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Wildlife Officers Crack Down on Hunting Season Violations

As millions of people across the state continue to head to the deer woods week in and week out, law enforcement is cracking down keeping an eye on hunters day and night.
We have numerous accidents every year. We've already had several, and I'm sure there'll be more.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- In less than two weeks there have been dozens of citations written at checkpoints alone including DWI's, DUI's, tagging and checking violations.

That doesn't include, however, the work wildlife officers are doing right in the woods where you hunt.

If he doesn't have a complaint or a specific area to work, Wildlife Officer Tracy Blake just takes a stroll through the woods.

It may not seem like much but officers like Blake in the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission constantly have their eyes open for hunters not following the rules. And with more than three million acres of public land in the state, it's no easy feat.

"We got a lot of ground to cover," Blake said.

It can get lonely at times, but for Blake, it's about safety and catching the bad guys.

And he has the tools to do it.

Most Game Wardens and wildlife officers have night vision goggles that help them stake out at night in their stealth vehicle.

But of all the high tech gear, it's a fake deer they say usually gets the criminal in the bag.

"That decoy this time of year is probably our No. 1 go to," Blake said.

A remote controlled deer is used to find the hunters that don't always play by the rules like road or night hunting.

"Night hunting is on going. Every weekend I review the reports," said Major Pat Fitts, assistant chief of Enforcement for the Commission.

He says they primarily enforce for public safety.

"We have numerous accidents every year," Fitts said. "We've already had several, and I'm sure there'll be more."

While Blake is just taking a stroll through the woods he'll have an eye out for you and your safety.

"You always have to have that heightened awareness up and be ready for anything," Blake said.

It's this time of year when many wildlife officers are at their busiest often times writing tickets.

Those on the receiving end of citations may not enjoy it, but the money on the opposite end is going to good work.

All fine money from hunting and fishing violations is given to county quorum courts to distribute to approved conservation education programs.

Some of the counties receiving the most in funds last year were Pike, White and Garland counties.

Programs like hunting and fishing education benefit from the fine money going back to the counties.

More than $668,000 were given to conservation education across the state last year.
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