By Sharon Ko
This is the time when illegal hunting is at its peak across Southern Oregon.
At the Oregon State Police office in Grants Pass, game troopers work on large poaching cases every year. Right now, they anticipate their work to start picking up again. The general rifle season has ended, which means illegal hunters are taking advantage of this window of time.
Poachers are not killing the animals for food, but for bragging rights. The hunters will cut the head off of the animal and leave the rest to waste.
NewsWatch 12 followed one game trooper on his shift on Tuesday. Senior Trooper Brad Bennett relies on several things to help catch poachers; sounds of gun-shot and checking out tire marks on off-roads are just a few of those signs.
Trooper Bennett says a lot of the poaching cases come from tips by legal hunters.
“They’re our eyes and ears a lot of the times and have made a lot of game cases for us, just being out there in the field,” Bennett says.
Game troopers also get help from a helicopter. OSP utilizes it to do fly-overs during the day or night. They check for any artificial light like headlights where poachers may be out in the woods.
OSP offers a reward for the arrest and conviction of poachers. OSP also offers a reward for the arrest of anyone who is damaging natural resources by off-road driving.