One subject was arrested Tuesday evening in Dunklin County, charged with spotlighting deer with headlights and attempting to take a deer out of season with a firearm, according to the district supervisor, Conservation Agent Trent Lane.
Two subjects were arrested Thursday evening in Scott County for spotlighting deer with headlights. Lane said after interviewing the subjects, conservation agents learned the two were spotlighting with the intent to locate and poach deer. The agents also learned during the interview that the individuals had succeeded in taking a raccoon out of season. Furbearer season does not open until Nov. 15, Lane said.
According to Lane, these efforts go a long way towards protecting Missouri's wildlife and maintaining a good hunting environment for ethical hunters.
"Missourians care about conserving wildlife, so we're working hard to catch poachers like these so we can continue to conserve our wildlife and continue to have such a great state to hunt and fish in," Lane said.
Conservation Agent Ken West, the MDC's Southeast Regional Supervisor, said some people don't understand why spotlighting would be illegal if there's no intention to harvest an animal. But he said spotlighting is illegal for several important reasons.
"The law is in place not only to keep spot lighters from harassing the wildlife, but also to avoid harassment of landowners as people run bright lights over their property searching for deer or other wildlife," West said.
West also pointed out those landowners should report spotlighting on their property even if they don't hear a gun shot.
"Often poachers may be using archery equipment or other silent weapons to take a deer because they're trying not to be heard," West said. He added that suspicion of a wildlife violation should be reported to a local conservation agent, through Operation Game Thief (OGT), or to the county sheriff's office.
"For safety reasons we do not encourage landowners to attempt to make contact with or detain someone they suspect may be poaching on their property," West said.
The toll-free OGT number is 1-800-392-1111 and is manned 24-hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous, and may ask to be considered for a reward, ranging from $50 to $1000. More information about OGT can be found at www.MissouriConservation.org.