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Tips sought in Ione-area elk poaching case

POACHING — Washington Fish and Wildlife Police are asking the public for tips to help solve an elk poaching case in Pend Oreille County near Ione.

Around midnight on Dec. 2, 2014, a spike bull elk was unlawfully killed by someone using a spotlight and high-powered rifle at about milepost 2 on Sullivan Lake Road.

According to officer Severin Erickson:

 A full size pickup (unknown color) possibly with an extended cab was seen spotlighting the elk herd.  One shot was fired from the suspect vehicle. This was the only bull left in this herd after hunting season. The suspect vehicle was then seen leaving the area. Sheriff’s deputies arrived on scene within 15 minutes, but were unable to locate the suspects. The suspects did not return.  It is unknown why the suspects left the elk to waste.

These types of poachers are stealing from all of us ethical sportsmen and women.

  • If anyone has any information that might lead to an arrest,  contact Officer Severin Erickson on his cell phone at (509) 671-0086.
  • Poaching activity also can be reported by calling 1-877-933-9847, or by emailing WDFW at reportpoaching@dfw.wa.gov.

You always have the choice to remain anonymous when reporting.

Violator information that leads to a conviction, could be eligible for a cash reward (up to $500), or hunting bonus points (up to 10 points). Hunting bonus points provide a greatly improved chance for drawing special permits for hunting. 

In addition to these rewards offered by WDFW, the Pend Oreille County Sportsman’s Club is also offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest in this case.

Illegal gillnetters caught with 376 whitefish from Banks Lake

POACHING — Men illegally using gillnets to catch hundreds of whitefish from Banks Lake were  busted by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police on Dec. 8.
 
The crime is similar to other gross cases of fish poaching from prized lakes in Grant County in recent years.
 
WDFW police were focusing day and night patrols on Banks Lake near Coulee City for what they call in their report the “annual whitefish netting and snagging season.”
 
The poachers, they say, target fish that are nearing the peak of the spawn and gathering in large numbers along the rocky shorelines.

On the night of Dec. 7 and early morning of Dec. 8, officers observed three men fishing with gillnets from the rock face along Dry Falls Dam. Says the report:
“Their van was hidden in the sagebrush nearby and the men were fishing in an area where it would have been impossible to apprehend them safely while also preventing them from destroying evidence. Officer Smith stayed hidden in the rocks above them for several hours, relaying their activity to other officers until they finally gathered up all of their fish and nets to leave. As they returned to their vehicle, officers swept in and took all three into custody as they attempted to flee on foot.
 
Officer Varyvoda did an outstanding job conversing with the suspects in Ukrainian and Russian to obtain statements.
 
A total of seven gill nets were seized which were used to harvest 376 whitefish and one trout.
 
All three men were booked into the Grant County Jail on multiple charges. The fish were donated to charity.

Antlers, meat seized in Asotin County trophy elk poaching case

POACHING — After receiving multiple tips throughout the week, Washington Fish and Wildlife Police, with the help of Idaho Fish and Game Officers, identified two suspects in the poaching of two bull elk in the Anatone area on Nov. 2.

WDFW Officers Sabo and King, along with Asotin County Sheriff’s deputies, obtained a search warrant for a cabin near Anatone and recovered the two trophy elk heads, elk meat and a third carcass belonging to an elk calf.
 
Unfortunately, the majority of the elk meat was not salvageable, they said.
 
More than 15 deer, elk, and moose heads, many of them trophy class, were seized for additional follow-up investigation.
 
Multiple charges are being filed with the Asotin County Prosecutors office.

Poachers kill two trophy bighorn rams in Asotin County

POACHING — Two trophy class bighorn rams were illegally killed up Asotin Creek on the Asotin Creek Wildlife area last weekend.  

“One was shot and wounded and we just found it (Tuesday),” said Paul Mosman, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police sergeant in Clarkston. He said the ram  probably died Saturday or Sunday and was possibly seen last Wednesday with an injured shoulder. 

“The second ram had a radio collar and the only thing we found was the collar cut off and thrown in the brush,” he said.

Tips on the cases can be made to Officer Matt Sabo, (509) 780-9843 or to Mosman, (509) 710-5707.

Only one permit for bighorn sheep was offered this year for this coveted area.

“This level of harvest is unsustainable on the Asotin Creek herd over the long run,” Mosman said.

A third ram was killed in the same vicinity last weekend by a Nez Perce tribal hunter exercising his tribal hunting rights, Mosman said, noting that a Nez Perce Tribal conservation officer dropped off the research collar the animal was wearing.

Road hunting bruises image of sportsmen

HUNTING — Hunters and joyriders who discharge firearms from vehicles are killing the sport of hunting a shot at a time.

Idaho Fish and Game officers in the Clearwater Region report they are getting reports of road shooting every day.

Imagine sitting in your house when you hear and possibly see a vehicle slowly driving by and then you hear the sound of a gunshot.  Maybe the next day you find a dead animal or a bullet hole in a tractor or building. Would you greet the next hunter with a smile if he knocked at your door and asked permission to get on your land?

“Officers interview road shooters and ask them why they are shooting from the roadways,” reports Jen Bruns, IDFG spokeswoman in Lewiston. “With a loaded firearm resting on the floorboard at their side, a common response is, 'I grew up hunting this way.'” 

Shooting from the roadway is illegal. It's not hunting, it's poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species contrary to applicable law.

Road shooting is illegal because it's extremely unsafe. 

“Hunting from roadways also contributes to trespass violations and these behaviors are often used to discredit hunters as unethical and lazy,” says Clearwater Regional Conservation Officer Mark Hill.

In Idaho and Washington, it is unlawful to hunt game animals, birds or fur-bearing animals from or by the use of any motorized vehicle except as provided by commission rule. This rule applies to all motorized vehicles, whether on water, land or in the air. This includes pickup trucks, jeeps, SUV’s, UTV’s, cars, three-wheelers, four-wheelers, motorcycles, boats, snowmobiles and other similar vehicles.

Report road shooting or hunting infractions in Idaho by calling the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline (800) 632-5999.   In Washington, call 911 or the local sheriff.

Washington wildlife cops help Montana bag poachers

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Washington Fish and Wildlife Police recently helped Montana Fish,Wildlife & Parks officers with a poaching case involving four large bull elk taken from a closed area in Eastern Montana, and multiple suspects living in the Grays Harbor, Pacific, and Thurston County areas of Washington.

Here's Washington Fish and Wildlife report on welcome cooperation to bust these scumbags.

Officer Fairbanks was able to use Montana’s probable cause to obtain a search warrant for evidence in the initial investigation into the poaching of a Montana bull elk. During thi…s investigation, a second illegal elk was identified. Officer Fairbanks organized eight interview teams to contact and interview eight possible suspects. The interview teams were able to identify the shooter of the second elk as two additional illegally harvested bull elk.

At the end of the day four 6x6 elk racks were seized, three of which will score as trophy class elk, which could result in fines of $8,000 per rack in restitution to the State of Montana.

Representatives of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks were extremely appreciative of our efforts, and happy to be taking the racks back to Montana with them. This is a great case of joint operations between Western States.

Jail time sought for men guilty of netting Banks Lake whitefish

POACHING — A Grant County jury this week found four Western Washington men guilty of illegally netting 194 whitefish out of Banks Lake on Dec. 5, 2013

But the best news is that the Grant County prosecutor doesn't plan to give them a slap on the hands.

“There really is no excuse for this behavior,” said Prosecutor D. Angus Lee. “We will be asking the court to impose two months of county jail time on each of these four defendants.” Sentencing is set for Aug. 27.

Vladimir Savchenko, 36, of Edmonds, Peter Zhezhelev, 46, of Kenmore, Aleksandr Kashnikov, 45, of Everett, and Sergey Mitsevich, 39, also of Everett were each found guilty of unlawful use of a net to take fish, a second-degree gross misdemeanor and illegal recreational fishing, a first-degree gross misdemeanor.

  • Charges also had been assessed to  Mikhail N. Mitsevich, 38, of Everett,   the defendant who nearly drove over a Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officer as he attempted to escape in a van the night of the arrests. I'm trying to get verification from the Grant County prosecutor if Mikhail N. Mitsevich and Sergey Mitsevich are the same person and what became of those “attempted vehicle assault” charges.
  • See also several other high-profile fish poaching cases involving men of Eastern European descent in Central Washington in the past few years.

 

 

 

Biologist: Lake Lenore still has fish to catch

FISHING — I've been hearing the rumors of the demise of Lahontan trout at Lake Lenore.

Is the illegal fishing to blame? 

Chad Jackson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department fisheries biologist said they're actually seeing more fish in the spawning area trap this year, not less.

He says that's anecdotal evidence and a full lake fishery survey is needed.

But he has other ideas on why the fishing isn't the same as it was before the net-poaching case came to light last year.

See details in my Sunday story: Lahontan cutthroats still thrive at Lake Lenore despite poaching.

Naples Poacher Faces Stiff Penalty

Poachers sometimes get off lightly with their local courts for illegally killing fish and game in the region's hinterlands. But when you participate in a wildlife crime that crosses state lines, you're violating the Lacey Act, which sets you up for federal law enforcement and prosecution. Tod S. Navarro, 49, of Naples (Boundary County), and others are finding out what that's all about. Navarro pleaded guilty Monday in United States District Court to aiding the unlawful acquisition and transportation of a mountain lion in 2012, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. Although the charge is a misdemeanor, it's punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $100,000, and up to one year of supervised release, or a maximum term of five years’ probation. Navarro was initially indicted by a federal grand jury in Coeur d’Alene on July 16, 2013/Rich Landers, SR. More here.

Question: Anyone willing to plead for leniency for this poacher?

Naples men guilty in cougar case

POACHING — Poachers sometimes get off lightly with their local courts for illegally killing fish and game in the region's hinterlands.

But when you participate in a wildlife crime that crosses state lines, you're violating the Lacey Act, which sets you up for federal law enforcement and prosecution. 

Tod S. Navarro, 49, of Naples, Idaho, and others are finding out what that's all about.

Navarro pleaded guilty Monday in United States District Court to aiding the unlawful acquisition and transportation of a mountain lion in 2012, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced. 

Although the charge is a misdemeanor, it's punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $100,000, and up to one year of supervised release, or a maximum term of five years’ probation.  

Navarro was initially indicted by a federal grand jury in Coeur d’Alene on July 16, 2013.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service takes this seriously.

According to S-R reporter Scott Maben, Navarro's son, Jacob R. Navarro, 22, also of Naples, entered a similar plea in December, as did a third man, Christopher B. Wilson, 33, of Elgin, Ore.

The three men admitted that in January 2012 they aided and abetted the unlawful hunting and transportation of three mountain lions. Each admitted he allowed his Idaho tag to be put on a mountain lion taken by a hunter from North Dakota, knowing that it was going to be transported to that state, according to the U.S. Attorney.

Jacob Navarro and Wilson are scheduled to be sentenced May 8. Tod Navarro is set for sentencing on July 21 before United States District Judge Edward J. Lodge at the federal courthouse in Coeur d’Alene.

Pregnant cow moose shot, left to rot in Benewah County

POACHING —The Idaho Fish and Game Department is looking for tips that might solve the case of a pregnant cow moose killed  along Penny Lane off Sanders Road about three miles north of Emida in Benewah County.

The cow that was carrying a fetus a little more than a month away from birth, department officials say. 

Conservation Officer Rob Morris said the moose was shot on the afternoon of April 22.  No meat was taken from the cow and there were no apparent indications that anyone made an effort to retrieve the animal.

“The person who did this took not only the cow moose from the people of Idaho, they also killed her unborn calf,” Morris said. 

If you have information about this or other wildlife crimes, contact the IDFG Panhandle Region Office, (208) 769-1414; or, contact Officer RMorris (208) 993-0283. 

  • The statewide Citizens Against Poaching hotline is (800) 632-5999.  

Nailed! Deer poacher, 25, sentenced to 5 years, $24K

POACHING — “The man who wore a T-shirt reading 'Damn I’m Good' while hoisting the severed head of one of many trophy Okanogan bucks he poached during a 2012 and 2013 killing spree was sentenced to five years in jail and over $24,000 in fines,” reports Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.

The Omak Chronicle and Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune report that Garret V.J. Elsberg pled guilty to eight counts of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game, seven counts of second-degree unlawful hunting, possession of a firearm, and one count of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game.

“These were the most flagrant acts of poaching in my 25 years as a game warden,” said Jim Brown, former Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police officer and now the agency's region manager in Ephrata.

Walgamott has a full roundup of information about the case involving this young man gone wrong. 

Top illegal wildlife dealer in state gets slap on wrist

POACHING — Mercy. The value of wildlife seems to have gone down the tubes with a relatively light sentence in Western Washington last week.

“A Tacoma man described as 'one of the largest illegal wildlife traffickers in Washington state history' was sentenced Friday to 30 days of community service and 60 days’ home detention for selling deer, elk and sturgeon in violation of state law,” the Tacoma News-Tribune reports.

See the story, and shake your head.

Fish and wildlife enforcement tall order for sparse staff

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.

Reward in Stevens County wolf poaching case jumps to $22,500

POACHING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking the public's help to identify the person or persons responsible for shooting and killing a gray wolf last month in Stevens County.

A 2-year-old black female wolf from the Smackout Pack was found dead Feb. 9 near Cedar Lake in northeast Stevens County. The condition of the carcass indicated it had died between Feb. 5 and Feb. 7, and a veterinarian's examination confirmed it had been shot.

Wildlife managers had captured the wolf about a year ago and fitted it with a radio collar so they could track its movements and those of her pack members.

WDFW, with the help of three non-profit organizations, is offering a reward of up to $22,500 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case. Conservation Northwest, the Center for Biological Diversity, and The Humane Society of the United States, have each pledged $7,500 to create the reward.

Gray wolves are protected throughout the state. WDFW is responsible for management of wolves and enforcement of laws to protect them. The illegal killing of a wolf or other endangered fish or wildlife species is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.

Sergeant Pam Taylor of the WDFW Northeast Washington Region is leading the investigation. She urged people with knowledge of the crime to report it confidentially by calling WDFW's poaching hotline, 877-933-9847, or by texting a tip to 847411.

Turkey poaching least of crimes for bagged Okanogan felons

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Some creepy wild life is going on in remote areas of Okanogan County, although it's been thinned out in recent months by Fish and Wildlife cops.

Felons and a sex offender illegally possession firearms, running a still, whacking turkeys out of season — oh, my! — and they had the balls to get in the face of an undercover officer who was just out “minding his own business” on a public road?  

Law-abiding sportsmen will enjoy the following report on a satisfying bust by the WDFW.  Click continue reading….

Fish-game cops need help with poaching cases

HUNTING/FISHING — Poaching is a live and well in the region's mountains and streams, and state fish and wildlife officers in Washington and Idaho are looking for help making cases.   Two in particular include:

Entiat bucks:  A $2,000 reward is being offered by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife  for substantial information leading to charges filed against the person(s) involved in poaching trophy class deer.

Two mule deer bucks were shot from Mud Creek Road in the Entiat Valley during the first two weeks of January 2014. The poacher(s) attempted to hide the deer, leaving the antlers and meat to waste (though they likely planned to return later to retrieve the antlers).

  • Contact Officer Oswald, (509) 630.0536, or email eric.oswald@dfw.wa.gov.  All reports will be confidential and the reporting party's identity will be protected.

Clearwater steelhead: On Friday, Feb. 28, poachers left their mark at the Ahsahka boat ramp on the North Fork of the Clearwater River, according to Idaho Fish and Game oficials. 

A call to the Citizens Against Poaching (CAP) hotline led an Idaho Fish and Game officer to the scene where six steelhead had been left to waste.  Six female fish were all over the 28 inch length limit and one still had an adipose fin indicating it was most likely a wild fish. All fish had been gutted and thrown alongside the boat ramp near the water’s edge.  The persons reporting the crime said they had been fishing earlier in the day at that same location and the fish were not there.  They returned to go fishing in the afternoon and found the fish that had been left to waste. 

One of the people reporting the crime stated, “Those fish could have feed my family for quite a while…  but instead someone saw it fit to catch and kill illegal fish and then waste the meat.”  Someone knows who did this.  It was likely more than one person.  Without the help of a responsible honest person, these dishonest violators will get away with stealing the wildlife resource that belongs to the people of Idaho.

  • Contact CAP hotline, (800) 632-5999 or Officer Dave Beaver, (208) 791-5118.  Anyone providing information can remain anonymous.  

Washington wildlife cops bust black market crabbing ring

FISHERIES — A ring of commercial fishermen gone bad has been nabbed selling crabs — often undersized and removed from the sea before they could spawn a new generation — on the black market around Puget Sound.

See the undercover video in a report by KING 5 TV.

Conservation group staffer admits to elk poaching

HUNTING — The Idaho director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition has pleaded guilty to charges of illegally killing and wasting elk, according to an Idaho State Journal report.

Marv Hoyt is set to retire from his position at the end of this month following and Idaho Fish and Game Department investigation that led to his admissions last month that he illegally killed and wasted two elk, coalition staff confirmed to the Journal.

Wildlife advocate pleads guilty to poaching

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) — The Idaho director for the wildlife advocacy group Greater Yellowstone Coalition has pleaded guilty to poaching two elk. The Idaho State Journal (http://bit.ly/SxHTxs ) reports Marv Hoyt is currently on vacation and will retire from his post at the end of the year. Hoyt pleaded guilty last month to misdemeanor charges of unlawful taking of game and wasteful destruction of wildlife. Prosecutors said Hoyt only had one elk tag but that he killed three cow elk during a November hunting trip in Caribou County. Fish and Game officer Blake Phillips found the three elk carcasses. The first elk had been gutted and the meat taken, but the other two had not been harvested.

Fish poacher charged for trying to run over wildlife agent

WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — The bad news from Banks Lake is that an apparently organized criminal element of Eastern European descent continues to thumb its nose at Washington fish and wildlife regulations and kill massive amounts of sportfish.

The good news is that by allegedly attempting to run over a fish and wildlife officer who caught him illegally gillnetting whitefish on Thursday night, one of their ilk may have gone far enough to get a sentence that goes beyond a fine and a slap on the wrist for his crime.

To bring you up to speed on some of the activity related to criminal gillnetting of sportfish:

The latest incident occurred late the Thursday, Dec. 5, 2013.  Here's the report from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police Facebook page:
Late Thursday night, Sergeant (Mike) Jewell and Officer (Wil) Smith were patrolling Banks Lake (Grant County) after receiving several reports of subjects illegally netting whitefish in the area. Unfortunately, this activity has become all too common during the late fall and early winter when thousands of these fish begin to gather to spawn. Although each angler is already allowed to retain 15 fish per day using hook and line, sadly, that doesn’t seem to satisfy the greed of some.

While checking areas of the shoreline in the dark, the two Officers located numerous bags of fish hidden in the rocks, as well as several illegal gill nets deployed in the water north of the Million Dollar Mile. Expecting the culprits to return and retrieve their illegal bounty, the Officers hid nearby and waited.

Just as suspected, a van pulled up around midnight and five people jumped out to retrieve the nets and begin loading the fish into the vehicle. When the officers tried to contact the wayward group, the suspects fled in the van, nearly striking Officer Smith in the process. As the Officers continued their pursuit over 40 miles, they watched as the suspects threw bags of fish and illegal nets out the side of the van in an effort to dispose of the evidence. The pursuit ended on Highway 2 near the town of Douglas in Douglas County, where the suspects were finally stopped. Several Deputies from Douglas County and a State Trooper from the Wenatchee area arrived to assist WDFW Police Officers. Once the suspects were apprehended, the Officers went back and recovered over 175 fish and three gill nets from the shoulder of the roadway.
 
The driver of the van, Mikhail N. Mitsevich, 38, of Everett, was booked into the Grant County Jail on felony charges of attempting to elude police and 2nd degree assault (the officer would have had to be hit in order to bump it up to 1st degree) for nearly running over Officer Smith. The other four accomplices were all charged with multiple gross misdemeanor fishing violations and the vehicle was seized.
 

State seeks tips on trophy whitetail poached near Republic

HUNTING — The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife requests information leading to the arrest of suspects involved in the killing of a trophy white-tailed deer near Republic in northeast Washington’s Ferry County. 

The deer may have been killed near Gibraltar Mountain and Sherman Pass near the end of November.

Contact the WDFW Eastern Region Office at 892-1001. 

Information can also be reported anonymously through WDFW poaching hotline, 1-877-933-9847, or online.  

$5,000 reward offered in Idaho cow elk poaching case

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.

Anyone with information concerning the killing of this elk can call Idaho Citizens Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999 or Idaho Fish and Game’s Lewiston office at 208-799-5010

Magazine photo helps nail poacher of Washington buck

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. 

State files 33 trophy deer poaching charges against Okanogan man

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.

Hunter bags whitetail buck; thief steals meat

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?

Officers bag bull elk poaching suspect in Pend Oreille County

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. 
WDFW Capt. Dan Rahn, who held off making any comment until charges were filed and a court date was set, said it's unusual for Wildlife agents, sheriff's deputies and Border Patrol to come together on a case.
 
“Usually we're all spread thin and scattered about,” he said. “But in this case all three agencies just happened to have personnel in the area at the right time.”

WDFW names new enforcement chief

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.  

Washington men arrested; international fish poaching ring suspected

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.

Prosecutor: Lake Lenore case stands out, but poaching common

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.