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Turn-In- Poachers (TIP) Behind The Scenes

“What do you people really do with the poaching information I’m giving you?”
In my 25-years working as the Iowa DNR TIP coordinator and liaison to the private Iowa TIP Board of Directors (501c3), I cannot remember how many times I had this question posed from a citizen and TIP caller. It is a legitimate question after all, and I always provided the caller with a complete and detailed answer.

The Iowa Turn-In- Poachers Program was first established by the Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Bureau and an organized group of Iowa sportsmen working together to provide a more efficient way for the public to report fish and wildlife crime. In 1985 the TIP program became active, or “live”as they say. Policy standards and protocol were developed by both sides to make this new reporting program run smoothly. DNR and the TIP Board both had their duties/responsibilities. When it came to investigating TIP case information DNR Conservation Officers handled that role. The Officers passed along their successful cases to the TIP Board of Directors who then determined cash rewards for callers whose information had led to at least one ticket being written by an Officer.

The public has several options with which they can provide poaching information to Iowa DNR. The original and still popular method of contact is by calling the TIP Hotline 800/532-2020. Other methods of reporting include on-line at www.iowadnr.gov/tip or by simply calling the area Conservation Officer directly. Information can be provided day or night 24-7. During regular business hours Monday through Friday a live operator will answer the call and create a TIP Case by taking down the information the caller provides. Keeping in mind, that TIP is based upon “anonymity,” the caller’s identity is not needed to record TIP information. The caller is given a TIP case number by which the caller can track the progress of his or her case. The TIP operator will make a determination, based upon the callers information as to the urgency of the report. If the incident is a fish or wildlife crime in-progress every effort is made to alert the nearest Conservation Officer so that suspects can be contacted and an investigation initiated as soon as possible. TIP Case investigation statistics have shown that the citizen who calls the TIP line immediately after witnessing a fish or wildlife crime has a greater chance that his or her case will be successful (one or more tickets written), and becoming eligible for the cash reward.

As you can imagine, not all TIP cases can be successfully investigated in one day. Some cases take weeks or even months to complete. An investigation of this duration may result in multiple charges filed on a number of suspects. Following completion of successful TIP cases the officer will submit a request for reward payment to the TIP Board. The Board reviews these cases 3-4 times per year during regular meetings. The Board reviews the details of the case investigation including cooperation by the TIP caller; nature of the crime; fish/wildlife species and numbers taken illegally. The most common or preferred form of reward delivery is by personal delivery by the Conservation Officer direct to the TIP case informant. This type of Officer – Informant contact allows the Officer to personally thank the informant for their quick actions and detailed information.

TIP is one of the only examples of a statewide program which facilitates public participation to help protect Iowa’s fish and wildlife resources. As you can now imagine, the success of the Iowa TIP Program is only as good as the good citizens who use it to help Iowa DNR Law Enforcement Officers stop fish and wildlife crime. Please consider donating $2 to the TIP-Of- Iowa Program when you purchase your hunting and fishing licenses.

Steve Dermand - Iowa DNR retired

» Arizona Man Found Guilty of Deer Poaching

Nicholas Slater of Glendale, AZ was found guilty following a trial on Feb. 12, 2018 for charges related to poaching an illegal whitetail deer in Lake Manawa State Park in Council Bluffs on November 19, 2016. Slater was found guilty on the following seven charges.

  • No valid non-resident deer license (Iowa Code section 483A.1(2)(K)
  • No valid non-resident deer license (antlered or any sex) (Iowa Code section 483A.1(2)(I))
  • Restrictions on taking game – illegal transportation of deer (Iowa Code section 481A.38)
  • Restrictions on taking game – illegal taking of deer (Iowa Code section 481A.38)
  • Restrictions on taking game – illegal possession of deer (Iowa Code section 481A.38)
  • Hunting on game refuge (Iowa Code section 481A.7)
  • No non-resident hunting license and habitat fee (Iowa Code section 483A.1(2)(G)).

The total fines for Slater are $2,243.20. In addition to the charges, the court assigned Slater $4,000 in civil damages for the reimbursement of the deer. Slater will have his hunting privileges suspended for 3 years in Iowa and the Interstate Wildlife Violator's Compact as a result of the conviction. Iowa Department of Natural Resources was assisted by the Arizona Game and Fish Department in the investigation.

For questions about this case contact Iowa Conservation Officer Adam Gacke at 712.520-5570.

» Boone County, Iowa

In late March 2017, Iowa DNR Officers received a “tip” by a concerned citizen about a subject who was in possession of a fresh-looking deer rack during the closed deer season. The tip information also stated that the subject was in possession of parts of an “albino” buck deer. With the aid of the TIP report information given by the citizen DNR Officers were able to obtain a search warrant.

DNR Officers served the warrant and found evidence of both deer, just as the citizen had stated in the TIP report. The albino buck had been shot with a high-powered rifle. The other buck had been poached with a 20 gauge shotgun without a license or deer tag. DNR Officers seized the following items from the suspect: 3-buck deer; compound bow and 20 gauge shotgun. Seven wildlife charges were issued relating to unlawful possession and taking of whitetail deer. The subject pled guilty to five charges in a plea bargain and paid fines totaling $2,280. The Iowa TIP Board of Directors approved a $600 reward for the informant in this case.

This poaching case could not have been made without the valuable information provided by a concerned citizen.

  Silver Lake Mussell Case Deer  


P.O. Box 703 - Pella, Iowa 50219 Email: aron.arthur@dnr.iowa.gov Toll Free 1.800.532.2020
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