Yes. No one knows the exact figures, but studies indicate poachers may kill almost as many animals and fish as legitimate hunters take during legal seasons. If poachers kill even half that number each year, the problem is serious. Poachers do not confine their killing only to game animals. Threatened, endangered and nongame wildlife show up in the poacher's bag as well.
Does it work?
Yes. Operation Game Thief was pioneered by the new Mexico Department of Game and Fish and has been adopted by 49 of the 50 states, including Colorado. Since 1981, Colorado's Operation Game Thief has received more than 2,400 reports of poaching, resulting in more than 700 convictions. These convictions have netted over $600,000 in fines and have resulted in the seizure of more than 1,300 illegally-taken animals. During this period, almost $130,000 in rewards has been paid to citizens who reported suspected illegal activity.
What to look for
Poaching is the illegal taking or possession of any game, fish or nongame wildlife. Hunting out of season or at night using spotlights, or taking more than their legal limit, are obvious signs of poaching. Non-residents buying resident licenses is a violation that also impacts wildlife management.
Provide all the information you can. We need the violation date and time; as exact a location as possible; a description of the violation; number of shots heard; type of weapon, etc; the number of suspects; names and/or identifying features such as age, height, hair color, clothes, etc; a vehicle description including type, year, color and license number. Include any other information you think may be pertinent to the case.
If you know how a poached animal is being transported, or where it is being stored, tell us.
Remember, try to get the information to us as soon as possible. Any delay may mean we might not catch the bad guys!
You can also help by contributing
You can also help by contributing to the reward fund which makes the program possible. Make checks out to Operation Game Thief and send your tax deductible contribution to: Operation Game Thief, c/o Parks and Wildlife, 6060 Broadway, Denver, CO 80216. Remember, the reward fund depends on your contributions. With your help, something can and will be done about poaching.
People who turn in poachers may receive preference points or even licenses in some cases. Find out more from the Turn in Poachers (TIP) program.