The TIP-MONT program's Board of Directors awarded $9,450 to 30 individuals who offered tips in 1999 that led to the apprehension of violators.
Cases for which rewards were paid varied from overlimits of fish, unlawful possession of deer, wildlife harassment, wasted game, and a number of residency and license fraud violations, said Shelly Hiron, TIP-MONT coordinator for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena.
A record number of calls came into Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks' 1-800-TIP-MONT hotline in 1999.
"We logged 1,050 calls last year, the most calls in the 15-year history of the hotline," said Shelly Hiron, FWP's TIP-MONT coordinator. In 1996, TIP-MONT calls numbered 770. In 1998, 863 reports came into the hotline. Hiron said many TIP-MONT callers this year specifically stated that they did not seek rewards.
Hiron said the increase in wildlife- and recreation-violation tips appears to be related to a Montana public that is less tolerant of both fish and wildlife poachers and of vandals who destroy public property. "People want to protect Montana fish, wildlife, parks, and forest lands. We hear it just about every day and not just during the hunting season. We are now answering a lot more calls that report violations at fishing access sites, at our state parks, and even in our national forests," she said.
The Montana Legislature authorized FWP to establish a toll-free fish and game violation hotline--1-800-TIP-MONT--and to offer rewards to those who call in tips. Since 1985, use of the line to report known or suspected violations of fish and wildlife laws has grown markedly. In 1997, the Legislature expanded the authority of FWP to offer rewards for tips on violations that occur in state parks.
Each 1-800-TIP-MONT (1-800-847-6668) caller may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash reward.
The growing number of calls is a reflection of the concern Montanans have for their fish, wildlife and parks resources, Hiron said. "Montanans owe thanks to all those who have taken the time to call 1-800-TIP-MONT. This information hotline is our first line of defense against fish and wildlife poaching and parks vandalism. People who take the time to call are among our game wardens' best allies," she said.
Over the years, thousands of tips about suspected violations have been received over the hotline -- the number for which is 1-800-847-6668. These calls have come from both inside and outside of Montana. The line is open 24 hours a day and callers can remain anonymous, do not have to testify in court and may receive a reward for their tip that helps to protect Montana's fish, wildlife and parks resources.