PNW Poaching Ring - 200 charges filed against 17 people

Discussion in 'News & Announcements' started by mdwest, May 17, 2018.

  1. mdwest

    mdwest AH Fanatic

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    I honestly dont know what to say about this other than I hope these guys burn in hell.... what a travesty on hunting...

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news...ice-say/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.cdae0adb7561


    ‘A demented social club’: Poachers slaughtered hundreds of animals in Pacific Northwest for ‘the thrill,’ police say

    17 people have been charged with crimes related to a poaching ring responsible for the illegal killings of hundreds of animals in Washington and Oregon. (KOIN News)

    It started when state officials wanted answers about the headless deer turning up in the Oregon wilderness east of Mount Hood.

    “Nearly every year, it seems we have deer showing up minus their heads at the end of seasons,” Craig Gunderson, a senior trooper with the Oregon State Patrol, recently told the Seattle Times. Authorities believed the mutilated animals might be the work of poachers, so in November 2016 they fixed motion-triggered cameras in the national forest near The Dalles, Ore., smack on the Washington state line.

    The footage troopers caught would prove to be the first clue to uncovering what officials now say was a loosely linked poaching ring responsible for the illegal brutal slaughter of hundreds of animals in Washington and Oregon. The sheer size of the animal body count involved has shocked wildlife officials, in part because of the wantonness driving the rampant killing.

    “It was kind of a demented social club,” an Oregon official told the Times.

    “I consider it a killing spree,” a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife chief told Fox 12. “I’m completely disgusted.”

    “It’s one of the biggest cases, if not the biggest case I’ve been involved with, and Washington has the same stance, based on the number of people involved and the number of illegally taken animals,” Tim Schwartz, a lieutenant in the Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division, told KOIN 6.

    In the end, it was not just the camera footage from the forest that helped investigators unravel the alleged ring but pictures and videos saved on the suspects’ own cellphones. According to the Times, investigators found dozens of images detailing the poachers’ work, including videos of pack dogs running down and gnawing on bears, the suspects posing with the dead carcasses of elk, and the hunters splattered in the blood of recent kills. Between the two states, 17 people have been charged with more than 200 misdemeanors and felonies. None of the accused has publicly commented on the charges.

    “Most people, when they kill an animal, there’s respect for everything. They take the hide, they take the meat and there’s something that’s respectful about it,” Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Captain Jeff Wickersham told Fox 12. “In this case, it’s all about the thrill. They’re going out there and killing to kill.”

    Back in November 2016, the motion-triggered cameras did catch poachers in the act, the Seattle Times reported. Images showed individuals in a Toyota truck in the national forest throwing a spotlight into the wilderness — finding animals in the dark by catching their eye glow in the flash of light, an illegal hunting tactic known as “spotlighting.”

    When wilderness officials went to the spot where the truck had been caught on camera, they discovered another headless deer.

    On Dec. 3, Oregon troopers spotted the truck and pulled it over. The two men inside — William J. Haynes and Erik C. Martin — admitted to killing two bucks and taking the heads back to Washington, the Times reported. When authorities searched Haynes’s home, they found a freshly cut deer head in the garage and 12 additional heads in the back yard, some in plastic bags, some rotting with maggots. In total, officials confiscated 27 deer heads from the property, according to the paper.

    Evidence on the suspects’ phone would point investigators to at least 20 kill sites in the wilderness where illegal poaching had taken place. Text messages showed the suspects had planned out their illegal hunts and reveled in the opportunity, authorities say.

    “You ready to kill everything?!” one alleged poacher texted another in November 2015, according to investigators.

    “[W]ell duh!” another responded. “I’m a little trigger happy lol.”

    Authorities say the poaching crews often conducted their hunts in the middle of the day, with lookouts posted for authorities. “They all knew what they were doing was illegal,” Gunderson, the Oregon trooper, told the Times. “They all thought it out ahead of time and had plans. Some of them had been doing it for years.”

    Haynes and Martin were among the 11 defendants charged this week in Wasco County, Ore., with misdemeanors related to the poaching, according to KOIN 6. They have yet to enter a plea in the case, and it is unclear whether they have attorneys. Charges related to the ring have also been filed in Washington counties. So far, two of the 17 defendants have pleaded guilty to hunting-related violations, the Times reported.

    But investigators also admit to being stumped by the bloodshed.

    “For some, it was about ego and bravado — who could kill the biggest, the most,” Gunderson said to the Times.

    “This particular violation really lays down the foundation that it was people killing animals to kill animals,” Wickersham, of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, told KOIN 6. “There was really no other motive behind it other than these individuals wanted to kill.”
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 17, 2018
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  2. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    It's fortunate they were willing to maintain all the evidence on their phones to aid the prosecution.

    POACHERS with zero respect.

    If you were hungry, I get it. But this?

    I hope the felony prosecutions of the entire group are successful and the penalty matches the crimes.
     

  3. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    This is just plain sick. I don't know the areas or regs but if they just wanted to kill animals, couldn't they have bought extra tags and donated the meat to the food banks? I wonder if they were selling the antlers.
     
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  4. jeff

    jeff AH Elite

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    I wish that they wouldn't use the term spotlighting is a illegal hunting tactic, they should leave the word hunting out , it has nothing to do with hunting, it's a poaching tactic !!!
     
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  5. CAustin

    CAustin AH ENABLER BRONZE SUPPORTER AH Ambassador

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    Well hats off to the troopers and wildlife authorities for catching these guys. These are not hunters ....they are savages.
     

  6. gillettehunter

    gillettehunter AH ENABLER AH Legend

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    Be nice if they saw some jail time, lost weapons and vehicles plus did some time in the clink... I know, I know its too much to ask for...... Glad they caught them tho.
    Bruce
     
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  7. dory

    dory AH Fanatic

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    Surely they will loose their firearms , vehicles firearms licence and anything else they used in this senclise
    act of stupidity ??
    That would be minimum here in NZ .????
     

  8. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    It's actions such as these which cast all hunters in a bad light, especially since the media seem to use the words "hunting" and "poaching" almost interchangeably. Poachers are not hunting when they are poaching game, and poachers are not hunters.

    This is where SCI and other hunting groups need to be seen to be active in attempting to catch poachers, but also to be heard denouncing them. The media won't ask individual hunters what we think, and I have a pretty limited ability to issue a press release, at least one which anyone might pay any attention to. So it's up to the hunting organizations to which we belong, to make our collective denunciation heard, loudly.

    @jeff, it's illegal where I live, but it's a common practice, and a legal one, in at least parts of South Africa when hunting certain nocturnal species. You won't have much luck hunting serval or civet, or genet, for example, if you don't use a spotlight . . . if only to identify the animal before you shoot at it! As for whether this is hunting or not, provided always its legal, it's pretty tough to go after these species at night, even with a spotlight. Far harder than hunting kudu during the day. So I'd call it hunting.
     
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  9. jeff

    jeff AH Elite

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    I was referring to the first post in the thread, not the hunting of nocturnal animals legally. By calling what they were doing hunting it looks bad to the public as many will lump all hunters together. It's like calling drug dealers on the street pharmacists!
     
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  10. HuntingGold

    HuntingGold AH Fanatic

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    I formally worked out of the office this case started in. Actually was on the phone with Gunderson as he was driving in to serve the original warrants. After a moment or two of chit chat... he had to abruptly go... GEESH! Shows you were I rank o_O
    It was a coordinated effort between Oregon and Washington and they all did a great job. I am quite proud of all of them!:A Big Hello:
     
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  11. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Veteran

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    In NC You lose your freedom, your firearm, and any vehicles used to poach.
     

  12. Hogpatrol

    Hogpatrol AH ENABLER SILVER SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    Last edited by a moderator: May 23, 2018

  13. Eric Anderson

    Eric Anderson AH Veteran

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    No federal firearms liscence in the US, and very few states have one. Every person who catches a felony charge will fail a background check to purchase new firearms and they will be ordered by the court to dispose off any firearms they do own. They also lose voting rights as well. Not sure if in Oregon or Washington you permanently lose voting rights or not. Every state is different.
     

  14. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Fanatic

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    md.......thanks for posting. We all need to see who our enemies are. These clowns will do more harm than PETA or similar organizations ever could.
    The article is in the Washington Post. I will research it a little in other media. The Washington Post may not be the worst newspaper in the USA. It may not be. And I hate to be too nit-picky, but "deer showing up minus their heads" , showing up where? The DMV? And "11 defendants up....for misdemeanor charges" I truly hope this rises to the level of a felony! Cameras "smack on the Washington State border" at The Dalles (that I would like to see!......mid channel Columbia River). But to their credit, and despite knowing absolutely nothing about legitimate hunting, The Washington Post did make a distinction between hunters and poachers.
    I think these criminals need hard time. Not the usual wrist slap because they were not cuddled enough as children.......Flatwater Bill
     
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  15. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    I said, in an earlier post, that spotlighting was illegal "where I live", which is Canada. I know that each province has its own rules, as do the states in the US, but I thought this rule was pretty universal. Apparently, I was wrong. This was in one of the Canadian newspapers this morning:

    The Manitoba government has introduced legislation to ban spotlighting after the premier suggested the controversial hunting technique could spark a “race war” in his province, but Indigenous groups say they were not consulted and the new bill violates their treaty rights.

    And this:

    For other First Nations, spotlight hunting is a means of survival.


    Apparently, spotlighting is not illegal in Manitoba, and in fact, it is practised by First Nations hunters, who are essentially unregulated in their hunting practices.
     
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  16. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Fanatic

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    Wow....."spotlight hunting is a means of survival". I guess that would sort of depend upon which side of the spotlight you found yourself.
    I would hate to start a race war, but hell, treaty rights must be preserved. Tradition must be honored. Sitting around the campfire, passing down, from generation to generation those old legends of famous Chiefs.......spotlighting buffalo and elk.......it just warms the heart. Who would want to lose that? BTW: Is "First Nation" a PC term for an indian? ( I hope it is not referring to my bank)........................FW Bill
     
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  17. Hank2211

    Hank2211 AH ENABLER GOLD SUPPORTER AH Legend

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    "First Nations" is the current term acceptable in Canada to refer to those we used to call "Indians." Just to be clear, though, the Inuit people do not consider themselves First Nations, because First Nations are (or were) Indians, and the Inuit (or Eskimos, as they were once referred to) do not consider themselves Indians. Terminology actually gets more complex, but I'll leave it there . . .

    Personally, I have no issue with referring to people as they wish to be referred to. Seems like an issue of politeness to me, nothing more.

    I have to agree about the spotlights though . . . and the rifles when it comes to that. If people want to insist on traditional rights, and traditional ways, that's certainly up to them, then they sort of lose the program a bit if that means picking and choosing . . .

    Having said that, unlike the situation in most African countries, I have no issues with First Nations people, who live on the land and rely on game for food, to hunt as necessary for those purposes. Anything more than personal consumption, then there needs to be some sort of regulation.
     

  18. BRICKBURN

    BRICKBURN AH ENABLER SUPER MODERATOR CONTRIBUTOR LIFETIME TITANIUM BENEFACTOR AH Ambassador

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    In NZ you don't have limits on so many species. How do you get charged for poaching? :E Head Scratch:
     

  19. jeff

    jeff AH Elite

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    In consulting the Indian tribal game regulations in Oregon just about every means to kill was legal except I did read that explosives were not allowed for fishing. I hope that doesn't impact their way of life!
     
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  20. flatwater bill

    flatwater bill AH Fanatic

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    Aawww.....Jeff........................You mean the "Dupont Spinner" is now outlawed for Native Americans? No more "Expanding Bait"? They just keep losing one tradition after another. What next? The "Buffalo Cliff Drive" or the Spotlight? .........................FW Bill
     
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