Sportsmen Remain Vigilant For Poachers
by Tom Berg
Ethical hunters, fishermen and trappers will be pursuing their favorite sports this fall and winter, enjoying the beautiful Hoosier outdoors and re-connecting with nature. Some will be fishing for steelhead trout in the creeks of northern Indiana, while in just about every corner of the state others will be sitting in deer stands, hunting for that big buck. Still others will be running their traplines for coyotes, raccoons, beavers and other furbearers.
Regardless of what animal species these men and women pursue, the vast majority of sportsmen take great care to practice their sport lawfully and ethically. They buy their sporting licenses, tags and stamps and they obey the laws. They observe the legal season dates and they never overbag. Shoot after legal shooting hours? Never.
However, there are some people who disregard the rules. They hunt or fish without a license or they harvest animals or fish out of season. These unethical 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. Poachers rob licensed, ethical anglers, hunters and trappers of the recreational opportunities they purchased through license fees.
Believe it or not, each of us can help in the war against poachers. Since we are out there in the woods, fields and waters, we can see when illegal activities are taking place. For example, a few years ago salmon anglers near Valparaiso in northern Indiana observed a group of poachers wading in Salt Creek, wielding large landing nets. The poachers were trying to net the spawning salmon, and they didn’t even bring fishing poles to make it look like they were fishing! A quick call to the TIP hotline put an end to their illegal activities.
Last year in southern Indiana, hunters and concerned sportsmen provided multiple tips to conservation officers about poachers shooting at deer at night, baiting deer with food and attracting deer with blocks of salt. One report even described a poacher shooting at a deer at night from the road while still in his vehicle. Besides breaking multiple laws, that act was extremely dangerous. Luckily, a call to the TIP hotline put conservation officers on his trail.
As the examples above explain, concerned sportsmen can help fight poaching by calling the TIP hotline to report fishing and hunting violations when they see them. TIP stands for “Turn In a Poacher”. Turn in a Poacher, Inc. is Indiana’s non-profit conservation organization. The TIP program protects our fish and wildlife resources by increasing public support and getting the public involved with bringing violators to justice.
Getting involved is easy, too. 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/2745.htm. It’s as easy as that, and all reports are confidential.
If you decide to call-in your report on the TIP hotline, rest assured that you may remain anonymous if you wish. 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.
Sportsmen and sportswomen can also help by becoming an honorary member of the Turn in a Poacher 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. You can purchase TIP hats separately. You may also make a separate donation in a different amount if you like. All proceeds from memberships, merchandise sales and contributions go directly to assisting Indiana DNR Law Enforcement with catching poachers.
All Hoosier sportsmen 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 ethical sportsmen to help put an end to poaching. Our valuable natural resources are worth the effort, so pick up the phone and call TIP.
“TIP provides an opportunity for Indiana Citizens to have an active part in the protection of our Natural Resources and be the eyes and the ears for our Indiana Conservation Officers, so that our future generations may have the opportunity to enjoy our natural resources as well.”
TIP Board President Joe Cales