HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — A program by the Pennsylvania Game Commission is allowing residents to report wildlife-related crimes to help protect birds and mammals in the state. Operation Game Thief (OGT) encourages those who have information regarding such crimes to submit a tip via a 24-hour toll-free hotline or by submitting an online form.
The game commission says the program is the third-busiest in the nation with receiving over 1,500 submissions per year. Tips to OGT are reportedly addressed within a 20-minute time frame on average until an officer responds to the incident. Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans says reports usually increase during the fall and winter months.
“Whether you’re a hunter, a trapper, a bird watcher or someone who enjoys walking in the woods, wildlife crimes affect us all,” said Burhans. “If you saw someone breaking into your neighbor’s house or witnessed someone shoplifting at a store, you would likely report it to the appropriate authorities. Reporting poaching incidents should be no different, as it is theft of a natural resource.”
The game commission is also reminding hunters and outdoor goers that poaching or any illegal shooting or taking of wild animals including endangered species is a crime. Those who violate the Game and Wildlife Code could be subject to hundreds of dollars in fines.
“Poaching is not hunting,” Burhans added. “Ethical hunters are conservationists who follow hunting rules, laws, season and bag limits when legally harvesting game. Poachers selfishly ignore the rules and illegally take wildlife from the landscape.”
Anyone submitting a report is asked to provide as much information as possible including a detailed description of the individual(s) and/or the species involved.
To make a report, call 1-888-742-8001 or submit an online form at pgc.pa.gov. All tips remain confidential.
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