Mixed Bag

Milwaukee n Since 1982, law-abiding hunters have been able to
play a part in protecting Wisconsin’s natural resources by
reporting poachers, polluters and other people who don’t play by
the rules that’s when the DNR created its toll-free hotline: (800)
TIP-WDNR.

“With only about two wardens for every county, we saw this as a
way to have more eyes and ears in the field,” said Tom Solin, head
of special operations and the unit that oversees the hotline. “We
knew there were people out there who were fed up with the abuses
they were seeing and we made it easier for them to report it. The
tips help wardens solve cases.”

Just more than half of each year’s tips come in during fall and
early winter, mostly during various deer hunting seasons. Marilyn
Jahnke, leader of the special operations support team, expects this
fall will be busy with tips, even though the hotline number was
accidentally excluded from this year’s hunting regulations
brochure.

“Most Wisconsin hunters know they can call TIP WDNR’ to report
poaching,” Jahnke said. “We don’t want people to think we’re not
taking calls just because the number wasn’t included in the
booklet.”

The DNR also has a special toll-free number for US Cellular
subscribers. Those with a cell phone and a US Cellular account can
touch the pound (#) key then enter DNR (#367) to be connected to a
hotline operators.

“The number of calls we get from people in the field has
increased dramatically, especially in the last year since US
Cellular provided the service to us,” Jahnke said. “It’s not that
unusual for us to receive a call from someone who is watching a
violation in progress.”

In about a year or so, hunters traveling to many other states
and some Canadian provinces will be able to turn in poachers by
calling one national toll-free number. That call will automatically
be connected to the hotline operated by each participating state or
province. There are currently 33 states and provinces involved in
the International Association of Natural Resources Crime Stoppers
and Jahnke said that number will likely increase when other
governments evaluate the success of the program.

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