Re­port a Poacher makes on­line de­but

The Drumheller Mail - - REMEMBRANCE DAY 2017 - Terri Hux­ley

The prov­ince is mak­ing it eas­ier to re­port poach­ers by giv­ing Al­ber­tans the op­tion to use smart­phones or com­put­ers to re­port sus­pi­cious hunt­ing or fish­ing ac­tiv­ity.

Un­til now, the only way to re­port poach­ing ac­tiv­ity, dan­ger­ous wildlife or pub­lic land abuse was to phone the 24 Hour Re­port A Poacher hot­line.

“I haven’t seen it but I think it’s prob­a­bly go­ing to be a good thing just be­cause we are in the age now where peo­ple like to com­mu­ni­cate more so over a text or an email,” said Jeff Zim­mer, Fish and Wildlife En­force­ment Of­fi­cer. “I think if it’s go­ing to make things more con­ve­nient for peo­ple to re­port wildlife crimes then it would be a good thing.”

The launch be­gan on Fri­day, Novem­ber 5, where peo­ple can visit the Re­port A Poacher web­site to fill out a form and sub­mit it on­line.

Phon­ing is still the fastest way to reach an of­fi­cer, while the new web­site can be used to re­port is­sues that are less ur­gent.

Peo­ple re­port­ing through either the phone or the web can re­main anony­mous and could also be el­i­gi­ble for a re­ward. Re­wards range from $100 to $1,000.

If a per­son is com­fort­able pro­vid­ing their con­tact in­for­ma­tion, it can help make an in­ves­ti­ga­tion more suc­cess­ful as the in­ves­ti­gat­ing of­fi­cer may have fol­lowup ques­tions. Any per­sonal in­for­ma­tion Al­ber­tans choose to pro­vide is kept con­fi­den­tial.

“It all de­pends on what type of crime peo­ple are re­port­ing,” be­gan Zim­mer. “In some cases, if it’s some­thing mi­nor like a fish­ing vi­o­la­tion or stuff that then we wouldn’t nec­es­sar­ily need a wit­ness to come to court to tes­tify.

If it’s some­thing a lit­tle more se­ri­ous and that’s usu­ally with our wildlife stuff where some­body wit­nesses some­body, we come af­ter the fact and some­times we don’t get a phone call for a day or two af­ter and then we are try­ing to track down sus­pects or any­thing else and that’s go­ing to get us into a sit­u­a­tion where we have to get state­ments from the wit­nesses.

We’ll take any­thing, so the more eyes we have out there re­port­ing this stuff the bet­ter in some cases.”

Emer­gen­cies and in­ci­dents that need im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion should still be re­ported through the 24-hour Re­port A Poacher line at 1-800-642-3800.

In 2016 alone, there were 14,894 calls from the pub­lic to the Re­port A Poacher toll-free hot­line. Of those calls, 3,097 were about sus­pected il­le­gal ac­tiv­ity.

In to­tal, there were 9,133 en­force­ment ac­tions taken by fish and wildlife of­fi­cers which in­cludes charges and writ­ten warn­ings un­der var­i­ous leg­is­la­tion.

Ap­prox­i­mately $108,600 in re­wards were paid to in­di­vid­u­als whose calls and in­for­ma­tion led to charges.

These re­ward pay­ments are funded by the Al­berta Con­ser­va­tion As­so­ci­a­tion.

For re­lated in­for­ma­tion or to sub­mit a form, the pub­lic can visit the gov­ern­ment of Al­berta’s web­site at https:// www. al­berta. ca/ re­port­poacher.aspx

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