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Outdoors blog

Thu., March 20, 2014, 6:15 a.m.

Fish and wildlife enforcement tall order for sparse staff

Washington Fish and Wildlife police officer Severin Erickson poses with the evidence after investigating a case in which a bowhunter accidentally killed two cougars with one arrow. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)
Washington Fish and Wildlife police officer Severin Erickson poses with the evidence after investigating a case in which a bowhunter accidentally killed two cougars with one arrow. (Washington Fish and Wildlife Department)

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT -- In today's Outdoors column, a veteran hunter laments at the amount of poaching he says goes on where he grew up in Pend Oreille County.

"It's a crazy deal," he said. "The losers up here are the winners."

Is it realistic to expect the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department to get a handle on poaching?

Most of the 10 easternmost counties have just one Fish and Wildlife cop, except Spokane County has four and Stevens County has three. Plus, one sergeant helps cover the field as needed for Ferry, Stevens and Pend Oreille County. There’s also sergeant overseeing Spokane and Lincoln counties and one for Whitman, Asotin, Garfield, Columbia  and Walla Walla counties.

Add the captain that supervises enforcement for all 10 counties in Region 1 and you have a total of 18 fish and wildlife cops covering or supervising the 15,800 square miles from Oregon to Canada and from Idaho to a line roughly north and south of Ritzville.

That averages out to one field enforcement officer per 929 square miles.

And two positions currently need to be filled.




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Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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