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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?

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.  

Poachers caught with nets, 242 Lahontan cutts at Lake Lenore

UPDATED 11:41 a.m. with details of arrest from officer's incident report:

FISHING — Last night, a man at the Spokane Fly Fishers program asked me if I'd heard a fishing report from Lake Lenore.  I didn't have an answer for him, but I do today.

The fishing for large Lahontan cutthroat trout at the quality fishery is pretty darned good - IF YOU'RE POACHING with GILLNETS.

Washington Fish and Wildlife Department officers arrested four Western Washington men in the early hours of Saturday morning with 242 cutthroats seized in an illegal night-time netting operation at the prized Grant County lake.

The lake is managed as a “quality fishery,” attracting anglers who want to use single barbless hooks and no bait to catch-and-release large fish. Anglers are allowed to keep no more than one fish at day from Lenore.

Arrested were Vitaliy Kachinskiy, 23, of Mount Vernon and three Everett men: Sergey Otroda, 32, Igor Bigun, 26 and Oleg Pavlus, 25.

The Grant County prosecutor's office said today it has not yet begun processing the case.

“We have members of two ethnic groups involved with an annual thing of illegal netting that's causing great concern for our fish program,” said WDFW Capt. Chris Anderson in Ephrata.  “One group has been caught targeting mostly whitefish at Banks Lake and this group was targeting the big spawning cutthroats at Lenore. The 242 fish were just one night's catch. We're not sure how many nights or weeks worth of fish they've taken out of the lake.”

WDFW agents also nabbed two Spokane men from another ethnic group for similar illegal netting activity in January. One of the subjects threatened an arresting officer with retribution.

This is a huge bummer for fishermen. Not only do we deal with environmental issues that plague fish, but also with human pond scum that will do this to a fishery that means so much to anglers and the local economy.

Read on for the chilling details about the stake out and arrest. 

Deer poacher soothes conscience with $6,000 donation

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?’”

Washington agents, SWAT team sting wildlife traffickers

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.