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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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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.

“Our wildlife enforcement community provides an invaluable service,” said Friedman. “They’re out on the front lines patrolling huge areas to protect wildlife, and they deserve our support.”

He said the rewards would be issued on a case by case basis at the recommendation of WDFW officials.

“Information is the coin of this realm,” said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement. “We appreciate Conservation Northwest’s donation, as it will help us do our job of putting poachers behind bars and keeping Washington’s wildlife safe for everyone to enjoy.”

Poaching has always  been a major concern for wildlife management throughout the region. State officials currently are looking into the possibility that at as many as four or more wolves may have been illegally killed over the past two years from the Methow Valley region's  Lookout Pack, which is the first group of naturally returning wolves to take up residence in Washington in many decades.

A grizzly bear from the Selkirk Mountains was also illegally killed several years ago. Spree killing of big game and other wildlife apparently is on the rise, a problem that came to light just recently with the conviction of a man wildlife police say may be the worst poacher in state history.

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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