SALEM, Oregon (KTVZ) — When people conjure up the image of a poacher, it’s usually a seedy character who shoots a trophy buck or bull out of season or unlabeled for the thrill of the kill, the antlers, or the flesh. But other wildlife that is not hunted is also poached.
A new coalition wants to counter that. Eight nonprofits have joined the state’s efforts to fight poaching by creating a new cash rewards program for tipsters who call the OSP Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line — this time benefiting these “non-wild” species on which is not hunted, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife said Wednesday.
The Oregon Wildlife Coalition (OWC) will pay rewards of $500 to $1,000 for poaching reports that lead Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers to an arrest or subpoena. OWC launched the new rewards program to tackle non-wild species poaching.
“Oregon has a pervasive poaching problem and we want to be part of the solution,” said Danielle Moser, a representative of the coalition. “When poachers kill wildlife, they steal from all Oregon residents who value and enjoy our state’s wildlife and the wild places they call home. Our goal is to encourage members of the public to report suspicious or illegal wildlife activity to the Oregon State Police.”
The OWC Rewards Fund will provide monetary incentives to members of the public who report poaching of both wild and non-wild species. In addition to game species such as deer, moose and bears, the new reward fund will also cover species such as birds of prey, small mammals and reptiles.
For example, OWC pays $500 as a reward for poaching tips on eagles, hawks, owls and other birds of prey. They pay $1,000 for poaching tips for animals listed as “endangered” or “endangered” through the state or federal Endangered Species Act — wildlife such as wolverines, kit foxes, red tree mice, and sea otters.
Endangered species include those entering wildlife trade systems through pet trade, wet markets and illegal online sales. Pond dwellers such as frogs, turtles, reptiles, and other small animals, for example, are easy to catch and keep or sell. Such a catch can devastate the balance of micro-ecosystems.
The new fund is similar to an existing program administered by Oregon Hunters Association (OHA), which offers monetary rewards for tips leading to arrest or subpoenas for poachers targeting game species. OHA rewards include reports of game such as moose, deer and waterfowl, for which there are regular hunting seasons. In 2020, OHA handed out more than $20,000 in cash rewards.
The hope is that poachers will think twice before going after non-wild animals like hawks, owls and eagles for the thrill of killing, according to ODFW Stop Poaching campaign manager, Yvonne Shaw.
“Raptors, which eat incredible numbers of mice, voles and other pests in crops, have been targeted,” she said. “We lose a lot of incredible birds every year to thrill-killers.”
ODFW will continue to offer hunter preference points as a reward to tipsters if they prefer it over the cash rewards offered by OWC and the Oregon Hunters Association. More information can be found on the OSP Fish and Wildlife Division website†
The Stop poaching campaign teaches the public how to recognize and report poaching. It is a collaboration between government agencies, athletes and other conservationists, landowners and recreationists to engage the public in combating the poaching problem in Oregon.
The goals are to encourage the reporting of wildlife crime via the TIP line; strengthen enforcement by increasing the number of OSP Fish and Wildlife Troopers; and support the prosecution to become an effective deterrent. The campaign helps protect and improve Oregon’s fish and wildlife and their habitat for current and future generations to enjoy. For more information, please contact campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw. [email protected]†
If you know or suspect other crimes against fish wildlife or habitat, please report them to the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line. 1-800-452-7888 or *OSP (*677) from a mobile phone. Or email: [email protected] between the hours of 8-5 Mon-Fri.