While Washington legislators continue to butt heads on many issues in Olympia, they joined in refreshing unanimity last week to drop the hammer on people who go wild slaughtering big game.
Both the House and Senate voted unanimously for HB 1340, which expands the definition of unlawful hunting in the first degree — a class C felony.
Under current law, offenders must have a previous wildlife misdemeanor within the past five years to get hit with that charge.
Once Gov. Chris Gregoire signs the bill — everyone expects her to join the unanimous vote — someone who poaches three or more deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, caribou, cougars, black bears or grizzly bears within 24 hours or “course of events” could be charged on the spot in the first degree.
“I’m sure we’ll have a number of times to apply it this year, unfortunately,” WDFW Deputy Chief of Enforcement Mike Cenci told Northwest Sportsman Magazine.
Cenci used a KIRO 7 TV report on convicted poacher James Cody Stearns, “The Headhunter,” to educate lawmakers on the need to pass the bill.