Poaching hotline pays off

Wildlife Sgt. Bill Moulton recently apprehended and charged five men with illegally snagging rainbow trout. The men paid more then $4,000 in fines and court costs. (TWRA Photo)

Clay County Sergeant Bill Moulton had a busy night stopping illegal spotlighting in a portion of the county. The following day was Free Hunting Day and squirrel and deer hunters were out again, along with the sergeant. Despite a busy time, when a call came in to the TWRA Poaching Hotline, Sergeant Moulton responded.

A husband and wife had been camping and fishing below Dale Hollow Dam when they noticed a group of six men snagging trout early in the day. After illegally collecting several trout, the men left and the couple assumed they’d never see them again. But the group came back after lunch and resumed their illegal activity. The couple called the TWRA Poaching Hotline.

TWRA Dispatcher Joseph Cook received the call and contacted Sergeant Moulton, who was able to reach the scene quickly and watch as five adults and one juvenile illegally snagged more trout. When Sergeant Moulton approached two men fled but the sergeant was able to apprehend them. The men had illegally snagged at least 21 trout earlier in the day. They were found in possession of 43 more trout when Sergeant Moulton observed them.

The group of five adults and one minor were from Murfreesboro. Three out of the six held proper licensing. Three adults were changed with illegal take, possession of illegal game and for being over the catch limit. The limit is seven trout per day, per licensed angler. Two adults were charged with aiding and abetting and illegal methods. The juvenile was given a warning. Total of fines and court costs came to $4020.

Sergeant Moulton said, “I’m grateful for the couple that called the poaching hotline. Without their observation and willingness to call, this illegal activity could have continued. We encourage anyone the witnesses illegal activity to contact us.”

Sportsmen are encouraged to store the Tennessee Poaching Hotlines in their smartphones. The lines are manned from 7 am until midnight seven days a week:

  • West Tennessee - Region I: 1-800-831-1173
  • Middle Tennessee - Region II: 1-800-255-8972
  • Cumberland Plateau/Chattanooga - Region III: 1-833-402-4699
  • East Tennessee - Region IV: 1-800-831-1174

Information such as the individual’s name or description, vehicle tag number or description, nature of offense and location of the offense greatly assists the TWRA in apprehending wildlife poachers. All information received by TWRA is kept in the strictest confidence.

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