DNR poaching hotline now able to receive text messages, photos

IN NATURE: A deer makes its way through the woods. Deer are a commonly poached animal in Michigan. (Pioneer file photo)

IN NATURE: A deer makes its way through the woods. Deer are a commonly poached animal in Michigan. (Pioneer file photo)

MECOSTA COUNTY — Assistance from the public is key to catching poachers and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources has added another option for residents to report the issue.

The Report All Poaching (RAP) hotline — (800) 292-7800 — now accepts text messages in addition to telephone calls. Text messages may include photos. The RAP hotline is a toll-free, 24-hour, seven-days-a-week number enabling citizens to report violations of fish and game laws, as well as other natural resource-related laws. It is operated by DNR’s Law Enforcement Division. The DNR also offers a web-based reporting form.

Giving the public an additional way to send in tips and complaints will be beneficial, said Conservation Officer Angela Greenway, who covers Mecosta County.

“Any detailed information we get is helpful,” Greenway said. “When people call in, dispatchers do the best they can when taking the information. The more details we receive, the better. A text message with the written complaint and photos also are great. The more we have to go on, the quicker we can act and follow through with our investigation.”

Greenway said many complaints come through the public utilizing the hotline. Meceola Central Dispatch also forwards cases to the DNR and officers find things on their own while in the field, she added.

Upon receiving a text, the RAP system immediately replies with a message stating a dispatcher soon will be in touch with the complainant. A link to the RAP webpage is included. A dispatcher will begin a conversation with the complainant via text, collecting information just as dispatchers would do during a phone call. Complainants wanting to speak to a dispatcher can request a return phone call or call the RAP hotline.

The Report All Poaching system was created by legislation in 1980 to address the public’s concerns about the detrimental effects of poaching.

Greenway has been working as a conservation officer for 15 years and in Mecosta County for three. From what she’s seen, poaching complaints have remained consistent with no huge spikes or decline.

When people think of poaching, they generally think of deer, Greenway said.

“In this area, they typically are the most poached animal,” she said. “When it comes to poaching, especially in Mecosta County where we have a lot of private land owners, there also are a lot of trespassing complaints. It’s common for poaching and trespassing violations to go hand-in-hand.”

The complaints the DNR receives vary based on the season and what is open for fish and game, Greenway said.

Deer poaching isn’t common right now with the bucks dropping their antlers and does being heavily pregnant at this time of year, Greenway said. However, warmer weather means illegal fishing is likely around the corner.

“The steelhead are starting to run so we’ll be turning our efforts to people snagging steelhead, pike and walleye out of season,” she said. “That’s how our job sort of switches gears during different seasons.”

She stressed the importance of reporting illegal taking of animals, utilizing the hotline by calling or texting.

“I would encourage community members to make the call or send the text,” Greenway said. “We do work with anonymous complaints. We are only as good as the information we get. The more help we get the more effective we can be.”

For more information, visit michigan.gov/dnr.

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Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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