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August 7, 2012

The HSUS and HSWLT Team Up with Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to Combat Poaching

Comprehensive crackdown in response to a rash of thrill-killing crimes

Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust

The Humane Society of the United States and The Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust announce a new venture to support the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s efforts to fight wildlife crime. Last year, The HSUS and HSWLT donated a robotic elk decoy to officers of the Law Enforcement Program in Region 4. The decoy donation, which was used in anti-poaching operations during the most recent hunting season, was not initially publicized in order to maximize its effectiveness.

Fish and Wildlife Police officers set-up decoys in popular poaching spots and covertly wait for shooters to take aim. Robotic elk decoys boost law enforcement’s effectiveness by allowing officers, the wildlife victim, and the criminal to all be at the same place at once, which otherwise rarely happens.

The donation was prompted by several high-profile spree-killing cases in Washington, where multiple elk and other species fell victim to poachers. “Spree-killing,” also known as “thrill-killing,” is a particularly egregious wildlife crime where multiple animals are killed in a single episode. The perpetrators often don’t bother to retrieve their kills, or only recover parts for trophy value.

The HSUS, conservation organizations, and lawful sportsmen and women supported a WDFW-sponsored bill to elevate penalties to a felony level for spree-killing of big game species. The bill passed the House and Senate unanimously and was signed into law by the Governor. It took effect July 22, 2011.

“Poaching often occurs in remote areas with few witnesses, making it difficult to bring violators to justice,” said Dan Paul, Washington state director for The HSUS. “The Humane Society of the United States is very grateful for the tireless efforts of the WDFW officers to crack down on this illegal activity.”  

“Poachers steal wildlife from all citizens of the state,” said Captain Bill Hebner of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. “This donation, combined with outdoor watch activities provided by hunters and concerned citizens will enhance the effectiveness of Fish and Wildlife Police Officers.”

Background:

  • In late 2010 in Grays Harbor County, spree-killers killed four pregnant elk from the road and did not even bother to retrieve three of the animals they had killed. In an earlier case in Grays Harbor County, a group of men fired 50 shots into a herd of elk, illegally killing five of them, and leaving all the elk behind to rot. 
  • In early 2009, officers with the WDFW released the findings of an investigation into a club of poachers who named themselves the ‘Kill ‘Em All Boyz’. These individuals relentlessly poached animals and their cruelty didn’t stop with wildlife.  They allegedly killed domestic cats and tortured a hunting dog.
  • Wildlife officials estimate that tens of millions of animals are poached nationally on an annual basis.
  • It is estimated that only 1 percent to 5 percent of poached wildlife come to the attention of law enforcement.  
  • Poachers kill or injure wildlife anytime, anywhere, and sometimes do so in particularly cruel ways. Fish and Wildlife Police report that poachers often commit other crimes as well.
  • The HSUS and HSWLT work with state and federal wildlife agencies, including the WDFW Law Enforcement Program, to offer rewards of $2,500 for information leading to arrest and conviction of suspected poachers.

The HSUS and HSWLT work to curb poaching across the country. Visit humanesociety.org/poaching for more information.

Media Note: Photos and b-roll are available upon request.

Media Contact: Kaitlin Sanderson: 301-721-6463, ksanderson@humanesociety.org

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