By Andy Walgamott
A few days after search warrants were served on Garret V. J. Elsberg’s smokeshop, his father’s house and his grandparent’s property in Okanogan County last March, and he himself was arrested and booked into jail, he posted a breezy, no-big-deal message on Facebook for his friends’ consumption.
“Case dismissed thank u judge u are a gentleman and a scholar,” he wrote.
In all likelihood Elsberg, 24, most likely meant his citation for driving with a suspended license, not what state fish and wildlife officers were really after that day, which this month resulted in major poaching charges against this one-time local athlete whose previous boastful Facebook posts provided key evidence.
According to a front-page article in a local paper late last week, Elsberg was charged in Okanogan County Superior Court with 33 counts of illegal hunting activities, including:
“eight counts of first degree unlawful hunting of big game, a count of second-degree hunting of big game, five counts of unlawful hunting on or retrieving hunted wildlife from the property of another, seven counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm, six counts of spotlighting big game and six counts of waste of fish and wildlife.”
“We’re going to plead not guilty,” said his attorney Steve Graham of Spokane this morning. “I think that the fish and wildlife department has this wildly overblown, as is their customary style. It seems like WDFW went out of their way to whip up public sentiment against Garett Elsberg.”
That sentiment would be the friction between tribal and nontribal hunters for the state’s big game.
Elsberg is an enrolled member of the Colville Tribes, who lives on the reservation, and Graham says he is going to file a motion challenging the legitimacy of a search warrant signed by a state court judge to search his client’s property. More....