By Peter Baumann
Decades ago, Wyoming Game and Fish Warden Bill Haley had two poachers write essays.
The perpetrators were young, Haley said, not even old enough to drive.
"They came to court, and I talked to the judge and asked him to make these two kids write an essay on why you don't poach," Haley said. "I've still got them (the essays)."
Haley, who's been a game warden for about 37 years, said the lesson of the incident stuck with at least one of the young men.
That was clear years later, when Haley ran into one of the former young men — now an adult, married with children — while checking hunting licenses.
"He goes, 'I want to thank you for taking the time to do that. . I wouldn't break a wildlife law today for anything,'" Haley tells the Laramie Boomerang (http://bit.ly/13glRYo).
Poaching incidents can be difficult to track, Haley said, but he estimates Albany County sees about 50-75 incidents per year.
"That (number) includes the ones we just find afterward," Haley said. "It varies every year. . Sometimes you can't leave the house without running into a violation. Other times you can work all night, all day and everybody you check appears to be fine."
It's ideal to stop a violation before it happens, and Haley said the aforementioned incident shows how education can help limit poaching.
"I think your best bet is to educate these young people that are taking hunters safety courses and to take every chance you get to talk to these kids," he said.
Continuing those efforts, Haley recently distributed posters at WyoTech with graphic images from two poaching incidents accompanied by information about the penalties in each case.
"It doesn't matter if it's WyoTech kids or college kids or whoever it is. . My feeling was if we could save some wildlife, then maybe this poster will help, and we can keep those kids that are here temporarily out of trouble and save them a little money or jail time, we should do it," Haley said.
"If we can save some of these critters around from just dumb mistakes . that poster's worked," he added. More....