(KDKZ-TV) The Missouri House votes to increase the fines for illegally hunting certain animals.

The Missouri House voted overwhelmingly to raise poaching fines to protect the state’s fledgling elk population. The bill would allow judges to impose fines of at least $2,500 for attempting to illegally hunt elk – with the money being used to benefit local school districts. In 2011 the Department of Conservation began reintroducing elk in Missouri.

The department estimates there are 170 elk in the state today, up from the original 34 that were brought over from Kentucky. The bill would also increase fines for poaching wild turkey, paddlefish, white-tailed deer and black bears. House Bill 1873 passed with a vote of 130-19.

It now heads to the Missouri Senate.

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