Oklahoma game wardens track down and capture a poacher in Grady County. The Tuttle man illegally killed a white-tailed deer and a hen turkey. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation was able to find him thanks to an anonymous tip.
“We just have too much area to cover,” said Nathan Erdman, Assistant Chief of Law Enforcement with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.
It’s a fact that makes capturing a poacher difficult for Oklahoma game wardens.
“To catch somebody in the act you have to be at right place at the right time,” said Erdman.
That's why game wardens depend on the eyes of the public and tips through the Operation Game Thief Hotline. The hotline receives two to three calls each day. It’s an anonymous tip left on the hotline that led them to a man in Tuttle.
“I just heard a loud noise like someone kicking a door in,” said Troy Williams, who lives in the same mobile home park as the suspect.
Williams says he heard a commotion across the street where game wardens executed a search warrant with the help of the Grady County Sheriff’s Department. The search uncovered a deer hide, deer meat wrapped in foil and a gun. The suspect, whose name was not released, confessed to the illegal kill from his vehicle by first head lighting the deer, and then killing it with a .22. The investigation also revealed he poached a hen turkey with the same gun a few days before killing the deer on July 3.
“You know what, he's not supposed to be doing it, number one, it's against the law,” said Williams. “I guess he had coming what he had coming.”
Erdman says in the end, poaching hurts legitimate hunters the most.
“It's taking an animal that somebody who is out there buying their tags and hunting the way they should, they're missing out on that chance to kill that animal or harvest that animal later,” said Erdman.
The suspect was not arrested but he does was cited on several violations including illegal possession of a white-tailed deer, illegal possession of a turkey, headlighting and hunting with aid of a motor vehicle. He faces up to a $1,000 dollar fine for each one. The case now goes to the Grady County District Attorney's office to determine if formal charges will be filed.
If you see suspicious activity, do not approach a poacher; call the Operation Game Thief hotline at 1 (800) 522-8039. You could be eligible for a cash reward. For more information on reporting a crime to the wildlife department, click here.