IDAHO — Poaching continues to be a problem in Idaho. For example, two elk were recently shot and left to waste in Blaine County while two grizzlies have been illegally taken.
“We are starting to get a lot of inquiries from the public with the same question, ‘Geez it sounds like, or it looks like there is a lot more poaching going on, is this COVID-related? Or what is happening out there?'” said Greg Wooten, Idaho Fish and Game Enforcement Bureau Chief.
Although it may seem like we are reading more and more about recent animals left to waste, the data says otherwise.
“The numbers don’t prove out to be any more significant than they have in the past. Of course, we have another month left of this year," said Wooten.
Although it's sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong when they find an elk shot and left to waste, sometimes it's not actually poaching at all.
"There are hunters who shoot at an animal and simply don’t realize at that point that they have hit the animal or maybe they do realize it, and they go and they search for their animal and cannot find it,” said Wooten.
That is what they call wounded loss, but IDFG still sees a fair amount of unlawful killings.
“There are still folks that go on and waste and they shoot an animal knowingly that they are not going to attempt to recover it,” said Wooten.
With COVID-19 restrictions forcing people outdoors and socially distanced, many people have turned to hunting and fishing for the first time.
Although there isn't an increase in poaching, there has been an increase in is violations and citations given out.
"What we have seen this fall already is a new segment of people who have decided to take up hunting and fishing and just haven’t read the rules, and they are not reading the rules," said Wooten.
He said that this all comes down to education.
To avoid getting a citation or getting your license confiscated, Idaho Fish and Game urges new and seasoned hunters to know the rules of the animal and location you're hunting before heading out.
"This will require people to do a little bit of homework, but it's necessary to protect Idaho's wildlife," said Wooten. "We have brochures and all the rules and regulations easily accessible on our website."
Here are some resources:
If you witness or come across poaching or what looks like an illegal killing of wildlife, call the Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at 1-800-632-5999.
“That's the fastest, most expedient way for citizens to provide us with information we are obviously asking for help,” said Wooten.