poacher fine

Discussion in 'Fly Fishing Forum' started by Chris Bailey, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. Chris Bailey

    Chris Bailey Member

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    I just heard a quick report on the local NPR news flash that a guy who poached a chinook received a $5000 fine and had to surrender his $6000 boat, which will be used by WDFW for enforcement. Is this a typical punishment or are they making an example out of this guy? Either way is fine with me. I'm also glad to see that it was newsworthy. That indicates to me that this is a relatively harsh punishment. Maybe future poachers will think twice. What I don't understand is the lack of support that citizens seem to get when they call in and report a poacher. It hasn't happened to me, but I hear many stories of unresponsive officers.
     
  2. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

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    I'd like to hear that report. Where was the unfortunate scofflaw fishing? It's likely that the guy poached a listed fish, and the fine represented "take" liability under the ESA.
     
  3. Chris Bailey

    Chris Bailey Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    It was a very quick blurb by the local person on KUOW here in Seattle. But, the story is on the front page of the wdfw site. Here is the text copied directly from the web site:

    June 10, 2002
    Contact: Brian Gorman, NMFS, (206) 526-6613;
    Or: Tim Waters, WDFW (360) 902-2262


    Mount Vernon man lands $5,000 penalty
    for poaching protected chinook salmon

    Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Officer Terry Abrams holds the 40-pound, threatened spring chinook salmon. Photo by Matt Wallis, Skagit Valley Herald

    SEATTLE - A Mount Vernon man who admitted to poaching a chinook salmon from the Skagit River in July 2001 has been fined $5,000 for violating the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), state and federal fisheries officials announced today.

    Charles J. Hildebrand, 63, today was fined for catching the 40-pound chinook, which is listed as a threatened species under the ESA.

    The fine was issued by officials with National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) general counsel's office and Office for Law Enforcement (OLE) in coordination with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).

    WDFW also seized Hildebrand's 16-foot custom-built fishing boat, valued at $6,000, which will be used by enforcement officers for river patrols. He also had to pay a civil penalty.

    "Safeguarding ESA-listed fish and wildlife populations is one of this Department's top priorities," said WDFW Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork. "The severity of these penalties, including the seizure of a valuable fishing boat, should be a clear message to everyone that these agencies are serious about enforcing laws designed to protect and restore the public's natural resources."

    Bjork emphasized the importance of partnering with landowners and citizens who help natural resource agencies by reporting potentially illegal activity.

    "We appreciate and rely on the public who assist fish and wildlife enforcement officers in reporting this violation," Bjork said.

    When interviewed, Hildebrand not only admitted to knowing that he caught a federally-protected fish during a closed season, but that he routinely engaged in this type of activity.

    "This type of egregious and knowing violation of the ESA needs to be addressed so folks know that we're serious about protecting listed fish," said Vicki Nomura, Acting Special Agent in Charge for NOAA Fisheries OLE.

    The ESA, first implemented in 1973, is administered by NOAA Fisheries OLE and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The act is designed to save species and their habitats when other efforts have failed.

    "Under a Joint Enforcement Agreement between WDFW and federal fisheries offices, the two agencies have agreed to work together to prosecute ESA violations," Nomura said.

    NOAA Fisheries OLE has conveyed $900,000 to the WDFW for the Joint Enforcement Agreement program to conduct additional enforcement patrols in support of protecting and conserving the nation's living marine resources.
     
  4. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    Thanks. This is good news I guess, and a couple parts were good for a bitter chuckle too:

    "Safeguarding ESA-listed fish and wildlife populations is one of this Department's top priorities," said WDFW Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork. "The severity of these penalties, including the seizure of a valuable fishing boat, should be a clear message to everyone that these agencies are serious about enforcing laws designed to protect and restore the public's natural resources."

    What a joke. WDFW is one of the worst violators. Out of 100 WDFW hatcheries, at least 38 block fish passage with thier water-diversion dams, a clear violation of both the ESA and state law. 22 of the fish blockages are on Puget Sound streams, and WDFW acknowledges that 13 block listed chinook from reaching spawning habitat (including the Marblemount hatchery on the Skagit). This is from an internal WDFW study that was released in 1997, and NOT A SINGLE ONE OF THE BARRIERS HAS BEEN FIXED YET, because they don't want to have to nick their hatchery-production budget. Yeah, their "top priority."

    "This type of egregious and knowing violation of the ESA needs to be addressed so folks know that we're serious about protecting listed fish," said Vicki Nomura, Acting Special Agent in Charge for NOAA Fisheries OLE.

    Yeah sure. NMFS (a division of NOAA) is fully aware of the blockage problems at WDFW's hatcheries and hasn't done one thing about it, even though WDFW has missed deadline after deadline to even report how they even plan on fixing the hatchery problems.

    Whatever. I'm glad they caught and dinged the old crank. They just ought to look in the mirror before making any grand pronouncements about what heroes they are.
     
  5. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    You mean the hatchery on the Cascade River at Marblemount? Could you clarify how the hatchery blocks off spawning habitat please? I don't see it blocking the entire river, so I guess you mean it blocks off spawning habitat to one feeder creek? Just looking to learn more.
     
  6. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    According to the 1997 WDFW survey, the Marblemount hatchery blocks chum, coho, pinks and steelhead from passing into spawning and rearing habitat on Clark Creek, and it blocks passage for chinook, pinks, coho, and steelhead on Jordan Creek. The report cites 38 partial or complete blockages at hatcheries throughout the state. Some of the barriers are described, but not the two at Marblemount. Most likely they are water-diversion structures that supply creekwater to the incubation and rearing ponds at the hatchery. The chinook blockage at Jordan creek is a likely ESA violation, one of 13 similar potential violations in Puget Sound alone.
     
  7. cuponoodle breakfast

    cuponoodle breakfast Active Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    Thanks. I haven't heard much discussion on that kind of thing before.
     
  8. KerryS

    KerryS Ignored Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    This is definitly a good thing. Mr. Hildebrand is/was a very well known poacher on the Skagit River. He was known to brag about how many Chinook salmon he had poached. I have talked to the WDFW officers that busted Mr. Hildebrand. They had been trying to catch him for several years and had put in a lot of time and effort getting him. It is very hard to catch poachers and Mr. Hildebrand was one of the worst.
     
  9. ray helaers

    ray helaers New Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    Yes. Absolutely. If anybody had it coming, this old fellow did. Apparently he's STILL unrepentant.

    I just resent WDFW's cynical braying about how "serious" they are about protecting listed fish, because they busted ONE GUY, albeit a really bad guy. They regularly allow commercial harvest to violate the ESA down on the Columbia. Under the Hydraulic Code, WDFW issues permits for all project that affects streams, including streams with listed fish. They regularly look the other way on violations, and they have NEVER issued anything like a $5000 fine in those cases, even though some violations can screw up whole reaches of habitat, or even involve spills that kill bunches of fish or destroy spawning redds. Not to mention the cases above where they're the ones breaking the law!

    I'm all for them doing their jobs and busting poachers, and when they do, coming down hard, especially when it involves listed fish. I'll treat them like heroes when they start doing ALL of their job. (When I say "them" I mean the leadership; there are plenty of good people in the department that want and try to do the right thing.)
     
  10. o mykiss

    o mykiss Active Member

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    poacher fine (WDFW story text)

    Ray, it is my understanding that violations of environmental laws, including the ESA, can be the basis of a lawsuit by private individuals or organizations. If WDFW's hatcheries are a problem as you describe, seems to me someone could take them to federal court to get them to fix it. I'm surprised Washington Trout hasn't already done it. Think I'll e-mail them and ask them why they haven't.
     

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