Latest from The Spokesman-Review
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 email@example.com.
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.
WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — “Sorry, officer, but I thought that llama was an elk — even after I gutted it out and put it in my pickup.”
Sound like a tall tale? Nope. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employees have seen some doozy cases over the years, as you'll read in Montana game wardens share some of their stranger tales, published in the Missoula Independent.
Indicentally, the 2009 llama incident mentioned above was well reported at the time.
HUNTING — Wyoming lawmakers will decide in coming months whether to follow a growing national trend and allow the use of silencers on hunting guns — a practice already permitted in 39 states.
The law is being promoted by companies that make the silencers, and as you'd expect, they say there's no reason for a ban on silencers.
I beg to differ.
I've read and written hundreds of stories about poaching. A common thread in the successful prosecution of those criminals is that nearby landowners or witnesses were alerted to the illegal activity by hearing the report of the firearms.
The story of a dog killed near Newman Lake recently help's illustrate the point.
The public cannot continue giving poachers the edge on law enforcement and expect officers to hold the tide in the favor of wildlife.
Silencers are unnecessary for hunters, but for poachers, they're a dream come true.
Collette Bise, who raises Angus beef on a farm near Newman Lake, nuzzles Fluffy, one of the farm cats, Nov. 16. Her dog, Tibby, was shot and killed nearby on Oct. 25. SR photo/Jesse Tinsley
Good Thursday morning everyone. It's time for some highlights from Today's Valley Voice. First up is a sad story by correspondent Cindy Hval about a family dog shot by a poacher new Newman Lake. The dog was killed at the same time as a fawn on private property that was liberally posted with “No Hunting” signs. The dog's owner heard her dying yelps. Both the property owner and the Humane Society are offering rewards for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible.
Reporter Lisa Leinberger has a report on higher than expected enrollment in the Central Valley and West Valley school districts. The Spokane Valley Fire Department is working to put togetther a history wall in its new Administration Building.
Correspondend Stefanie Pettit has a column about Bing Crosby's history in Spokane before he left law school to persue a Hollywood career. It's an interesting look at his early life.
POACHING — Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers are seeking information about a Spokane-area spree killing involving at least three deer.
The poaching incident occurred last week near the intersection of Madison and Thorpe Roads near the Painted Hills Golf Course. Three white-tailed deer were shot from the road in a “no-shooting” area at about 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, says Madonna Luers, department spokeswoman.
Two of the deer were left injured and paralyzed in the field. One of the deer was taken.
Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to call the Spokane Regional WDFW Office, (509) 892-1001 and ask for Officer Douglas King.
Information can also be called in to the WDFW poaching hotline at 877-933-9847, or texted to TIP411.
Persons providing information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these poachings may be eligible for a reward and may remain anonymous.
HUNTING — Normally we're uplifted by parents who take their kids hunting.
Not this time.
No one was injured, physically at least, but a Western Washington hunting incident described by this weekend story in the Olympian might be one of the grimmest stories I've read about parental responsibility and the sport of hunting.
POACHING — Five deer were shot, killed and left to rot north of Reardan around Oct. 4, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police said today.
It’s the second five-deer spree-poaching case the agency has investigated in the Spokane Region in two weeks.
The Lincoln County deer included three bucks and two does shot with small-caliber firearms in and near an alfalfa field.
In late September, five whitetails were found dead in another case north of Spokane Valley after spotlighting activity was noticed near the intersecton of Farwell and Peck roads. Two fawns in that case had been run over by a vehicle; the others shot.
It's honorable to rat on scumbag poachers, but you can also earn hefty rewards or bonus points offered for information leading to arrests in these cases.
Call the agency’s regional office in Spokane, (509) 892-1001.
WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Five white-tailed deer were killed and left to rot north of Spokane Valley on Sept. 28 in a poaching case state wildlife police are still investigating.
Spotlighting was reported around 1 a.m. near the intersection of Farwell and Peck roads. Two fawns killed in the incident apparently were intentionally run over, officers said.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife police are looking for more tips. Report poaching incidents by phone at (877) 933-9847, or text message to TIP411.
Weekdays, call (509) 892-1001 and ask for Officer Jason Snyder.
Persons providing information that leads to the arrest of the person(s) responsible for these poachings may be eligible for a reward of up to $2,500 from WDFW and Conservation Northwest.
Informants may remain anonymous.
WILDLIFE CRIMES — In a major crackdown on alleged illegal wildlife traffickers today, Washington Fish and Wildlife police served 14 search warrants on businesses — including Walla Walla County restaurants selling illegal elk meat.
A SWAT team was called in to arrest one West Side man officers say provided “two to three big game animals a week” at times to undercover officers.
See the report by Andy Walgamott of Northwest Sportsman.
Here's report by KING 5 TV.
WILDLIFE ENFORCEMENT — Washington Fish and Wildlife police must feel like parents dealing with kids sometimes. I'd like to hear the author of this poaching enforcement report tell the story over a couple of beers.
Sgt. Chadwick contacted a recreational boat returning to the dock in Westport late Sunday evening. The four Idaho men on board the craft were happy to show Sgt. Chadwick their limit of four Chinook. The open bow of their boat was already covered with canvas, however Sgt. Chadwick noticed there were bits of wet grass up underneath, as well as a crab caliper, which indicated they may have been crab fishing. When questioned, they denied having any crab on board and claimed their pots had been stolen.
Despite their denials, Sgt. Chadwick conducted an inspection and found 11 crab in a live well up front. Looking at the live well on the opposite side, he found it was full of rain gear and a life jacket with a couple of fresh scales. Digging a little deeper, Sgt. Chadwick found two extra Chinook hidden under the rain gear.
Officer Do arrived to assist and asked the foursome where they were staying. At that point, the men had already been advised of their rights, and decided to confess to having three more over their limit back at camp. The Officers followed the four men back to camp and found they had a total of five Chinook over the limit. The fish were seized and various citations issued.
POACHING — A Western Washington man has pleaded guilty to 14 counts of luring bears with doughnuts, salmon and other bait so they could be killed for fun by himself and family from the porch of his Methow Valley recreation cabin.
James Erickson, 52, of Eatonville, Wash., has been sentenced to six days in jail on top of a $12,000 fine and 20 days electronically monitored detention at his home. He'll also loose his state hunting privileges for five years. As part of the plea deal, charges against others were dropped.
The case was sealed after years of investigation after Fish and Wildlife police received a tip that led to a remote trail cam with photos that caught Erickson in the act.
See the story and photos from the investigation that led to the arrest.
POACHING – An online auction of confiscated big-game antlers that concluded last week netted the state $21,300 earmarked for anti-poaching enforcement.
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Department sold 1,725 pounds of moose, elk and deer antlers that had been seized from poachers.
- To report poaching, call (877) 933-9847, or visit the Fish and Wildlife website
Money from the auction will be used to for forensic work and to pay rewards to people who report poaching violatons, officials said.
WILDLIFE — Poachers are contributing to anti-poaching efforts as nearly a thousand antlers seized from wildlife cases over the last decade are being sold by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife in an online auction that closes Tuesday (June 5).
At last check, the bid for a 6-point bull elk rack that started two weeks ago at under $30 was up to $227.50.
Items available during the auction include:
- 33 trophy elk racks.
- 22 trophy deer racks.
- Five trophy moose racks.
- About 450 pounds of single large and medium elk antlers (large size antlers - 3 bundles; medium size antlers - 18 bundles).
- About 250 pounds of single small elk antlers in one lot (tote).
- About 120 pounds of single large size deer antlers (10 bundles).
- About 140 pounds of single small/medium deer antlers in one lot (tote).
- About 40 pounds of single moose antlers (2 bundles).
The auction, conducted by the State Department of Enterprise Services (DES), will conclude the afternoon of June 5. Photos of the antlers and other information about the auction, including how to view the items in person, are available online.
Register here to participate in the online auction.
While this is a good opportunity for the public to obtain hard-to-get antlers, the auction also highlights poaching as a serious problem in Washington, said Mike Cenci, the agency's deputy chief of enforcement.
“Poachers steal directly from the citizens, and disadvantage hunters in Washington – the vast majority of which follow the law,” he said.
Many legal hunters wait years to draw a special permit allowing them to harvest trophy animals, said Cenci. “Ethical hunters’ chances of harvesting a trophy animal can be greatly reduced by poachers, especially those that kill multiple animals.”
WDFW’s Enforcement Program includes 134 Fish and Wildlife police officers stationed throughout Washington. However, WDFW still relies on tips from the public, Cenci said.
Report wildlife violation by phone (877) 933-9847), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text message (847411 TIP411).
Funds from the antler auction will be used in the fight against poaching, which includes paying rewards to people who report fish and wildlife violations that lead to a conviction, Cenci said.
POACHING — Maybe somebody feels proud about killing a sow grizzly and her cub in North Idaho.
But it appears to be among the most gutless wildlife crimes that's come to light in a long time.
There's a $10,000 reward for information leading to revealing, arresting and convicting the scumbags.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — A trail-cam image of a pair of gray wolves in the Methow Valley is raising the possibility that the Lookout Pack may be regrouping — and possibly reproducing.
The wolves (above) were photographed in April by a motion-activated camera put out by the U.S. Forest Service southwest of Twisp.
Several sightings of the pair have been reported to the Washington Fish and Wildlfie Department, offering the possibility the pair may have mated and the Lookout Pack is rebuilding.
Poaching and other possible causes reduced the Lookout Pack from 10 wolves in 2008 to two or possibly three animals.
Three members of a Twisp family, whose ranch borders the area inhabited by the Lookout Pack, pleaded guilty in April to charges related to killing endangered wolves and attempting to smuggle a wolf hide to Canada.
Their fines total more than $70,000
The the photographed pair are a breeding male and female, pups could be born in early May.
“Without radio-collared animals, our next best chance of finding out more will be when the pups are old enough to leave the den and start responding to howling solicitations – probably not until mid-June,” Scott Fitkin, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, told the Methow Valley News.
Elsewhere in Washington
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is trying to document whether wolves confirmed in about five new areas of the state have formed new packs.
WDFW biologists currently are attempting to trap and fix radio collars on wolves in the “wedge” area between the Columbia and Kettle rivers in northeast Washington.
Officials say that operation likely will move next to the Hozomeen area in northwest WA.
Efforts to put collars on wolves in the Touchet River area of the Blue Mountains likely won't begin until later this spring or early summer, officials say.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — About 100 motion-activated cameras scattered across an 8,600-acre Montana mountainside ranch are documenting a wealth of wildlife activity, including images confirming that Western spotted skunks — rare in Montana — have found a home about 10 miles south of Missoula.
The cameras, some of which transmit wirelessly to a ranch video specialist, are pretty good at documenting poachers, too.
It's not she wasn't observant. Moose are relative newcomers to the region, showing up roughly with the first big waves of Californians.
Washington's moose population has been slowly growing since the first confirmed moose sighting was made in Pend Oreille County in the early '50's. Wildlife research pegged about 60 moose in the northeast corner of the state in the early '70s.
The first moose hunting season was authorized in 1977 with just three permits, all for the northeast portion of Pend Oreille County.
This year, 150 moose hunting permits are being offered for a moose population estimated at more than 1,000 — although that estimate appears to have been made before the wolves gained a foothold in northeastern Washington in recent years.
Since the 90s, moose have spread into Stevens and Spokane counties and beyond, where they've been showing up in towns, in school yards, in swimming pools on a hot day. A few people have been charged by moose. Some have had the misfortune of colliding with moose on area roads. Heck, one calf fell through a window into the basement bedroom of a home in north Spokane.
They've only been common for a couple of decades, but nowadays everybody in this area has a moose story.
SPOKANE— Two brothers suspected of illegally killing a cow moose with archery gear on the north side of Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley around April 10 have been identified from the search warrant served in the case by Washington Fish and Wildlife Police.
Donald Gilbrech and San Gilbrech will be charged with several counts pending the results of DNA testing on the 95 pounds of moose meat seized from the men, Spokane officers said, without referring to the suspects by name.
Also confiscated was deer meat and Don Gilbrech's SUV, which contained moose hair and blood, the case report said.
A limited number of coveted special permits are required for hunting moose in Washington and the seasons are held in late summer and fall.
Fish and Wildlife Department officials say tips from the public helped officers make the case against the Gilbrechs.
An animal welfare group had offered a $2,500 reward for tips that lead to a conviction in the case.
Officers said a worker near Beacon Hill had seen a cow moose in the area. Circling birds later prompted the informant to check out the area, where a moose head, guts and hide were found.
A bow and arrow matching the arrowhead found on scene were seized at San Gilbrech's house, officers said.
Each man faces fines of about $5,000 if convicted on the various possible charges for killing the moose and deer, officers said.
ENDANGERED SPECIES — Three members of a Methow Valley family who raised havoc with the Lookout Pack, the first re-population of wolves discovered in Washington, were fined a total of more than $73,000 in plea agreements entered in Spokane federal court.
Some conservation groups are making headlines saying they think those penalties weren't enough, arguing the family members should get jail time.
Maybe, maybe not.
But perhaps the Seattle PI online gives us a perspective on how these issues are viewed on Western Washington. There's nothing particularly wrong with the story, but the headline caught my attention:
What do you think?
Is accurate to suggest a family that's had to pay $73,000 in fines and restitution is “getting off with probation?”
POACHING — An anonymous informant could soon be $2,500 richer after leading wildlife agents to moose poachers.
At least two suspects are being investigated for illegally killing a cow moose on the north side of Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley around April 10.
Washington Fish and Wildlife police report they have confiscated 95 packages of moose meat and the archery equipment used in the moose poaching.
Under a search warrant, officers also seized the vehicle they suspect was used for transporting the moose off the popular recreation area east of Esmeralda Golf Course.
Formal charges are pending results of DNA testing on the meat, said Madonna Luers, the agency’s spokeswoman in Spokane.
An anonymous tip led officers to the evidence, she said.
If the suspects are convicted, the informant is eligible for a $2,500 reward offered by a national animal welfare group.
POACHING — A cow moose was illegally killed Monday night on Beacon Hill in Spokane Valley, Washington Fish and Wildlife police say.
The poachers killed the animal using archery equipment on the north side of the mountain above Valley Springs road.
The animal was butchered on the spot, leaving little more than the two front feet and head behind.
Tire tracks indicate a small vehicle was used, possibly a small four-wheel drive, said Officer Dave Spurbeck. A landowner heard a vehicle leaving the area around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
Officers have few other clues and welcome any information that might help solve the case.
- Call the investigators directly: Officer Paul Mosman, 710-5707, or Spurbeck, 993-3997. You can remain anonymous and still be elligible for a reward.
Beacon Hill, which holds several communications towers, is the prominent mountain just north of the Spokane River and just east of Esmeralda Golf Course. It's popular with mountain biker and hikers.
This web page details how poaching tips in any case can be provided anonymously by phone, email or text message. Rewards are offered.
Otherwise call (877) 933-9847 anywhere in the state.
To reach the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Spokane Region Office during work hours, call (509) 892 1001.
HUNTING – A veterinarian accused of poaching an elk in North Idaho has filed a federal lawsuit against state wildlife officials.
The Bonner County Daily Bee reports Roland Hall is accusing the Idaho Department of Fish and Game of civil rights violations, negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, malicious prosecution and slander.
He filed a lawsuit earlier this week in U.S. District Court seeking an unspecified amount of damages. Hall previously filed a tort claim, a precursor to a lawsuit, indicating he would seek $500,000 in damages.
Hall says the state agency pressed to prosecute him on a felony poaching charge, which stemmed from a 2009 hunting trip. Although the charges were dropped, Hall claims the case was filed because of a vendetta against him over a long-standing dispute involving a lead and silver mine he co-owns.
POACHING — Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are seeking help in identifying who was responsible for poaching a bull elk near the intersection of Bunco and Nunn Roads.
The elk was killed sometime between 9:30 p.m. on Sunday (Dec 4) and 6:30 a.m. on Monday (Dec. 5). The culprits removed the head and much of the meat from the carcass, which was killed in a private field just off the Bunco Road.
Anyone with information regarding this crime can contact:
- Citizens Against Poaching Hotline at (800) 632-5999.
- IDFG Regional Office at (208) 769-1414.
- or their local Conservation Officer.
Callers may be eligible for a monetary reward, and may remain anonymous.
HUNTING/POACHING — Three Australians on a North Ameican hunting trip have been sent packing, but not before Idaho officials fined them thousands of dollars for elk poaching and told the bad apples they could never return to hunt in Idaho and virtually anywhere else in the United States.
All three paid thousands of dollars in fines and restitution in an Elmore County courtwhile forfeiting two hunting rifles before the long plane trip back home.
Read on for the details from Idaho Fish and Game.