Why is Operation Game Thief so important?
In the entire State of Maine, there are about 95 District Game Wardens & 40 Marine Patrol Officers, so our fish and wildlife need your eyes and ears to report known or suspected poaching violations. Poaching is a serious and costly crime. Poaching robs legitimate sportsmen and sportswomen of fish and game, robs our businesses and taxpayers of revenues generated by hunting and fishing and robs all of us who enjoy the beauty of the State of Maine of a valuable resource – our fish and wildlife resources. The illegal introduction of non-native fish species in Maine has become the “resource crime of the century” as the ramification of this unlawful act has had, and will have, disastrous effects on our Maine native fisheries.
Is Poaching Significant?
Yes, although no one knows exact figures, studies indicate that poachers may take at least as many game animals and fish as legitimate hunters and anglers take during legal seasons. Even if poachers take half that amount, the number is staggering. Threatened, endangered and non-game wildlife are also fair game to the poacher.
How does the program work?
Calls on the OGT hotline (toll-free within Maine at 1-800-253-7887 (1-800-ALERT-US) are taken by a local county dispatch. All information about the poaching incident is taken and the caller is assigned a code number. The toll-free line is answered 24/7 365 days a year.
- Law enforcement personnel evaluate the information; investigations are begun immediately and must follow the same rules and constitutional guidelines as any law enforcement investigation.
- If a poacher is arrested or issued a summons on the basis of the information provided by a caller, a reward is authorized if asked for previously by the caller.
- Rewards can be paid in cash and the pay-off is arranged to protect the anonymity of the caller.
- Rewards will be paid only if the informant states that a reward is desired prior to any investigation. Actually, we’ve found that most fish and wildlife enthusiasts don’t want the reward – they just want the criminals caught!