It’s about this time every year when Wildlife and Fisheries’ enforcement agents count their blessings every morning.
That’s because most of the field agents spend nights chasing the bad guys.
As far advanced as we are as civilized people — or as far advanced as we should be — we continually find folks who want to steal what so many have worked so hard for and for so many years to re-establish in our state.
You see, 60 years ago there weren’t that many whitetail deer in our state. Numbers had fallen so low that state wildlife biologists went to other states to get deer to restore populations in every corner of our state.
Yes, night hunting is stealing. So is poaching, and with the Wildlife and Fisheries setting replacement value on a single whitetail deer at $1,624.61, doesn’t illegally taking a deer make the crime a felony?
When you dig deeper into this illegal activity, there’s a percentage that’s tied to what our laws consider to be “major” crimes, criminal actions like dealing drugs and stolen-car and burglary rings.
Certainly we can understand a family’s need for this activity to provide food for the family table, but those instances are so rare they show up very infrequently in agents’ reports.
What’s bothersome is that so many of us, some district attorneys and some judges among us, regard any illegal take of deer as something just little more than a prank, an error in judgment or outright mischief.
Isn’t it time that we look at the illegal take of game and fish as the crime that it is?
How many of us would bury our heads in the nearest hole if we saw someone breaking into and stealing from our neighbors?
Yet that’s what poaching and night hunting are — and we should treat the violators as the criminals they are.
How can you help?
Call Operation Game Thief for one. Its hotline is (800) 442-2511.
In October, LOGT, the state’s wildlife crime-stoppers program, awarded $6,500 to folks who reported violations at the group’s quarterly meeting in Mansura.
And there’s something new — tip411 — launched by the LDWF in September to take advantage of mobile communication devices.
The LDWF’s tip411 launch advised, “citizens can text their tip to 847411 or download the ‘LADWF Tips’ iPhone app from the Apple iTunes store free of charge.”
CitizenObserver monitors the system for the LDWF and removes the sender’s identity before forwarding the information to the LDWF.
“Texting or downloading the app enables the public to send anonymous tips to LDWF and lets LDWF respond back, creating a two-way anonymous chat,” the LDWF advisory read. “Users of the app or texters can also send in photos to help support their claim and be used as evidence.”
Both programs are monitored 24 hours a day.