Operation Game Thief – Help Stop Poachers

Incidents of illegal killing of wildlife are becoming more common in Colorado. On Monday, a deer was killed illegally in Morrison, Colorado, and last month, a poacher from Montrose County was fined $10,000 for illegally killing several deer and a bear. Hunters in Colorado are required to be licensed and to hunt in season. Poaching is a problem because “it robs legitimate sportsmen of game and fish, robs businesses and taxpayers of revenues generated by hunting and fishing, and robs all of us of a valuable natural resource: our wildlife,” says Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW).

Therefore, CPW has established Operation Game Thief (OGT), a hotline for reporting poaching. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards, such as the $500 being offered for information on Monday’s poaching. The number for the hotline is 1-877-COLO-OGT, or you can email game.thief@state.co.us. In addition to reporting the illegal killing of animals, callers can also report cases of illegal capture or possession of wildlife. If you have questions, you can also call CPW at 303-297-1192.

Since 1981, Operation Game Thief has resulted in more than 2,400 reports of poaching, with over 700 convictions totaling over $600,000 in fines. In 2004, a second program, Turn In Poachers (TIP), was added. TIP allows licensed hunters to add points to their license in return for reporting poaching. TIP is not anonymous like OGT; generally, TIP reporters must be willing testify.

OGT and TIP are overseen by CPW’s Law Enforcement program. They publish an annual report, which describes the kinds of cases CPW law enforcement deals with. Cases include not only poaching, but also violations like using wildlife as bait; exceeding the bag limit; camping in undesignated areas; possessing exotic species; damaging dens and nests; not complying with safety regulations; hunting while under the influence of drugs or alcohol; and more. The annual law enforcement report is available to view online from our library.

Colorado laws aren’t the only ones that protect the wildlife in our state. Federal laws such as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the Eagle Protection Act, and the Endangered Species Act also protect wildlife and can lead to significant penalties for violations.

To learn more about Colorado’s wildlife and how to hunt legally in Colorado, search our library’s online catalog.