RAP Hotline – Report All Poachers

January 28, 2009 by  

By Doug Leier

As a young deer hunter on opener morning one year in the late 1980s, I was out scouting the landscape as day broke in south central North Dakota. It wasn’t so much to watch for deer moving around as it was to just scan the field and let my imagination paint scenarios of where the deer would break out of cover, who would push, and which guys would post.

Every deer opener is unique, even if you’ve hunted the same piece of land the same way for 20 years. This day was no different.

As I crept up the prairie trail along the west edge of dad’s quarter, I saw a car slow down, like the occupants were waiting for something to happen. I stopped my car, turned it off and watched to see what would unfold.

Sure enough, the driver stopped the vehicle abruptly, exited with a shotgun in hand and before I could roll the window down I heard two shotgun blasts and saw a rooster drop to the ground. He ran into dad’s CRP, retrieved the bird, jumped into the car and sped off. The land was posted and as a young hunter I wasn’t quite sure what to do.

Should I run him down? Call the sheriff? My indecision proved costly as I hesitantly followed him back toward town.

I knew the make and model of the vehicle and had a rough description of the occupant. I drove by the Logan County courthouse a couple of times, arguing with myself as to what I should do? Report it? Try to find the car in town, or just shrug it off?

In the end, my failure to jot down a few important notes solidified my decision to pass it off.

If you see or encounter a game and fish violation, the first thing you should do is make sure of what you witnessed, and write down the time and describe the place in as much detail as possible. Jot down a description of the vehicle and license number if you see it, and a narrative of what you observed and who did what. Was it the passenger who shot out the window, or did both the driver and passenger shoot?

After writing down all the pertinent information, call 800-472-2121. This is the 24-hour access number to State Radio dispatch in Bismarck. It is also the North Dakota Report All Poachers hotline number.

If the crime just occurred, time is of the essence. Even if you have the local game warden’s office number, chances are he or she is out in the field. By calling the toll-free RAP number, the dispatcher will call out, page or track down other law enforcement, such as s deputy sheriff, who might assist until the game warden arrives.

People who encounter game law violations should not attempt to stop or apprehend the suspects. Professional law enforcement officers are best suited to address the situation.

North Dakota has one of the nation’s smaller game law enforcement divisions. High interest in hunting and outdoor activity make it important for citizens to get involved when they witness wildlife crime. North Dakota wardens on average cover about 2,700 square miles in their districts, so it’s obviously impossible for wardens to be everywhere at once.

For this simple reason, game wardens appreciate the RAP hotline and vigilant citizens. Callers may remain anonymous, and information leading to arrest and conviction can yield rewards ranging from $100 to $1,000.

RAP is a unique, user-funded program. Judges may order equipment used by offenders forfeited to the state by as part of the sentence upon conviction. Funds for rewards are generated by an auction of confiscated equipment including guns, binoculars and even vehicles.

This cooperative arrangement between the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, State Radio, North Dakota Wildlife Federation and concerned citizens is a necessity for the state’s wildlife law enforcement officers.

Think of poaching as stealing. This fall, if you witness a game law violation, instead wondering what you can do, let your fingers do the walking and call the RAP hotline.


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