Citizens Can ‘Turn in a Poacher’
by Tom Berg
Hoosier hunters, anglers and trappers are some of the most steadfast conservationists in the state of Indiana. Their love of wildlife and the great outdoors runs deep, and they often support wildlife conservation with both their volunteer efforts and their pocketbooks. Every time they buy a fishing or hunting license, a deer or turkey tag, a game bird habitat stamp or other license, they are contributing to wildlife conservation in the state of Indiana.
So it is not surprising to learn that these same sportsmen (and sportswomen) are some of the staunchest supporters of our fish and game laws. However, there is a small percentage of people who disregard the law and break the rules. They hunt or fish without a license or they harvest animals or fish out of season. These unscrupulous people are called poachers.
In general, poaching means the illegal taking, killing or processing of fish, game or nongame wildlife. A poacher is a thief who steals wildlife that belongs to each Indiana citizen. Unscrupulous poachers rob licensed, ethical hunters, anglers and trappers of the recreational opportunities they purchased through license fees. Poachers are also a bad reflection on ethical hunters and anglers because media reports often mis-label the poachers as “hunters” or “fishermen”. Poachers are neither – they are criminals.
Luckily, sportsmen can help put a stop to poaching by calling Indiana’s TIP hotline to report hunting, fishing and trapping violations. TIP stands for “Turn In a Poacher”. Better yet, ordinary citizens can also access the TIP hotline to report poachers. After all, we can use all the help we can get and ordinary citizens and property owners often keep a sharp eye out for suspicious activities on their own property.
For example, earlier this winter a concerned citizen called the TIP hotline to notify conservation officers that three suspicious individuals were driving through a field on an ATV and were shooting at deer with a high-powered rifle. Conservation officers responded and documented the suspects shooting at deer, with some of the shots being fired after legal shooting hours. Officers discovered the suspect’s residence and found three deer hanging outside of the house. After an investigation the suspect admitted to shooting the deer after legal shooting hours. The three illegally taken deer were seized and the poacher was charged with multiple violations.
As this example demonstrates, concerned citizens can help fight poaching by calling the TIP hotline to report violations whenever they see them. Turn in a Poacher, Inc. is Indiana’s non-profit conservation organization that protects our fish and wildlife resources by increasing public support and getting the public involved with bringing violators to justice.
Getting involved is easy, and everyone can do it. If you see a poacher at work, call the TIP hotline at 1-800-TIP-IDNR (1-800-847-4367) and talk to a law enforcement officer. Dispatchers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An officer will take your call and the report will be investigated. You may also go online and file a complaint on the DNR website at: www.in.gov/dnr/lawenfor/7608.htm. It’s as easy as that, and all reports are confidential.
If you decide to call-in your report on the TIP hotline, you may remain anonymous if you like. It is not necessary to give your name, and no one who provides information is required to testify in court. Also, under the TIP program cash rewards (up to $200) are offered for information leading to the arrest of fish, wildlife or environmental law violators. The caller in the ATV deer poacher incident will receive a $200 reward for the info they provided to the TIP hotline.
Sportsmen and sportswomen can also make a voluntary contribution by becoming an honorary member of the Turn in a Poacher Indiana Advisory Board. Go to www.tip.wildindiana.com and sign up for an annual membership for $25. All memberships include a special TIP hat, certificate and membership card. All proceeds from memberships, merchandise sales and contributions go directly to assisting Indiana DNR Law Enforcement with catching poachers.
All Hoosier citizens should take the poaching problem seriously. After all, poachers are stealing from us and we should take it personally. Indiana’s conservation officers are on the job and they are ready and willing to work hand in hand with concerned citizens to help put an end to poaching. Our valuable natural resources are worth the effort, so pick up the phone and call TIP.