LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- As hunters in and around Kentuckiana head to the stand this hunting season, conservation officers will be on the look out for the ones breaking the law.
Year after year, more and more "hunters" decide to illegally poach wildlife. Poaching is any type of illegal hunting. Some of the more common ways of poaching include spotlighting, hunting on land without permission and shooting deer without tags and permits. So-called hunters chasing after a trophy often resort to illegal activity to claim it.
"Guys are vying for a trophy," said Jim Schreck with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. "They want those antlers and those bragging rights."
Spotlighting, the most common type of poaching, comes when someone shines artificial light on a deer to stun it before shooting it in the cover of night. Often times, these poachers shoot from a car on the road which is illegal in and of itself. If you're caught poaching, you could be subject to a hefty fine, misdemeanor violation and even jail time.
"Shooting at night is very unsafe," said Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Tim Brett. "You don't know what's behind whatever you're shooting at. You can't see really anything."
Hunters across the country spend months scouting and preparing for the few weeks of rifle season. Most of these people hunt legally and ethically. However, when poachers take deer on their land illegally it's like stealing, officers said.
That's why officers in Indiana and Kentucky are ramping up patrol in the woods to stop poachers. They just want hunters to practice safe and legal activity.
"We definitely step up patrol," Schreck said. "We utilize decoys, decoy deer. We're just enhancing our patrols in areas that we know we get the most complaints."
These officers bust dozens of poachers every year. Unlike a 12-point whitetail deer, they are never in a rut. Their efforts hoping to pay off and buck this trend.
"We're out there, and we're always watching," Brett said.
If you see illegal hunting activity, call authorities immediately.
The Kentucky Department Fish and Wildlife has developed a new app that allows the user to report poaching and trespassing. It's called tip411. You can also call their anonymous tip line at 1-800-ALERT.
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