Oregon program will pay cash for information on poaching of wild animals

A bald eagle shot with a pellet gun in West Linn last year. (Photo by Adrienne Wilson, courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife)

A new fund will reward tipsters for information on poached or stolen nongame animals, such as raptors, which can’t be hunted.

Until now, callers to the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Turn-In-Poachers line, or TIP line, could receive a cash award only if they called with information on a game species, such as deer, elk and bear, hunted outside of state regulations. Those awards are paid for by the Oregon Hunters Association. 

Now callers with information on the illegal killing of imperiled, threatened or endangered nongame animals will also be rewarded. 

Those with information that leads to an arrest or citation for the poaching of eagles, hawks, owls or other raptors, for example, could receive $500. For tips on animals considered threatened or endangered by the state or federal Endangered Species Act, the reward is $1,000. These include animals such as wolverines and sea otters. Tips that lead to citations and arrests in the illegal trade of imperiled frogs, turtles and reptiles, often sold illegally online or in wet markets, also will be rewarded. 

The new rewards are paid for by the Oregon Wildlife Coalition, a group of eight conservation organizations that work together closely on policy and advocacy. 

According to Danielle Moser, wildlife program coordinator at Oregon Wild, part of the wildlife coalition, poaching in Oregon “remains a significant problem, especially for those species which are imperiled or low in population numbers.” 

Moser pointed to the recent poisoning of eight wolves and the poaching of two more in northeast Oregon. 

“For a species with a low population, 10 instances of poaching can be a significant setback for the species’ population,” Moser wrote in an email. There are about 170 wolves with low numbers in Oregon.

The reward for information on the killing of those wolves is now up to nearly $48,000.

“Thrill kills” of game animals in the state continue to be an issue, according to the state Fish and Wildlife Department and the Oregon Hunters Association. In 2020, the association distributed more than $20,000 for information on the illegal killing of game species.

Yvonne Shaw, manager of the department’s Stop Poaching campaign, said in a statement that nongame animals are also victims of senseless attacks. 

“Raptors, which eat incredible numbers of mice, voles and other crop pests, have been targeted,” Shaw wrote. “We lose many incredible birds every year from thrill killers.”

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