ALBANY -- The minimum fine for hunting deer out of season is about to double.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill late Wednesday that will bump up the minimum fine for deer poaching to $500, up from the current $250.

The maximum fine for a misdemeanor offense would increase to $3,000, up from $2,000.

The higher fine would apply to poachers who take a deer before or after the start of hunting season or those who kill a deer with the use of artificial light. Poachers could also be sentenced to up to a year in prison.

The bill will take effect in 120 days.

It was sponsored by Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, Monroe County, and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner, D-Round Lake, Saratoga County.

"Too often individuals apprehended for deer poaching receive only a slap on the wrist," the sponsors wrote in a memo attached to the bill.

The bill was first introduced last year, but it wasn't able to work its way through the Senate.
This year, the bill was pared back to gain support in the Legislature, removing a provision that would have stripped someone of their hunting privileges if they were convicted of two violations in five years.

Those with multiple violations in five years would be hit with a minimum fine of $750 under the new law.

The bill had support from several hunting organizations, including the state chapter of the Quality Deer Management Association.

The New York State Conservation Council raised concern with the bill, however, though the group said it agreed with its intent.

The group urged lawmakers to reconsider doubling the minimum fine.

"The penalties must ... reflect the severity of the offense and the damage done by the offender," the council wrote in a memo earlier this year.