OLYMPIA – The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Enforcement Program has created a new, one-stop, toll-free emergency/incident hotline service for reporting all dangerous wildlife and poaching incidents. The new hotline service, which replaces a dangerous wildlife hotline established a few months ago, may be reached by calling 1-800-477-6224.
Last October, the program, which had long maintained a poaching hotline, established a separate hotline number for reporting encounters with potentially dangerous wildlife, particularly cougars and bears. Because the department has not received the anticipated call rates on the dangerous wildlife line, and in order to provide more streamlined customer service, both services now are being merged into a new service on the old poaching hotline. The hotline number is the same one that has appeared on hunting and fishing licenses and in WDFW hunting and fishing pamphlets for the past several years.
"Making this change by eliminating the second hotline will be a cost savings to the Department," said Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork. "Additionally, we have renamed the old Poaching Hotline to expand its use. This hotline will be used, not only for reporting hunting and fishing poaching incidents and dangerous wildlife encounters, but for citizens to provide the department with tips and information on suspicious activity they have observed or have been privy to."
The hotline is not intended to be used as an information line. General information still may be obtained by contacting the main WDFW reception number, (360) 902-2200, or the local WDFW regional office. Local regional office numbers are published in all hunting and fishing pamphlets and in general telephone directories.
Citizens who witness a fish and wildlife offense, who have knowledge of a fish or wildlife offense, or who have an encounter with dangerous wildlife are encouraged to contact the Department at the hotline number listed above, or via Internet at the department's web site for on-line reporting. All reports are confidential and are forwarded to a WDFW officer for investigation.
Timeliness is crucial when reporting a violation. When reporting a violation, the following information is helpful to enforcement officers:
- Violation: Date and time of violation, Game Management Unit or Marine Area Code (refer to WDFW fishing and hunting pamphlets for this information if possible); county; nearest town; specific location; type of violation and species involved.
- Suspect information: First and last name, if known; address with city, state and zip code; age; hair color; height and weight; race and gender.
- Vehicle information: Make, model and color; license number and state; distinguishing characteristics.
- Other information: Any other information the caller feels would be helpful.
For hunters, a citizen who provides violator information that leads to an arrest and conviction could be eligible for a cash reward or Hunter Preference Points. Preference Points give hunters a better chance for the special permit season.
"We depend on our stakeholders statewide to assist us in preserving and protecting our precious natural resources," Bjork said. "Our headquarters customer service personnel take all necessary steps to ensure that incidents reported are routed to an available officer. In that way, we can all work together to accomplish the same goal – saving our resources and holding violators accountable."