Maryland Natural Resources Police are cracking down on poaching with a new program called Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers.
The new nonprofit organization serves as the state-level version of International Wildlife Crimestoppers, a group that works to stop illegal hunting and fishing around the world.
Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers wants to encourage anyone who knows about illegal hunting or fishing happening to report it. You can do it anonymously by email, phone, or text. Dispatchers will alert the nearest patrol officer, and if your tip leads to an arrest and conviction, you could even earn a reward.
“Fishing and hunting are long-cherished outdoor recreation activities in Maryland and they are essential to conserving and managing the state’s wildlife populations,” Maryland Department of Natural Resources Secretary Mark Belton said. “When a handful of violators ignore the law, they harm both the enjoyment of these pastimes and the future of the species they are targeting.”
Jack Bailey, a retired Natural Resources Police sergeant and St. Mary’s County native, is chairman of the five-member board. Other members include Shawn Derher, manager of Bass Pro Shops at Arundel Mills; Natural Resources Police Reserve Officer Stan Samorajczyk; and Ken Schrader, president of Schrader Outdoors LLC.
“The public is our eyes and ears,” Natural Resources Police Superintendent Col. Robert K. “Ken” Ziegler Jr. said. “We need everyone’s support in our vigorous pursuit and prosecution of criminals who illegal fish, hunt or trap our fish and wildlife resources.
Neighboring states Delaware and Pennsylvania host similar partnerships with International Wildlife Crimestoppers.
Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers does not receive any federal or state funding and depends solely on financial support from corporate, individual or public donations or gifts
Donations to Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers can be sent to: 580 Taylor Ave., E-3, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.
-Meg Walburn Viviano