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Poachers beware – public plays a vital role in fighting wildlife crime


IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - When it comes to poaching Idaho’s wildlife, many concerned citizens are saying, “Enough is enough!” And they are doing something about it. 

“Tips from the public are invaluable,” Salmon District Conservation Officer Jordan Costner said. “Our officers cannot be everywhere at once, so reports from the public help with many cases that may go undetected.”

Here are three recent examples from the Salmon Region where the public has played a critical role in helping officers combat wildlife crimes.

Digging up treasure 

An officer in Stanley received an unusual report from hunters in the Seafoam area who stated they observed a suspicious individual burying something along a ridge. The report included a photograph and a partial license plate. Through curiosity and investigative skills, the officer made two important discoveries: he was able to successfully identify the vehicle and individual, and he found the site and dug up a decaying deer fawn. 

During the initial interview, the individual stated to the officer that he brought the deer fawn from his home in North Dakota to use as bait for his wolf traps. He also admitted he thought he might be in trouble for transporting the deer into Idaho because of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) concerns. The trapper was issued a citation for the importation of deer into Idaho from a CWD confirmed state.

Absent-minded archery hunters

An officer in Challis received a report through the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP)hotline of two archery hunters using ATVs in Unit 37A, a unit managed under the motorized hunt rule. The report included pictures of the ATVs and license plate numbers. The officer coordinated with another officer out of the area and was able to locate and interview the ATV users. Both riders admitted to violating the motorized hunt rule. Additional violations were also discovered including failure to register ATVs, violation of road closures, and hunting without an archery permit. Both individuals were issued citations, with the cases currently pending in court.

Got gun - no problem

After receiving a report of a suspicious archery hunter with a mule deer buck, an officer in Salmon responded and made contact with the hunter. The officer noticed a freshly harvested skinned out deer carcass and a full cape and head of the buck. The individual in possession of the deer later presented a deer tag that was not validated. The individual stated that he had harvested the buck that evening with archery equipment. But after further questioning, the hunter admitted to “finishing the deer off” by shooting it with a firearm. 

Suspecting additional violations, the officer issued the suspect a citation for improperly tagged wildlife and seized the deer carcass and cape. After conducting a necropsy of the deer, the officer was able to gather evidence that clearly showed the deer had been shot with a rifle and not with archery equipment The suspect was issued citations for possession of unlawfully taken wildlife and taking big game with a firearm during archery only season. This case is pending in court.

Without these reports, the violations would likely not have been detected. 

Make the call 

Callers to Idaho’s Citizens Against Poaching hotline, 1-800-632-5999, can report wildlife law violations anonymously, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cash rewards are given to callers who provide information leading to the citation of suspected wildlife law violators. 

Rewards are $250 for birds, fish and general violations; $400 for most big game animals and wild turkey; $700 for bighorn sheep, mountain goat, grizzly, moose and caribou. In special circumstances, these amounts can be higher.

"Many help us solve cases regardless of the reward," Costner said. "But it is an added incentive for some.” 

Citizens who report a wildlife violation are encouraged to note as complete a description as possible of individuals and vehicles involved as well as report it as quickly as possible.

“License plate numbers are extremely useful as well as specific information such as exact location and time,” Costner said. “The more detailed information you provide and the quicker your report it, the more likely a poacher will get caught.”

Learn how you can help by being a good witness.

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