I don’t remember the year, but I was a young hunter with my dad near Twin Lakes in LaMoure County, N.D. It was so long ago there were actually two lakes with a road in between before the wet cycle created one lake that’s more famous now for fishing than it was back when the legendary New York Yankees manager Billy Martin was frequently spending the offseason hunting nearby.
It was a popular spot for the old tradition of pass shooting. Hunters sat along the fence line waiting for ducks and geese to move off and between the lakes separated by a gravel road during the sunrise feed.
This particular early morning there were dozens of hunters gathered and as the legal shooting hour arrived a couple of protected swans were flying past within shooting range.
We knew right away they were swans and let them pass. Unfortunately, shots rang out amongst the loud cries of “Swans, swans … don’t shoot!”
Both swans fell to the ground. A short time later local game warden Harold Bellin arrived and cited the hunters. Still to this day I have no idea if someone called the violation in or Bellin was up the road watching with a spotting scope.
While this was before the cellphone era, we assumed the Report All Poachers program had just served justice.
It’s hard to believe this successful RAP program is 40 years old.
40 years of RAP
The RAP program encourages people to report wildlife violations, remain anonymous if they prefer, and receive monetary rewards for convictions based on their information. Anonymous callers will be given a special code number and are not required to give their name. Rewards range from $100 to $1,000, depending on the nature and seriousness of the crime.
Call 701-328-9921 to report game and fish violations.
The reward fund is supported by private donations. If you wish to donate to the RAP program, tax deductible contributions can be sent to RAP, Box 1091, Bismarck, ND, 58502-1091.
Requested violation information
When reporting a game or fish violation, please provide as much of the following information as possible.
- Nature of violation.
- Violator’s name and address if known.
- Description of violator(s) (age, build, clothing, other features).
- Vehicle description (license number, make, year, color, other features).
- Date and time of offense.
- Your name, address and phone number (you can remain anonymous if you prefer).
- Names, addresses and phone numbers of witnesses.
- Would you sign a complaint and testify if necessary?
A lot has changed since the RAP program began with mobile devices providing location, photographs and immediate notification. What hasn’t changed is the program depends on hunters and citizens witnessing, or with information on poaching incidents, reporting the facts to local game wardens.
Just like we did years ago, don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Let the trained professional law enforcement officers handle the details. It’s the right and safe choice now as it was then.