Sunday, February 21, 2016

Cabela’s Helps Game Commission Combat Wildlife Crimes

Outfitter provides gift cards to reward tipsters in poaching cases.

Chad Eyler, the Game Commission’s special permits division chief and an Operation Game Thief administrator, left, stands beside Ron Leh, retail marketing manager for Cabela’s Hamburg store, and Game Commission Bureau of Wildlife Protection Director Thomas P. Grohol as Leh is presented an award for the outfitter’s support of the Operation Game Thief program.
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          In poaching cases, Pennsylvania law provides judges with the authority to levy an additional $500 penalty if the case originated from a tip.
          When it’s assessed, the penalty allows the Game Commission to pay a reward to the informant.
          But when it’s not, there’s no mechanism for the agency to make that payment and show its appreciation to those who report wildlife crimes
          Until now, that is.
          Cabela’s, the nationwide retailer of hunting, fishing and outdoor gear, has stepped up to provide $50 gift cards the Game Commission will use as rewards for tip-driven convictions when the additional penalty is not assessed.
          Ron Leh, retail marketing manager for Cabela’s Hamburg store, appeared this week at the Board of Game Commissioners quarterly meeting to present what he said were the first of 10 reward gift cards.
          In a show of appreciation, the Game Commission presented Leh with a placard recognizing the outfitter’s support for Operation Game Thief, the Game Commission’s program for reporting poaching of deer, bears, turkeys or elk, and endangered, threatened and protected species.
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          Since the hotline’s launch, Cabela’s also has supported Operation Game Thief by hanging posters throughout the Hamburg store.
          “The partnership we have formed benefits not only Cabela’s and the Game Commission, but more importantly, the wildlife of Pennsylvania,” Leh said. “We’re proud to support Operation Game Thief, and couldn’t be more pleased with the results the program is getting.”
          The 24-hour Operation Game Thief hotline was launched in late September, and tips have been coming in at record numbers since. Operation Game Thief has resulted in charges in poaching cases, including one in which several trophy-class bucks were taken unlawfully, and also has led to the recovery of an unlawfully harvested bobcat and a black bear that was shot with a crossbow bolt and left for dead.
          To make a report through Operation Game Thief, dial 1-888-PGC-8001, or go to the Game Commission’s website, to fill out a reporting form online. Those providing information may remain anonymous.

From left, Game Commission Executive Director R. Matthew Hough, Southeast Region Director Bruce Metz, Game Lands Maintenance Worker Tim Esterly, and Game Commissioner David J. Putnam gather for a photo as Esterly is presented a Life Saving Award for taking action that prevented a would-be suicide in June.
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Game Commission worker honored for life-saving action
          At this week’s meeting, Game Commission staff, Southeast Region Director Bruce Metz and the Board of Game Commissioners also presented an award recognizing life-saving action a Game Commission employee took in June.
          Tim Esterly, a game lands maintenance worker based in Berks County, was presented the agency’s Life Saving Award for intervening and stopping a woman’s suicide attempt in June. Responding to a report of a vehicle parked with its lights on in a lot on State Game Lands 280 in Berks County, Esterly pulled alongside the idling vehicle, which had a hose running from the exhaust pipe to a window. The woman was losing consciousness, but revived after Esterly opened the door and shut off the vehicle. He kept her alert and talking until paramedics arrived.
          Since the event, the woman has been doing well, and she and her family have thanked Esterly for taking action, Metz said.
          “It truly was a life-saving event and we’re honored and glad Tim was there to take action,” Metz said.

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