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Turn In Poachers (TIPs)

1.888.OVERBAG (683.7224)


Welcome to South Dakota's Turn In Poachers (TIPs) website. I'm sure you'll find TIPs as valuable as the thousands of other users who make the program a great success. TIPs plays an important role in helping stop poachers by the mere fact that everyone can report a violation. It is as easy as one phone call, 1.888.OVERBAG (683.7224), and it may be the biggest call you ever make!

South Dakota's Turn In Poachers (TIPs) Program was started in 1984 with the help of concerned sportsmen across the state when it was discovered that two large bull elk in the Black Hills had been killed and left to waste in the field. Within one year, the program generated significant public interest and it was so successful that it was implemented statewide.

Since the Program began, there have been over 10,000 investigations initiated that have resulted in approximately 3,500 arrests. Poachers have paid over $684,000 in criminal fines and an additional $512,000 in liquidated civil damages have been assessed to these violators as well. TIPs has paid out more than $145,000 in cash rewards to individuals that have supplied information that has been critical in achieving these results. And while the cash reward provides a financial incentive to report violations, when all is said and done, many people donate the award back to the Program.

The main goals of the TIPs Program are to:

TIPs is a private, non-profit organization run by Wildlife Protection Incorporated. The Program is funded through donations from the big game license application check-off, private individual/group donations and through court ordered restitution. The TIPs Program uses these funds to pay rewards, put up state highway signs, distribute literature, run TV and radio announcements, and provide other educational items used to promote the program and create awareness of the impacts poaching. Rewards are paid in cash once an arrest is made and informants can protect their identity and remain anonymous. Rewards of up to $300 for big game and $100 for fish and small game. Higher rewards may be paid in extreme cases. All it takes is one call 1.888.OVERBAG (683.7224) to make a difference! You can also submit an online report on a violation.

Andy Alban

TIPs SUMMARY- July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2013

  • 103 ARRESTS


  • $19,143 fines
  • $7,300 civil penalties
  • 605 days of jail (605 suspended)
  • $9,000 REWARDS PAID

PROGRAM TOTALS 1984 - June 30, 2013

  • 3,546 ARRESTS


  • $684,411 fines
  • $520,287 civil penalties
  • 33,039 days of jail (29,879 suspended)
  • $145,215 REWARDS PAID

TIPs Overall Report

TIPs Year* # Investigations # Arrests Rewards Paid
2012 212 103 $9,000
2011 309 74 $3,950
2010 394 146 $8,725
2009 379 83 $5,525
2008 481 170 $6,545
2007 550 169 $8,130
2006 498 151 $6,900
2005 397 134 $5,585
2004 522 178 $5,700
2003 518 211 $8,500
2002 407 131 $4,850
2001 413 148 $6,700
2000 428 129 $7,750
*The TIPs year is from July 1 to June 30 and since most cases are in the fall, all these stats are compiled for this time period and recorded for the fall year date.
Cases made from your calls:


Wednesday, March 25, 1998, was not the day for a Minnesota poacher fishing the Missouri River near Pierre, South Dakota. A Starbuck, Minnesota father and his son caught their limit of eight walleyes and brought them into the Ft. Pierre boat dock that morning. Later that afternoon they were fishing below the Oahe dam and had caught two walleyes when they were checked by Conservation Officer Lee Leuning. Officer Leuning, not knowing they had their limit, went on checking other fishermen when he got a TIPs call about the Minnesota fishermen who were double dipping (catching a double daily limit). Officer Leuning, being only 300 yards away, went back to the father who had now caught one more walleye and admitted under questioning to being three walleyes over. He was given a $116.50 citation and lost his walleyes.

While officer Leuning was checking other fisherman, another sportsman advised him of seeing two Minnesota fishermen cleaning their limit and were down here fishing again. The sportsman was advised the violator had just been arrested. When Leuning got back to his pickup, there was a note on the windshield advising of two Minnesota fishermen who were double dipping and gave the same set of facts. All this took place in 30 minutes.

This has to be a record number of TIPs callers - two calls and one note - in 30 minutes with the officer being only 300 yards away.

"This goes to show that sportsmen will not tolerate violators and want their resources protected," stated TIPs coordinator Bob Schuurmans. Based on the start of this fishing season's calls, it could be a very busy spring/summer for conservation officers and for the TIPs program.

Callers will remain anonymous and can receive cash rewards if an arrest is made - just call the TIPs hotline 1-800-592-5522, regional Game, Fish and Parks office or your local conservation officer.

"One call from you is all it takes to have a violator caught - it may be the biggest call you ever make," Schuurmans said.


One important phone call was all that was necessary to apprehend 68 people who shot more than their legal limit of pheasants. State Game, Fish and Parks officials apprehended the individuals after receiving a call on the department's Turn In Poachers (TIPs) hotline.

The incident occurred near Kimball. Conservation Officers Steve Rossow, Lee Leuning, Jack Freidel, Jerry Heismeyer, Pat Callahan and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Bob Prieksat investigated the incident. The officers seized 118 pheasants from the guides cleaning facility.The non-resident hunters came from various areas of the United States, Canada and France. The guide allowed the hunters to kill nine pheasants over a two-day period, which is three birds over the legal limit.

Turn In Poachers picture of 100-plus bags of frozen pheasantsThe guide illegally accounted for the extra birds by putting his name, his wife's name and his children's name on the extra birds, without any of them actively hunting any of the birds. Eleven of the nonresidents were arrested for possessing three birds over their limit and paidafine of $179.50 each for a total of $1,974.50. A total of 68 people were chargedfor a total fine of $19,427.50. The guide and the coordinator ofthe non-resident group were each charged with a federal crime ofaiding and abetting and paid a fine of $300 each. The guide also paid a fine of $53 for improper public storage. Through the officers' investigation, an additional 56 nonresident hunters were arrested for overbagging. Each was charged with a federal LacyAct law violation, and will pay $300 each for a total of $16,800. If anyone sees or hears of any wildlife violations, simply call the TIPs line at 1-800-592-5522 or their local conservation officer. It may be the biggest call you will ever make. Callers will remain completely anonymous and can get a cash reward.


Fish Poachers Sentenced

Turn In Poachers picture of 100 plus walleye seized from poachers

Conservation Officer Lee Leuning of Pierre caught two brothers from Chadron, Nebraska with 110 walleyes for three days of fishing. The daily limit is four fish with a possession of eight total. One was fined $2350, sentenced to one year in jail but served 96 days on conditions of the court, he may not hunt or fish in South Dakota for five years and must also pay $50 per fish for a total of $2350 in civil damages. He was also fined $500 and must pay $1000 restitution for damages to the motel where he stayed.

His brother was fined $2350, sentenced to one year in jail but served 120 days on condition of the court, may not hunt or fish in South Dakota for five years and must also pay $50 per fish for a total of $2750 in civil damages. He must pay $962.61 in restitution to the motel for damages.

These two poachers took a daily limit for over 24 fisherman. One concerned citizen's call is all it took. For there three day fishing trip, it cost them over $12,000 and they did not get to keep any fish.


Pheasant Poachers Caught

Turn In Poachers picture of a large pile of bags of frozen pheasants

One call from a sportsman lead to one of the biggest pheasant busts. A poacher from Murfreeboro TN and and another from Bowling Green KY were caught with 150 pheasants.

The daily limit is three and the possession limit is 15 per hunter. They were each sentenced to $7210.50 in fines, 570 days in jail with 10 days served on conditions of the court, lost their hunting privileges in North, South and Central America for three years, 456 hours of community service and had to pay $6000 in civil damages.

One pheasant hunting trip totaled $26,430, plus 20 days in jail.

Walleye Poacher Apprehended

Turn In Poachers picture of bags of walleye fillets


A poacher from Sioux Falls, South Dakota was caught with 58 walleyes, 42 caught in just the last week. The conservation officer observed the poacher for several days after the TIPs caller reported he had been fishing below Oahe Dam numerous times during the day, using different vehicles. He was fined $1286.50 and must pay $2100 in civil damages.





Poachers Get Nabbed

A group of 10 hunters from Tennessee were caught with 150 pheasants on their fifth day of hunting. A tip from a concerned sportsman stated these hunters did not hunt one day, but shot extra birds other days to make up their limit. In the investigation that followed, it was learned the group did not hunt one day and thought by staying the five days they would avoid being caught. They each paid $226.60 in fines for being four pheasants over their limit and lost all their birds. This is an excellent case because officers from the Mitchell Police Department, Aurora County Sheriff's Office and conservation officers all worked together to make the case a job well done.

In another TIPs case going on the same week, seven violators decided to take 32 pheasants on opening day of the season. One person took the responsibility for being 11 birds over and paid a $576.50 in fines and $1100 in civil damages.

Still another TIPs case on this same day and only 20 miles away, a poacher was caught with four birds over his limit and was fined $226.50 His poaching partner was caught with a hen pheasant, which is illegal, and was fined $176.50. His hunting privileges were revoked for one year.

Three TIPs callers made three successful TIPs cases. All because someone cared enough to call.

Toilet TIP Flushes Illegal Angler

This was the news headline when a poacher from Clarinda, Iowa found out when he and another person were in a bathroom and a woman in the woman's side overheard them discussing their overlimit, but they'd never get caught, that nobody would stop them because they were in a van and not pulling a boat. One quick call is all it took and the poacher was soon facing a conservation officer with lots of questions. He was only over by one fish, but it cost him $76.50 and the group lost all their fish.

Size of Reporter Underestimated

A ten year old boy was watching two guys clean their limit of fish earlier in the day, and then saw the same two clean another limit that night. The boy told the pair that was not legal. One of the guys answered that they would be long gone before a game warden came. The boy immediately went to a phone and called it in. Within five minutes the violators were facing a conservation officer. One violator was charged with being over his limit and paid a fine of $226.50, and the other was fined for being over his limit and for fishing without a license - $301.50 and the loss of his fishing privileges for one year.

Agencies Work Together on TIPs Calls

A Lower Brule Sioux Tribal Officer alerted a state conservation officer about fisherman who might have too many lines and may be overbagged. Working together, the officers arrested two Minnesota poachers for being over their limit on walleyes and for using too many fishing poles. State law states you may only use two fishing poles and have only eight fish in possession. The pair were fined a total of $806 and must pay $600 in civil damages. The poachers had even buried some of the fish under their pickup to keep from being caught.

Another TIPs case investigated by the Faulk County Sheriff's Office and a conservation officer lead to the arrest of six South Dakota poachers possessing seven untagged deer. The Pierre Police Department and local conservation officers investigated a case which lead to the arrest of a person who had shot six deer with a .22 cal. rifle and then left them lay.

West River Deer Case-1996

Turn In Poachers Picture of deer heads on barn wall46 Arrests:
13 Residents,
32 Nonresidents

Fines/Restitution -- $129,000
Civil Damages --$33,000
Community Service--1,275 Hours
Months of Home Confinement-- 31
Deer Seized -- 38
Years Probation -- 26


** Thirteen violators lost their hunting privileges and the right to possess a firearm for one year.One individual plead guilty to a felony and lost his right to possess a firearm forever.



PIERRE -- One TIPs call was all it took to nab a fisherman for being 17 walleyes over his legal limit. Game, Fish and Parks officials apprehended the poacher on Monday, May 24 near Mobridge after investigating a call from the Turn In Poachers hotline.

This trip started when the couple came to Mobridge to fish the free fishing weekend, and then purchased a one-day fishing license each for Monday.

The TIPs call stated a group of fisherman from Wyoming were walleye fishing in the Mobridge area. Conservation Officer Gary Payer located the group and set up surveillance.

At 6 a.m. on Tuesday, May 25, Officer Payer stopped the violator of Rochester Wyoming. He was 17 walleyes over the legal limit.

The fines and court costs amounted to $879.50, and he lost his South Dakota fishing privileges for one year. In addition, he had to pay $100 civil damages per fish for another $1,700 in fines. All of his fish were seized. The total cost for the 3-day fishing trip was $2,579.50 plus lost fishing privileges for one year.


Picture of 285 trout seized from poacher's houseSecond picture of 285 trout seized from Rapid City residence


Two Florida men were arrested on July 8, 1999, in Rapid City with 205 trout, which is 185 fish over their limit. A father and son were arrested after Conservation Officer John Wrede and Asst. Law Supervisor Bruce Nachtigall served a search warrant on his Rapid City residence and recovered the 205 trout. They were fined a total of $3,000, lost their fishing privileges for five years and will pay $18,500 in civil damages to the Department of Game, Fish and Parks.Total cost for the fishing trip was $21,500, and they did not get to keep their fish. Sportsmen who become poachers by taking more than their legal limit are stealing from other sportsmen. They are also having a negative impact on wildlife. One call is all it takes--it may be the biggest call you ever make.


South Dakota Conservation Officers with 478 perch seized from poacher that overbaggedOn January 7, 2000, Game, Fish and Parks Conservation Officers Mike and Martin Yost seized 478 perch as part of an overbag investigation that resulted in:

5 arrests,
$607 in fines
2 years loss of fishing privileges





Fraud Licenses Have High Cost


Conservation Officer Doug Day of Flandreau received a TIP's call from an individual suspecting that a person was not a South Dakota resident but was receiving resident licenses by using a South Dakota address.

Officer Day conducted an investigation, arrested the suspect, and confiscated the poacher's buck deer.

The violator posted a $500 cash bond and was scheduled for a preliminary hearing on four Moody county charges. Additional charges were possible in five other S.D. counties. He faced possible charges for 16 counts of fraudulently purchasing resident licenses dating as far back as 1992, 3 counts of taking big game without the proper license, possession of drivers licenses from two states, making false statements on a S.D. drivers license application, and two counts of ineligible big game applications.

The violator appeared with his attorney in Moody County court to accept a plea agreement reached with the prosecuting attorney.The violator pled "No Contest" to two counts of fraud on obtaining resident licenses. He paid fines and costs of $1500, was sentenced to 180 days in jail with 177 days suspended (will serve 3 days), will lose his privilege to hunt, fish and trap in South Dakota for 3 years, forfeited his South Dakota drivers license, will have his Iowa drivers license suspended for 30 days, and will be on good behavior for one year. Also, as part of the agreement, he will pay restitution to Game, Fish and Parks in the amount of $2193, the difference between what he paid for resident licenses and what he should have paid as a non-resident. In addition to the criminal case and attorney's fees, he faces $3,700 in civil damages for the game taken illegally in South Dakota.

One call is all it took to catch this poacher. Should you be the next TIPs caller, you can be entitled to a cash reward just like this caller.

85 Pheasants Yield Big Fines

85 pheasants taken from pheasant poachers


On October 19, 1999, Game Fish and Parks Conservation Officers Kraig Haase and Martin Yost received a TIPs call about hunters who killed over their limit of pheasants. After investigating the case, they arrested five poachers with 85 pheasants. The final case resulted in fines of $4,413 and civil damages of $2,300. Total cost for a one weekend pheasant hunt - $6,713 and they lost their birds.




Fish at Home Count Too!

Conservation Officer Andy Alban with 40 walleyes seized from a home freezer


Once the poacher got home with his fish, he did not think he had to count the fish in his possession limit. Wrong!

Conservation Officer Andy Alban seized 40 walleyes out of a residence and arrested one person for being 24 walleyes over the limit. Fine was $108 with $2,400 in civil damages. Poacher lost his fishing privileges for one year.





Seven Deer Left to Rot

Seven deer rotting in a shed



One person legally shot these seven deer during the fall deer seasons. He then left them to rot, as the weather that fall and winter was very warm. He was arrested and paid a fine of $541.