Oklahoma game wardens busy during long, hot summer

While the hot weather has kept many Oklahomans inside in the air
conditioning, unfortunately it has not kept poachers from taking
advantage of the states wildlife resources, nor has it stopped game
wardens from enforcing the state’s game laws.

“It’s no fun to be out there in the heat, but the Wildlife
Department takes pride in working hard to stop the illegal taking
of wildlife. We’ll be out there as long as the poachers are,” said
Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department
of Wildlife Conservation.

Recently, game wardens in McCurtain County were sitting on a
mountaintop while on patrol when they observed someone spotlighting
deer more than 10 miles away on Three Rivers Wildlife Management
Area. When game wardens contacted the two suspects that night, they
were shining a spotlight over a clearcut on the public hunting
area. They had no firearms with them at the time, but an observant
warden spotted traces of blood and hair in the bed of their truck.
A search of the suspect’s cell phone revealed pictures of two deer
with antlers still in velvet. Upon further questioning the suspects
admitted to killing the two bucks out of season and also admitted
to killing more than 20 other bucks in recent years while violating
many game laws.

“Poachers are not hunters, any more than shoplifters are customers
at a store,” Fleenor said. “Wildlife violators make up just a small
number compared to the thousands of sportsmen who respect and
follow our state’s wildlife laws, but those who do violate the law
take something away from other hunters and everyone in Oklahoma who
enjoys wildlife.”

The pair will face charges of taking deer in closed season,
illegally possessing deer parts, removing the antlers and other
possible charges in McCurtain County District Court. A conviction
could result in a suspension of the hunting license and could be
ordered to pay fines, court costs and mandatory restitution of up
to $10,000.

Additionally, through the Wildlife Department’s involvement in the
Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a hunting license revocation
would apply in at least 34 other participating states. Recently the
Wildlife Department joined the compact, which assures that illegal
hunters who violate certain game laws in member states will receive
the same treatment as residents of the state in which the violation

“Also, recently there has been a case of spotlighting deer in Atoka
County that wardens have investigated and an anonymous tip from the
Operation Game Thief hotline resulted in a pair of citations for a
hunter who poached two deer near Mooreland,” Fleenor said.

Operation Game Thief (800-522-8039) offers cash rewards to those
who provide tips that lead to a conviction for wildlife

Game wardens in central Oklahoma are taking advantage of the
drought that has resulted in low lake levels at Arcadia, Carl
Blackwell, and Thunderbird lakes.

“As the water receded at these lakes it revealed another wildlife
violation – placement of barrels in the lake. Noodlers illegally
place these barrels in the lakes to make it easier to target
catfish when they use them as spawning structures in the early
summer,” Fleenor said.

It is unlawful to use and/or place into lakes and reservoirs of
Oklahoma any container, including but not limited to drums, cans,
tubs, boxes or barrels, which attract, entice or lure fish into an
open cavity within the container.

Game wardens from across the area joined forces and waded through
mud to remove over 100 of the illegal structures from the

Game wardens are employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife
Conservation, the state agency charged with conserving Oklahoma’s
wildlife. For more information about the Wildlife Department, log
on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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