The Missouri Department of Conservation is seeking assistance from the community to catch individuals using illegal spotlighting methods to harvest wildlife.
"Spotlighting is a very serious safety concern, is detrimental to wildlife populations and tarnishes the reputation of legitimate sportsmen to the non-hunting public," said Travis McLain, Barry County Conservation agent. "At night people are unable to see what is behind what they are shooting at. This puts people, livestock, pets and other property in danger of being shot.
"Spotlighting is also unfair and unethical," said McLain. "Deer and other wildlife that are blinded by the rays of a spotlight are stupefied and have little chance to react to the danger the poacher poses. If spotlighting goes unchecked, wildlife populations will suffer."
According to Missouri law, it is illegal for an individual to harvest, attempt to harvest, locate, hunt, pursue or disturb wildlife in any manner using artificial light, such as spotlights, headlights and flashlights.
The Missouri Wildlife Code includes an exception to the artificial light regulation for landowners. Raccoons and other furbearers, when treed by the aid of dogs, and bullfrogs are also exempt from artificial light regulations.
Individuals who observe a spotlight violation are urged to report the violation immediately, even if it occurs in the middle of the night, said McLain.
"Citizens should never try to apprehend the violator and should get as much information as possible from a safe location," said McLain. "Important information includes vehicle description, license plate number, number of shots, direction of travel and number of occupants in vehicle and their description.
"The quicker that conservation agents receive this information, the better chance they have of making contact with the wildlife violator," said McLain.
Individuals can report a spotlighting violation by calling a local conservation agent, the Barry County Sheriff's Department or the Operation Game Thief (OGT) Hotline at 1-800-392-1111.
"All of the arrests made this year would not have been possible without information and cooperation provided by concerned citizens," said McLain.
For more information, call McLain at 847-4784 or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.