Tag Archives: poaching

OSP Wildlife Troopers’ August Newsletter Details Interesting Case

Not all game warden work is an open and shut case.

A bighorn sheep seized in late summer by Oregon wildlife troopers was later returned to the hunter after video evidence showed her first shot had in fact killed it.

(NICK MYATT, ODFW)

The incident is detailed in the August monthly newsletter of the state police’s Fish and Wildlife Division, with a trooper out of the Lakeview office initially responding to a report that a ram had been shot by someone without a tag.

According to the reporting individual, the shooter had twice fired at and missed the wild sheep, and then a person accompanying the tagholder had fired and downed the animal.

When the trooper met the pair as they came out of the field with the bighorn, he found that the hunter had failed to validate her once-in-a-lifetime tag and cited her for it. While the other admitted to shooting at the bighorn lest it get away, they claimed they had in fact missed it.

Nonetheless, both the rifle and ram were seized by the officer.

But the case wasn’t closed quite yet.

“Hours later, a video from an unrelated hunter group was located and it showed the sheep was killed by the first shot which was from the lawful tag holder,” OSP’s newsletter states.

No word on the gun, but with the video evidence, troopers were able to return the sheep to the hunter.

While that case featured interesting twists and turns, others written up in the August report are more straight ahead.

Here are some of those cases:

A F&W Trooper received a call regarding five elk being shot by three male subjects. Troopers responded to the location. Subsequent to an interview, a male subject admitted he shot an elk for himself and an elk for his wife. Ultimately three male subjects killed five elk but only had three tags. It was unknown which male subject killed the fifth elk as they were all shooting into a herd of an estimated 100 elk. The Troopers seized two elk and a rifle as evidence. The male subject who killed the two elk was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag and Take/Possession of Antlerless Elk. The female was cited for Lend, Borrow or Sell Big Game Tag. The two other male subjects were both cited for Aiding/Counseling in a Wildlife Offense.

A F&W Trooper observed a subject angling on the North Santiam River in Linn County near a Forest Service Road. The investigation revealed that the subject had caught and retained 21 hatchery trout and had a fish on his line when he was contacted. The subject was criminally cited for Exceeding Daily Bag Limit of Fish and a fishing pole was seized. The trout were seized and donated to the Union Gospel Mission in Salem.

A F&W Trooper was working an evening shellfish patrol on Nehalem Bay when he contacted a group of subjects crabbing from the Wheeler City dock at dusk. The subjects were just leaving and had a white cooler with them. When asked to show their catch the subjects revealed 20 male Dungeness crab, 18 of which were measured and found to be undersize by at least an inch. Two subjects were cited for Take/Possession of Undersize Dungeness Crab. One subject gave the Trooper a Washington Driver’s license and a resident shellfish license. The subject was additionally cited for Falsely Applied for License or Tag.

A F&W Trooper noticed that a local resident had built a large beach out into an essential salmonid habitat stream. The Trooper contacted the landowner who admitted to using about five yards of sand to construct the beach. The case was referred to Department of State Lands for civil action and the landowner is currently working with DSL and ODFW to repair the damage he caused.

Elsewhere is a blurb that describes how troopers helped two families who experienced flat tires in the Ochocos, including loaning a portable air compressor to one man so he could safely make his way back home to Redmond and then later return the device, all on the promise of a handshake.

Great job, troopers!

Preference Points Now Available For Turning In Oregon Big Game Poachers

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

A new program will provide big game preference points in lieu of a cash reward to people who turn in poachers.

(OSP)

The program builds on the long standing Turn in Poachers Program (TIP), a successful collaboration between the Oregon Hunters Association and Oregon State Police which until now only provided cash rewards for information about poaching.

But new this year, a person who provides information that Oregon State Police determines leads to an arrest or citation for the unlawful take/possession or waste of big game (deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, antelope, bear, cougar, or wolf) are eligible for preference points or the cash reward.

For cases involving bighorn sheep, mountain goat, moose, and wolves, the person will be awarded five preference points. For cases involving elk, deer, pronghorn, cougar and bear, the person will be awarded four preference points. All preference points must go to one hunt series (elk, buck deer, antlerless deer, antelope or spring bear).

Hunters can only get one point in each hunt series each year. Five preference points would allow a hunter to draw 76 percent of buck deer hunts, 69 percent of doe deer hunts, 83 percent of elk hunts and 24 percent of pronghorn hunts.

The new program is due to the passage of HB 3158 by the 2017 Oregon Legislature, which directed ODFW to offer big game preference points in lieu of a cash reward for people providing information leading to citations or arrest of poachers. The Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted rules for the program last month at their meeting in Bandon, and the rules are retroactive until Jan. 1, 2018.

“Poaching is a serious problem for Oregon’s wildlife,” says Travis Schultz, ODFW Access and Habitat Coordinator. “It can have significant long term impacts on our wildlife populations.”

For example, a six-year study involving radio-collared mule deer in south central Oregon found that illegal take actually exceeded legal take of mule deer. Even more troubling, poachers often killed does, not bucks, even though regulations prohibit taking female deer in order to protect breeding populations. Most poaching occurred during legal hunting seasons.

“Poaching is a heinous crime that affects all Oregonians and people who break the law need to be held accountable,” said Lieutenant Craig Heuberger, Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division. “Our Fish and Wildlife Troopers make a lot of great cases that start from people reporting when they see something suspicious or wrong.”

“We are hoping this encourages more people to step forward and report poaching,” Heuberger added.

Report wildlife violations via email to TIP@state.or.us or by calling *OSP or 1-800-452-7888.

 

Tacoma-area Seafood Buyer Sentenced To Jail, Must Pay $1.5m For Illegal Sea Cucumber Buys

It’s not your typical poaching case, but the owner of a Tacoma-area seafood processing business was sentenced today to two years in prison for buying and selling 250,000 pounds of sea cucumbers illegally harvested in Puget Sound in recent years.

SEA CUCUMBER FROM PUGET SOUND’S SARATOGA PASSAGE. (PFLY, FLICKR, VIA WIKIPEDIA)

Hoon Namkoong of Orient Seafood Production of Fife, “one of the leading wholesale buyers of sea cucumbers” in Washington, must also pay the state and tribes $1.5 million in restitution.

That figure is equal to how much the 62-year-old’s company profited from selling the echinoderms to other businesses in the U.S. and Asia between August 2014 and November 2016.

“This defendant lined his pockets by purchasing and selling illegally harvested sea cucumbers equal to as much as 20 percent of the total allowed statewide harvest,” said U.S. Attorney Annette Hayes in a press release. “This illegal activity damages the health of the Puget Sound ecosystem by endangering the sustainability of the sea cucumber population. Illegal harvesting undermines quotas designed to protect the resource and keep the Sound healthy for our children and generations to come.”

We first reported on the case in June 2017 when the joint state-federal investigation came to light through a WDFW Director’s report.

State fish police had begun investigating Namkoong’s company in late 2015 and found that the poundage of sea cucumbers being purchased from tribal and nontribal divers was “often as much as 40 percent more than was documented on catch reports (fish receiving tickets).”

Falsifying fish tickets and illegally selling natural resources is a violation of the Lacey Act.

A federal sentencing memorandum terms Namkoong “the hub and common player among at least four non-tribal fishers and more than thirty Lummi tribal fishers who conspired to cheat the system,” and says he “profited far more richly from the scheme than any of his co-conspirators.”

According to court documents, the value of the sea cucumbers has risen from $2 a pound 25 years ago to $5 a pound today with the rise of demand. Namkoong was buying product for $4.50 a pound with cash or checks.

The activities came at a time that concerned fishery managers were lowering quotas for legal harvesters due to sea cucumber declines, but the illegal picking was actually increasing.

“It is no wonder, then, that we have failed to see signs of recovery as a result of the work of sea cucumber managers and the sacrifices of the lawfully compliant harvesters. Because we do not see recovery signs, we are forced to continue to reduce harvest. Therefore, the illegal activity continues to threaten the sustainability of the fishery and results in direct economic damage to lawful harvesters and seafood buyers,” wrote WDFW’s Henry Carson, who was the state manager when the poaching was taking place, in sentencing documents.

The case has led to friction between fishery overseers.

“The illegal harvest scheme has damaged the complex relationship between state and tribal managers, policy makers, and enforcement,” Carson wrote. “The disagreements have not only been between tribes and the State, but also among tribes.”

According to a federal sentencing document, nontribal divers involved in the scheme “received suspended or converted prison sentences for felony convictions (or in one case a gross misdemeanor),” while tribal divers “were charged with civil infractions.”

“Despite not regularly fishing for sea cucumbers … the alleged illegal harvest has caused harm to our tribes and may continue to do so for years to come,” wrote Randy Harder of the Point No Point Treaty Council in sentencing documents, adding, “Damage done to the resource could stretch out for years.”

 

More Details On Straits Salmon Bust: ‘Never Seen Somebody Run That Kind Of Gear’

More details are emerging about Tuesday’s jaw-dropping bust of a man allegedly fishing for salmon in the Strait of Juan de Fuca with five more lines out than allowed, six barbed hooks and with eight more fish on board than permitted — including five off-limits wild kings and wild coho.

WDFW REPORTS THAT THE MAN WAS IN POSSESSION OF FIVE WILD CHINOOK AND COHO, AND FIVE HATCHERY COHO. (WDFW)

“I’ve been on the marine unit since 2007. I’ve done thousands of boardings in that time. I’ve never seen somebody run that kind of gear off of a recreational boat,” Clallam County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Eric Munger told the Peninsula Daily News in a story out this morning. “It was set up like a commercial operation using recreational gear.”

OFFICER BRYAN DAVIDSON POSES WITH THE 23-FOOT MAXUM CABIN CRUISER, TRAILER, DOWNRIGGERS, FISHING ROD AND COMMERCIAL FLASHER-LURE COMBOS SEIZED FOLLOWING AN AT-SEA INSPECTION TUESDAY THAT TURNED UP EGREGIOUS FISHING RULES VIOLATIONS. (WDFW)

The paper reports the man is a 74-year-old Kitsap County resident who “didn’t say a whole lot” during the inspection around 1 p.m. by deputies and WDFW Officer Bryan Davidson 4 miles offshore.

His 23-foot Maxum Cabin Cruiser along with two downriggers he was running a regular fishing line and five commercial flasher-lure combos were seized.

“It was extremely egregious,” Sgt. Kit Rosenberger told the paper.

The ten salmon were all donated to the Port Angeles Senior Center.

The man also faces several thousand dollars in criminal and civil penalties if convicted. After WDFW wraps up its investigation, it will forward recommended charges to the Clallam County Prosecutors Office.

The matter will then be handled by a district court in Forks, according to the Daily News.

(WDFW)

Wardens Seize Boat, Gear Of Sekiu Angler Fishing 6 Lines And Caught With 10 Salmon

A 23-foot boat, pair of downriggers and fishing gear of a Strait of Juan de Fuca angler who allegedly egregiously violated the regs were seized by state fish and wildlife officers yesterday.

They say the man had six set-ups out, all of his hooks were barbed, and that he’d kept five times the daily limit — including five illegal-to-retain wild Chinook and coho.

All the salmon were donated to a local senior center and the man also faces several thousand dollars in criminal and civil penalties if convicted.

OFFICER BRYAN DAVIDSON POSES WITH THE 23-FOOT MAXUM CABIN CRUISER, TRAILER, DOWNRIGGERS, FISHING ROD AND COMMERCIAL FLASHER-LURE COMBOS SEIZED FOLLOWING AN AT-SEA INSPECTION YESTERDAY THAT TURNED UP EGREGIOUS FISHING RULES VIOLATIONS. (WDFW)

The case went down Tuesday off Sekiu when WDFW Officer Bryan Davidson and Clallam County Sheriff’s Office deputies spotted a man trolling alone, according to a Facebook post by state wardens.

What caught their eye was that he had a second downrigger deployed but without an accompanying rod.

When they asked him to reel up his gear for an inspection, he brought in the line attached to his first downrigger, but left that ball down deep.

The officers asked him to bring the ‘rigger up too, and he began to but stopped part way, so they had to ask again, after which the man complied “reluctantly,” they report.

He then unclipped a leader from the cable and officers saw it had a bungee attached to a flasher and lure.

The man then removed a second similar setup from the same downrigger line,” officers report.

When they asked him to bring up the other downrigger, it came up with three more bungee-flasher-lure rigs too! They were described as “commercial-type” trolling leaders.

Marine Area 5 is not among the few salmon fisheries where you can run a second line, let alone third, fourth, fifth and sixth ones.

The man then apparently volunteered that he had kept one hatchery coho, which he showed to the officers.

However, he hadn’t put it on his catch card, they allege.

Between the good bite in the Straits, all the gear the guy had down and his claim to have only one fish, the officers were a bit suspicious there might be more to the story.

“Officer Davidson again asked the man if he had any more fish aboard. The man denied having any more. Officer Davidson informed the man that he believed there were more fish on board. The man decided to come clean and told Officer Davidson that he indeed had more salmon and produced two garbage bags from the cabin of the vessel containing headed and gutted salmon,” WDFW reports.

Ten of ’em — a wild Chinook that couldn’t be retained, four wild coho that couldn’t be kept either, and five hatchery coho.

WDFW REPORTS THAT THE MAN WAS IN POSSESSION OF FIVE WILD CHINOOK AND COHO, AND FIVE HATCHERY COHO. (WDFW)

The daily limit in these waters is two salmon, fin-clipped silvers and sockeye only.

“Due to the egregiousness of the violations and the lengths the suspect had gone to accomplish his criminal activity, the vessel, fish and his fishing gear were seized for forfeiture to the state of Washington. The salmon were donated to the Port Angeles Senior Center, where they were much appreciated,” WDFW reports.

Meanwhile, we just might have our JOTM for the Octo-issue.

“The man will be cited with several gross misdemeanors for failing to submit his full catch of salmon for inspection when initially asked, retaining a closed season wild Chinook, and wild coho, fishing with barbed hooks in possession of salmon, using more than one line, in addition to several misdemeanors and infractions,” officers say. “Each closed season wild salmon conviction brings an additional civil penalty of $500, in addition to the criminal penalty.”

The game wardens gave a special shout out to the sheriff’s office for their interest and help.

OFFICER DAVIDSON AND CLALLAM COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE DEPUTIES BACK AT THE DOCK WITH THE BOAT. (WDFW)

Massive Clam Overlimit At Port Gamble-area Beach Reported; Officer Has Busy Week

A Washington fish and wildlife officer has been neck-deep in policing Kitsap County clam beaches recently, including ticketing three people who allegedly dug up 37 times the daily limit.

The cases center around the Port Gamble area, with the most egregious the result of a citizen tip.

A WDFW IMAGE SHOWS CLAMS AND EQUIPMENT FROM RECENT KITSAP COUNTY CLAM POACHING CASES. (WDFW)

According to WDFW, Officer Patrick Murray got a call about an overlimit in progress at Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park and after checking with the reporting party for a suspect description, he arrived on scene as three people were just about to leave the beach.

When he contacted them, they allegedly said they weren’t aware of the limit on clams. When their buckets and backpacks were searched, Murray found 1,505 Manila clams.

The daily limit is 40 per person.

Murray cited the trio with overlimits in the first degree.

That case followed one that occurred earlier in the week at the Salsbury boat ramp near the Hood Canal bridge. There the warden checked a group of 10 diggers, two of whom didn’t have shellfishing licenses but claimed to be helping their pals.

That didn’t fly with Murray, who cited them for lacking licenses.

Next on Murray’s patrol beat was a stop at the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park where he watched two people clam for an hour. When he went to chat with them, he found only one had a license and the other claiming to just be a helper.

The helper eventually allegedly admitted to actually digging clams, and upon inspection the duo were found to be 80 clams over the limit and in possession of 34 horse clam necks.

The daily limit on horse clams is seven.

More tickets were written.

Later in the week, after his big bust, Murray found himself back at the Port Gamble beach where he observed several clammers and contacted them as they headed back to the parking area with their haul.

For a second time.

When asked if they had any additional clams in their vehicle, they said ‘No,'” WDFW reports. “Low and behold, there were more clams in their vehicle in a cooler.”

They were cited for overlimits in the second degree, as well as failure to submit to an inspection and possession of an unclassified species.

As if Officer Murray and his pen haven’t been busy enough, WDFW says he recently came across a man who was allegedly in possession of nine times the legal limit on crabs.

Keep up the great work, officer!

Linn Co. Man Arrested On Wildlife, Firearms Possession Charges

THE FOLLOWING IS A PRESS RELEASE FROM THE OREGON STATE POLICE FISH AND WILDLIFE DIVISION

Fish and Wildlife Division troopers from the Mid-Valley Team (Salem/Albany) served search warrants on the residence of Nathan J. Rice (age 40) of Sweet Home.  Rice is a convicted felon, on post-prison supervision, and is currently serving a lifetime hunting suspension.  Troopers received information Rice was in possession of multiple firearms and wildlife parts associated with two unlawfully killed buck deer.  The search yielded eight firearms, many of which were fully loaded, and multiple sets of trophy blacktailed deer and elk antlers.  The troopers seized the firearms, antlers, and game meat.

NATHAN J. RICE. (OSP)

Rice was lodged at the Linn County Jail on a parole violation detainer and issued criminal citations for Possession of Firearm by Felon (8 counts), Take/Possession Buck Deer (17 counts), Take/Possession Bull Elk (2 counts), Lend/Borrow Big Game Tag, Exceeding Bag Limit of Game Mammal, and Aiding in Wildlife Offense (2 counts).    Additional suspects and charges pending follow-up investigation.

WEAPONS AND GAME PARTS SEIZED AT THE HOME OF NATHAN J. RICE. (OSP)

A violation of any provision of the wildlife laws (such as the unlawful take of deer), or any rule adopted pursuant to the wildlife laws, is a Class A misdemeanor if the offense is committed with a culpable mental state in Oregon. If convicted, a person can be charged with the maximum penalty of $6250, have their hunting privileges suspended and forfeit weapons or other items used in the commission of the crime(s).

Anyone with information regarding  wildlife violations is encouraged to report the information to the Oregon State Police Turn in Poacher (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888. Information can remain anonymous.

OSP Looking For Info On 2 Lane Co. Poachings

Oregon wildlife troopers are asking for the public’s help to solve two recent Lane County poaching incidents.

(OSP)

They say someone illegally shot an elk near Oakridge the evening of June 2, and they found a dead buck with an arrow in it in west Eugene earlier today.

The elk was discovered after troopers and Oakridge police responded to a trespassing-in-progress call east of town and north of Highway 58.

(OSP)

While the suspect had fled before officers arrived, they found a dead cow elk that had been shot.

Anyone with information on that case is being asked to call Senior Trooper Marshall Maher (1-800-452-7888; 541-953-9942).

As for the other incident, troopers found the dead blacktail near Churchill High School, arrow protruding from its midsection.

They say that this is the second time something like this has happened in the area and that it could be related.

Tips can be phoned in to Trooper Wolcott at 541-868-5056.

Pendleton Poacher, 18, Fined $50,000, Banned From Hunting For Life

Oregon State Police say that an 18-year-old Pendleton man has been sentenced to pay $50,000 in restitution, had his hunting privileges suspended for life and was put on five years probation for a slew of wildlife violations.

(OSP)

Troopers say that Joseph Reide St. Pierre pleaded guilty to:

Unlawful take of a trophy whitetail buck
Trespass with a firearm
Unlawful take of a trophy whitetail buck
Unlawful take of a cow elk (X2)
Exceeding annual bag limit
Unlawful take of a mule deer buck
Waste of a game mammal
Hunting upon cultivated lands of another
Unlawful take of trophy mule deer buck
Waste of a game mammal
Assisting or aiding another in the taking of a buck deer (X2)
Unlawful take of a trophy bull elk
Waste of a game mammal
Unlawful take of a whitetail buck
Waste of a game mammal
Unlawful take of mule deer doe
Waste of a game mammal

(No, I didn’t screw up copying and pasting that from OSP’s press release — that’s exactly how it came across.)

The case began last September when troopers received some poaching tips, which led to St. Pierre’s arrest last January for allegedly poaching and wasting game in Umatilla County.

According to OSP, St. Pierre had been unlawfully taking wildlife as far back as 2016.

St. Pierre was also sentenced to pay $500 to a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation Youth Day Event.

 

 

Oregon Boaters Caught Way Overlimit On Rockfish

An extra rockfish in the cooler suggested things might be a little fishy aboard the boat coming back into the Hammond Marina one recent evening.

(OREGON STATE POLICE)

Oregon fish and wildlife troopers had initially contacted the four occupants as they returned from bottomfishing at the South Jetty, at the mouth of the Columbia River.

After finding that 21st fish, the officers decided a fuller search of the boat just might be in order.

In a plastic tote, they found the rest of the crew’s booty — 53 more fish, mostly black rocks but also a small lingcod and a cabezon.

Troopers report they cited and released one person criminally for overlimits of black rockfish and lingcod, unlawfully keeping an undersized ling, and closed-season harvest of cabezon.

The other three were also cited and released criminally for overlimits of rockfish.

The 54 extra fish were all donated to a food bank.

The case is reported in the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division’s latest newsletter, for April, and just posted today.

It also includes details on several Winchester Bay crab scofflaws, including one caught with 17 undersize Dungies and another with 10, and a Brookings kayak angler who’d stashed a couple extra lingcod in his gear bag.

There’s also a clam caper with Washington suspects sans licenses but with 41 gapers, a Newport-area angler who claimed to have forgotten his license at home but a record check for which found he hadn’t bothering buying one since 2013, and details on several case resolutions.

Keep up the great work, officers!