Libbie Miller: Doing our part to preserve our hunting heritage

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Important numbers

DOW operation game thief (Help Stop Poaching Hotline) 800-332-4155

Routt County - 24 hour (Routt County Dispatch) 970-879-1090

Moffat County - 24 hour (Colorado State Patrol) 970-824-6501

Jackson County 24 hour (Jackson County Dispatch) 970-879-1090

CDOW (Steamboat Springs Area Office) 970-870-2197

CDOW (Meeker Area Office) 970-878-4493

Reporting violations

Call in the suspected violation as soon as possible.

Provide the location of where the violation occurred.

Provide the date and time of when the violation occurred.

If an individual was observed, provide a detailed description of that individual.

If a vehicle was present, provide a detailed description of that vehicle. If possible, include a license plate number and state.

In the U.S., about 10 percent of Americans are hunters, and about 10 percent are anti-hunters. The overwhelming majority of Americans are non-hunters, and they do not specifically have a significant opinion one way or the other when it comes to hunting activities. Much of this lack of an opinion stems from the fact that many nonhunters have never been exposed to hunting.

In Northwest Colorado, the percentage of hunters easily exceeds the nation's average, and our local communities benefit greatly from the economic boost hunting provides during the fall months. Some of us are sportsmen and women who look forward to the opportunity to harvest an animal and fill our freezers with game meat. Others of us are business owners who rely heavily on the influx of blaze orange to our small towns, as that helps to ensure we will meet our annual financial goals. Others of us are agricultural operators who enjoy a small increase in revenue based on hunting leases or trespass fees. If you don't happen to fall into at least one of these categories, then chances are you know someone who does. That's just the way it is when you live and work in rural America, where hunting is part of our heritage.

Nevertheless, the vast majority of people in today's society are nonhunters and unfortunately, there are some who are anti-hunters. Our communities include people who are nonhunters and people who are anti-hunters. As sportsmen, business owners, and agricultural operators who benefit from hunting, we owe it to the tradition of hunting to represent our sport honestly, ethically and legally. Ultimately, we want to make certain that our actions do not inadvertently represent hunting in a manner that causes a nonhunter to develop anti-hunting feelings.

When I have spoken with people who have strong anti-hunting sentiments, they often describe an experience that has helped formulate their opinions. Often, the experiences they describe are examples of hunters acting unethically or illegally. In many cases, that may have been their only experience with hunters.

As we all know, most sportsmen and women are ethical and legal hunters and our actions don't tend to draw attention to ourselves; therefore, our hunting activities, with the exception of our blaze orange, are overlooked by most nonhunters and anti-hunters. However, most of us also can recall a situation that we witnessed where a hunter was not representing our sport in a positive light. It is these situations where we must do our part.

Breaches in hunting ethics sometimes are difficult to address, because ethics vary from individual to individual. Conversely, violations of hunting laws are typically far easier to handle as long as you are willing to do your part and take the necessary steps to report a violation.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife has about 140 officers throughout the state. Unfortunately, due to the size of the state and the number of residents and nonresidents who hunt in Colorado, it is impossible for our officers to contact every hunter. Without the help of sportsmen and women along with other concerned citizens that report suspected violations, many wildlife violations would remain undetected. Furthermore, illegal hunting activities that aren't prosecuted can help advance anti-hunting sentiment.

Reporting illegal hunting activities is an important component to protecting our hunting heritage. We all need to do our part.

Libbie is a District Wildlife Manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and her assigned duty station is the Yampa District. Libbie has worked and lived in the Steamboat Springs and South Routt area since 1997. Her responsibilites as a professional Wildlife Officer includes wildlife law enforcement, wildlife biology, habitat and species management and wildlife education.

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