Does it make you mad when you hear about someone who takes wildlife unlawfully? What kind of ego must a person have to think they are above the law and everyone else’s right to hunt or just enjoy viewing wildlife? Poaching is stealing. Plain & simple. Theft of the public’s natural resources. Plus, it interferes with wildlife managers’ abilities to provide proper management of the wildlife and their habitat when they are taken out of season without a permit. I can’t think of a good reason for anyone to steal – except if they are starving – and I haven’t seen too many in these parts that look like they have missed many meals. These thieves’ bad behavior affects all of us.
The AZGFD has a program to try and catch poachers call Operation Game Thief. It is like Silent Witness where if a person has knowledge on a poaching crime or even of suspicious activity, they can report it, and by state law, if desired, remain anonymous and their confidentiality is protected. A toll-free hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-352-0700. Or, the information can be reported online at http://www.azgfd.gov/ogt_form.shtml.
Rewards are paid if the information leads to an arrest. They vary depending upon the value of the animal and other guidelines. The following are the criteria for minimum reward payments for information that results in an arrest for the reported violation:
- For cases that involve bighorn sheep, buffalo, elk, bald eagles, antelope, bear, deer, javelina, mountain lion, turkey, or threatened and endangered wildlife: $500
- For cases that involve other wildlife that are not covered above (fish, small game, nongame, etc.), a minimum of $50, not to exceed $150.
- For cases that involve any wildlife, an additional $1,000 may be made available based on:
- The value of the information;
- The unusual value of the wildlife;
- The number of individual animals taken;
- Whether or not the individual who committed the unlawful act was arrested for commercialization of wildlife;
- Whether or not the individual who committed the unlawful act is a repeat offender.
According to sources, a raid was conducted recently with violation citations issued against someone in the Rim Country area. Since the case is so recent, it’s not known yet if the County Attorney has decided to prosecute. Plus, all are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If you are a poacher, beware. Game officials are looking for you…