Poaching Isn’t Just About Big Game

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Smallmouth Bass poached in PennsylvaniaWhen people think about poaching, the first image that comes to mind is someone killing a trophy big game animal such as an elk or deer.  The reality is that wildlife crimes come in all shapes and sizes; and are as varied as shooting birds out of season, to taking more fish than allowed.
 
For example, on a recent August weekend Colorado Division of Wildlife District Wildlife Manager Lance Gatlin issued tickets to four people who kept 362 bluegill they caught at Brush Hollow Reservoir near Penrose.  Each person is allowed to keep 20 bluegill per day at Brush Hollow, which put them 282 fish over their limit.  Since fines are based on each fish, their penalties quickly added up to $3,999.  
 
In another case, an angler has been caught on four separate occasions over the last two years with too many trout taken from Colorado Springs area lakes.  The first time he was cited for 26 fish over the daily bag limit, then 10 over, then 11 over, finally 13 over.  HFive deer taken by the same guy on opening day of deer rifle seasonis last encounter resulted in an arrest for fishing under suspension and non-payment of his previous violations.   At latest count, he is up to $1,800 in fines.  One of the reasons he kept getting caught is concerned sportsman called the DOW to report him. 

“The vast majority of anglers are law abiding people who simply enjoy getting outside and trying to catch some fish,” said Gatlin. “Unfortunately, some people get carried away and take more than their fair share.”
 
While these cases are isolated examples, they demonstrate that some people show utter disrespect for wildlife laws
 
“Most of the big poaching cases people hear about are hunting stories,” said Gatlin.  “But poaching isn’t always about a 6×6 bull elk, or a 30-inch trophy mule deer buck.”
 
The Division of Wildlife encourages people to get outdoors and enjoy the state’s wildlife resources, but remember that the wildlife belongs to all of the citizens of the state.  So when fishing or hunting, follow the rules of fair chase.  Be respectful of other hunters and anglers, and don’t take more than your fair share.  
 
Just a view too many mussels trying to be harvested by this gentlemanIf anyone suspects someone is violating wildlife laws, they should contact their local wildlife office or call 1-877-265-6648.  Or, e-mail Operation Game Thief at game [dot] thief [at] state [dot] co [dot] us.   Citizens can remain completely anonymous, and are eligible for cash rewards if their information leads to issuing a citation.
 
For a complete list of Colorado hunting and fishing regulations, visit the Division?s web site at: www.state.co.us.