Monday, January 27, 2020


Once in a while I learn news about blatant acts of poaching. I see are stories of fishermen catching three or four times the daily limit of fish. News is made when a trophy deer is found to have been shot by a poacher hunting with artificial lights at night. There are occasional accounts of shady operators netting, snagging or using other methods to catch fish they then sell at the back door of restaurants to illegally profit from their illicit works.

Luckily, these reports are few and far between. By and large, the number of illegal operators perpetrating these overt acts is small. That’s why when a serial poacher or poaching ring is nabbed, it’s newsworthy.

Most anglers don't use illegal nets or other methods
Unfortunately, far more total damage to fish and wildlife populations occur by illegal hunting or fishing by individuals or small scale operations. The spotlighting poacher who goes out several nights each week and bangs down a deer or two each time is easy to notice and an easy target for Conservation Officers. Chances are, the guy who gets “his buck” this way once each year or guns down a doe only when his freezer runs low on venison has a much better chance of getting away with the crime.

Call 1-800-TIP-IDNR if you notice deer spotlighers
It’s the same thing with illegal fishing operations. It’s much easier for a skilled poacher to occasionally catch an overload of fish than for a skilled bank robber to occasionally stick-up the local Fifth-Third. 

Here in Indiana most counties have one Conservation Officer assigned. Only a few counties have two or three DNR officers - and the counties with multiple teams are those with high human populations and/or are high outdoor activity counties such as Parke County with two state parks, a major reservoir and numerous other places outdoor oriented people hunt, fish, camp or hike.

Realistically, the vast majority of hunters, trappers and fishermen are by-the-book operators. They pay more attention to fish and wildlife regulations than they do to motor vehicle laws. This strict adherence to “rules following” is a part of hunter ethics taught in hunter education programs and fishing legally is ingrained as parents or others mentor young anglers as they progress from being a first timer, to novice to experienced. To the vast majority of outdoors people, shooting past the limit or using illegal methods to catch a fish seems as foreign, stupid or unconscionable as driving the wrong way on a one-way street.

Another reason is due to the fear of being caught.

Why do they fear being caught?  Didn’t I already say their chance of encountering a Conservation Officer is low?” 

I did! However, the Indiana TIP (standing for “Turn in a Poacher”) is more feared by wanton violators (whatever the scale of their violations) than their worry of being caught by an officer. The TIP program effectively deputizes every citizen of Indiana to watch for illegal hunting, fishing, trespassing and other outdoor activities and gives everyone an easy-to-remember way to turn in a bad operator.

The easiest way is to call the TIP hotline which is manned 24/7 using the easy-to-remember phone number: 1-800-TIP-IDNR (800-847-4367).  That’s the best way to get an immediate response. An online TIP form can be accessed at: The call comes in and the details are turned over to a Conservation Officer as soon as possible.

All tips to TIP can be anonymous. If a tipster wants to be rewarded, they can still be anonymous to the perpetrator, but if the tip leads to an arrest, a reward up to $200 can be given.
Indiana Conservation Officers respond to a TIP - tip. 
Since 9/11 officials have been advising people, “If you see something, say something.” The same thing can be said for people wanting to keep Indiana’s fish and wildlife healthy for all citizens to enjoy, legally. If you suspect a fish or wildlife law is being broken, report it. Jot down all the pertinent details, what’s going on, the violator’s description, details about the car, boat or other equipment (including license or registrations numbers), the time, place and anything else which will make the investigating officer’s job easier.
Commit the phone number to memory - 1-800-TIP-IDNR.