Oklahoma Game Wardens have been nabbing poachers with your anonymous tips to the Operation Game Thief (OGT) phone line since 1979. Call OGT toll-free at (800) 522-8039 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and you could receive a cash reward if your information leads to a conviction.
OGT is a 40-year-old program of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation designed specifically to stop illegal killing of the fish and game that belong to everyone, whether you’re a sportsman or not.
The Oklahoma Wall of Shame is displayed inside the Wildlife Department's Operation Game Thief trailer. It contains examples of wildlife stolen by poachers and seized as evidence by state Game Wardens.
“Our average Oklahoma Game Warden covers about 750 square miles, and most counties are only assigned one Game Warden,” said Marni Loftis, operations manager and Operation Game Thief coordinator for the Department’s Law Enforcement Division. “We can’t be everywhere in the county, so we really depend on the public’s help to gather information about wildlife violations.”
Anyone can call the local Game Warden anytime they suspect a wildlife violation, but tips about a known violation are especially helpful. “Maybe you see someone spotlighting, see a poached animal, or even overhear a conversation about a poaching incident – we want to hear from you.”
Loftis recently worked an OGT case that started with an overheard conversation at someone’s workplace. “Not only did the violator brag about shooting a deer from the road, but they also mentioned the crossbow used in the violation was hidden in an attic. When we interviewed the suspect, we found the poached deer on the property and were able to get a full confession before gathering the bow for evidence. I would not have mad the case without getting that initial phone call.”
Sometimes small details can help lead to a conviction. “If a vehicle was used, knowing the license plate or vehicle color can help. But oftentimes the reporting party is too far away to see the license plate. Details like any decals, broken windows or taillights can give the Game Warden enough clues to start their investigation.
“Tips from the public are extremely helpful, but we don’t want anyone to jeopardize their safety to help us get information. Sharing any detail you can safely observe is more than enough.
Donations to OGT make rewards possible. Reward payments are made so that no one will ever know who received the payment – not even the officer who answers the phone. To make a tax-deductible donation, send a check payable to Operation Game Thief to Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Operation Game Thief Fund, P.O. Box 53465, Oklahoma City, OK 73152.
To contact your local Game Warden, go to https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/law/game-warden-directory. Learn more about OGT at https://www.wildlifedepartment.com/law/operation-game-thief.
“As Game Wardens, our main goal is to make sure we have fish and wildlife for future generations. We’re passionate about Oklahoma’s natural resources and our hunting and fishing traditions. We cannot express how much we appreciate the sportsmen and sportswomen who help us with that goal.”