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In Brief: Poaching rings charged in Washington and Alaska

POACHING – Three men are accused of trying to poison wolves and leading illegal sheep and bear hunts at the hunting lodge built by Fairbanks hunting guide and aviator Urban Rahoi.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Anchorage announced a 15-count federal indictment on Tuesday against three employees of Rahoi’s Ptarmigan Lake Lodge, which is an inholding on the north side of Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

The indictment alleges that Casey Richardson of Huson, Montana, Dale Lackner of Haines, Alaska, and Jeffrey Harris of Poulsbo, Washington, conspired to violate the Lacey Act, a 1900 law that governs interstate traffic of animal parts.

Harris and Richardson are charged with “conspiracy to use substance to incapacitate game” in the indictment for allegedly making plans to buy the sweetener xylitol in fall 2015 to poison wolves in the area they guide.

Poison is not a legal way to kill wolves under Alaska or federal law.

Harris, Richardson and Lackner also face false statement and false record claims. Harris faces an additional charge of “unlawful baiting of game” for allegedly establishing bear baiting stations in the national preserve that were not permitted by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game or the National Park Service.

In the Lacey Act charges, the three defendants are accused of guiding out-of-state clients on sheep and bear hunts in 2014 and 2015 and transporting animal parts across state lines while not being registered guides.

The crimes alleged in the indictment could be punished by a jail term of as much as five years or a $250,000 fine, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Harris was arrested Tuesday in Washington and has an initial court date on Friday in Anchorage.

Longview hunters related to 100 illegal kills

POACHING – Seven suspects involved in a massive poaching ring in southwestern Washington and north central Oregon were officially charged this week for combined violations involved in killing roughly 100 animals illegally, including bear, elk, deer, bobcat, and squirrel.

KING 5 TV reports that multiple videos seized showed the suspects encouraging their dogs to tear bears apart after shooting them from tree tops.

Officers were alerted to the poaching ring after receiving tips about dead wildlife found without their heads or other trophy body parts.

The seven individuals being charged are from Longview and Morton, Washington, and include two juveniles.

“This was really shocking, especially that it was going on in broad daylight right in front of us,” said Washington Fish and Wildlife Police Cpt. Jeff Wickerhsam. “The correspondence among these individuals showed a wanton disregard for our wildlife resources and the rules meant to protect them.”

For Wickersham and others, the graphic videos and other evidence was disturbing. Officers served search warrants in March, April, and May. It was like peeling back an onion, Wickersham said.

The father and son pair, Eddy “Alvin” Dills and Joe Dills, are well-known in hunting circles, KING 5 reports:

“Joe Dills was investigated in 2007 and charged in 2008 for his participation in the prolific poaching group, the self-avowed ‘Kill ’Em All Boyz.’ According to his case file, Dills hunted beside Micky Gordon, a man who bragged about illegally killing bears among other wildlife and even lethally punished one his hound dogs by wrapping an electrical collar to his testicles, shocking him so severely the dog later died of his injuries.

“Eddy Dills, Joe Dills’ dad, hunted on nearly two-dozen state issued permits in 2011 to kill bears on timber farms, as part of the state’s Bear Timber Depredation Management program, which depends on hunter ethics, entrusted behind locked gates on private land to follow the rules.”

Rowers team for regatta on lower Priest River

WATERSPORTS – Rowers are gearing up for the Head of the Pend Oreille Regatta (The HOP) on the Pend Oreille River with practice on Sept. 29, competitive racing on Sept. 30 and a recreational row on Oct. 1 based out of Priest River, Idaho.

Events include a 1700-meter sprint head race and a new event, known as a stake relay, which involves teams of shells sprinting a 500-meter course with a 360-degree turn. Info: HOPRegatta.org.