Warden: Landowner got the right info and the poacher
A commentary by Joanne M. Haas of the Bureau of Law Enforcement.
Warden Jim Horne of Shawano got the landowner's call at 4:30 a.m. on Nov. 8.
"Warden Horne? Is this Warden Horne?" the landowner yelled into the phone. "We got poachers out here! Right now!"
Within minutes, Horne was in his truck and heading for the field to respond to the landowner's pre-dawn call for help. Horne had been watching this particular field in rural Shawano County for about two weeks - on two occasions he stayed through the night hoping to catch the culprits in the act.
And not just this field - all sorts of fields. Things are a lot busier this year than last.
"The incidence of deer shining and shooting complaints has increased considerably this year from 2011," Horne says.
But this night would end with an arrest near dawn. Thanks to a landowner who did two right things: He called immediately for help and got the license plate of the suspects' truck.
As Horne was driving to the scene, he heard from the Shawano County Sheriff's Office. A deputy was on the way, too.
"Between the time the landowner called me and I got on the road, the poachers had come back and dropped off a person," Horne says.
One of the three landowners saw one of the suspected shooters leave the truck and run into the cornfield. The landowner followed the truck, got the license plate and reported that to the sheriff's office.
"I was coming from the east along a county highway looking for this truck," Horne says.
Meanwhile back at the field, the oldest of the landowners, who originally called Horne about the poaching, spotted the suspect take refuge in the field.
The suspect, a young male - late teens to very early 20s, tired and a bit lost, was encouraged to come out from the field where he was contacted by the sheriff's deputy. Warden Horne then made contact with the suspect in the truck.
Horne spent several hours collecting evidence of the shooting spree.
The gun and shining light were seized, and Horne has turned over evidence to the Shawano County District Attorney.
"There is only one of me. That's why it helps when the landowners are able to report when things happen and provide information. In this case, the landowner was fed up with it, and he got the right information - and the right information is a plate number," Horne says.
"The more information you get us, the better the results."
To report a suspected violation, call the Violators Hotline which is staffed every day 24 hours a day. Trained staff relay reported information to conservation wardens. Anyone who calls the hotline or provides information can remain anonymous. Call 1-800-847-9367.