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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.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Weekly Enforcement Highlights

WDFW Police Officers are drawn to isolated locations because some folks have the "out-of-sight, out-of-mind" mentality. The "Father of Wildlife Management," Aldo Leopold, often preached outdoor ethics. He understood that if an individual needed a police presence to behave while in the wide open spaces, then that individual probably had a wide open opportunity to cheat. Fortunately, most folks share Mr. Leopold's vision of outdoor ethics, but for those who don’t, a meeting with one of our officers can fill the gap.

Drunken Hunter
Hunting waterfowl with a boat under motor power is illegal. However, Officer Fulton received several reports of hunters "power boating" ducks near Pasco on the Columbia River. Officer Fulton contacted the boat, which was occupied by three men, as it came to shore. The shooter was identified and his shotgun was seized as evidence. Now, not only was the shooter hunting without a license, using an unplugged shotgun (only shotguns capable of holding three shells are allowed) and in possession of lead shot (only non-toxic shot allowed), but he was also drunk. The operator of the vessel will be charged with reckless vessel operation and hunting with the aid of a vessel. Charges will be forwarded to the prosecutor next week.

"Caught" Doing Something Good: Many thanks to the two witnesses who went above and beyond the call of duty to give Officer Fulton enough information to locate and identify these careless and unethical hunters.

Treaty Sturgeon Violation
Sgt. Wickersham observed two tribal members working sturgeon setline gear upstream from Avery Park on The Dalles pool. While the season is open here for treaty Indian fishermen, sturgeon are managed through upper and lower size limits, so only fish falling between 43” and 54” (fork length) can be legally retained. Sgt. Wickersham and Columbia River Inter-tribal Fisheries Police Sgt. Lamebull contacted the men after they were observed retaining many undersized fish. The men said they had not measured their sturgeon because they didn’t have a measuring tape, but they thought they were "close” to meeting the minimum size requirements. When asked what the legal size for sturgeon retention was, they didn’t know but thought they could retain any size for subsistence purposes. Only one was found to be of legal size and the other ten sturgeon were well under the minimum. The undersized fish were seized and photographed, then returned to the water, where several of them turned belly-up and stopped moving. Charges on these repeat offenders will be referred to the Klickitat County Prosecutor's Office. 

Smarter Than A Game Warden
Officer Bolton was patrolling the Columbia River shoreline to Bingen when he walked into an isolated spot with four subjects sturgeon fishing. One fisherman was in the process of constructing a marijuana cigar (yes, it was much larger than a cigarette) when Officer Bolton said hello. The subject turned over the dope, and claimed he didn't have identification, but proudly presented a fishing license. Something wasn’t quite right, so Officer Bolton questioned him further about his personal information on the license document. During questioning, a marijuana-induced amnesia apparently affected his recall, as the man not only forgot how to spell his name, but couldn't remember his date of birth. At that point, Officer Bolton convinced the subject that it might be a good idea to produce a valid identification card or driver's license. Finally snapping out of his dope coma, the subject produced his ID and admitted that the license belonged to someone else.

Armed Assault Thwarted
WDFW Police Officers  and other law enforcement agencies often form partnerships to get the job done. Joint training exercises and membership on task forces or special teams are common, and a necessary part of rural policing. Officer Snyder and two other team members were on their way to one such training exercise with the Moses Lake Tactical Response Team when real life events interrupted.

As he was driving, Officer Snyder witnessed a three-on-one assault, complete with face punching, in a parking lot. After activating his emergency lights, he rolled onto the scene and jumped out of his vehicle. The chase was on as two of the assailants ran. The remaining suspect, who apparently was not in as good of shape, decided to make a break for the getaway car. A pistol  brandished  during the assault was still in his hand as he jumped into an SUV. When Officer Snyder heard his partners yell "Gun! Gun! Gun!" he suspended the foot chase and provided cover for the other officers as they drew their service weapons. The suspect sped off, and Officer Snyder pursued him in his patrol truck. The bad guy managed to shake the police this time, and the vehicle was later found abandoned. Moses Lake Police Department towed the vehicle but not before they found a law enforcement surprise inside: body armor – scary!

1 comment:

  1. NATGEO and the ANIMAL channel has game warden shows for California and Maine.Washington should have theirs and it would alert people in our state how preciouce our resources are