Thousands of hunters are moving through the fields and woods of Iowa now with several hunting and trapping seasons underway. The coordinator of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources “Turn in Poachers” or TIP hotline, Steve Dermand, is asking hunters to help ensure all the activity is legal.
Dermand says those who are not hunting can also help out by reporting activity or people who don’t seem right. “A landowner who comes across a big deer carcass lying in his field with the head removed, you know wondering about a buck that was probably poached there on his property. We encourage people who see things, who see other individuals who are doing things that are maybe contrary to the law,” Dermand says.
You can call the TIP at 1-800-532-2020 and anonymously report what you saw. He also encourages hunters and those who fish to be ready to warn the D.N.R. of people they see breaking the law.
“Have the cellphone number of your conservation officer programmed in your cellphone so that you can hit it quickly on a speeddial, and when you come across that (illegal activity) it’ll be something that you can report immediately,” Dermand says.
“The one thing we’ve learned over time in this business as far as fish and wildlife poaching goes — the longer you wait — the less likely we are to make a case.” He says it’s important to write down information like a description of the person involved, the license plate number and color and make of a vehicle, and the area where the crime happened.
That way you won’t forget it later and the investigators won’t be left without key information. “It just seems like evidence will disappear, or it gets cold and you are not able to find the things you need to find in order to make a case,” Dermand says.
You may not think it’s a big deal if someone shoots an extra deer illegally, but he says helping stop poachers protects the rights of those who legally hunt and fish and even those who just like to enjoy nature.
“The big deal about the fish and wildlife and deer included is that they are our Iowa natural resources, they are the things that are out there in the field that belong to all of us. Every citizen, every individual in this state,” Dermand explains. “And we should be proud of that. We should be proud of the resources that we have available to us, for viewing, for harvest by legal means, and just enjoyment.”
The TIP number is a 24 automated system. You can also report poaching online at: www.iowadnr.gov/tip, and it will send a report directly to the local officer. In cases where officers investigate and write a ticket, the individual who reported the violations can be eligible for a reward.