News from the DNR Office of Communications

DNR, Attorney General, District Court Join Forces to Address Natural Resources Violations

District Court in Anne Arundel County to set aside one day a month for natural resources cases under new pilot program

Annapolis, MD — The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Attorney General’s Office and the District Court of Maryland will launch a pilot program on January 15 under which the court in Anne Arundel County will set aside on day each month to try only cases dealing with natural resources violations.

"We cannot let the crimes of a select few hinder our efforts to protect the natural and living resources that belong to all Marylanders," said DNR Secretary John Griffin. "By scheduling all natural resources cases on one day, we are giving everyone involved an opportunity to focus on the impact and severity of these crimes."

Under the new pilot program, on the third Friday of each month the Maryland District Court in Anne Arundel County will hear all pending natural resource cases, including fishing, hunting, boating and tree expert violations. The State’s Attorney’s office has also assigned a special attorney strictly to prosecute these cases.

The pilot program supports DNR’s plan to step up enforcement of fishery poaching violations, as recommended by the Maryland State Task Force of Fishery Management. DNR is also proposing a new schedule of penalties and fines that will impose penalties on first time offenders, which depend upon a criminal conviction. The new enforcement system:

  • assigns points to violations based upon the gravity of the offense;
  • has increased penalties for repeat offenders and special protection for certain species; and
  • includes provisions for automatic suspension for certain violations.

"DNR and its partners and stakeholders are working hard to create a fair system of fines and penalties to ensure the safety of our fisheries," said Assistant Attorney General Joe Gill. "Working with the District Court to focus the docket on natural resources violations will make sure these cases are given their due attention."

DNR will work with other counties to expand the pilot program if it is successful.

   January 14, 2010

Contact: Josh Davidsburg
410-260-8002 office I 410-507-7526 cell

The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2009, is the state agency responsible for providing natural and living resource-related services to citizens and visitors. DNR manages more than 467,000 acres of public lands and 17,000 miles of waterways, along with Maryland's forests, fisheries, and wildlife for maximum environmental, economic and quality of life benefits. A national leader in land conservation, DNR-managed parks and natural, historic, and cultural resources attract 12 million visitors annually. DNR is the lead agency in Maryland's effort to restore the Chesapeake Bay, the state's number one environmental priority. Learn more at