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  • Robert Loewendick

Poachers and Earth Day?

Poachers (prosecuted) and Earth Day. What do those two have in common? More than you think. A portion of the money from poachers’ fines assists in natural resource conservation programs that provide numerous benefits to all citizens. Earth Day events promote citizens to get outside and join efforts to be stewards of our planet. So, both poachers’ dollars provide funding and organized Earth Day efforts provide guidance in managing the third rock from the sun.

Okay, I agree comparing the two is a bit silly, but you get my point. Of course I would rather poaching not exist, but it does and always will, and so will the fines. As a board member of Ohio’s Turn In A Poacher (TIP) program, I attended the quarterly TIP meeting this past Sunday. No worries, we kept our distance by utilizing a conference call. As with every TIP meeting, a portion of our time and duties include reviewing selected wildlife violation cases and apply reward amounts to the informants whom made the call to the TIP hotline. Even with an active pandemic, poachers are still out and about. And so are Ohio’s wildlife officers. It never ceases to surprise me how foolish poachers are. The excuses they bark out to officers, the illegal tricks that fail, and several of these fools are repeat offenders. Slow learners.

The TIP program is managed by a two-pronged system – the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) and by TIP Inc., a committee of concerned Ohio citizens. TIP Inc. is a private, 5013c organization managed by volunteers that review cases provided by DOW wildlife officers. Monetary reward amounts are decided by the TIP committee for each case separately, with reward amounts reflecting the severity of the case. The funds to pay rewards come from donations from conservation clubs, individual donations, court appointed funds from wildlife violation cases, and fundraising efforts by TIP committee members. TIP committee members also assist the DOW in making the confidential, cash or money order deliveries to TIP informants. The DOW answers all TIP calls, maintains the law enforcement database, and ensures each TIP call is thoroughly investigated.

According to the state governors, we may be permitted to start exploring again. With the Covid 19 showing signs of decline, I pray for brighter days ahead. Did you do anything today to celebrate Earth Day? I know it’s cliché, but we should think of our planet’s resources every day and be good stewards in action and setting examples for our young folks. The next generation, and the next, will experience natural resource management challenges like we’ve not seen. There is one element that will continue to carry out selfish acts and disrespect the land for as long as humans roam this planet – poachers. Some dictionaries define poaching as “trespassing and stealing”. To celebrate Earth Day, any day of the year, and if you witness what you think may be a violation to our natural resources, make the call to, or text, 1-800-TIP-POACHER.

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