Report a Poacher makes online debut
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