Helping Your Local Conservation Law Enforcement Officer
"One of the biggest gripes us game wardens have is finding out a week later from someone at the gas station or the grocery store that someone was trespassing on their property," said Robert Sulkowski, Missouri Conservation Agent. "We rarely hear about these cases until it's too late. By then, it's almost impossible to make a case."
Sulkowski said calling your local department of conservation when you witness an illegal act can help officers make a case.
"You can't imagine how many stories I've heard from hunters getting to their tree stands and finding someone sitting in them," Sulkowski said. "Keeping a cell phone with you can help us catch these trespassers before they get away."
Another way a cell phone can come in handy is if you spot someone hunting out of season.
"Early hunting is another big problem we have," Sulkowski said. "You might have 10 turkeys on a ridge two weeks before the season starts. It's frustrating when opening day comes around and there are only two birds left."
Participating in your state's Operation Game Thief or other outdoor crime stopper programs is another way to help your local conservation law enforcement officer catch these criminals. These programs offer rewards to people for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a wildlife crime.
"I give hundreds of dollars worth of rewards a year to people who turn in criminals," Sulkowski said.
As with any aspect of being outdoors, safety is a key concern. Sulkowski warns against confronting poachers or trespassers on your own. It is easy for tempers to flare in such situations. Instead, he recommends you call a conservation officer immediately and try to keep an eye on the whereabouts of the offender from a safe distance. If the person should leave before the officer can get to the location, try to get a license plate number of their vehicle or any other physical description of the suspect that will help the officers in their investigation.