory with deterrence theory. Finally, the paper concludes with strategies for deterring poaching and garnering voluntary compliance.



poaching, game wardens, defiance theory, deterrence theory, voluntary compliance


International Journal of Rural Criminology, v1, n2 (November, 2012), p. 236-255