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The Game Trail

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We need your help to eliminate poaching

Summer seems to be flying by once again; it’s hard to believe that the 4th of July weekend is behind us! We’re about four months away before the snow flies!

Relatively speaking, it was a pretty docile holiday in regards to activity. I’m used to seeing more people in the woods doing stupid things to themselves and the resource. Maybe it was the cost of fuel or that the holiday fell on a Friday? Regardless, I sure enjoyed the fact that I didn’t have to write a ticket all weekend.

Game wardens like to convince themselves that when they did not write a ticket on a busy holiday weekend then people must be following the rules, and we’re doing our job. Well, stupid me, just as I was basking in the idea that it was the first holiday weekend in my career that something didn’t happen... the phone rang. Dispatch was reporting that poaching activity just occurred in Bonner County. Turns out, some chemically motivated thugs thought it was a good idea to shoot a deer in July. The case is still in the works so I don’t want to get into details, but you all will be glad when these folks get their due justice.

We would have never detected this violation if it wasn’t for the public’s help. Somebody decided to take the time out of their day to pay attention and get involved. To tell you the truth folks, without your help, game wardens across the state wouldn’t be able to successfully do their job. We work for the people of Idaho in defending our hunting heritage by enforcing wildlife laws. And you can thank the resident and non-resident sportsmen that hunt in Idaho for footing that bill. Remember, wildlife enforcement does not operate on tax dollars, only on license fees.

Please, hunter or not, pay attention and get involved. It’s our duty as sportsman to report violations. What should you do if you witness a wildlife crime? First off, your safety is the biggest concern for us. Please do not confront the violator or engage in any behavior that could be a detriment to your personal safety. That’s our job as game wardens to deal with the bad guys. Your job is to collect the necessary information that will lead us to the bad guys. License plates, license plates, license plates; I can’t emphasize enough how important that information is to law enforcement. If that’s impossible, document as much information as you can about the vehicle, such as color, make, model, unique features, bumper stickers, etc. Try to be the best observer you can by remembering crucial items like time, date, location, and physical description of the violator.

Now that you collected all this helpful information, what do you do with it? There are a number of options for calling in poaching activity. You can call the Citizens Against Poaching hotline at 800-632-5999. This number rings at a call center that is manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The operator will ask you for information regarding the poaching activity. Immediately the operator will call the local game warden with the details. By calling the poaching hotline you may be eligible for a reward depending if an arrest is made.

Another option is to call county dispatch. Sometimes this may get the quickest response because dispatch has many ways of getting a hold of a local warden. In Bonner County, many of our Sheriff’s deputies and our ISP officers are sportsmen who are more than happy to help with wildlife violations, and are well within their jurisdictions. In some instances they are the first officer on the scene of a wildlife violation and do a tremendous job helping us make cases. If local dispatch gets a hot poaching call they can get an officer to the scene pretty quickly, no matter which agency that officer works for.

The third way to report a wildlife violation is to call our home office numbers that are listed in the phone book, or call the IDFG regional office in Coeur d’Alene. I only recommend this method if the poaching is cold or you want to report activity that is not in progress. The reason being is that our home phones obviously ring in our homes, so if we are out working, we’re going to miss your call and the important information. If we are not working, it’s likely we’re not paying attention to phone. Bottom line folks, please make the call and as always, callers will remain anonymous.

In my travels this weekend I checked out some of my favorite huckleberry patches. The berry production is way behind, but coming out none the less. As long we don’t start to have hot, dry weather, I think we should be okay. We’ve been doing pretty good so far this year, let’s keep our fingers crossed. I know the bears are keeping their claws crossed; they look a little hungry out there.

Are the kids already bored this summer? Lace up the hiking boots and hit some of our high mountain lakes for some great exercise and a little mental therapy. Mosquitoes are a little bad this year so don’t forget the bug spray; West Nile Virus is at our back door, if not already here.

Leave no child inside.

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Matt Haag Matt Haag is an Idaho Fish and Game Conservation Officer.

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