Information is reported to the Turn in Poachers (TIP) system all year long, with a noticeable increase from September to January as part of the fall and winter hunting seasons. Regardless of the time of year or day of the week, the most important factor for the public in using the TIP system is timeliness.
“Our officers work odd hours and weekends so if you wait until Monday to report what happened over the weekend, the evidence can be gone or destroyed and the poacher is nowhere to be found,” said Matt Burner, district supervisor with the Iowa Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Bureau for north central Iowa. “Call as soon as you know something. The quicker we’re on the scene, the better the chance that we can catch them in the act of committing the crime.”
He said callers should provide as much detail as possible, like the location, the person committing the act and their name, if known, the location of the animal that was killed, type of vehicle – make, model, color, and license plate, if possible, and an accurate, step by step account of the event as it happened.
“If you see something that doesn’t look right, take a picture or video and pass that along to the officer,” he said. “Even if it’s something questionable, report it and let the officer determine if they need to dig a little more to see if a follow up is necessary.”
Information can be reported online at www.iowadnr.gov/tip or by calling the hotline at 1-800-532-2020. You can remain anonymous. People who provide information that leads to a successful case are eligible for rewards ranging from $200 up to $1,500 and more. Rewards are paid for in part by the $2 donation option provided by hunters and anglers when purchasing a license. Since 2009, more than 2,100 formal cases been submitted through the TIP program.
“You don’t have to be a hunter or angler to call in a tip,” Bruner said. “We appreciate all of the extra eyes in the field, working together to keep thieves from stealing the fish and game in this state that belongs to everyone.”
Trespassing is a year-round issue but, in the fall, it can often be associated with wildlife violations. When someone witnesses trespassing, ideally, the first call is to the sheriff and a second call is to the local conservation officer. That helps to ensure the officer nearest to the area can respond.