Woods and Waters An outdoor blog by John McCoy

A new tool in the fight against wildlife crime

In the never-ending war against poaching and other wildlife-related crimes, West Virginia’s law enforcement forces now have a new weapon — the Internet.

From the Associated Press:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The state Division of Natural Resources now has a way online for turning in poaching and other illegal wildlife activities.
Tips can be reported to the DNR’s law enforcement section’s website at www.wvdnr.gov.
Lt. Col. Jerry Jenkins says the DNR has a limited number of police officers in the field, so the public plays a vital role in protecting natural resources by reporting violations.
Witnesses to a potential violation are asked to collect as much information as possible without confronting the individual under suspicion. Jenkins says helpful information includes a description of the people involved and any vehicles and license plates, the type of violation and the time it occurred.
He says those who report such crimes will remain anonymous.

To expand some on AP’s brief treatment:

Lt. Col. Jenkins described the DNR’s network of field officers as “limited.” What he really meant was “paper-thin.”

By law, the Division of Natural Resources’ Law Enforcement Section can have no more than 120 officers. With retirements and attrition, the roster is seldom full. Also, consider that some of those officers are in administrative positions and never make it into the field. Realistically, the state has about 90 officers to cover 55 counties that encompass 24,181 square miles. That’s paper-thin.

Those officers need help. The new online reporting form is a tool that allows West Virginians who witness wildlife crimes to report them quickly and anonymously.

The AP piece listed the URL as the DNR’s general website address. The specific address is http://www.wvdnr.gov/LEnforce/Poachers.shtm

Use it, please.