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WDFW Enforcement is divided into two patrol sections, Marine and Land, although responsibilities often overlap and the two sections commonly assist each other. The following are real life events that provide a snapshot of fish and wildlife enforcement activity in Washington State. These examples show the diversity of issues that Fish and Wildlife Police Officers ("Game Wardens") encounter while protecting your natural resources, but are by no means all encompassing of our many accomplishments. All violations are considered alleged unless a conviction has been secured.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Leave the Beach "Happy As A Clam"

Whether you like them fried, frittered, or in a bowl of chowder, razor clams are one popular bi-valve with clam connoisseurs! And many will end up on dinner plates (or bowls) in one form or another after the opening of clam digging on coastal beaches this weekend.
Before heading out to the beach in search of these tasty critters, however, make sure you're familiar with the rules. Here are the top four:
  • The limit is 15 clams per person per day.
  • You must retain every clam dug, regardless of size or condition (because many don’t survive if replaced).
  • Don’t drive on the razor clam beds (vehicle weight can crush them).
  • Buy a shellfish license or razor clam license before you head to the beach.
What We Look For:
Most folks play by the rules, some are tempted by opportunity, and others have well-planned schemes for cheating. But our Officers have seen every trick in the book, and can tell you where extra clams are likely to be hidden when folks decide to break the rules. Here's an example of a group who thought they could outsmart our Officers:
While patrolling the beach, Officers noticed a group of diggers that seemed to be on the beach far too long for the amount of time it takes most folks to get a limit. To add to their suspicion, Officer Anderson recognized the vehicle as being at another spot earlier in the tide. So Officer Hopkins checked the license plate and found that the registered owner had a $10,000 felony warrant for his arrest. Officers decided to contact the group and the man with the warrant was identified and taken into custody. 
While Officer Hopkins was dealing with the arrest, Officer Anderson began checking the other people in the group for licenses and limits.  By the time Officer Hopkins got the arrestee in the patrol vehicle, two of the others in the group had confessed to Officer Anderson about "two-tripping." 
Not to be confused with “two-stepping” or “two-timing," two-tripping is a Game Warden term that means exceeding limits by making multiple trips to the beach. The idea is to harvest a limit, hide them, change clothes and beach location, and harvest another limit. If you get checked, you're never over the daily bag limit……….unless we find the hidden clams from the previous trips. People will go to extraordinary efforts to pull this off, and the unlucky ones are tailed by Fish and Wildlife Officers. In this case, these folks lied about having two-tripped. Eventually, they lead our Officers to where the extra limits of clams were hidden. The group of four had dug about 90 razor clams that day. Several tickets were issued, and the man with the warrant was booked into jail by Officer Wickersham. 
The moral of this story: It is better to work hard and take home 15 clams, than to work even harder and take home 0 clams (and one or more tickets). 
SAFETY TIP: With all outdoor activities, it pays to be prepared. Digging clams this time of year requires proper clothing. And if you’re one of those who likes to dig in the surf, be extra careful. With the inclement offshore weather this time of the year, a big surf can add some personal safety challenges. Our Officers respond to many incidents where people get knocked down by a rogue wave, and although a razor clam is good eatin' it's not worth the loss of life.
Don't let poachers steal YOUR clams.
If you see illegal activity on the beach, let us know about it. 

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