Missourians care a great deal about their wildlife resources, and the vast majority of Show-Me-State hunters are ethical sports people who respect their prey and abide by the rules. Unfortunately, there are some who don’t.
The Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) reminds you that you can help put poachers out of business with the Operation Game Thief (OGT) hotline. The OGT recently lead MDC and St. Louis County authorities to put the wraps on poaching activity, which included 30 violations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.
Thanks to multiple tips through the hotline and the aid of St. Louis County Police, Jefferson County Conservation Agent Kyle Dunda was able to stop illegal hunting activity being conducted this past October in west St. Louis and north Jefferson counties. Agent Dunda issued the individual responsible for the poaching citations for taking over the limit of antlered deer, illegal possession of deer, taking wildlife from a public roadway, and taking deer with the aid of an artificial light.
Anyone seeing illegal or suspicious hunting-related activity afield is encouraged to call the OGT hotline at 1-800-392-1111. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day. Callers can remain anonymous, and if their tips lead to an arrest they may choose to be considered for a cash reward of up to $1,000, sponsored by the Conservation Federation of Missouri.
“We appreciate the concerned citizens who gave us helpful information through the OGT hotline and the cooperation of St. Louis County Police Officer Brian Gailis,” said Dunda. “It was truly a partnership that made this case successful.”
Poaching includes hunting without proper permits, hunting outside prescribed seasons, taking prohibited species of wildlife, taking wildlife through illegal methods, or exceeding legal limits.
When using the hotline, Agent Dunda recommended callers do their best to note details such as:
- Identity of the suspect, if known
- Physical description of suspect
- The what, when, and where of the suspicious activity
- Vehicle descriptions
- License plate numbers
Dunda said poachers deprive all Missourians—hunters and non-hunters alike—of legitimate opportunities to pursue, view, and appreciate our state’s wildlife. Hunting without proper permits cheats taxpayers of funds that could be used to manage wildlife populations and provide citizens access to the outdoors. In more extreme cases, illegal hunting or collecting can have negative impacts on entire populations of animals.
“We need as many eyes and ears in the field as possible to help us stop poaching,” said Dunda.
To report illegal or suspicious information to the OGT hotline, call 1-800-392-1111.