Operation Game Thief
Wildlife crimes affect everyone. Poachers are thieves, help us catch them!
Whether we are hunters, trappers, bird watchers or others who enjoy walking in the woods – wildlife crimes affect us all. The Pennsylvania Game Commission’s Operation Game Thief program serves to protect wild birds and wild mammals and encourages those who have information related to wildlife crimes to report details as soon as possible.
To report information, call the Operation Game Thief’s toll-free hotline – 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year – at 1-888-PGC-8001 or click here to fill out an online form. “Like” the “Operation Game Thief, Pennsylvania Game Commission” Facebook page for current cases.
The program provides a way for people to efficiently and confidentially report tips about wildlife crimes. Calls to the Operation Game Thief telephone number are always answered by a secure recording device. Although it is beneficial to provide your contact information in case wardens have follow-up questions, callers may remain confidential, however, those who wish to claim any monetary reward, must provide contact information.
What crimes should I report?
The illegal shooting or taking of big game or protected, endangered or threatened species, or any crime against those species should be reported through Operation Game Thief. Other violations should be reported to the
region office serving the county in which the violation is taking place as quickly as possible.
What information should I provide?
As many details as possible:
- Description of WHAT YOU SAW and the SPECIES involved.
- DATE and TIME of occurrence.
- COUNTY, TOWNSHIP, ADDRESS of where the event occurred.
- Description of PERSON(S): Height, weight, hair color, eye color, approximate age, tattoo or other distinguishing feature, clothing, sporting arm, etc.
- Description of VEHICLE(S): Color, make, model, dents, decals, bumper stickers, license plate number and state, road/route, direction of travel.
If the suspected violation involves the killing of big game animals, or threatened or endangered species, an additional $500 penalty may be added to fines levied upon those found guilty of Game and Wildlife Code violations. The $500 enhanced penalty goes into a special fund from which half the amount ($250) may be paid to the individual who provided the information that led to the conviction. The remainder will be used to offset the costs of Operation Game Thief.
During fiscal year 2019-20, 1,617 calls were received, an increase of 8% over the previous year. The hotline continues to resonate well with the public and averages a less than 20-minute turnaround from when a tip comes in until an officer is dispatched to the incident.
Charges were filed in November 2020 on an individual in Erie County accused of hunting through the use of a motor vehicle, alighting from a vehicle and shooting at game or wildlife, and the unlawful taking of game or wildlife. State Game Warden Hueser (left) and State Game Warden Cadet Murray (right) received an anonymous tip via the Operation Game Thief Hotline regarding a 16-point buck that was shot from the road in Greenfield Township. The tip ultimately led to the investigation of the suspect. The antlers of the deer were seized as evidence and the meat was donated to a local family in need. Thank you to the individual who reported this illegal activity.
Thank you in advance for your help in protecting Pennsylvania wildlife.
Operation Game Thief Flyer (PDF)
LIKE THE “OPERATION GAME THIEF, PENNSYLVANIA GAME COMMISSION” FACEBOOK PAGE FOR CURRENT CASES.|
Call of the Outdoors Episode 21: Operation Game Thief Protects Pennsylvania Wildlife
Interested in becoming a state game warden?
Click here for information.