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Oklahoma Game Wardens Busy This Summer

By: by Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation

While the hot weather has kept many Oklahomans inside in the air conditioning, unfortunately it has not kept poachers from taking advantage of the states wildlife resources, nor has it stopped game wardens from enforcing the state’s game laws.

“It’s no fun to be out there in the heat, but the Wildlife Department takes pride in working hard to stop the illegal taking of wildlife. We’ll be out there as long as the poachers are,” said Robert Fleenor, law enforcement chief for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Recently, game wardens in McCurtain County were sitting on a mountaintop while on patrol when they observed someone spotlighting deer more than 10 miles away on Three Rivers Wildlife Management Area. When game wardens contacted the two suspects that night, they were shining a spotlight over a clearcut on the public hunting area. They had no firearms with them at the time, but an observant warden spotted traces of blood and hair in the bed of their truck. A search of the suspect’s cell phone revealed pictures of two deer with antlers still in velvet. Upon further questioning the suspects admitted to killing the two bucks out of season and also admitted to killing more than 20 other bucks in recent years while violating many game laws.

“Poachers are not hunters, any more than shoplifters are customers at a store,” Fleenor said. “Wildlife violators make up just a small number compared to the thousands of sportsmen who respect and follow our state’s wildlife laws, but those who do violate the law take something away from other hunters and everyone in Oklahoma who enjoys wildlife.”

The pair will face charges of taking deer in closed season, illegally possessing deer parts, removing the antlers and other possible charges in McCurtain County District Court. A conviction could result in a suspension of the hunting license and could be ordered to pay fines, court costs and mandatory restitution of up to $10,000.

Additionally, through the Wildlife Department’s involvement in the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact, a hunting license revocation would apply in at least 34 other participating states. Recently the Wildlife Department joined the compact, which assures that illegal hunters who violate certain game laws in member states will receive the same treatment as residents of the state in which the violation occurred.

“Also, recently there has been a case of spotlighting deer in Atoka County that wardens have investigated and an anonymous tip from the Operation Game Thief hotline resulted in a pair of citations for a hunter who poached two deer near Mooreland,” Fleenor said.

Operation Game Thief (800-522-8039) offers cash rewards to those who provide tips that lead to a conviction for wildlife violations.

Game wardens in central Oklahoma are taking advantage of the drought that has resulted in low lake levels, allowing them to remove more than 100 illegal barrels from the lakes.

Game wardens in central Oklahoma are taking advantage of the drought that has resulted in low lake levels at Arcadia, Carl Blackwell, and Thunderbird lakes.

“As the water receded at these lakes it revealed another wildlife violation – placement of barrels in the lake. Noodlers illegally place these barrels in the lakes to make it easier to target catfish when they use them as spawning structures in the early summer,” Fleenor said.

It is unlawful to use and/or place into lakes and reservoirs of Oklahoma any container, including but not limited to drums, cans, tubs, boxes or barrels, which attract, entice or lure fish into an open cavity within the container.

Game wardens from across the area joined forces and waded through mud to remove over 100 of the illegal structures from the lakes.

Game wardens are employees of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, the state agency charged with conserving Oklahoma’s wildlife. For more information about the Wildlife Department, log on to wildlifedepartment.com.

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