OPERATION GAME THIEF PROTECTS THE WILDLIFE OF PENNSYLVANIA
HARRISBURG, Pennsylvania – Poachers are thieves. Help us catch them. The Pennsylvania Game Commission Operation Game Thief (OGT) Program protects wild birds and wild mammals by encouraging those with information on wildlife crimes to report them as soon as possible. Wildlife crimes affect everyone, and reporting illegal wildlife activity helps protect wildlife for current and future generations.
To report information confidentially, call the Operation Game Thief toll-free hotline – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – at 1-888-PGC-8001 or complete an online form at http://bit.ly/PGCOGT. Follow the “Operation Game Thief Facebook page, Pennsylvania Game Commission for current cases.
“Whether you’re a hunter, trapper, bird watcher, or someone who enjoys walking in the woods, wildlife crime affects us all,” said Game Commission Executive Director Bryan Burhans. “If you saw someone break into your neighbor’s house or witness a shoplifting in a store, you would likely report it to the proper authorities. Reporting poaching incidents shouldn’t be any different, as it is the theft of a natural resource. “
With more than 1,500 submissions per year, Pennsylvania’s OGT program is the third most active in the country behind Texas and Florida. The Gaming Commission takes on average less than 20 minutes from the time a tip from the OGT arrives until an officer is dispatched on the incident
Illegal shooting or capture of big game or protected, endangered or threatened species, or any crime against such species must be reported through the OGT. Other violations should be reported to Regional Gaming Commission Office serve the county in which the violation occurred as soon as possible.
To make an OGT report, share as many details as possible, including: a description of what was seen and the species involved; the date and time of the event; the county, town and / or address of the place where the event occurred; a description of height, weight, hair color, eye color, approximate age, tattoo or other distinguishing features, clothing, athletic arm, etc. and a description of the color, make, model, dents, decals, bumper stickers, license plate number and condition, road / route and / or the direction of travel.
If the alleged offense involves the killing of large game or endangered or endangered species, an additional penalty of $ 500 may be added to the fines imposed on those found guilty of offenses under the Game and Wildlife Code. . The increased penalty of $ 500 is paid into a special fund, half of which ($ 250) can be paid to the person who provided the information that led to the conviction. The remainder is used to offset the costs of the OGT program. Pennsylvania Conservation Officers (COPA) also fully support the OGT program. COPA also offers rewards in numerous incidents that lead to the successful prosecution of numerous game and wildlife code violations.
“Poaching is not hunting,” said Burhans. “Ethical hunters are conservationists who respect hunting rules, laws, seasons and bag limits when harvesting legally game. Poachers selfishly ignore the rules and illegally take wildlife from the landscape. Unfortunately, an increase in OGT reports typically occurs during the fall and winter months, which is why we are reminding the public of the program now.
The Game Commission manages 136 districts across more than 46,000 square miles of Pennsylvania. Currently, 116 full-time state game wardens are assigned to these districts statewide. The eyes and ears of the public are essential to wildlife protection efforts statewide.
The agency’s “Call of the Outdoors” podcast featured OGT program makers in Episode 21: Operation Game Thief Protects Pennsylvania Wildlife. Podcast episodes are available on www.calloftheoutdoorspgc.com, Apple Podcasts, Google Play Store, iHeartRadio, Spotify and Stitcher.
The Pennsylvania Game Commission is the state’s wildlife agency that manages and protects wildlife and its habitats, while encouraging hunting and trapping, for present and future generations. More information on OGT and the agency is available online at www.pgc.pa.gov.
CONTACT WITH THE MEDIA: Travis Lau – 717-705-6541
# # #