Local News

WDFW recovers 10 poached trophy deer heads in Okanogan County

Mar 03, 2013

Trophy buck heads seized by the WDFW Friday. Submitted Photo.
On Friday March 1, 2013, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program served four search warrants in Okanogan County. The warrants were the result of tips obtained in response to an early January 2013 press release where the department was requesting information from the public about deer poaching. The intent was to gather information to assist in the investigation of several deer that had been shot in the closed season at night, and then left to waste, with only the heads removed. Enforcement Program reports that they received numerous calls about the incidents and some possible suspects. However, no single tip was the key to solving the cases, rather the multiple tips received were then checked out for reliability, and those that had merit were connected together to form a mosaic that resulted in the issuance of the warrants.

The warrants were to recover evidence and illegally taken trophy mule and whitetail deer heads poached in incidents around the county dating back to at least late fall of 2012. Through these warrants, a total of 10 antlered deer heads and other evidence was recovered that will assist in solving the cases and bring those responsible to justice. The smallest set of antlers was on a four-point mule deer and the largest was a 5X6 mule deer with a 29" spread. One of the ten heads was actually recovered late last month in a different warrant.

The department wants to thank those members of the public that provided these interlocking tips that allowed us to get to this point. "We have several more things to accomplish before we can refer the case to the Okanogan County Prosecutor for charging, but we expect to be able to wrap up the remaining parts of our investigation in the next few weeks," said Sergeant Jim Brown, supervisor of the local WDFW detachment. "At the time of charging, we will be able to release the names of those charged in the case, but we are not ready to do that yet," said Brown. WDFW is still interested in any additional information that becomes available, even though the heads have been recovered. It is possible that there are other poached deer, or even suspects involved that we do not yet know about.

Brown states that, WDFW officers from as far away as Leavenworth and Moses Lake were brought in to assist in the operation. He also wanted to thank the Okanogan County Sheriff Department and the Colville Tribal Police for their assistance with manpower to serve these multiple warrants. He stated that without their help it would have been difficult to search that many places at once.

Those charged with taking these deer face a mandatory $6,000 per animal additional penalty beyond the fines set by a court, and up to a year in jail on each count. A 2004 Dodge pick-up used in the incidents was seized, and may be subject to later forfeiture. A 24 year old Omak area man was booked into the Okanogan County Jail for Driving While License suspended, stemming from a contact during one of the warrants. He is also a suspect in the deer cases.

If anyone has information about this case, or any other violations they can call the WDFW Poaching Reporting number at 1-877-933-9847 and it will be relayed to our field officers. Urgent calls, with in-progress violation information should go to the WSP Dispatch at 509-422-3800, extension 0.

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