Become FWC’s eyes and ears to protect wildlife
Fish Busters' Bulletin
Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Media contact: Bob Wattendorf
If you are like most Florida anglers and boaters, you enjoy your
time on the water. It's an opportunity to get close to nature and
break the routine of work, school or retirement. The peaceful
challenge of trying to find, attract and catch your piscatorial
prey is made possible, in part, by the scientific management and
conservation laws that sustain sport fish populations. The goal is
for everyone to be able to share in the pleasure and to provide a
So when you see someone threatening those resources by damaging
habitat, polluting the water, using illegal gear, taking more than
the bag limit or keeping undersized fish, you probably wish you
could do something. Well, you can. You have several options, but
the newest, most real-time option is to silently send a text
message to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
(FWC). Conscientious anglers and boaters can text Tip@MyFWC.com
(standard usage fees may apply).
"The text-messaging option makes it more convenient for the
public," said Col. Jim Brown, director of the FWC's Division of Law
Enforcement. "We also hope it will make Wildlife Alert even more
effective in catching poachers and other violators."
The Wildlife Alert Reward Program has helped the FWC catch
thousands of violators when people call 888-404-FWCC (3922), or
when they simply dial *FWC or #FWC (depending on service provider).
Violations can also be anonymously reported online (MyFWC.com/WildlifeAlert).
The highly successful Wildlife Alert Reward Program has been
around for more than 30 years. When people's information results in
an arrest, they may become eligible for a reward of up to $1,000.
Many conservation-minded people don't even claim the reward because
helping get the violators off the water or saving a life by
reporting unsafe boaters, including boating under the influence, is
But being able to do so quickly and efficiently is crucial. Cell
phones, and now texting, help get information to a conservation
officer while the possible crime is still ongoing. When submitting
information via text message, it is important to include as much
information as possible, such as the specific violation and the
location. Once a report is initiated, FWC dispatchers can respond
via text message to the reporting party to gather additional
Besides reporting a suspected violation immediately, don't
forget to include physical descriptions of violators and
vehicles, license tag numbers, etc. Such details are important to
ensure an officer can respond effectively. Callers and online
reporters may remain anonymous; they do not have to provide their
names or email addresses, and they will not be required to testify
in court. A confidential code number is provided, so you will be
eligible for a reward, either by text, email or calling
888-404-FWCC. Trained dispatchers handle Wildlife Alert contacts
24-hours a day, seven days a week.
The real beauty of the program is that violators - through court
fines - are the ones who pay the reward money. When a violator is
found guilty, the judge can require a portion of the fine to be
paid into the Wildlife Alert Reward Fund. So, in effect, violators
are paying people to turn them in.
There are many other ways that concerned citizens can directly
assist the FWC.
- Angler Tag Return Hotline: Call 800-367-4461.
- Burmese Pythons, or other exotic reptiles: Call
- Fish Kill Hotline: Call 800-636-0511.
- Horseshoe Crab Nesting Activity: Call 866-252-9326.
- Manatees: Report sick, dead, injured or tagged manatees by
calling Wildlife Alert: 888-404-3922.
- Marine Turtles: Report dead or injured marine turtles by
calling Wildlife Alert: 888-404-3922.
- Nuisance Alligators: Call 866-FWC-GATOR (866-392-4286).
- Oil, Fuel or Hazardous Material Spills in Florida Waters: Call
- Red Tide Status Line: (Toll-free inside Florida only) Call
866-300-9399. Outside Florida - 727-552-2448.
- Waterway Markers - Missing or Damaged: Call 866-405-2869.
For additional listings, and online contact forms for many of
these reporting activities, visit MyFWC.com/Contact.
Protecting fish, wildlife and ourselves is everyone's
responsibility. Reporting those who misuse our wildlife resources
or endanger lives by operating vessels while intoxicated is one way
we can all help. Through Wildlife Alert and these other programs,
ordinary people become the eyes and ears of the FWC, keep costs
down, help conserve our resources and keep outdoor enthusiasts
- Katie Purcell contributed to this column. She is the
FWC's public information coordinator for its Division of Law