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.