By Rich Landers
Although sportsmen occasionally see them during the rare spot check of fishing or hunting licenses, Washington’s Fish and Wildlife Police do most of their work under our radar.
The officers, few and far between, have little time for being on display. They meet with hunter education students, chase down druggies, help farmers deal with crop-eating game, write tickets and carry out myriad other tasks, not the least of which is following cases through the courts.
In between the routine stuff, they bag poachers.
They nail the guys who steal wildlife from the law-abiding public.
This work goes largely unreported and unappreciated because the big cases often require months of investigative work and more months to work through the courts.
So let’s pause to celebrate just a sampling of the trophy cases bagged last fall by the 22 officers in the 10 counties of the Spokane region.
Serial poacher: A late November tip led one officer to five illegally killed deer in a south Spokane County location with a walk-in cooler.
The investigation led to hefty fines for Spokane resident Richard Frailey, 57, who paid the court $6,000 for the illegally killed deer and $800 for return of the .243 rifle the officer had seized. He also paid $1,000 in criminal fines. William Whalen, 68, of Spokane was connected to the case and paid $378 for not tagging his deer.
Closed-season elk: In early October, officers responded to a tip about an elk shot east of Spangle before the season opened. The suspects took the trophy head but left the meat to waste.