Reporting wildlife crimes

Reporting wildlife crimes

David Sparks Ph.D.
David Sparks Ph.D.
Reporting wildlife crimes – how to be a good witness

Citizens play a critical role in protecting wildlife by reporting violations

Every year Idaho Fish and Game conservation officers rely on citizen reports to identify and investigate wildlife violations throughout the state. Without dedicated sportsmen and women doing the right thing—making the call and reporting—many wildlife violations would go undetected, undocumented and unsolved. 

Concerned citizens often ask how they can help or assist our officers. Simply put, one of the best ways to assist is to be a good witness! 

Being a good witness not only helps our officers, but it ultimately increases the likelihood that the violator abusing Idaho’s wildlife resources is held accountable. 

Here are three simple steps to help you be a good witness if and when you see a wildlife violation.

Document as much as you can  
As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. The same holds true for documenting wildlife violations when you see them. 

These days it’s rare for someone to venture into the woods without a cell phone capable of taking pictures and videos. Getting a photo or video of the violation or violator, without disturbing the scene, is incredibly helpful for our officers.

Focus on the suspect 
Conservation officers often receive reports of wildlife crimes but have little to no information about the offender. Identifying a suspect is often a challenge, so documenting and providing identifying information on possible suspects is crucial to cracking the case. 

Vehicle information often proves vital to identifying suspects. License plates are golden, but so too are descriptions and photos of vehicles. Physical descriptions of suspects are also very helpful, particularly focusing on unique characteristics like tattoos, hair color and style and facial hair. 

Don’t delay in reporting 
Conservation officers usually respond to calls after a wildlife crime has already been committed - playing catch up from the start. Time is of the essence when officers are responding and investigating. As time goes on, suspects get away, evidence disappears, trails go cold and cases go unsolved. 

The sooner you’re able to report the violation you observed or know about, the more likely officers will able to make the case and hold the violator accountable. The Citizens Against Poaching hotline is staffed and available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, for this exact reason—so please don’t delay in making the call!

Previous ReportRoosevelt tidbits
Next ReportMore Roosevelt