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PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota sportsmen donated over $14,000 to the Turn In Poachers program during the 2009 big game license season.

The 1,700 sportsmen not only contributed cash and checks, but also took advantage of the opportunity to donate funds as part of the process for purchasing general hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and applying for big game licenses.

Money donated during license sales is added to other donations as the financial foundation for the TIPs program, making it possible for conservation law enforcement officers to pay rewards that lead to successful wildlife criminal cases.

During the 2008/2009 fiscal year, the TIPs program was responsible for generating almost 500 cases and netting more than 80 arrests. During the period, $6,545 was paid in rewards to people who reported violations.

“It is impressive to see sportsmen step up to protect our resources from those who steal from the citizens of the state,” said Shon Eide, state Game, Fish and Parks Department licensing supervisor. “It is amazing what can happen when a lot of people who share a common value come together and fund a program like TIPS.”

The TIPs program is collaboration between GFP and Wildlife Protection, Inc., a non-profit group that helps oversee the program. TIPs provide opportunities for those who witness or have knowledge of wildlife criminal activities to report them to authorities by directly contacting GFP conservation officers, GFP offices, or through a toll-free telephone number (1-888-683-7224).

“Whether or not people accept rewards for their information, the TIPs program provides a conduit that might not otherwise be available for citizens to pass critical information to investigators,” said Charlie Wharton, TIPs coordinator.

“We would like to thank everyone who made donations to TIPs,” Wharton said. “Whether the gifts were $2 or $200, their generosity will be used to protect South Dakota’s resources and promote a better quality of life for all who enjoy nature.”

*Shon (SHAHN) Eide (EYE’-dee)

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