How to Report Illegal Behavior on Public Lands
***Posted to the @PublicLandsHateYou Instagram account on 11/12/20***
So you’ve witnessed illegal behavior on public lands that has been posted to social media, and want to know what you can do about it? Here are my recommendations:
1. Politely message the person or post a comment on the content. Inform them why their behavior isn’t ok and point them to any pertinent regulations. It may have just been an innocent mistake or oversight. If that’s the case, make a friendly suggestion that they remove the content or update the caption to help educate their followers on the issue. It’s often that easy!
If step one is not successful:
2. Reach out to the relevant land management agency via phone or email. Almost every single land management agency has a contact page online. Ask them about the best way to submit illegal activity that you witnessed. When you submit the information provide the EXACT location that the infraction occurred, photo/video evidence, relevant context, and any contact info for the people engaging in the illegal behavior (email, phone number, license plate #’s, etc). The easier you make it for law enforcement to follow up, the more likely they are to do so.
3. For larger “influencer” type accounts, see if they have any sponsors. If yes, kindly reach out to the sponsors and tell them what you’ve witnessed and that you don’t appreciate their advertiser abusing public lands. Companies do not like being associated with this kind of behavior and will often take swift action, asking influencers to remove content or dropping them entirely.
4. Send the behavior to @PublicLandsHateYou. Often if nothing else is effective, offenders will change their tune when they realize that other public land owners do not appreciate their behavior. Send all relevant information mentioned above along with screenshots of messages or comments that you have made in case they are deleted or you are blocked. Your submission is anonymous.
People do not learn and improve unless others are willing to step up and help educate them. YOU, as a public land owner, have the ABILITY and dare I say the RESPONSIBILITY, to be part of the solution.
In an ideal world, Step 1 would be sufficient. We clearly do not live in an “ideal world”, and with social media platforms that allow influencers delete or block any constructive criticism (or what they refer to as "negativity", "harassment", "bullying", and "hate"), it’s easier than ever for accountability to be avoided in the pursuit of likes, followers, and sponsorship's. You have the ability to make a positive impact with just a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, so take a few minutes and let people know that you care.