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IFG seeks tips on elk poaching near Bunco Road

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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.

Idaho has its fill of ‘down under’ hunters

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.

Wild week for wildlife police: 48 arrests, 24 warnings made

HUNTING/POACHING — Hunters relished wintery conditions that coincided with the onset of the rut last week. Conditions were good for filling a tag in the final days of the late rifle whitetail buck hunt, which ended Saturday in northeastern Washington.

Poachers seemed to like the conditions, too. Washington Fish and Wildlife Department police made 48 arrests and issued 24 warnings during the past week in the Spokane Region.

Failure to tag a deer or using someone else’s tag on a deer were common infractions, but officers also were ticketing for violations including littering and road-hunting to spotlighting and shooting bucks that didn’t meet the new four-point minimum in Units 117 and 121.

Read on for details about just a few of the more interesting citations and investigations area officers had to deal with in the past week.

Hayden man fined $13,000 for poaching trophy bighorn in Montana

POACHING —  A 64-year-old Idaho North Idaho man has agreed to pay more than $13,000 in restitution and fines and will lose his hunting, fishing and trapping privileges for life for illegally obtaining a Montana hunting license and killing a trophy bighorn sheep in north-central Montana, the Associated Press reports.

Roger J. Woodworth of Hayden, Idaho, was sentenced Nov. 6 by District Judge Nels Swandal as part of a plea agreement with Fergus County prosecutors, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials.

FWP officials say Woodworth illegally bought a Montana resident hunting license in 2009, then applied and was drawn in the lottery for a bighorn license in the Missouri River Breaks north of Lewistown, where he shot the ram.

A tip led to the charges against Woodworth, who was required to give up the bighorn sheep trophy mount.

Hunter numbers down, poachers up, Idaho Fish and Game officers say

HUNTING ENFORCEMENT — “I patrolled nearly 2000 miles of back roads during October and encountered fewer elk hunters and far fewer elk camps than in the recent past,” said Jerry Hugo, Idaho Fish and Game Department conservation officer in North Idaho. “Panhandle resident elk camps far outpaced non-resident elk hunting camps this fall.”

But there's been no shortage of poachers, officers say.

Tips are being sought to help nab whomever killed two moose shot and wasted near Cataldo around Oct. 29.

District Officers operated several bull and cow elk decoys during closed seasons in an effort to enforce our current Panhandle big-game regulations.

“I saw and heard from hunters that they were seeing LOTS and LOTS of moose,” Hugo said. “Moose are definitely enjoying the abundance of the new found forage in Unit 6 and are not as vulnerable to severe winter weather conditions as elk and deer are. But the roads make moose far more vulnerable to poachers.

Some hunters might think they're a cut above a poacher by putting out salt licks in Idaho to lure big game. While that's legal in some states, it's illegal in Idaho.

“District Officers found several more salt licks this fall,” Hugo said. “Officers are gathering the locations of every salt lick that we find and we are saving the GPS coordinates. It is unlawful and unfair chase to hunt elk over any form of salt.

“Idaho Geologists assure us that there are NO naturally occurring salt licks in north Idaho. We are currently devising ways to catch these poachers on site.”

Idaho Fish and Game seeks tips on 2 moose poached near Cataldo

POACHING – Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials are seeking tips to help them nab poachers involved in killing two bull moose on or around Oct. 29. The bulls were killed within 25 yards of each other in French Gulch near Frost Peak in the Cataldo area.

The poacher or poachers took only the hind quarters of one moose.  The remainder of the usable meat from this illegally taken moose was wasted. The entire second moose was left and wasted.  Both were field dressed and the carcasses propped open as if the perpetrators were planning to return to retrieve more meat. 

Anyone with information should call:

  • Officer Mark Bowen, (208) 660-4655, or
  • Idaho Fish and Game office in Coeur d'Alene, (208)769-1414, or
  • Citizens Against Poaching hotline, (208) 632-5999. 

Callers may remain anonymous and are eligible to receive a cash reward. 

Elk poachers bagged after slaying Wenaha Unit trophy bulls

POACHING — An Island City, Oregon father and son were arrested last week by Oregon State Police Fish & Wildlife Division troopers following an investigation into the unlawful taking of two bull elk in the Wenaha Wildlife Management Unit in northeast Oregon. 

The Wenaha Unit is considered a premier controlled branch antler bull elk hunting unit for which only 20 tags are issued during archery season.  This is a very difficult tag to obtain, and for most hunters it may be a once-in-a-lifetime hunting opportunity.

Read on for details from an Oregon State Police press release via Northwest Sportsman Magazine:

Bonners Ferry man charged with killing grizzly

POACHING — Jeremy M. Hill, 33, of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho, has been charged for killing a grizzly bear, U.S. Attorney Wendy J. Olson announced today.

The information filed today in United States District Court alleges that on May 8, 2011, Hill shot and killed a grizzly bear that was on his property in Bonner’s Ferry. The grizzly bear is classified as a threatened species in the Lower 48 states, according to the Endangered Species Act of 1975, and protected by federal law.

The charge of killing a threatened species is punishable by up to one year in prison, a maximum fine of $50,000, and up to one year of supervised release.

The case was investigated by the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Rammell convicted in poaching case

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — An eastern Idaho jury has convicted former gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell of illegally shooting and killing a cow elk. The Post Register reports that the jury of six people deliberated about an hour on Friday before finding Rammell guilty of misdemeanor unlawful possession of wildlife. Magistrate Judge Stephen Clark suspended Rammell's hunting license for two years and ordered him to serve 180 days in jail, with all but five days of the jail sentence suspended. Clark also ordered Rammell to pay a $250 process fee as well as $1,500 in fines, suspending $500 of the fines. Rammell says he didn't get a fair trial and will appeal. Because of the appeal, Rammell's jail sentence was stayed. Idaho officials say Rammell was in illegal possession of an elk on Dec. 8.

Latest episode in Rammell saga…

Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell's continuing saga got even wackier yesterday, when he called a press conference outside the Bonneville County Courthouse, saying he wanted to “discuss the Felony Jury Tampering charges he now faces, in addition to the Misdemeanor for illegally possessing wildlife.” His press release was headed, “Rex Rammell Felony Charge.” His event was interrupted as officers showed up, cuffed him and arrested him; Rammell said he had intended to turn himself in. “They're treating me like a criminal,” he says in video of the incident on KPVI-TV. “This is unnecessary - I'm a good citizen. … All I was doing was trying to inform the jury of their rights.” You can see the video here from KPVI, which includes a handcuffed Rammell trying to answer questions from the press as deputies try to load him into a squad car.

Here's Rammell's latest press release: “At 11 AM  I arrived at the Bonneville County Courthouse to hold a press conference.  County deputies were obviously waiting for me, because three of them were on me lack a pack of dogs on a rabbit.  They were very physical.  They forcefully handcuffed me and hurried me away from the Courthouse, despite my objections.  TV 6 and 8 filmed the entire episode.  I posted bond and am scheduled for a preliminary examination, July 6, 1:30.”

The felony charge in question is jury tampering, for handing out fliers to jurors who were about to hear the case against Rammell for poaching an elk in November.

Twisp family indicted for killing Methow wolves

ENDANGERED SPECIES —A federal grand jury has indicted a Twisp, Wash., man for illegally killing two wolves near his property and trying to ship one of the pelts to Canada.

After Tom D. White shot the wolves, his father told a Canadian tanner that he had “a really big coyote” skin for processing, according to the indictment.

The indictment lists Tom White; his father, William D. White; and Tom White’s wife, Erin J. White, who is accused of using a false name to try to ship the package containing the wolf pelt to Alberta in December, 2008.

Read more from today's S-R story by Becky Kramer.

The Methow Valley News broke the story about the alleged killing of the Endangered Species Act-listed animals this morning.

Here's the story from the Seattle Times.

More deails and background recently was posted by Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Rammell poaching trial delayed for investigation into possible jury tampering

Here's the latest Rex Rammell news, via the Idaho Falls Post Register and the Associated Press: A state judge has delayed the poaching trial of former gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell to investigate if Rammell broke another law when he handed out leaflets to potential jurors in the case as they were entering the courthouse, offering them advice it said “judges may not tell you.” Really. Click below for the full report.

Lawmakers unite against spree poachers

POACHING — While Washington legislators continue to butt heads on many issues in Olympia, they joined in refreshing unanimity last week to drop the hammer on people who go wild slaughtering big game.

Both the House and Senate voted unanimously for HB 1340, which expands the definition of unlawful hunting in the first degree — a class C felony.

Under current law, offenders must have a previous wildlife misdemeanor within the past five years to get hit with that charge.

Once Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill — everyone expects her to join the unanimous vote — someone who poaches three or more deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, caribou, cougars, black bears or grizzly bears within 24 hours or “course of events” could be charged on the spot in the first degree.

“I’m sure we’ll have a number of times to apply it this year, unfortunately,” WDFW Deputy Chief of Enforcement Mike Cenci told Northwest Sportsman Magazine.

Cenci used a KIRO 7 TV report on convicted poacher James Cody Stearns, “The Headhunter,” to educate lawmakers on the need to pass the bill.

Tipster helps bag Blue Mountains bull elk poacher

POACHING — Jason Locke, 37, of Kennewick has pleaded guilty to poaching a bull elk and using his wife's special hunting license illegally, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Department reports.

Locke was fined a total of $11,345, including a $6,000 criminal wildlife assessment penalty for taking a trophy-size bull elk.

Two other men – David E. Myles, 50, of Richland, and Brian E. Badgwell, 40, of Pomeroy were charged for helping transport the illegal game.

Locke is also facing poaching charges in Chelan County, and allegations that he guided Columbia River steelhead trips without a commercial license.

Washington Fish and Wildlife police were able to make the case thanks to tips from a concerned citizen. 

Read on for more details on this case.

Poaching trophy bucks costly in Ohio

HUNTING — Trophy white-tailed deer are highly valued in Ohio, and they have laws to prove it.

A good case in point came out of the courts this week as an Ohio man was ordered to pay $23,816 in restitution under a 2008 law for illegally taking a trophy buck.

James Alspaugh, 39, also paid $400 in fines for shooting off a roadway and going on private land without permission, plus court costs. He must spend a couple days in the slammer and will lose his hunting rights in 36 states for a couple of years.

But it's the restitution for the trophy buck that stands out.  The Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife says the non-typical trophy deer, scored according to Boone & Crockett guidelines, netted an impressive 218 7/8 points.

Conservationists boost rewards for bagging poachers in Washington

POACHING – Turning in a poacher in Washington can be rich experience, thanks to a commitment announced minutes ago by Conservation Northwest.

The Bellingham-based group says it’s partnering with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to boost the reward for people who help Fish and Wildlife police solve cases that involve the illegal killing of rare wildlife.

The reward is being increased from $500 to as much as $7,500 for information that leads to the conviction of anyone who has killed a gray wolf in Washington, and up to $5,000 if a protected grizzly bear, wolverine, lynx or fisher were killed.

The state currently is investigating at least two wolf poaching cases.

In addition, several Oregon groups have pooled funds to offer a $10,000 reward for information that would solve the case of a wolf killed illegally along the Oregon-Washington border in the Blue Mountains.

The fund Conservation Northwest has pledged also will pay up to $3,000 for “egregious violations involving deer or elk, such as spree killing,” said Mitch Friedman, the group's executive director.

Read on for more details.

Prolific poacher gets five months in jail

WILDLIFE ABUSE — The sentence: Just five months in jail for the man investigators say call the most prolific wildlife spree killer in Washington state history.

Cody Stearns of Western Washington was caught in an interview by KIRO TV as he left the courthouse last week after being convicted on five counts of poaching. Fish and Wildlife officers said they believe the man has killed more than a hundred animals and that the actual total could be much higher.

Even though he denied killing ANY animals, the KIRO website also includes a slideshow with graphic scenes sampling the evidence that piled up against Stearns.

Trooper charged with poaching moose

SANDPOINT, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho State Police trooper accused of shooting a moose in Bonner County before the start of last fall's hunting season has been charged with misdemeanor poaching.

Latah County Prosecutor Bill Thompson says he filed a misdemeanor charge because Cpl. Jeff Jayne has agreed to plead guilty. Jayne has said he incorrectly memorized the dates for the start of hunting season.

A plea agreement calls for a $500 fine, six months of unsupervised probation and the revocation of Jayne's hunting and fishing privileges for two years.

Bill would give loons status against poachers

OLYMPIA — A bill has been introduced in the Washington Legislature that would, among other things, give loons and trumpeter swans some clout against a poacher's bank acount.

When a  Newport-area man senselessly killed a common loon at Yocum Lake a few years ago, Washington Fish and Wildlife authorities could do little more than write him a ticket for just under $300.

Senate Bill 5201 would increase the fine to $2,000 for killing a loon, ferruginous hawk, bald eagle, peregrine falcon; tundra swan or trumpeter swan.


Week’s wildlife enforcement highlights

WILDLIFE COPS — Patrolling for illegal snowmobilers in caribou country, tracking down the source of sick farm-raised Idaho elk dumped in Washington, dealing with moose in yards and haystacks — all in a week's work for Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement officers on the far East Side of the state.

Read on for highlights.

Jerks use wildlife as blowgun fodder

WILDLIFE — Last week I shared a photo of a wild turkey feeding and gettng along somehow in North Spokane, even though it had been skewered with an arrow by a less-than-worthy archer.

Today we get an even grimmer report from Billings, where wildlife photographers have documented at least five ducks at the Montana city’s Riverfront Park have been hit with arrow-like blowgun darts.

Blowgun makers say darts can be fired up to 400 feet per second from 6-foot blowguns, some equipped with laser sights.

Bill Pirami gave The Billings Gazette a photo showing a 6-inch, stainless-steel blowgun dart sticking through the duck’s head.

A Parks official says shooting isn’t allowed at the park, and that blowguns are not an authorized hunting weapon.

Eagle-killers sentenced in Yakima

WILDLIFE CRIMES — Two Yakama Nation tribal members have been sentenced to six months in federal prison for killing and selling more than 100 bald and golden eagles.

Alfred L. Hawk and William R. Wahsise, both in their 20s, pleaded guilty to taking, selling or transporting eagles. They were sentenced Friday in federal court in Yakima.

Prosecutors say they killed more than 100 eagles around the reservation.

The Yakima Herald-Republic reports the poverty-stricken men relied on subsistence hunting, but they are now barred from possessing guns.

Elk baiting nets poachers $9,600 in fines, photos catch them in the act

POACHING — A year of patience and a cold stake out paid off for Idaho Fish and Game Department agents this week.

Three people found guilty of baiting elk in Idaho’s Boundary County were issued fines totaling $9,600.

Following a baiting activity investigation on that started in December 2009, Idaho Fish and Game officers hid in the woods this month on the Bonners Ferry–area property of Richard Raine. The agents were able to photograph Raine’s daughter, Barbera Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., working with Robert Johnson of Sacramento to put out feed to lure elk.

According to IFG officer Greg Johnson, agents later witnessed Barbera Johnson, who did not have a hunting license, kill a 6-by-7 point bull elk.

Back with a search warrant and help from Border Patrol and Idaho State Patrol on Dec. 12, the agents discovered a cow elk killed by Robert Johnson.

On Monday, he pleaded guilty to killing elk over bait and possessing two illegally killed elk and issued fines totaling $5,600. Barbera Johnson was fined $3,000. Both lost their hunting privileges for five years.

Raine was fined $1,000 for his part in processing the illegally killed elk.

AM: California Poachers Nabbed

State wildlife officers photographed Richard Raine and his daughter, Barbera Johnson of Sacramento, Calif., putting out feed to lure elk in Boundary County. The two, along with Robert Johnson, were fined a total of $9600 for poaching and lost their hunting privileges for five years. Story here.

Question: Can you think of something lower than an poacher?

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy

POACHING PATROL — Washington Fish and Wildlife Department enforcement officers in the Spokane Region seem to be answering an increased number of serious poaching calls, Capt. Mike Whorton said today.
Recent examples include…

Rammell charged with poaching

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press:  IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) — Former Idaho gubernatorial candidate Rex Rammell has been charged with poaching an elk in eastern Idaho. Bonneville County Prosecutor Bruce Pickett says the Idaho Falls man was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor possession of game that was unlawfully taken. Idaho Fish and Game said Rammell was in illegal possession of an elk on Dec. 8. When an officer asked Rammell for his hunting permit, he produced one for a different zone that expired in October. Rammell said previously he thought the tag enabled him to hunt in any area he chose to. Rammell ran in the Republican primary for Governor this year and two years ago as an Independent for the U.S. Senate. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Dec. 23.

Poachers keep wildlife officers busy

HUNTING/FISHING — Spokane-area wildlife enforcement officers are still in high gear even though most big-game hunting seasons area winding down.

Here are a few highlights from the past week’s officer reports:

An anonymous tip led officers to a man who had five deer hanging in his south Spokane shop, and not a tag on any of them.  Busted.

In Lincoln County, an officer pieced together information from clues and tips from other hunters to track down a man who had illegally shot a large 6x6 whitetail buck.
Turns out the guy also was a convicted felon, who had not yet restored his gun possession rights.

A man road-hunting for pheasants in the Tekoa area — it’s been a tempting way to “hunt” as birds exposed themselves on the hard snowpack recently —  paid a price for carelessness. As he loaded his over-under shotgun, closed the action and shut the passenger side door, both barrels fired. “One round shot the victim in the knee and the other went through the door,” the report said. He was in surgery at Sacred Heart Hospital and apparently the wound was not life threatening, the deputy said.

Fishing pressure was light last week for the opening at winter fishing lakes, probably because the weather was too wintery, officers reported.

Rex Rammell’s tale

After being caught last week dragging an illegally shot elk behind his snowmobile, former political candidate Rex Rammell has released an op-ed piece claiming he was misled by a sporting goods store that sold him an elk tag and that state Fish & Game wardens are “Nazis.” In his piece, he says he told the game warden, “You better get your gun out, because you’re going to have to shoot me if you want this elk.” He also opines, “The rules are ambiguous and I am not the only hunter confused by them and misinformed by Sportsman’s Warehouse.” Click below to read his full article.

West Side poachers find fertile fields

WILDLIFEWashington Fish and Wildlife officials say they’re struggling to keep up with reports of poaching and fishing violations in Cowlitz County because the department has no game wardens stationed there.

Four game wardens are allocated to Cowlitz County, but two of the officers are on medical leave and two have left and not been replaced, says the Longview Daily News.

With more budget deficits looming for the state, the wardens in Cowlitz County may not be replaced any time soon. Fish and Wildlife is facing a shortfall between $10 million and $20 million in the next budget cycle.

In 1993, the agency had 117 enforcement officers. The number has dropped to 96 patroling officers even though th e state’s population has increased by 20 percent in that period.

Idaho F&G seeks taunting poacher

Idaho Fish & Game is seeking help to identify a poacher who’s been taunting the agency; here’s the AP’s report:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Fish and Game is seeking help in identifying the person who wrote to the agency bragging about recently poaching a deer. On Nov. 12, the agency received a letter from “Poacher X” that included photos of a buck the writer reported poaching in northern Idaho. “Poacher X” wrote of plans to illegally kill a pronghorn and a turkey in the state and promised to forward pictures of those kills as well. The letter had an Everett, Wash., postmark. Anyone with information may call Citizen’s Against Poaching at 1-800-632-5999, 24-hours a day. Callers may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a reward.