If you are on Facebook, we have two pieces of advice for you. One, find and like Realtree's Facebook Page, if you haven't already. And two, keep your eyes open for big-mouthed poachers. It seems a growing number of them are bragging about various wildlife violations on the social media site, and wildlife enforcement officers are responding in turn. Check out this lineup of poachers caught on Facebook.
According to a news release from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission posted on June 5, an anonymous complaint led to charges against four Floridians who posted photos of dead wild turkeys. One of the guys even posed with a dead alligator.
When questioned, one of the men, Travis Clayton McFatter, admitted he had killed five turkeys during the season, including two in one day. Another guy, Blake Dalton King, killed four turkeys. After giving investigators permission to search his truck (where they found blood), King also admitted to killing a deer that stood in a road, blinded by his headlights.
McFatter also found a road-killed alligator on his way home one day, and took it home without notifying authorities.
All in all, TWC officials issued 13 misdemeanors and two infractions after hearing the confessions.
Last September, a poacher shared his propensity to break the law on Facebook by showing off two bucks he'd taken in one season and a gaggle of geese. In a Minneapolis StarTribune outdoors page column, Doug Smith quotes conservation officer Travis Muryers, who said, "It was definitely not smart."
In fact, it doesn't really appear that the guy could count. The limit for geese is three, and he posted a photo of him and two buddies with 12 geese, calling it a "three-man limit." You do the math.
As for exceeding the buck limit, the poacher posted a photo of himself with a bow-killed buck in September and another 8-pointer in October. Minnesota game laws allow one buck per hunter per season. Then, this same hunter took one of the bucks over the state line, to a taxidermist in Wisconsin. That's a violation of the federal Lacey Act, which states you cannot transport illegal game across state lines. According to the StarTribune, officials could have taken his vehicle. The hunters faces fines up to $2,000.
Here's a mother-son team that paid the price for poaching, after Mom posted photos on Facebook of her son skinning out a deer in May of 2010. According to a report from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission from Sept. 8, 2010, neither mother nor son would admit to killing a deer out of season. She blamed him. He wouldn't confess. The Commission cited them for possession of wildlife taken illegally, a second-degree misdemeanor.
Every state has a poaching hotline. Might be a good idea to put your state's number in your speed dial section, just in case you’re checking updates at Facebook.
The Florida Wildlife Commission even posts photos and stories of busts of poachers by its law enforcement division at its Facebook page, "My FWC."