by Francis Skalicky Missouri Department of Conservation

August’s arrival means many Missourians are beginning to think about the state’s fall hunting opportunities.

Unfortunately, along with many law abiding hunters and anglers who will be trekking to the outdoors in the months ahead, there will be some individuals who want to violate Missouri’s game laws. Thus, it’s a good time to remind people of this phone number — (800) 392-1111 — the state’s Operation Game Thief hotline.

The toll-free Operation Game Thief number provides people a quick, convenient, and effective way to report game-law violators. This hotline is sponsored by the Conservation Federation of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Conservation. Rewards are available for information provided that leads to the arrest of violators. All information provided is kept in strict confidence. The OGT hotline is an example of how the Missouri Department of Conservation works with you and for you to sustain healthy forests, fish and wildlife.

You may be wondering how calling a centralized “800” number can lead to prompt response in our corner of the state (or any other corner of the state, for that matter). Here’s how: The OGT line is manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week. When an individual calls the line, he/she will be talking to a live person – not a recording. The OGT operator takes the information from the caller and contacts a conservation agent in the caller’s area.

It’s a good idea to program this number into your cell phone. That way, you don’t have to worry about not being able to remember the number when you see a violation occurring.

In a case where the agent is on patrol, a call to OGT could ensure a quicker response than a call placed to the agent’s home phone. In that scenario, all a caller could do by calling the agent’s residence is leave a recorded message that wouldn’t be heard until the agent returns home. However, when a call is placed to OGT, an OGT operator can contact an agent and, depending on what the agent is involved with at the moment, may be able to get the agent headed to the scene of the violation immediately.

When you see violations in the field, do not attempt to intervene yourself. Instead, take note of these things when you witness a suspected violation:

• Be able to describe what type of suspected illegal activity is taking place.

• Take note of the date and time of the violation.

• If possible, get the suspect’s (or suspects) identity.

• If possible, try to get some kind of description of the suspects and their vehicles.

• If at all possible, get license plate numbers.

These are things an OGT operator will ask. If you provide information resulting in an arrest and you’ve asked to be considered for a reward, your conservation agent will refer this request to a citizen board of the Conservation Federation of Missouri, which may assign a reward. OGT isn’t just for hunting violations. It’s also for reporting fishing violations, arson events and all other violations of the Wildlife Code of Missouri.

Most Missourians care about conserving forests, fish and wildlife, but OGT is handy tool to take care of the few who don’t.

Information about OGT can also be found at

Francis Skalicky is the media specialist for the Missouri Department of Conservation’s Southwest Region. For more information about conservation issues, call 417-895-6880.