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Poachers caught fishing near hatchery

Three Kennewick men caught fishing in closed waters have been charged in Franklin County District Court on several counts involving theft of salmon and steelhead from a state fish hatchery collection site on the Snake River.

Aided by an anonymous tip, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers staked out the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery and observed the three men in a boat within the 400-foot zone around the broodstock collection area, which is closed to fishing.

Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, were confronted about 3 a.m. as they pulled their boat out at Lyons Ferry Marina.

The men have been charged with unlawful fishing, fishing closed waters and during closed season and several other violations. They are accused of illegally taking 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild Chinook salmon. In addition to the state charges, federal charges are pending on possession of the wild steelhead and salmon, listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Fines for the multiple state charges range up to $5,000 per count and up to year in jail. An 18-foot boat, trailer, five fishing rods and fishing and boating equipment were seized for forfeiture proceedings.