Operation Game Thief provides safe, fast way for citizens to help catch poachers
PRATT — You see a blatant wildlife law violation and it makes you angry, but what can you do? You assume the local game warden is miles away and couldn’t get here in time. What can you do? You follow the laws and regulations and hunting ethics are important to you, but what can you do? The answer is Operation Game Thief.
Operation Game Thief (OGT), 1-877-426-3843, is a program that provides a toll-free number for anyone witnessing wildlife-related violations to call immediately and make a report. All calls received through the OGT line are immediately relayed to the natural resource officer nearest the violation. The line is available anytime of day or night, every day of the year, and callers may remain anonymous.
Each year, Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks and Tourism (KDWPT) game wardens check tens of thousands of hunters in the field, and about 96 percent of them are law-abiding. Unfortunately, many non-hunters don’t distinguish between the small percentage of those who break wildlife laws and the majority who hunt legally. KDWPT game wardens work long hours during the fall, but most have large territories to cover, and they are much more effective with help from hunters and landowners who witness illegal activity.
When reporting a wildlife crime, remember these two important reporting rules:
• never confront suspects; and
• provide as much specific information as possible, such as vehicle descriptions and license tag numbers, descriptions of people involved, locations, and the time and location the incident occurred.
OGT calls have resulted in arrests and convictions on violations ranging from public lands vandalism to deer poaching. In many cases, poachers have been arrested within minutes of the call. Even drug operations have been uncovered by alert hunters using this number. Remember, when you see someone violating wildlife laws, they are stealing from you and damaging the image of all hunters. Help bring them to justice by calling OGT at 1-877-426-3843.