Help Stop Poaching!
Fighting poachers has always been an important part of the National Wild Turkey Federation's wild turkey restoration efforts.
Hunters realize that game laws keep wildlife populations healthy for future seasons and future generations, but some people don't always follow the laws. These poachers damage both the resource and hunting's reputation as a force for conservation.
Wade Spence, a conservation officer with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission who won the 2003 Arkansas Wildlife Officer of the Year award from the NWTF, has a few tips for people who want to help stop poachers.
"The first thing to remember is to try and stay out of a confrontation," said Spence. "If you've witnessed a violation and confront the person, you might scare them into the next state before we can catch them. It's also not safe to confront someone who might have a firearm."
Poaching Prevention Tips:
Notify your local law enforcement officer of suspicious vehicles parked during the off-season in places where game is abundant.
Also notify wildlife officers if you hear shots early in the morning or late in the evening before seasons are open, or during non-legal shooting hours.
If you witness a violation, take note of the vehicle's description, including: vehicle make, model and color, license plate number and state, direction of travel leaving the site and the number of occupants in the vehicle.
Know how to contact your local law enforcement officer. Many states have poaching hotline numbers to call, often printed on hunting and fishing licenses. Program these into your cell phone.
"Poaching prevention programs vary from state to state," said Spence, "but many states feature reward programs for people who provide evidence that helps convict a poacher. In Arkansas you can get half the money from a fine if a poacher you reported is convicted."
The NWTF also helps combat poaching. NWTF state, local and provincial chapters have spent more than $400,000 from the Wild Turkey Super Fund since 1985 to support state-sponsored reward programs, including reward payments for information leading to the arrest of wild turkey poachers.
"Most hunters are ethical individuals who enjoy participating in a great sport," said Rob Keck, NWTF CEO. "We started our reward program to help catch those people who don't care about regulations or sharing America's hunting heritage with others."
In addition to the reward program, the NWTF has spent more than $150,000 to provide robotic turkeys, surveillance equipment and other equipment to wildlife law enforcement personnel over the last three years.
Each February, the NWTF recognizes the contributions of wildlife law enforcement personnel at its annual Convention and Sport Show held. This year, Lt. Gene Newman of Florida received the NWTF's 2004 Wildlife Officer of the Year in Columbus, Ohio.