Poachers Beware! Turkey Hunters are Watching|
April 18 signals the opening of the 2005 spring wild turkey season in Michigan. With a statewide population over 170,000 birds, the Department of Natural Resources believes the increased population and additional hunting opportunities should produce another excellent season for the estimated 95,000 hunters who will take to the woods hoping a wily gobbler will answer their call.
A successful turkey hunt depends on a number of factors, including preparation, hunting skill and attention to safety. And though the vast majority of turkey hunters abide by the rules, some people don't. These individuals are poachers, and the DNR, in cooperation with the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association, National Wild Turkey Federation and the Michigan United Conservation Clubs, has distributed a new poster to all license dealers throughout Michigan with a simple message: "Poachers Beware! Hunters Are Watching."
"Most hunters are ethical individuals who enjoy participating in a great sport, which also is a big part of our state's hunting heritage," said Dan Potter, president of the Michigan chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation. "Because Michigan's dedicated and hard-working conservation officers can't be everywhere, it's up to hunters to become more involved in stopping all forms of poaching."
According to DNR Law Enforcement officials, hunting without a license, the illegal use of bait and recreational trespass are the three biggest problems reported during the spring wild turkey hunting season.
"At any time of year, the illegal take of game is a crime and prosecutors need to understand that poaching is a crime," said Jim Maturen of the Michigan Wild Turkey Hunters Association. "Hunting over bait continues to be a problem. If hunters are out scouting for turkey and find illegal bait sites or become aware of illegal turkey activities, they should report it immediately."
"Now more than ever, conservation officers need the help of the public in order to effectively clamp down on the unlawful take of wildlife," said Alan Marble, DNR Law Enforcement chief. "This partnership provides a reminder to lawful hunters to take a moment to document and report violations they witness -- and a warning to poachers that their actions are unacceptable and under scrutiny."
Hunters are encouraged to call the DNR Report All Poaching hotline at (800) 292-7800 to report any suspicious activity or violations of law.