By Jim Freeman
To catch a wildlife poacher, or to take down a poaching ring, you have to immerse yourself into their world.
That was one of the points made by R.T. Stewart, Meigs County resident and retired undercover investigator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife who spoke at Tuesday night’s annual meeting and banquet of the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District.
Approximately 100 people attended the annual meeting which was held at the Meigs High School cafeteria.
Stewart, is the subject and co-author of the recently released book “Poachers were my Prey: Eighteen Years as an Undercover Wildlife Officer” as told by noted Ohio outdoor writer W.H. “Chip” Gross. For nearly two decades as an undercover wildlife officer with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife, Stewart infiltrated poaching rings throughout Ohio and the country.
Stewart gave attendees an inside look at the world of game poachers, a world he was forced to embrace in order to catch them. The poachers were outlaws in the literal sense of the word, most of them were no strangers to law enforcement and had convictions for other crimes, often involving drugs, or for violent crimes like domestic violence, he explained.
I had to have a false identity and a false background. For over a year you live a lie, he said.
“I lived in places I wouldn’t let a dog stay in,” he said. “The outlaws created the environment, and I had to adapt to that environment.” More....