You might not know it, but you're the key to fighting poaching in Utah. "You're crucial to our law enforcement efforts," says Captain Rick Olson with the Division of Wildlife Resources. "We need your eyes, your help and your support."
Olson says DWR officers catch plenty of wildlife violators on their own. But many more violators &mdash including many who commit serious wildlife crimes — are caught because someone was watching and called the DWR.
With many of Utah's hunting seasons in full swing, Olson says it's vital that you report any suspicious activity you see. You can report this activity one of three ways:
Witnessing a violation
If you see a wildlife violation occur, calling Utah's Turn in a Poacher hotline is the best way to get an officer to the scene.
The hotline — 1-800-662-3337 — is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If you can't remember the UTiP number, pull out your Utah hunting or fishing license or permit. The number is written on the license or permit.
Olson says when you call 1-800-662-3337, the person who takes your call will patch you through to the DWR officer nearest to where the incident is occurring.
DWR officers also have computers in their vehicles. As soon as a call is received, information from the caller appears on the computer screens of every DWR officer in the state.
If you can't remember the UTiP number, and you don't have your license or permit with you because you're not hunting or fishing, call the nearest police dispatch center.
The center will send a DWR officer or another law enforcement officer to the scene.
If you find something suspicious — for example, a big game animal that's missing its head — or if you have any other information you want to share about a possible wildlife violation, you can report it two ways:
Type the information in at http://go.usa.gov/82Y. You can also email the information to officers at TurnInaPoacher@utah.gov.
|Four men were arrested in 2009 for killing 18 deer in Juab County. (Scott Root photo) |
Olson says if send information through the Web page or the email address, officers won't receive the information immediately. "If you need to get in touch with us right away," he says, "call 1-800-662-3337."
What to look for
If you see anything that seems suspicious or out of the ordinary — such as a person raising a gun to shoot something and then lowering the gun as soon as he or she notices your vehicle — let the DWR know.
"Please call us," Olson says. "Even if what you saw doesn't look like a big deal to you, let us know about it. Some of our most significant cases started when someone called us with a small tip that led us to more information."
If you see something suspicious or out of the ordinary, Olson says you shouldn't confront the person who is committing the violation. Instead, contact the DWR immediately.
Be a good witness
A license plate number is the most important piece of information you can give to officers. Olson says callers often provide only the color of the suspect's vehicle. "That's good information to have," Olson says, "but what we really need is a license plate number."
A description of the person and the location where the violation is occurring are also crucial. "If you have a GPS unit with you," Olson says, "give us the coordinates. GPS coordinates are really helpful in getting us to the right scene as quick as possible."
"Officers on Patrol" web page
Visiting the "Officers on patrol" Web page is a great way to learn about some of Utah's most recent poaching arrests and to stay current on poaching cases DWR officers need your help with. The page is available at http://go.usa.gov/8TL.