The Alabama Wildlife Federation (AWF) issued during August almost $5,000 in Operation GameWatch Rewards to Alabama residents who provided the critical information that led to the arrest and conviction of multiple poachers in Alabama.
Thanks to the informants and anonymous tips, conservation enforcement officers obtained convictions on more than 65 charges involving 27 different individuals. Combined, fines and court costs imposed through these convictions totaled $40,000. Convictions were obtained for a variety of illegal activities including night hunting, using night vision equipment, hunting from a public road, hunting private property without permission, baiting, and hunting out of season.
“The hunting ranks are dominated by law abiding citizens that detest poachers. It is impressive when citizens step forward, most of them hunters themselves, and help put poachers and game law violators in their place. Poachers are not hunters.” stated Tim L. Gothard, Executive Director of the Alabama Wildlife Federation.
In one case that yielded a $1,000 Operation GameWatch Reward, the informant not only provided the initial tip, they also provided testimony that sealed the conviction of the poachers. Another $1,000 reward was issued to an informant that provided multiple tips that led to fourteen (14) separate convictions. A $500 reward was issued for multiple tips that led to seven (7) night hunting convictions. In another night hunting case that yielded a $500 Operation GameWatch Reward, an informant provided a report of suspicious activity that led to the arrest and conviction of poachers from out-of-state. All of these Operation GameWatch Rewards were issued to citizen informants who had no knowledge that they would be considered for these rewards. They provided the tips because it was the right thing to do.
Chuck Welden, AWF President noted that, “August, 2012 was a bad month for poachers and a great month for hunters, anglers, private landowners, and conservation law enforcement. The nine different Operation GameWatch Rewards totaling almost $5,000 will help serve as an incentive for citizens to report violators and a deterrent to poaching and game law violations.”
Operation GameWatch is a program of the Alabama Wildlife Federation that sponsors a 24-hour toll free hotline (1-800-272-GAME) for reporting game law violations. The hotline goes directly to the Law Enforcement Section of the Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. Citizens providing critical information that makes the difference in the arrest and conviction of poachers and game and fish law violators are eligible for rewards of up to $2,500.00 while remaining completely anonymous.