The Maryland Department of Natural Resources Police is cracking down on the illegal killing of fish and wildlife through a partnership with Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers. This newly established nonprofit organization serves as the state affiliate of International Wildlife Crimestoppers, a group dedicated to stopping illegal hunting and fishing across the globe.
Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers was established to increase public awareness of the impact of potential poaching on fish and wildlife populations, and encourage anyone with knowledge of these activities to connect with Maryland Natural Resources Police. Neighboring states Delaware and Pennsylvania host similar partnerships with International Wildlife Crimestoppers.
“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.”
Information can be relayed anonymously by email, phone or text to dispatchers, who will alert the nearest patrol officer. If the tip leads to the arrest and conviction of a suspected poacher, the Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers board of directors may even issue a reward.
“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. The Natural Resources Police is excited about partnering with Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers to recognize those who take the time contact us when they become aware of an incident.”
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. 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.
Founded in 1997, International Wildlife Crimestoppers supports wildlife law enforcement officers in 40 U.S. states and five Canadian. Retired Texas Game Warden Lewis Rather currently serves as executive director.
“The efforts of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources in creation of their new Wildlife Crimestoppers program will prove to be of great benefit to all who enjoy fish and wildlife, and the great outdoors,” Rather said. “In order to effectively sustain fish and wildlife resources, the department needs the public and the public needs the department. Poaching is theft of your wildlife resources. As a result of working together, poaching will be deterred for current and future generations.”
To contact Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers, citizens can call or text 443-433-4112, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or report violations using the department’s free mobile app. Donations to Maryland Wildlife Crimestoppers can be sent to: 580 Taylor Ave., E-3, Annapolis, Maryland 21401.