Oregon hunters are getting a new incentive to turn in poachers.

A program, approved by the 2016 Oregon Legislature and put into effect this month, offers the option of big game preference points instead of cash for providing information that leads to an arrest or citation for poaching-related crimes.

The Turn in Poachers program is a collaboration between the Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon State Police, and until this season offered only cash rewards for such tips.

According to a release from the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, for cases involving bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose or wolves, the tipster will be awarded five preference points. For cases involving elk, deer, pronghorn, cougar or bear, the person will be awarded four preference points. All preference points must go to one hunt series (elk, buck deer, antlerless deer, antelope or spring bear).

Five preference points would allow a hunter to draw 76 percent of buck deer hunts, 69 percent of doe deer hunts, 83 percent of elk hunts and 24 percent of pronghorn hunts. Cash rewards range from $100 to $1,000.

“Poaching is a serious problem for Oregon’s wildlife,” said Travis Schultz, ODFW Access and Habitat Coordinator, in the release. “It can have significant (long-term) impacts on our wildlife populations.”

Report wildlife violations via email to TIP@state.or.us or by calling *OSP or 1-800-452-7888.

Oregon State Police were busy with hunting-related violations in Umatilla County over the weekend, and even made an arrest of a felon in possession of a firearm suspected of poaching a buck.

According to the police log, Robert Craig Maker, 42, of Umatilla, and Caleb Marion Beehler, 36, were driving on Gurdane Road near Pilot Rock when one of them shot a 2-point buck on private property.

As Maker got out of the vehicle and began gutting the deer, the report states, the landowner confronted the men and they took off.

Trooper John Lombardi stopped the pair on Highway 207 at 8:40 a.m. and noted they had blood on them, as well as a shotgun, pistol, rifle and bloody knives in the vehicle.

Maker was arrested for felon in possession of a firearm and taken to the Umatilla County Jail. Both men were cited for criminal trespass and misdemeanor waste of a game mammal.

At about 10 a.m., another trooper responded to the report of a deer that had been shot by a truck full of hunters on private property on Martin Ranch Road between Weston and Tollgate.

Trooper Ryan Sharp found the three suspected poachers, cited Brandon D. Sabo, 33, for criminal trespass and gave warnings to the two juveniles that were with him. Sharp then seized both the deer and tag, processed the deer at the ODFW office and donated the meat to charity.

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