Posts tagged: poaching
POACHING — Rewards of up to $5,000 are being offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for illegally shooting a cow elk recently and leaving it to waste on private land between Moscow and Troy.
HUNTING — A two-page spread in a popular deer hunting magazine that included trophy photographs of bucks got an Oklahoma City man in trouble with the law, federal prosecutors said last week.
Officials said the buck was illegally shot in Washington's Capitol State Forest before being shipped to Oklahoma, according to the story moved by the Associated Press.
Kyle McCormack, 26, was sentenced to a year of probation and will pay a $500 fine after he pleaded guilty to illegally transporting wildlife in interstate commerce, U.S. Attorney Sanford Coats said.
A two-page article in the July 2012 issue of Buckmasters Magazine credited to McCormack led to a tip that prompted federal and state officials to launch an investigation, Sanford said. Investigators determined that the wildlife was illegally killed in Washington and then shipped to Oklahoma, and that McCormack didn’t have valid hunting licenses in the locations cited in the article.
He was charged earlier this month with illegally transporting elk and black-tailed deer antlers in interstate commerce, and pleaded guilty to both misdemeanor counts, court records show. Court documents indicate McCormack knew the animals were illegally killed in Washington’s Capitol State Forest.
Bowhunter web sites picked up on the residency hunting license discrepancies in the story by September 2012.
As part of the plea agreement, McCormack also agreed to pay $2,500 into the Lacey Act Reward Account.
Enacted more than 100 years ago to curtail the hunting black market, the Lacey Act is a federal law that governs the interstate commerce of fish and wildlife.
HUNTING — His boasting on Facebook apparently has helped Washington Fish and Wildlife police make a case on a 24-year-old Okanogan man and charge him with 33 counts of illegal hunting activities involving trophy mule deer.
The case was made nine months after the agency posted on Facebook a request — and a $2,500 reward — for the public's help in solving a spree killing case.
The case against Garret V.J. Elsberg, a member of the Colville Tribe, is detailed by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
HUNTING — The code of ethics among hunters is eroding, as this Eastern Washington sportsman graphically points out in the following message to Washington Fish and Wildlife police:
Here are pictures of the deer that I shot Saturday, Oct. 19, near Rock Lake. I shot the deer about 9:30 a.m. and processed it and put it into game bags. The hind quarters I hung in a tree about 50 yards from where I shot the deer and the rib cage I set on a stump. I left the head lying by the gut pile. I took the front quarters back to the truck (.85 miles according to my GPS) to get my pack frame.
My wife met me where I had parked my pickup and we went in to get the rest of the deer. It took 1.5 hours from the time I left to when I returned and found all that was left was the gut pile.
Whoever took the meat cut the rope out of the tree.
It is a sad day when someone steals a man's deer.
Anyone with tips or information about this wildlife crime can qualify for a reward by calling the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department's poaching hotline, (877) 933-9847 or the Spokane Region office at (509) 892-1001.
What's going on out there?
Reader's Letter: Respect lacking in outdoors
POACHING — Officers from three enforcement agencies worked together to make a case and a male suspect has been charged for illegally killing a trophy bull elk in Pend Oreille County.
Charles I. Fraley, 27, of Ione has been charged by the county prosecutor with unlawful big game hunting in the second degree, according to District Court clerks. Fraley's arrainment is set for Friday, Oct. 11, at 1 p.m.
While the illegal killing of a bull other hunters dream a lifetime of tagging is upsetting, the interesting part of the story is the teamwork of three agencies to make the citation.
According to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement report:
WDFW Officer Don Weatherman responded to a report of a trophy bull elk being shot with a rifle during the archery season near Ione. A Pend Oreille County Sheriff's Deputy already had a person of interest standing by to speak with Weatherman when he arrived on scene.
Weatherman interviewed the male subject, who had driven into the area where the 6x6 trophy elk had been shot. In the meantime, the Sheriff's Deputy and Border Patrol Agents, who were also on scene, went in search of shell casings in an area of interest and were successful in locating evidence critical to the case!
The Border Patrol Agents also assisted with the use of a tracking dog to backtrack the subject's activities away from his vehicle.After interviewing the subject, the young male admitted to shooting the bull with his rifle, which was stashed in the woods after the elk was shot and before he returned to his vehicle. The subject then took officers to the rifle as well as the area where he had fired the deadly shot.
Charges have been filed.All of the meat was salvaged and donated to the Ione Food Bank.
WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife on Friday announced that Steve Crown, a lieutenant in the (WDFW) Enforcement Program, had been promoted today to serve as the agency's Chief of enforcement.
The selection process has been kept low-key for months.
Crown is replacing Bruce Bjork, who is retiring after 43 years of state service, including 15 as the leader of the WDFW Enforcement Program.
Crown graduated from the University of Idaho and spent 11 years with the Wenatchee Police Department before joining WDFW in 2002. He was selected after a national recruitment and interview process and transitioned into his new role by working alongside Chief Bjork for the past month.
When I requested information about the selection on June 24, Mike Cenci, program deputy chief, responded:
“It is a public process………will provide info today.”
Not hearing back, I contacted Cenci again on July 22 after finding nothing online regarding the national search for a new chief. Here's his reply:
Sorry Rich. I can't find a posting. I know that the agency solicited the Washington Assoc. of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs to conduct a nationwide search. They are down to a finalist, who will face a forum of labor and other agency personnel for a Q&A session. The appointment will occur depending on that outcome. If your interested in the minimum qualifications, I will dig.
I responded with a query for more information regarding the Q&A session Cenci mentioned and names of finalists, and got his final response:
I am not authorized to provide any detail yet, Rich.
Here's the rest of the info from the WDFW media release issued Friday at 4 p.m. as most people were turning their attention to a holiday weekend:
“Steve brings a well-rounded law enforcement background to his new position, as well as a passion for the state's natural resources,” said WDFW Director Phil Anderson. “The Enforcement Program plays a key role in helping the department achieve our mission and meet our legal responsibilities. I am confident Steve will maintain and enhance the consistent and professional approach that has been a hallmark of Chief Bjork's tenure.”
“Bruce Bjork is one of this state's most highly respected law enforcement leaders,” said Crown. “I am honored and excited to lead the Enforcement Program and to build upon his accomplishments.”
Under Bjork's leadership, WDFW made significant investments in cutting-edge law enforcement technology that increased officers' efficiency and improved their ability to apprehend violators. He also helped establish the department as a general authority police agency and was instrumental in the passage of legislation that increased penalties for egregious violations such as spree killing and poaching trophy-class big-game animals.
FISHING — State Department of Fish and Wildlife agents say they’ve arrested two men with suspected ties to an international fish-poaching ring.
The Daily Herald newspaper reports that 38-year-old Igor Stepchuk, of Lynnwood, and Oleg Morozov, of Kent, sold an undercover agent more than $4,500 worth of poached salmon, steelhead and caviar. They’re expected to answer to the charges later this month in Snohomish County Superior Court.
Agents say the men are believed to be connected to a fish-poaching ring that was operating out of several other states. Earlier this year, eight men were indicted in Missouri on federal charges for poaching and trafficking in American paddlefish and their eggs. More than 100 other people were arrested or cited for their part in illegally selling Missouri paddlefish to national and international caviar markets.
Paddlefish roe is sometimes mislabeled as caviar from highly prized sturgeon, which has been on the decline.
Stepchuk is accused of selling the agent five jars of American paddlefish eggs for $500.
Detectives sent samples of the caviar and fish to the department’s molecular genetics laboratory to confirm the species.
On a more local level, four Western Washington men recently were sentenced for illegally gillnetting 242 trout at Lake Lenore in central Washington. The market for their catch has not been determined.
FISHING — The recently resolved Lake Lenore poaching case involving 242 fish illegally gillnetted by four Western Washington men, stood out for the jail time and fines handed down by the Grant County District Court.
However, poaching cases at the many scattered fishing lakes in central Washington are not uncommon.
Here are answers to a few followup questions I posed regarding the case to Patrick Schaff, the deputy prosecutor who worked on the case:
Do you know of any other illegal fishing cases of this magnitude occurring in Grant County?
“This seems to be the only Grant County case of this magnitude in the last several years. We see cases of similar character (i.e. late-night net poaching of rare or semi-rare fish) a couple of times a year, usually from Lake Lenore but occasionally from Banks Lake. But those cases usually involve a couple dozen fish on average. This case obviously stands out because of the large number of fish taken.”
Is there any information on what the defendants were planning to do with so many fish?
“We don’t know what the defendants intended to do with the fish, but they clearly took more than would be needed for a personal or family supply.”
What is the citizenship of the four men involved in the Lenore illegal fishing case?
“I don’t know the citizenship status of the four men and I would not feel comfortable speculating. Our office is prohibited by law from considering citizenship or national origin when choosing how to resolve cases.”
A Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement captain offered more insight into the case.
FISHING — Media attention and angler outrage may have factored into last week's successful prosecution of four Western Washington men who were caught on April 6 gillnetting 242 prized Lahontan cutthroat trout from Lake Lenore, a prized “quality fishery” south of Coulee City.
Grant County prosecutors, like prosecutors across the state, are chronically overbook with cases. Fish and wildlife cases often are brushed aside to make time for priority cases in which people are the victims.
“Sportsmen's groups and the press did a great job following up and emphasizing the importance and severity of this case,” said Capt. Chris Anderson, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement supervisor in Ephrata. “The prosecutor's office responded and did a great job.”
Lake Lenore is managed as a selective fishery geared to catching large cutthroat trout. Sport anglers at Lenore are limited to keeping no more than one fish a day.
Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon, Wash., and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26, and Oleg Pavlus, 25, pled guilty to gross misdemeanor charges, Grant County Prosecutor D. Angus Lee confirmed on Friday.
Each man was sentenced to 20 days in jail, 40 days of electronic home monitoring and fines or costs totaling $4,100, he said.
In addition, the pickup being used at the time of their arrest was seized by the two Fish and Wildlife police who staked out the scene and managed to round up the fleeing poachers despite their attempts to escape in the darkness.
“They could appeal the forfeiture in Grant County Superior Court,” Anderson said. “But if the judge ruled that we followed the law in our arrest and seizing the vehicle, it would remain the property of the state.” No appeal has yet been filed, he said.
WDFW has investigated other instances of illegal gillnetting for sportfish in Eastern Washington lakes involving ethnic groups.
Asked what the men were planning to do with all the fish they illegally netted at Lenore, Anderson said, “We do not have any direct knowledge that these Lenore fish were destined for a market, but we have heard in the past that they do sell the fish within the Russian community only.”
WILDLFIE — More than 150 people face federal and state charges after authorities disrupted online wildlife trafficking operations involving tiger, leopard and jaguar pelts, elephant ivory and live birds, the Associated Press reports.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced the arrests Thursday after an undercover operation that included officers from 16 states — including Washington and Oregon — plus three federal agencies and three Asian countries.
Items seized under “Operation Wild Web” include the pelts of endangered big cats such as the Sumatran tiger, leopard and jaguar; live migratory birds such as the California scrub jay; whale teeth; elephant and walrus ivory; and a zebra pelt.
“Our message is clear and simple: The Internet is not an open marketplace for protected species,” said Edward Grace, deputy assistant director for law enforcement for the Fish and Wildlife Service.
Working with counterparts in California, Texas, New York, Florida and Alaska and other states, federal officials targeted illegal wildlife sellers who operate through Craigslist, eBay and other Internet marketplaces and classified ads. Wildlife officers in Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia ran similar operations at the same time.
Six Southern California residents were charged Thursday with selling endangered species and animal parts, the US. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles said.
“As a major platform for the illicit trade in wildlife, the Internet has become a dangerous place for animals,” said Jeff Flocken, North American regional director for the International Fund for Animal Welfare, an advocacy group that worked with the federal task force.
“Wildlife crimes are not only harmful to endangered species, they also pose serious threats to national and global security,” Flocken said.
Illegal wildlife trade generates an estimated $19 billion a year worldwide and ranks fourth on the list of the most lucrative global illegal activities behind narcotics, counterfeiting and human trafficking, the animal welfare group said in a report last year.
Federal laws regulating the sale of wildlife include the Endangered Species Act; Migratory Bird Treaty Act; Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act; Marine Mammal Protection Act; and the Lacey Act, which prohibits trade in wildlife, fish and plants that have been illegally taken, transported or sold.
Other states involved in “Operation Wild Web” were Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, New Jersey and Rhode Island.
POACHING — State wildlife agents are investigating after a video surfaced showing a group of people in a canoe killing a deer in the waters near Squaxin Island, in southwestern Puget Sound.
KOMO-TV reports the killing of the buck was captured on a 12-minute video, which shows a man swinging at the animal with an oar. The buck swims away but a couple minutes later, a paddler jumps into the water and attempts to drown the deer before another man dives in to assist.
The video ends with the deer being paddled to shore aboard the canoe.
Squaxin Island Tribal Council member Ray Peters says he was disturbed by the video, because that’s not how the tribe harvests deer.
No hunting season is open for deer.
Officials are still trying to identify some of the people in the video.
UPDATED 11:41 a.m. with details of arrest from officer's incident report:
FISHING — Last night, a man at the Spokane Fly Fishers program asked me if I'd heard a fishing report from Lake Lenore. I didn't have an answer for him, but I do today.
The fishing for large Lahontan cutthroat trout at the quality fishery is pretty darned good - IF YOU'RE POACHING with GILLNETS.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers arrested four Western Washington men in the early hours of Saturday morning with 242 cutthroats seized in an illegal night-time netting operation at the prized Grant County lake.
The lake is managed as a “quality fishery,” attracting anglers who want to use single barbless hooks and no bait to catch-and-release large fish. Anglers are allowed to keep no more than one fish at day from Lenore.
Arrested were Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26 and Oleg Pavlus, 25.
The Grant County prosecutor's office said today it has not yet begun processing the case.
“We have members of two ethnic groups involved with an annual thing of illegal netting that's causing great concern for our fish program,” said WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson in Ephrata. “One group has been caught targeting mostly whitefish at Banks Lake and this group was targeting the big spawning cutthroats at Lenore. The 242 fish were just one night's catch. We're not sure how many nights or weeks worth of fish they've taken out of the lake.”
WDFW agents also nabbed two Spokane men from another ethnic group for similar illegal netting activity in January. One of the subjects threatened an arresting officer with retribution.
This is a huge bummer for fishermen. Not only do we deal with environmental issues that plague fish, but also with human pond scum that will do this to a fishery that means so much to anglers and the local economy.
Read on for the chilling details about the stake out and arrest.
FISHING — Numerous lakes already are open for fishing, but a few folks apparently like the elbow room they find at waters that aren't officially open.
They kept Spokane Region Wildlife police busy last week. Here are a few excerpts from the regional enforcement weekly report:
Officer Snyder patrolled the Spokane River and lakes in the Medical Lake and Cheney areas. Two groups of anglers were cited for fishing closed season at West Medical Lake.
Officer Snyder checked anglers at Liberty Lake and arrested one on an outstanding warrant out of Lincoln County.
Officer Spurbeck patrolled the Spokane River and contacted two subjects fishing closed waters. The subjects were also using terminal gear and neither subject had a valid fishing license.
Sergeant Charron responded to two fisherman fishing closed waters on Deep Lake. Suspects attempted to hide fishing gear but were unsuccessful.Officer Vance patrolled the Touchet and Tucannon Rivers. One angler was contacted as he was fishing directly at the base of the dam in Dayton on the Touchet River. He said he saw the no fishing signs and knew he was not allowed to fish there, but wanted to catch a steelhead the easy way.
Outdoors and wildlife-related stories recently published in The Spokesman-Review include:
Out & About: Poacher sends $6,000 check to ease conscience; wolf origin hard to peg
WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Saying he’s been burdened with guilt, an anonymous man has mailed Washington wildlife officials $6,000 to compensate for deer he said he killed illegally – more than 40 years ago.
The man visited one of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department’s Eastern Washington offices a few weeks ago and confessed to an officer that he had killed three whitetail does illegally between 1967 and 1970, officials said Wednesday.
Penalties for poaching antlerless deer can range from $200 to $2,000, but the man’s crimes are well past the statute of limitations.
An officer told the man he could sign up with the agency for volunteer jobs to soothe his conscience, but the man said he lived out of the area.
Last week, a $6,000 check was delivered to the department’s Olympia Headquarters as a donation to the enforcement division, confirmed Mike Cenci, deputy chief.
“This doesn’t happen,” Cenci said. “We do get donations, but if any were related to misdeeds or conscience, we’re not aware of it.”
In a letter with the check, the man, identified only as Roy, wrote:
“My conscience has not allowed me to put this sin to rest until now. I know that God has forgiven me and hope that WDFW will as well.”
Cenci told Northwest Sportsman editor Andy Walgamott that he remains curious:
“I’d like to meet the man, frankly. We all repent in different ways…. I’d ask him, ‘What made you turn the corner?’”
POACHING — Up to $5,000 in rewards is being offered for a tip that leads to the conviction of the culprits in the latest spree poaching case in Eastern Washington.
Five white-tailed deer, including two bucks and three does, were discovered in the Grand Coulee area of Lincoln County on Saturday with only the backstrap and hindquarters removed. The deer were shot and left to rot just a few feet from each other, and appeared to be fairly fresh kills.
This is the sixth multiple-deer poaching incident documented in Eastern Washington this winter, including two incidents in Spokane County.
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the individual(s) responsible for this spree killing and the Human Society of the United States has pledged another $2,500.
Information can be submitted anonymously:
1. Contact Officer Wood in Lincoln County, (509) 892-1001.
2. Call the state Poaching Hotline, (877) 933-9847.
3. Email the tip to firstname.lastname@example.org.
4. Text the information to TIP411 (847411).
POACHING — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game is seeking information on the illegal shooting of three deer within the boundaries of Dalton Gardens, a small community in Kootenai County just north of Coeur d’Alene.
The incidents occurred between Thursday, February 7 and Saturday February 9.
A buck, a doe and a fawn whitetail deer were each found dead, each shot with a small caliber bullet. The three carcasses were found at two different locations within Dalton Gardens. The deer were all left to waste.
The deer season in northern Idaho is currently closed, so the shooting of a deer is a violation of state wildlife laws.
Discharging a firearm within the city limits of Dalton Gardens is also illegal.
Anyone with information regarding these incidents should contact the Idaho Fish and Game Department at 769-1414; or, the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline, at 1 800 632-5999.
Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for a CAP reward if the information provided leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
POACHING — Two Spokane men were arrested last week at Banks Lake after a nighttime patrol of five Washington Fish and Wildlfie police caught them illegally gillnetting about 50 whitefish.
Maxim Andriyenko, 28, and Vladimir Lebedinski, 33, both of Spokane, were booked into the Grant County Jail, according to a report by the Columbia Basin Herald. The other suspect was a 16-year-old boy. A 14-foot boat was seized.
Police said the men are likely part of a “poaching community.” This is not news to anglers who frequent Banks and other regional lakes, but it's good news that some members of this “poaching community” are getting nailed.
The officers reported the suspects argued throughout the search, never admitting to any wrongdoing. Police said one suspect, a convicted felon, allegedly threatened to cut off the fingers of one officer.
HUNTING - The former head of an Idaho group whose mission it is to protect ducks is being punished for using illegal methods to hunt them.
Charles D. Steele of Hagerman was sentenced today to a year of supervised probation, a $2,000 fine and 25 hours of community service in U.S. District Court, according to the Associated Press.
On Sept. 25, he pleaded guilty to violating federal bird-protection laws by baiting ducks placing corn on private farmland near Gooding to attract waterfowl — and enhance hunting opportunities.
The 48-year-old Steele is the former president of the Hagerman Chapter of Ducks Unlimited.
The case was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
While on probation, Steele is forbidden to hunt in the United States.
HUNTING — A national sportsman's conservation group has paid a $500 reward to an Idaho bear hunter who provided the information game wardens needed to cite hunters using all-terrain vehicles in habitat protected from motorized traffic.
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is a national group of outdoorsmen and women who value hunting and fishing in the peace and quiet of natural conditions, said Holly Endersby, BHA acting director who lives in Pollock, Idaho, in announcing the reward.
The case dates back to spring of 2011, when Ted Koch and two friends were hunting for black bears on the Nez Perce National Forest. They planned to hike into an area where roads had been closed to vehicles, but hike-in hunters were allowed.
As they hiked in, they observed hunters on ATVs driving around the locked gate. They also found bait stations the hunters had left behind.
“We planned to enjoy a quiet evening looking for bears,” Koch said. “Instead, the evening was shattered by noise and exhaust where it did not belong.”
Koch lived in Boise at the time of the hunt, but has since moved to Reno, Nev. He pointed out that he and his hunting partners own dirt bikes or all-terrain vehicles, but stay within the bounds of the law.
“Hunters and wildlife alike need some places entirely apart from the noise and disturbance of motor traffic,” Koch said. “Owning an ATV does not mean you can re-write the rule book.”
Koch noted the license plate numbers of the hunters’ vehicles, took GPS readings, recorded the date and time and wrote detailed descriptions of the riders. He reported the incident to Roy Kinner, a senior conservation officer from Idaho Department of Fish and Game in Grangeville.
“Mr. Koch gave us exactly the kind of information we needed to launch a successful investigation,” Kinner said. “I don’t usually get that kind of high quality information. It was just priceless.”
In the end, three hunters pleaded guilty to the road closure violations and were fined $500 each. Other charges of leaving bear bait too close to a stream were dismissed.
BHA has a dedicated reward fund for aiding the conviction of law-breakers who abuse public hunting and fishing areas with motorized vehicles.