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State wildlife manager accused of poaching in Ferry County

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency’s webpage.  (WDFW)
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is dedicated to preserving, protecting and perpetuating the state’s fish and wildlife resources, according to the agency’s webpage. (WDFW)

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife employee has been accused of poaching.

The Ferry County prosecutor accused Brock Hoenes, the director for WDFW’s north-central region, with unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree. The document was filed in Ferry County District Court on Dec. 20. If convicted, there is a maximum penalty of one year in jail, a $5,000 fine or both.

The court documents were provided to The Spokesman-Review by the environmental advocacy groups Washington Wildlife First and the Kettle Range Conservation Group. According to the document, Hoenes “on or about” Nov. 13 illegally killed an animal in Ferry County.

What kind of animal, what kind of weapon used and a more detailed explanation of what happened were not included in the document.

“Yes, I self-reported the incident immediately after I realized I made the mistake and cooperated fully during the investigation,” Hoenes wrote in an email to The S-R. “Due to the active judicial process underway, I can’t comment further at this time.”

A spokesman for WDFW declined to comment and referred questions to the Ferry County Prosecutor’s Office. The prosecutor’s office referred questions to the investigatory agency, which in this case was WDFW’s enforcement division.

“To have someone in a management position that is a poacher without any sort of disciplinary action is beyond hypocritical,” said Samantha Bruegger, the executive director of Washington Wildlife First. “It’s irresponsible.”

Washington Wildlife First is a newly formed advocacy group aimed at reforming WDFW, alleging that state agencies often “prioritize reckless consumption over responsible conservation.” The Kettle Range Conservation Group is a longstanding environmental organization based in Ferry County.

Ferry County is in Game Management Unit 101. Per 2021 hunting regulations, a late archery general whitetail deer season ran from Nov. 10 to Dec. 15. The elk modern firearm season for the area ran from Oct. 30 to Nov. 7 and a late archery general elk season ran from Nov. 25 to Dec. 8. A cougar hunting season also ran from Sept. 1 to Dec. 31.

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