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George Little: Turn in poachers

November 11, 2011 at 10:24 AM

The State Journal-Register

Poaching — hunting or fishing illegally — used to be a victimless crime. Nobody thought much about it during hard times when people with no money needed to put food on the table. Those who got caught were told not to do it again. Most of them had already eaten the evidence.

Times have changed. The vast majority of today’s poachers aren’t hungry. They do it for the trophy, or to pump up their guide business, or to make themselves look good on television.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says it’s possible the amount of game and fish being taken illegally is equal to the amount taken by hunters and fishermen who play by the rules. A trophy whitetail deer is just as likely to be killed by a poacher as it is by a legal hunter.

Organized poachers are willing to take the risk and even guide so-called hunters who will pay big bucks for a hunt that promises a shot at a trophy animal — whether it’s legal or not. These “clients” may be fully aware they are signing on with guides or outfitters who operate outside the law.

Success stories are well thought out. Sometimes an animal is transported to another state before the harvest is reported, and some poachers even submit their “trophies” to Boone and Crocket, or Pope and Young for certification.

Today’s professional poachers know how and when to ply their trade and they are good at it. Poaching takes place in remote areas, sometimes at night. It’s hard to catch a law-breaker red-handed.

People like you and me, who spend time in the backcountry, might help slow down poaching if we just refuse to look the other way. Vehicles hidden in out-of-the-way places, and shots fired after dark, may be signs that something fishy is going on. Some poachers are braggarts. Keep your ears open in the local café.

When you’re afield or afloat and see something that doesn’t look right, don’t put yourself at risk by confronting the people in question. Watch from a safe distance.

Gather all the information you can. Get the license number, or the description of a vehicle, or the registration number on a boat. Take pictures on your cell phone.

You can call in a suspected violation on the spot. The DNR hotline number is (877) 2DNRLAW (1-877-236-7529). Program it in your cell phone. Before you call, know where you are. Mark the spot with a GPS. If you have to, leave the area and find the closest road marker.

Target Illinois Poachers has an online form that can be filled out and emailed anonymously by those who don’t want to reveal their identity.

No matter how you do it, reporting a suspected poacher is the right thing to do. They have no respect for the law or for the rules of fair chase. Poachers are thieves who give us all a bad name.

Contact George Little at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

love to see outfitters’  asses kicked out of il. they give hunting a bad name and its only gonna get worse. i pride myself on being a REAL HUNTER,  i dont pay for my deer,  and i get mine LEGALLY. I think farmers should pay commercial tax for leasing their land out for outfitting. poaching has always went on but its getting worse because of the antler envy brought on by people like outfitters

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 11/11 at 05:16 PM

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