Column: Do the right thing, turn in poachersJanuary 31, 2019
Column by Brandon Butler
Turning in a poacher isn’t always the easy choice, but it’s always the right choice.
It may not be easy because some people may fear retribution for their efforts of protecting wildlife. Don’t worry. Thanks to Indiana’s anonymous T.I.P Program (Turn in a Poacher), you can do the right thing with no concern at all of your TIP coming back to haunt you.
Turn in a Poacher, Inc. (TIP) is a non-profit conservation organization that exists to combat poaching. TIP helps protect fish and wildlife from violators. Hunters must do everything we can to publicly attack the practice of poaching, and spreading the word about TIP is one way you can help. It’s our responsibility to report violators, which can be done anonymously through TIP.
Turning in a poacher, isn’t hard for me. I embrace the opportunity to see justice brought to wildlife criminals. Maybe even to a point of being overzealous. Many years ago, I made a mistake by publicizing my efforts to bring down a habitual poacher. In this era of social media, many of have to learn the hard way that “over-sharing” is a real possibility.
I was hunting a beautiful piece of property in southern Monroe County. Two years in a row I had taken bucks worthy of hanging on the wall. The place was a real hidden gem, loaded with deer and turkey and scenically so beautiful you could just sit and stare at the landscape for hours. The only problem was, I shared permission on the property with a serial poacher, and the old farmer who owned the place was happy to see as many deer as possible go down. The poacher was happy to oblige.
After I was informed he had killed his third buck of the year, and probably too many does to count, I went to his house under the guise of just wanting to see the buck he’d killed. When I entered his garage, it looked like a slaughter house for whitetails. I called the local conservation agent as soon as I left. After the agent busted the guy, I wrote an article about the experience and bragged about how I took this bum down. I shouldn’t have done that.
What I should have done is called the T.I.P hotline and made gave my information privately. For one, I’d likely still have permission to hunt this farm, instead of being kicked off for my efforts to protect wildlife and I would not have become the personal target of an enraged criminal and constituents. Do the smart thing, make a T.I.P.
Hunters are the most vocal advocates for punishing poachers. When someone kills wildlife outside the bounds of law, it is a horrible reflection on hunters because the general population often has trouble separating poachers from hunters. And too often, the mainstream media hurts hunters by blaming them for the actions of poachers.
There are a lot of fish and game laws to follow. Sometimes people make honest mistakes and break one of those laws. It’s understandable. But other times a person is poaching on purpose. They know what they are doing is wrong. Hopefully they are caught, taught a lesson and never do it again. Yet, there are the hardened poachers who time and time again reap the resources for personal gain with no concern for the species or the sportsmen who pursue them. We can only hope these criminals are caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and your report can make that happen.
Reporting a violation is simple. Just call (800) 847-4367. There are dispatchers available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And you may be rewarded for your anonymous “T.I.P.” If it leads to an arrest, you may receive as much as a $200 reward.
TIP offers memberships for $25 per year or Life Memberships for $250. TIP offers merchandise for sale that helps fund the program. It is available on the website http://tip.wildindiana.com. You can also make financial contributions to help fund TIP. Send your donations to:
Turn in a Poacher, Inc.
402 W. Washington St.
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Hunters hold the experience of fair chase in their hearts. Hunters conduct themselves ethically, by following game laws, practicing conservation and by embracing the privilege we have to pursue game and fish in this state. Anyone breaking these game laws is a not hunter, they are a poacher and we hunters need to take a stand and fight to end the rampant practice of poaching. If you see poaching taking place, please report the violation through TIP.
Poaching is a crime against all Hoosiers. Our wildlife is held in public trust, meaning it belongs to us all. When one person breaks the law and poaches, it is a crime against the state. Ethical hunters must work together to deter poaching.
See you down the trail…
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