PIERRE, S.D. - The Game, Fish and Parks Department is reminding citizens that the South Dakota Turn in Poachers (TIPs) program continues to be operational and callers who have knowledge of illegal hunting and fishing activity could be eligible for rewards. The program provides an important avenue for citizens to report hunting and fishing law violations, and in the process, prevent the loss of wildlife that can result from illegal actions.
"In the annual reporting period from July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013 the TIPs program resulted in 103 arrests of wildlife law violators," GFP law program administrator Andy Alban said. "Wildlife would have been lost and violators would have gone unpunished if citizens had not been proactive by calling the TIPs hotline and reporting violations they had observed."
During the past year, the TIPs program reported 212 investigations initiated through citizen reports, leading to 103 arrests, $19,143 in fines andÂ $7,300 in civil penalties.
Callers can remain anonymous, and are eligible for rewards in cases that lead to an arrest. Rewards may range up to $300 for big game and $100 for small game or fishing violations. Higher rewards may be offered in extreme cases. Last year $9,000 in rewards were paid.
"The TIPs program has been going since 1984, and in that time citizens have generated over 10,000 investigations that have led to 3,500 arrests," Alban said. "We are grateful to the men and women who have cared enough about South Dakota's wildlife to report illegal activity. Each and every individual is a vital part of the work to preserve our natural resources."
Alban pointed to several violations that were investigated and successfully prosecuted this past year through the assistance of eyewitnesses including:
- The arrest of two out-of-state suspects for driving into South Dakota, trespassing and chasing down a deer with a pickup. The passenger shot a deer from a moving vehicle with archery equipment, tagged it with a license from a neighboring state, loaded the deer and quickly hauled it back to the neighboring state.
- Two out-of-state suspects who were arrested for chasing a coyote across a field with a snowmobile, running down the coyote with a snowmobile, recklessly operating a snowmobile and eluding officers.
- Two out-of-state suspects arrested for taking walleye over their limit.
- Prosecution of three out-of-state suspects for chasing snow geese with a motor vehicle and shooting from a moving motor vehicle.
- Three South Dakota residents prosecuted for shooting deer with the aid of a spotlight, chasing and running over deer with a vehicle, all during April when seasons are closed.
Individuals may call the TIPs at 1-888-OVERBAG (683-7224) to report violations, or report via the TIPs website atgfp.sd.gov/agency/law-enforcement/turn-in-poachers.aspx.