Fish and Wildlife Commission seeks higher penalties for poaching
Press release from Dept. of F&W
OLYMPIA, WA 6/10/02 * The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission
wants poachers who illegally harvest federally-protected salmon species
to pay stiffer
The commission, in its meeting here Friday, voted 7-1 (with one member
absent) to direct the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)
petition the court to increase bail amounts poachers must pay when cited
illegally taking salmon protected by the federal Endangered Species Act
Under current state court rules, the bail amount for fishing during a
season is $100, with no distinction between taking an ESA-protected
such as a Puget Sound chinook salmon, or poaching a non-protected
The Fish and Wildlife Commission wants to see bail amounts increased to
much as $800 per poached fish for those who knowingly take ESA-protected
species during closed seasons.
The new rules were developed in the wake of fish-poaching cases in 2001,
including an incident last July on the Skagit River in which a man
admitted to intentionally poaching a 40-pound protected chinook salmon.
man was fined the maximum $100 state civil penalty, but his custom-built
fishing boat was also confiscated. The individual, Charles J. Hildebrand
Mount Vernon, today was fined $5,000 by federal officials as well.
In other business, the commission:
* Expanded western Washington hunting
opportunities by responding to increasing band-tailed pigeon populations
with the re-opening of a hunting season that had been closed for 10
In separate action, the commission extended pheasant hunting by two
several selected western Washington sites.
* Re-affirmed its earlier action establishing a southern
hunting boundary for Medicine Creek treaty tribes
* Honored long-time volunteer hunting education instructors,
many of whom have been involved in the program since its inception in
1950s. There are more than 600 certified volunteer hunting education
instructors in Washington state, and last year more than 11,300 hunters
hunter safety courses.
* Heard a report from Northwest Straits Marine Conservation
Committee representatives on a one-year pilot project to assess the job
removing derelict fishing gear from Washington waters, including
fishing nets, crab pots and other gear. The committee intends to remove
tons of gear over the next year, including so-called "ghost
continue to kill fish after being abandoned. The group is currently
a database of known derelict gear sites, and standardizing gear-removal
* Received an update on yelloweye rockfish harvest reductions.
The long-lived species has been declared "overfished" by the
Fisheries Service, and fisheries agencies are developing long-term
plans. WDFW intends to ask the commission for a zero bag limit on
rockfish at the commission's August meeting.
* Heard a briefing on the 2001-02 public safety cougar removal
program, which authorized the use of hounds to remove specific numbers
cougar in limited areas in response to demonstrated public safety needs.
WDFW staff told the commission that statewide cougar complaints dropped
percent, from 936 in 2000 to 498 in 2001, following the first public
cougar removal season early last year.
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