Lakecaster Online

OUTDOORS WITH KEITH WARREN

 

This month I would like to address a problem that is affecting all outdoorsmen. This problem is poaching. Poaching is the taking of game or fish by illegal means or over the set possession limit. Besides land development and pollution, poaching is the number one problem facing fish and game today.

Game management programs are hard to implement when poachers kill indiscriminately throughout the year. Bag limits in many areas would be more liberal if it weren't for the illegal practices of a few. The worst aspect of poaching is that it steals from sportsmen. When someone illegally nets a bunch of redfish or white bass, they are taking those fish from sportsmen. When someone shoots that big whitetail buck out of season, they are stealing from other hard-working hunters and eventually themselves. That buck could have fathered a number of outstanding offspring that could have been taken by law-abiding hunters.

On top of all of this, poachers ruin the reputation of all hunters and fishermen. Hunters especially, are under strong scrutiny by activist groups. The image of the "slob hunter" that is portrayed by activist groups is only reinforced by the actions of poachers. If all hunters conducted themselves in a legal, ethical manner, then it would be more difficult for those groups to obtain public support. Even more importantly, it would be easier to convince these people that hunters do more to help wildlife than to hurt it.

Help the cause of game wardens by turning in poachers. Operation Game Thief is set up just for that purpose. The number is toll-free 1-800-792-GAME. You can remain anonymous and will be eligible for a cash reward if a conviction is made.

Let me set the record straight. Poachers are not hunters or anglers. Hunters and anglers are not poachers. A poacher is a law breaking criminal that we should all keep an eye out for and make sure that they are caught and punished to the fullest extent allowed by law.
Our wildlife is a resource that we should be proud of and take time and effort to conserve. Turning in poachers is just one of the things that we can do to protect it.

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