Poaching as Organized Crime


Did you know that poaching could be a form of organized crime?

  • The law made all game the property of the landowner.
  • Poaching was theft pure and simple. Getting caught could result in transportation to the penal colonies down under.
  • The idea that rich “toffs” cared only about sport has a grain of truth in some cases. However, animals on an estate represented food on the table, not only for the landowner but in many cases for his people.
  • While most landowners would look the other way if an individual took a pheasant or rabbit to feed his family, some did not.
  • Organized gangs of poachers were another matter. Game had great value in urban meat markets giving gangs of thieves incentive to take in on a large scale.
  • In some of the reform movements and upheavals of the nineteenth century, a sort of poaching war went on, and poachers were sometimes romanticized rather like smugglers, in song, story, and even the names of pubs.
  • Gamekeepers and others were at risk of violent attacks by such gangs. Murder wasn’t unheard of.
  • Like many historical movements, motivations, rights, and actions were complicated. Not all poachers where fathers of hungry children or freedom fighters. Some were thugs.
Meno_Mühlig_Wildererszene_2-817x1024 Did You Know
The Poacher by Meno Mülig


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