Poachers Suck

On the heels of yesterday’s take-down of an allegedly massive oyster-poaching ring on Hood Canal, WDFW Enforcement also sent out its quarterly report.

As always, the document is part comical and part maddening. While some alleged poachers are likely first timers who made a mistake and tried to cover it up, there are other incredibly brazen people who, it appears, flat-out don’t give a rip about wildlife.

For instance, the four men in Grays Harbor County who fired 50 shots into a herd of 40 elk. Or the guy with 28 wildlife citations on his criminal record. Or the criminals who, go figure, also criminally take game.

While just a sampling of all the cases WDFW officers investigate, it still paints a grim picture of the illegal plundering of public resources in Washington by criminals, poachers and others.

Here are highlights, as well as lowlights:

DON’T FEED THE WILDLIFE

Migratory waterfowl cannot be hunted over bait primarily because birds lose any sense of survival, and
are easy targets, taking any sporting element out of the hunt. Officer Snyder and Captain Anderson walked into a gated hunt club on the opening day of dove season where a number of hunters were observed shooting at birds.

While Officer Snyder contacted hunters he located two piles of freshly cracked corn on the ground in the sagebrush. A search of the property revealed a total of four piles of fresh bait. Officers also found three of the ten club members were hunting without licenses. Officers interviewed several members and were able to identify two people who were responsible for placing the bait. Citations were issued.

WHATCOM COUNTY DEPUTIES HELP CATCH POACHER

Two Lummi tribal members were apprehended by Whatcom County Sheriff’s Deputies for hunting on Trillium property in Whatcom County. They were charged with hunting deer with the aid of an artificial light, hunting without licenses, hunting during the closed season, hunting with illegal firearms, and trespass.

WDFW Officers provided some technical and follow-up investigative assistance. Both defendants pled guilty in district court to four of the five criminal counts and paid $1,500 each. The closed season charge was dismissed on grounds of possible double jeopardy.

CONVICT CAUGHT WITH POACHED DEER

Officer Erickson received a call from a local landowner regarding a poached deer. He learned that someone in a blue Chevy pickup had shot a 4×5 white-tailed buck in a field and left the deer and fled the scene. Sure enough, the Officer located the deer. He then contacted the Pend Oreille County Sheriff’s Office, which had a deputy patrolling near the scene of the crime. Ten minutes after Erickson arrived, a vehicle was noticed driving by the field, when it stopped briefly and then sped away. Erickson believed that someone might have been dropped off to retrieve the deer.

Another 10 minutes passed by and the car showed up again – probably with the intent of picking someone up. Officer Erickson witnessed a male subject dragging the deer from the field toward the vehicle.

Officer Erickson took chase and ordered the subject to stop and show him his hands. The bad guy ignored him, quickly loaded the deer in the back of the vehicle and took off. Erickson was able to get a vehicle description and license plate number and radioed for assistance. Three minutes later a responding deputy took the subject into custody at gunpoint.

Officer Erickson arrived on scene within a few minutes and began investigating the incident. The subject was uncooperative, arrested, and his vehicle was impounded.

A criminal background check revealed that he had been previously convicted of two counts of Burglary, 2nd Degree; Assault, 2nd Degree; and Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, 1st Degree.

In other words, he is a proven bad dude. He was booked into Pend Oreille County jail on numerous charges.

CHAINSAW TURNS BULL ELK TO A SPIKE

Sergeant Sprecher investigated a report of suspicious circumstances surrounding a spike elk shot on opening day of the elk season. Sergeant Sprecher did not receive the report until the second day of the season after the reporting party observed a subject cutting up an elk with a chainsaw nearly a mile off the road.

Sergeant Sprecher and the witness hiked into the location of the elk. All that remained at the scene was what initially looked like a spike elk head, a bloody chainsaw, an ax, a saw and a backpack of other hunting items.

There was nobody in the immediate area. The spike antlers had a tag attached. Sergeant Sprecher noticed saw marks near the top of one of the spikes. It was clear an antler point had been cut or “shot” off to turn the animal into a legal kill to conform with antler restrictions.

He then located a portion of the point that had been broke off and a spent 7MM casing. He observed a subject walking down the ridge wearing hunter orange and carrying a pack board. Sergeant Sprecher contacted the subject who admitted to shooting the elk and cutting it up with a chainsaw.

JUDGE COMES DOWN HARD ON DEER STABBER

It initially appeared to some as a Halloween prank, but after tenacious Fish and Wildlife Officers completed their investigation, four Bellingham men answered to charges of deer poaching.

The case began with the discovery of a pool of blood and a bloody knife on school grounds by students and their teacher. The instrument left behind turned out to be the weapon of choice in the illegal taking of four semi-tame Ocean Shores deer, all chased down with a pick-up truck and knifed to death in the truck’s headlights.

The main suspect in the case, James Breslin, had struck a deal with the prosecutor’s office in November to spend 15 days in jail. Grays Harbor Superior Court Judge Godfrey did not accept the plea and sentenced Breslin to a year in jail. The other three suspects were sentenced to community service. Fines were not less than $2,000.00 for each suspect.

MEN TAKE 50 SHOTS INTO HERD OF 40 ELK

In Grays Harbor County, officers investigated a case involving three guys in their late teens and early 20s who spotlighted and shot approximately 50 times into a herd of about 40 elk.

Five elk fell dead within seventy-five yards of each other and it is unknown if more elk were wounded or died later.

With TV news and other media exposure, Officers Klump and James were successful in obtaining leads that broke the case. All of the animals had been decapitated and the meat left to go to waste.

The prosecutor is reviewing the case for possible filing of charges. Officers forwarded fifteen charges on the three subjects, to include hunting elk closed season, unlawful firearm used to kill big game, spotlighting big game, waste of big game in the 1st degree, and criminal trespass. One subject has a prior conviction.

All three face $20,000 each in civil fines because of the five dead elk, and the civil penalty is doubled if spotlighting or a prior conviction is involved. Sergeant Nixon reports that a number of other like-cases are still under investigation in Grays Harbor County, an area hit particularly hard with this brand of poaching.

THE INFAMOUS PEDRO RIVERA, POACHER PAR EXCELLENCE

Sergeant Chandler grabbed the brass ring when he arrested the infamous Pedro Rivera … again.

It only took 25 minutes of watching the Spokane Street Bridge until Pedro was spotted. Only two minutes of watching Pedro specifically was required before he cast, jerked and successfully snagged a fish. After gutting the fish right there on the bridge and stuffing it in a garbage sack, he disappeared. Sergeant Chandler drove around and was waiting for Pedro to appear again when he saw him duck behind some bushes.

A short search on foot led Sergeant Chandler to a path next to a fence, and when he rounded the corner, there stood Pedro next to two homeless person’s tents with his catch record card in hand.

At first he denied having caught any fish despite having blood and slime all over him, but then fessed up with the threat of failure to submit catch for inspection. He then retrieved the fish from the homeless person’s tent. The snag marks were evident even though the fish had been cleaned. Then he told Sergeant Chandler that he was looking for a pen to record his catch … 20 minutes later … too late.

A check of his criminal record showed that of the 34 cases on his record, 28 of them are Fish and Wildlife cases.

THIS IS HOW YOU GET F!@$!@#$ BUSTED BY YOUTUBE

Officer Stevens contacted Detachment Five Clark County officers to follow up on a video he located on a fishing website.

The video showed an individual with a foul hooked fish (most likely intentionally snagged.) After removing the hook the subject then grabbed it through the gill plates, walked around with it, “headbutted” the fish, walked up to the camera and said,

“This is how we F*#%@ing fish!”

After his quote, the subject threw the fish back into the water. Officer Stevens looked up the “videographer’s” information in the WILD system (using his YouTube name) and gave the information to Officer Van Vladricken.

Officers Hart and Van Vladricken interviewed the subject who stated he had no idea who the individual in the video was and that he had just met him that day.

He only knew the individual’s first name and that it was his birthday on the day of taping. After further investigation Officer Van Vladricken had a few possible suspects, but needed to match their DOL photo to the individual in the video. However, the videographer came through later that day with a last name, which matched one of Officer Van Vladricken’s suspects.

The subject is a convicted felon with a no-bail warrant. Officers Hart, Hughes and Van Vladricken contacted the subject at his residence, cited him for the fishing violation, and then booked him into the Clark County Jail.

‘BE CAREFUL OF HIS WRIST – HE JUST GOT OUT OF JAIL YESTERDAY’

Officer Cook investigated a hydraulics violation in which the property owner was building an 80-foot concrete and rock wall without an HPA on the Pilchuck River near the City of Snohomish diversion dam.

He was told to “cease and desist” the criminal activity but verbally avowed that he would do whatever he wanted to. Officer Cook received two additional reports of his continued building activities. Because of his hostile and violent reputation, Sergeant Lambert and Officer Oosterwyk agreed to go along for another contact.

Sergeant Lambert recognized him as a snagger he’d arrested two years ago. The subject continued to be belligerent and non-cooperative, so he was taken into custody.

While being handcuffed, his mother said to be careful of his wrist, he had just been released from jail yesterday and got injured in a fight while there.

While being placed in Officer Cook’s patrol vehicle, he told her, “I’ve got people who will come after you personally!”

He laughed all the way to jail, proudly proclaiming that he would be out in two hours because they had no beds, and this was just a gross misdemeanor, after all. He wasn’t laughing anymore after being booked for intimidating a public servant, a class b felony.

CUE INDIANA JONES

Officer Day caught up to a treasure hunter who has been reported numerous times for riding dirt bikes in closed areas of the Quincy Lakes Wildlife Area.

The heavily armed archeologist was carrying just about everything but a bull whip, and claimed to be seeking some 400 pounds of lost miner’s gold.

The story goes that a miner buried the gold while he was fleeing an Indian ambush in the early 1800s. The miner was never able to return for the gold.

The treasure hunter, who is on L&I disability, was carrying sluice-boxes, metal-detectors, pick axes, and shovels, but claimed to not be doing any digging.

Numerous charges including unlawful entry on a motorized vehicle will be referred to the prosecutor.

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