THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON HUNTERS ASSOCIATION
The Oregon Hunters Association’s Turn In Poachers (TIP) reward fund paid a record $24,200 in rewards to informants in poaching cases last year, according to a report delivered to the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission by OHA State Vice President John Gander on Friday, Feb. 9 in Portland.
The rewards were paid in 50 separate fish and wildlife violation cases reported to Oregon State Police Offices throughout the state.
Both the number of cases and reward sums easily eclipsed all previous marks in the program’s 32-year history. Reward cases in recent years have typically numbered from 20 to 35, and total reward amounts averaged approximately $10,000.
OHA in 2017 increased the standard reward amounts, which now range from $100 for birds, fish and furbearers to $500 for deer, elk and antelope and $1,000 for bighorn sheep, mountain goat and moose.
OHA State Coordinator Duane Dungannon, whose OHA Office issues the reward checks, believes the increased reward amounts likely contributed to the sharp increases in cases as well as the sum of rewards.
“Obviously increasing the amounts of each reward will result in a greater total paid for the year, but the jump in the number of TIP cases – where a caller requests the reward – suggests there’s more going on,” Dungannon said. “The rewards offered are included in news releases published in local media when a poaching case occurs and police are looking for leads, so members of the public can see that we’re offering them some sizable sums to do the right thing.”
An increased level of public awareness may be a factor, as well, according to Lieutenant Craig Heuberger of the Fish and Wildlife Division at the Oregon State Police headquarters in Salem.
“I think it is a combination of different things,” Heuberger said. “We are doing a better job of advertising the TIP program through social media such as our monthly newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook. When we make a TIP case and are able to promote it, we try to channel that information out to the public every chance we get.
“Internally we have changed the administration of the TIP program to make it easier for the Troopers to get the information they need to promote the TIP program to the public, and we have also streamlined the reporting mechanism to make it easier for Troopers to turn the documentation in that is needed to facilitate a TIP request to OHA.”
Started in 1986 with startup funds from OHA and Leupold & Stevens, the TIP fund is largely self-sustaining as the result of courts ordering convicted violators to pay restitution to the fund. The $23,917 restitution paid to the reward fund in 2017 nearly equaled the reward amounts paid for the year.
Poaching will be a major emphasis in the current state legislative session that opened this week. One bill would better enable courts to apply the penalties already in place for poaching. In addition, the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife will present a proposal for a poaching public awareness campaign, mandated by a budget note requested by OHA and attached to the agency’s budget when it was approved last year.
OHA chapters and other conservation groups sometimes pledge additional amounts in particularly heinous poaching cases. Reward offers have exceeded $17,000 in a few cases, including one involving a recent northeast Oregon bighorn sheep poaching and another in a southern Oregon elk killing and wasting spree that took place for an extended period of time. When the reward of $17,500 was offered, the elk killing stopped.
OHA (oregonhunters.org) is the state’s largest Oregon-based pro-hunting organization, with 10,000 members and 26 chapters statewide. Its mission is “Protecting Oregon’s wildlife, habitat and hunting heritage.”
How the TIP Program Works
Callers can remain anonymous and still collect a reward from OHA if the information leads to a citation.
TIP hotline: 1-800-452-7888 or dial *OSP (24/7)
TIP email: TIP@state.or.us (monitored weekdays 8 a.m to 5 p.m.)
Use the TIP hotline on weekends and evenings.
Bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose: $1,000.
Elk, deer, antelope: $500.
Bear, cougar, wolf: $300.
Habitat destruction: $300.
Illegally obtaining Oregon hunting or angling license or tags: $200.
Game fish, shellfish, upland birds, waterfowl, furbearers: $100.