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October 19, 2010

MADISON -- State and local officials are reminding outdoor enthusiasts to be cautious if they come across illegal drug growing operations in remote areas of Wisconsin. While several large grows were found and removed this summer and early fall, there still may be more marijuana growing operations in areas of remote public and private land -- with some growers armed and ready to protect their grows.

"While local, state and federal law enforcement authorities have successfully teamed up this year and addressed several large grows on public lands, the public still needs to be cautious," said Randy Stark, Wisconsin chief conservation warden. "There still may be illegal drug operations on the landscape that could be a danger to outdoor recreationalists. With the large number of hunters in the woods while harvesting activities may be happening, the public needs to be cautious if they run across a grow."

Stark said marijuana grows area a costly mess to clean up, and they deprive the public of the intended use of their lands, and potentially put the public in danger.

"Wisconsin is blessed with great public lands and wild places, and the public traverses and enjoys them throughout the year. We are grateful that law abiding citizens care enough about their public lands to be aware and report problems," Stark said. "Hikers, anglers and hunters should be alert, and if they see something that doesn't look right, they should report the find to local law enforcement authorities."

Some things to look for include signs of summer habitation such as huts, tents or other makeshift structures; equipment; watering jugs; chemical containers; or signs of disturbed vegetation including abnormal cuttings or clearing of small areas.

If problems are found on private land, notify local law enforcement authorities. The Department of Natural Resources operates a 24/7 confidential tip line for reporting suspected or observed illegal activity. The number is easy to remember, 1-800-TIP-WDNR(1-800-847-9367 or cell #367.)" You can also call a national tip number at 1-800-NAB-DRUG (1-800-622-3784.) Anyone with a cell phone with texting service can now send an anonymous tip to Wisconsin DNR from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. by texting the word TIPWDNR and the tip information to 847-411 (tip411).

"Don't put yourself in danger. Don't try to investigate the site yourself. You could inadvertently disturb clues to the perpetrators," Stark said.

Anyone who comes across a suspicious area is advised to leave the way you came in and to record anything you observed such as vehicle descriptions, license or registration numbers from vehicles, equipment or other tools, GPS coordinates if you have a unit with you.

"We want everyone to be safe and enjoy Wisconsin's outdoors and traditions, and we want to work with the public to ensure that public lands are used for their intended purpose," he says.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Bill Engfer - Conservation Warden, (608) 266-0859

Last Revised: Tuesday, October 19, 2010

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