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Texting Hunting Violations: How SMS Is Helping Protect the Wilderness

The classic image of an outdoor adventurer doesn't include a smart phone in hand, but hunters and other lovers of outdoor sport are modern people, many of whom rely on mobile phones and text messaging. While this is hardly news, some local hunting authorities have used this fact to establish newsworthy programs that help protect the wilderness and those who enjoy it.

Hunting, fishing, and environmental violations are serious business--they pose a threat to our ecosystems, our recreation, and may even be hazardous for those who look to the wilderness for hobby or sport. In order to take action against such violations, and keep accurate data on them, the rapid transfer of information is instrumental. The rise and ultimate ubiquity of cell phones has been a boon to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) by allowing hunters to place a phone call offering a tip on any violation they may see.

However, relying on tips by phone presents its own problems. Phone calls demand reliable service and may call hunters away from their sport, making reporting more of a hassle and less likely to happen. The program needed an upgrade, and the DNR delivered. In 2010, they launched a national program allowing hunters to send tips anonymously via text messages, in which 27 states participate.

Bringing text messaging to the anonymous tip line boosts the DNR's efforts by offering the heightened accessibility and convenience of texting to hunters and other outdoor adventurers. While a tip line accepting phone calls is monitored at all hours, the text messaging service operates during peak hours and beyond, monitoring tips between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM.

This texting program has not only made reporting violations faster and easier, but set a precedent for local agencies responsible for wildlife conservation. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) is one such agency to follow suit: it has launched a similar program that allows users to submit anonymous tips about violations of fish, wildlife, or boating regulations, or environmental law, via text message.

FWC also advertises the possibility of a $1,000 reward to anyone who provides information via text, such as tips about illegal hunting, fishing out of season, boating under the influence, and illegal tire dumping, that leads to an arrest. Users are issued a confidential code number when they submit a tip that allows them to identify themselves should they choose to in this case. Using a monetary reward as an incentive combined with offering a mode of reporting violations as convenient and accessible as texting constitutes a powerful tool for the FWC.

We may not think of the expansion of technology and the protection of the wild as congruent interests, but the expanding applications of SMS show us more and more that they just might be.

About the Author -
Sharon Housley is the VP of Marketing for NotePage, Inc. a software company for communication software solutions. http://www.notepage.net

 

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