‘The Client Asked To Borrow Officer Fairbanks’ Pen So He Could Write His (Unlicensed) Guide A Check’

WDFW’s spring-summer enforcement newsletter is out, and in addition to more details about the 2008 Christopher Mayeda/Blue Mountains bull elk poaching incident, its 59 pages contain a mess more stories about Washington’s fish and wildlife police at work.

Among the highlights:

Some Real Turkeys Out There

Region 1 officers conducted a turkey check-station on April 18 (opening weekend) in Lincoln County. Officers contacted 231 hunters, issued 21 arrests, and 18 warnings. Arrests consisted of: 7-Fail to tag turkey, 2-Transport turkeys without written statement, 6-No proof of sex, 2-Fail to produce wildlife for inspection, and 2-Felon in possession of firearms.

One vehicle with two subjects was contacted at the check station. They stated that they only had two turkeys. Upon further inspection, Officer Spurbeck discovered that they had a total of four turkeys with just legs, breasts, and no carcasses. The suspects had several tagging issues including not enough tags, no evidence of sex, and one subject was a convicted felon. Two firearms were seized and numerous charges filed with the prosecutor’s office.

Officer Hahn made a turkey case stemming from last season, when two subjects were shooting turkeys with arrows at night while the birds were in their roost. The suspects were trespassing this year in the same area and contacted by a landowner. Officer Hahn followed up on the suspect’s vehicle registration, and later obtained confessions.
Guided Steelhead Trip: $150; Look On Unlicensed Guide’s Face When Busted By Warden: Priceless

Officer Fairbanks was checking recreational steelhead fishermen on the Bogachiel River when he observed an obviously guided trip. Licenses are required to take passengers for hire for the purpose of fish guiding. One strategy used by some unlicensed guides to avoid being caught is to coach the client and advise inquiring officers that they are just fishing buddies as no license is required to take friends fishing.

The look on the guide’s face was priceless when the client asked to borrow Officer Fairbanks’ pen so that he could write his guide a check. Officer Fairbanks easily made the case of unlicensed guiding.

CSI: Forks

Officer Fairbanks received information that a couple of subjects had retained four wild steelhead from the Clearwater River. This exceeds the yearly limit for wild steelhead.

Upon locating the drift boat, the one subject present denied any knowledge of steelhead. Officer Fairbanks located four fresh egg skeins, which the suspect now claimed were from Chinook salmon on the Sol Duc River.

Officer Fairbanks offered to have the eggs genetically tested. The suspect then decided to admit to killing a wild steelhead hen and removing the eggs

What? You Can’t Gillnet At Night For Whitefish?

Grant County officers planned and participated in an emphasis patrol with the cooperation of the Grand Coulee Dam Security Patrol. The patrol was conducted in response to the annual whitefish fishery that occurs every winter on Banks Lake. The whitefish spawn near the rocky shorelines at night, leaving them easy targets for those wishing to snag, dipnet, or gill net.

Night vision goggles and security personnel at the Bureau of Reclamation were used to locate and identify the type of fishing activity that was taking place around the North Dam area in Grand Coulee. Officers watched several groups, and were able to intercept the fishermen as they headed back to their vehicle with bags of illegal fish.

When the officers contacted the first group of men, they claimed that they did not know that netting fish was illegal; however, they had hidden their dip nets in the brush prior to leaving and returning to their car. The emphasis patrol resulted in four different subjects receiving citations for fishing with dip nets.

‘Little Game Warden Buddies’ Point Out Poached 2-point

A homeowner was in his back yard and saw some magpies flying around. Magpies and crows are known among our officers as our “little game warden buddies” and are responsible for pointing out many poached animals or animal parts left in the field.

In this case, the attraction was a freshly boned-out deer, minus the skull cap, obviously taken during a closed season. Sgt. Brown and Officer Christensen responded and photographed the scene, taking the animal’s head (what was left of it) with them.

A bullet was recovered from the head and evidence at the scene appeared to implicate a neighboring residence. Officer McCormick found evidence dumped at a recycling dumpster including a two point deer rack and skull cap that fit the recovered head nicely.

Officers figured the suspects must have seen them the day they visited the site. The first strategy was to contact the suspects and talk to them about the incident. Not very cooperative, they refused to provide consent to allow the officers to search the property, so they obtained a search warrant.

When the officers tried to serve the warrant, the Mom refused to open the door. Tonasket Police Department and Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office arrived to assist and were about to force entry when the ex-husband showed up and failed to comply with Christensen on a security pat down for weapons.

He actively resisted and was arrested, later being booked for obstruction of a police officer. The mom opened the door and officers completed the search without further incident. Among the evidence recovered was a rifle, which the suspects had partially disassembled and hid in a closet.

‘Stache Gives Him Away

While checking the winter closure area in Robinson Canyon, LT Murray Wildlife Area, Officer Rogers observed a vehicle parked on private land near the elk fence. A check of the return gate showed a boot print.

About two hours later a subject came walking toward the gate from inside the closure. Officer Rogers took a photo of the subject walking through the gate. When the subject observed Officer Rogers, he turned and walked away inside the closure. Officer Rogers yelled the suspect’s name, advising the subject to stop and come back.

The subject turned and looked, then kept going. Officer Rogers called Sergeant Sprecher to help watch for the suspect attempting to leave the area. At about 12:30 pm, with no sign of the suspect, the surveillance was called off. The following morning Officer Rogers and Sergeant Sprecher contacted the man at his work site.

The man denied being inside the closure despite the picture of him walking through the posted re-entry gate. He went as far as shaving off his mustache hoping Officer Rogers would not be able to identify him.

He failed to realize that where his mustache had been the day before was white compared to the rest of his tan face. Several charges will be filed.

Further investigation of this suspect revealed he is a convicted felon, who purchased a duplicate deer tag in October 2009 after he reported harvesting a deer in September 2009. Officer Rogers continues to investigate the paper trail.

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