by Regional Conservation Officer Mark Hill, Lewiston, Idaho
Hunting knife, spotlight and .22 caliber rifle with laser pointer taped to barrel seized by SCO Crawford.
Wildlife violators rarely consider themselves “poachers”. The vast majority rationalize their violations and provide excuses to justify their actions.
In a recent interview of a violator who claimed responsibility for unlawfully killing many big game animals, he steadfastly denied being a “poacher”. He claimed he never “wasted” any of the animals he poached. Ironically, he was finally cited for unlawfully killing a moose and wasting the meat.
On some occasions, however, the violator gives ample evidence of being a “poacher” and even appears to embrace the identity.
In January, after most seasons had closed, Senior Conservation Officer (SCO) Eric Crawford responded to a wildlife violation call from a concerned individual.
Late in the night, Crawford headed to the area where the illegal activity was taking place. He made his way alone on a dead end road where the suspect(s) had been seen.
He located a parked vehicle with a single occupant. Upon securing this individual, SCO Crawford learned there was a second suspect, on foot, still out in the woods. Eventually the second suspect walked out of the dark, claiming to have only been looking for shed antlers. He denied having a firearm and would only acknowledge the spotlight and a couple of knives in his pack.
Hunting knife seized from suspect who was using a spotlight to hunt deer closed season.
After questioning the suspect, SCO Crawford was able to get him to admit to having used the spotlight to aid in locating and shooting at two whitetail deer.
Crawford was then able to backtrack along the suspect’s path in the snow and find a rifle about seventy yards back on the trail. The suspect was cited for attempting to take deer in a closed season and attempting to take deer with an artificial light.
Among the items Officer Crawford seized from the suspect was a .22 caliber rifle with a laser pointer taped to the barrel and a hunting knife with the word “POACHER” etched into the blade. There were twenty hash marks scratched on the blade - a testament to the amount of wildlife this individual had stolen from honest sportsmen and women of the state.
In spite of this evidence, the suspect still tried to distance himself from the label of “poacher” by claiming the knife belonged to someone else.
Not everyone will agree on who deserves the label of “poacher”. Some folks think that “party hunters” are not the same as people who take animals during a closed season.
Call them what you want, but any person who violates the law to unfairly take game is stealing your wildlife and opportunity.
While this case represents an outstanding investigation by the officer, the case was solved because someone took the effort to make the call and report the violation.
The success of our wildlife law enforcement program is directly related to the willingness of the public to report violations. We need to protect our hunting heritage. Show your commitment to our wildlife resources, report wildlife violators and be a champion for lawful and ethical hunting behavior.
The vast majority of wildlife crimes go undetected. Make a difference; make the call to Citizen’s Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999.
Idaho is a member of the Wildlife Violator Compact, which means that if an individual’s hunting, fishing or trapping license is revoked by any of the 42 member states; all the remaining states will revoke the same license or privilege for the same time period. Anyone with information about a wildlife violation are encouraged to “Make the Call” and contact the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline at 1-800-632-5999. Callers may remain anonymous, and they may be eligible for a reward.
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