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.
What's the Limit Again?
Officer Day and Sergeant Brown conducted a boat patrol on Lake Rufus Woods and observed two men fishing from the bank in a remote location. After watching them for a few minutes, they saw that the two men were in violation. Upon contact, they observed a plastic garbage sack hanging from a tree in the shape of a deceased trout. When Officer Day asked what was in the bag, one of the subjects informed him, “My fish.” Inside the bag they found a pair of wonderful looking triploid rainbow trout. The daily bag limit is only two fish and the man was still unlawfully fishing using multiple rods. Officer Day asked the subject why he was still fishing since he already had his limit, and the fisherman answered with only a sagging of his shoulders and a grim look of defeat in his eyes. Gesturing toward a cooler that he had noticed near the water, Officer Day asked what was in it. “More fish” was the sheepish fisherman's reply. Including the fish in the cooler and the tree, the man’s total was now up to nine trout.
The second subject, who sat innocently in his chair during the exchange while remaining conspicuously aloof to the whole matter never claimed ownership of any of the fish. However, the disparity between Fisherman #1 and Fisherman #2's fish count was soon resolved when a second cooler was located in the back of a pick-up. Fisherman #2 decided now might be a good time to join in the discussion of the rules, and stated that they thought the limit was five fish -- and that half of the fish were caught the night before (sure they were). Sadly, the fishermen’s grand total was twenty-three fish, putting them well over the limit. The officers seized the coolers and the fish.
Officer Day and Sgt. Brown with the seized coolers and fish.
Officer Day received a report from an Okanogan County Sheriff’s Deputy of garbage illegally dumped on the bank of the Methow River at one of our access sites near the town of Twisp. Numerous bags of rotten household garbage, clothes, and a television set were scattered along the banks of the river. Higher river levels from the spring run-off would soon carry away most of the trash. With the help of several technicians from the fisheries field office in Twisp, the trash was collected and a pick-up load of garbage was hauled to the local transfer station where it cost only $11.40 and ten minutes to properly dispose of it. Armed with several pairs of rubber gloves, Officer Day spent an hour digging through the filth in search of clues that might lead him to the origin.
Although the search was disgusting, it was certainly not difficult to find a mountain of evidence leading back to the owner of the garbage, including a driver’s license, prescription pills, telephone bills, and business letters dated as recently as last November. Upon contacting the owner ‘Angel’at her residence, she repeatedly swore she had no idea how her garbage got in the river and even suggested that someone was probably stealing her garbage from the front porch of her trailer. In the meantime, Officer Day observed an extremely nervous man repeatedly raking the same patch of grass in the yard. When Officer Day asked who hauled the garbage away in November, the trash owner pointed at the man in the yard. So Officer Day contacted the obsessive raker and told him Angel was in a lot of trouble because of her garbage and asked him why he threw it into one of the most beautiful rivers in Washington State instead of just leaving it in a pile along the road… In a tribute to bad country music and the most unimaginative excuse for crime ever made, he replied, “I was drunk.” The suspect was charged with the unlawful dumping of the garbage.
Fangs of the Quilcene Livestock Killer
The“Quilcene Livestock Killer”
After repeatedly trying to catch the Quilcene Livestock Killer with both a cougar trap and hounds, the third time was the charm. Officers were finally able to bag the problem cougar that had been terrorizing residents and livestock through the use of hounds. This 139-pound, 6’ 10” (tip to tail) cat had already killed one llama, four goats, and one sheep before we caught up with him.
Officer Chamberlin couldn’t believe his eyes when he spotted a well-known offender fishing from a vessel just above the cork line at the Lewis River Hatchery. Because of his violation history, his fishing privileges had already been revoked…. and yet here he was – fishing! Apparently this individual doesn’t learn too quickly, as Officer Moats also recently caught this guy fishing while revoked in the exact same location. After an hour and a half of observation, Officer Chamberlin decided to make the arrest. Officer Van Vladricken arrived in short order to assist with the contact.
Of course, the fisherman denied having touched a rod and invoked his Miranda Rights, refusing to answer any questions. The other two occupants in the boat lied on his behalf, stating that he had not been fishing. Despite their best efforts, however, the fisherman was taken into custody for fishing while revoked and booked into Cowlitz County Jail. The trailer, fishing vessel, and all its contents were seized for forfeiture proceedings.
The seized boat and trailer
Can You Dig It? Tales of Low-Tide Louts
On Willapa Bay, Officer Jacobson was attracted to a fellow who tried to slip away from his clam digging group undetected. After noticing his absence, Officer Jacobson found him dumping hard shell clams behind a tree down the trail. When he came out, Officer Jacobson asked if the clams in his bucket were all that he had harvested. Of course he chose to lie, making the transgression worse. So Officer Jacobson escorted him behind the tree, where he recovered the rest of the clams. He was cited for failure to submit catch for inspection and over limit.
And in case you’re wondering…. this wasn’t a case of someone who was confused by the limits. This same subject was also contacted by Sgt Chadwick while digging razor clams earlier in the day. He failed to submit his razor clams at that time, and was in the process of taking his second limit. When convicted this will be his third strike – meaning, he will lose his clam digging and fishing privileges for two years. The same man was also cited twice last year for razor clam violations.
In another incident in Mason County, Officer Czebotar zeroed in on a guy who thought hiding extra limits in his car would trick any officers who may be watching…. boy, was he wrong! Back at the parking lot, Officer Czebotar asked the ‘gentleman’ if he could look in his vehicle where he found two additional buckets of clams. Between the two adults and two children who were digging, there was a total of 541 – total legal limit would have been 120 (including those for the kids, who hate to eat clams, by the way). Both adults were issued citations for Over Limit, 1st Degree. In addition, the male subject was issued a citation for failure to submit to a field inspection.
Busted clam poachers
Posted by Outdoor Police Beat at 1:48 PM