Published February 05, 2013, 12:00 AM

Record set for people reporting poachers

Calls to a toll-free hotline for Minnesotans to report illegal hunting and fishing activity shot up 54 percent in 2012 to 2,051 calls.

By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune

Calls to a toll-free hotline for Minnesotans to report illegal hunting and fishing activity shot up 54 percent in 2012 to 2,051 calls.

The so-called Turn In Poachers hot line broke the record of 1,866 set in 1981, the first year the program was founded, according to a release Monday from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. In 2011, 1,328 calls were received.

The hotline allows anyone to anonymously call in and report poaching. If a tip results in an arrest and conviction, the caller receives a cash reward.

Last year’s calls led to 359 arrests, mostly related to deer, fish and waterfowl violations. The arrests represent a 29 percent increase over 2011. The record high is 428 arrests in 1991.

Col. Jim Konrad, the DNR’s enforcement director, said the record increase in tips that were forwarded to conservation officers and resulted in arrests indicates that more people are reporting illegal activities they see afield, likely sooner than before thanks to the proliferation of cell phones and cell coverage nearly statewide. He noted that eyewitness reports are strong tools in combating violations.

Since 1981, the hot line (800) 652-9093 has fielded thousands of reports of fish and wildlife violations, paying out nearly $358,000 in cash rewards that lead to arrests. Nearly half of informants turn the reward down. Cell phone users can dial #TIP.

Tags: