Washington Wants to Get Tougher with Salmon Poachersby Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - June 14, 2002
The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission wants poachers who illegally harvest federally-protected salmon species to pay stiffer state fines.
The commission, in its meeting in Olympia June 7, voted 7-1 (with one member absent) to direct the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to petition the court to increase bail amounts poachers must pay when cited for illegally taking salmon protected by the federal Endangered Species Act.
Under current state court rules, the bail amount for fishing during a closed season is $100, with no distinction between taking an ESA-protected salmon, such as a Puget Sound chinook salmon, or poaching a non-protected species.
The Fish and Wildlife Commission wants to see bail amounts increased to as 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 readily admitted to intentionally poaching a 40-pound protected chinook salmon. The man was fined the maximum $100 state civil penalty, but his custom-built fishing boat was also confiscated. The individual, Charles J. Hildebrand of Mount Vernon, today was fined $5,000 by federal officials as well.
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