Q. In a recent trip to AK - remote, isolated site - I came across three young men armed with large saltwater fishing nets who crowded me at a fishing hole pretending to fish, I left, and came back to see they were taking a whole bunch of silvers with just the nets. No cell coverage, no other people or means to contact, I don't travel with sat phones either. What do I do? Where do I report? I thought about taking pictures/video, for example, but didn't.
A. Thank you for asking this question. Alaska Wildlife Troopers rely heavily on the eyes and ears of the public who are out participating in hunting and fishing activities. With only about 90 Wildlife Troopers statewide, we have a hard time being everywhere at once. Each year Wildlife Troopers receive hundreds of calls statewide from concerned citizens who have observed a violation or some unethical act and want to report it to enforcement. We do our best to respond to these calls from the public but there are several things that make it easier for us to make a case when we hear from you:
1. Be a good witness- Many times people see a violation but they are not really sure of what they observed.
2. Record the violation- If you can’t video or photograph the violation, make a record of it somehow. Take notes as soon as you can after the event so you record the best recollection of the event.
3. Call or contact enforcement ASAP- AWT receives multiple calls for service daily. If we have two calls waiting; one from a violation that occurred two weeks prior and one that just happened, we will likely deal with the most recent call first.
4. Be as specific as possible with your report- When possible, don’t just report that the violator was driving a red truck, try to record the make or model of the vehicle or even better the license plate. You don’t always need the entire plate, just a few letters or numbers may be enough. When describing the violator, try to stay away from general terms like “wearing camouflage” during hunting season or “dark hair”. Be as specific as possible, it will go a long way in helping us catch your violator.
5. Don’t be a hero- AWT does not recommend stepping in and trying to deal with the violation yourself. Hunters and fisherman carry guns and knives and passions run high in these activities. Do the best you can to be a good witness and follow through with your report in a timely manner. We will take it from there.
I need to also mention that many times the violation you think you observe may not really be a violation at all. An example would be that we receive multiple calls each year that a fisherman has kept more fish than the limit allows. The person reporting the violation is adamant that they have broken the law. When AWT contacts this “violator” we may discover that the person has a proxy permit which allows them to take more than their bag limit. These types of things occur on a regular basis, but we also catch violators this way as well. Keep the reports coming, we will determine if a law was broken or not.
Finally, how to report? Alaska Wildlife Troopers have posts around the state in many locations. The phone numbers for these locations can be found online, inside the hunting and fishing regulations and in published phone books and other documents. Additionally, Alaska Wildlife Safeguard is a program that offers rewards for reporting violators. By calling 1-800-478-3377, you can report a violation you observe anywhere in the state and it will be given to the closest Trooper in the area. If you frequent a certain area for hunting or fishing on a regular basis, have the phone number available for the local AWT post. Or better yet, get to know your local AWT Trooper and contact him directly. By calling the local office direct, you will likely get a Trooper that is very familiar with the area and the types of violations that are occurring.
AWT would like to thank everyone who reports hunting and fishing violations annually. Only with your help are we able to keep a handle on violations occurring every day in our great state. Just remember… you’re not ratting someone out, your protecting our hunting and fishing future.