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Which Information Should You Provide When Reporting A Wildlife Violation

“Afterward I thought … I should report this to a game warden.”

Game wardens, biologists and other officials sporting the patch of a fish or wildlife management agency have listened to stories ending with this statement many times over the course of a career.

Typically, the encounter begins with a story teller relating an outdoor experience that went sour because of illegal activity of another hunter, angler or unwanted outdoors visitor.

As a hunter, game warden and now biologist, I’ve heard of and personally witnessed similar illegal activities over the course of years. So what’s the best way of shifting the balance to favor law-abiding citizens? It’s actually quite simple. Report the violation.

I’ve listened to many recounts of poaching crimes including:

    Untagged deer — not tagging the deer so they can continue to hunt.

    Off-trail driving — using a motor vehicle to hunt or chase wildlife

    Over-bagging — shooting more than the legal limit.

    Double-tripping — Catching a limit of fish or shooting a limit of birds, taking them home, and then going out again and taking another limit.

And after I’ve watched faces flush, temples beat and nostrils flare with anger for the offending poacher, I always respond with the same question. Why didn’t you report it?

Immediately, the balloon deflates and the response typically sounds something like this: “Well, I wasn’t really sure what I saw,” or “I didn’t actually see it.” But the most frustrating response is probably the most predictable: “I didn’t want to get them in too much trouble; I just wanted them to stop doing it.”

Keep this in mind while hunting this fall, or for that matter, any time spent outdoors. I know from experiencing a few seasons as a game warden that poachers won’t stop until they’re caught, and for most poachers, if the instance is intentional it is not the first time they’ve skirted the regulations.

Understand that warnings issued by a game warden as a third party are about as common as snow flakes in September. It can happen, but don’t count on it. For the most part, if a warning is issued it’s after a first-hand observation and not because of someone calling the local warden and asking him or her to “talk to” the alleged violator and “tell them not to do it again.”

In such a case, how would the warden even know the related story is true?

What game wardens need is accurate, timely information so they can investigate. This fall and whenever you spend time outdoors, if you witness a possible poaching violation, don’t get mad and wait until the next time you run into a game and fish representative to complain.

Jot down the pertinent information and call the report all poachers’ hotline or local tips number. If you have a cell phone, don’t even wait until you get home.

In many instances callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for an award upon conviction of the poacher.

Every violation is worth a call because poaching is stealing — stealing from hunters who choose to practice within the realm of the law. There’s no place for poachers, and if everyone helps — hunters, landowners, and all citizens who appreciate our natural resources — we can keep these misuses of our natural resources to a minimum.

Leier is a former game warden and current biologist for the Game and Fish Department. He can be reached by email: dleier@state.nd.us

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What To Do If You Witness a Wildlife Violation

From Aug. 1 to Oct. 13, 2019, our conservation officers contacted 35,619 individuals and inspected the hunting licenses of 11,425 people. During those interactions, the officers detected 1,215 violations and discovered 102 illegally killed big game animals, including deer, elk, pronghorn, moose, bison and black bear. So far, 918 citations have been issued, and other violations will continue to be investigated or handled in the court system. Please continue to report suspicious activity to us!

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