OLYMPIA, Wash. - State Fish and Wildlife officers said two men who trespassed on private property to kill trophy bull elk in East Pierce County will be among the first to be prosecuted under a new law.
A post on the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Police Facebook page said before legislation passed last session, Fish and Wildlife police officers could makes arrests when trespassing occurred, but because trespassing wasn’t a wildlife crime, they couldn’t seize the animals killed on the land.
Police said after a $250 fine, the hunters were able to keep the animal they killed on private land, and some hunters felt the risk was worth it if they could keep their trophy.
Officers said this was the case with two men who repeatedly trespassed to kill trophy bull elk in East Pierce County. But now, the two men will now be among the first to be prosecuted under the new Hunting While Trespass law.
Fish and Wildlife police officers said the two men killed two bulls after setting up camp nine miles into private property closed to hunting during the archery elk season.
Officers said they were there when the two men tried to sneak portions of the first bull out at 1:15 a.m., and nine days later, the officers were back when the men took portions of the second bull out at 2 a.m.
The two were arrested and booked into the Pierce County Jail on multiple counts of trespassing while hunting, criminal trespassing and wastage.
A vehicle and two motorcycles were seized, along with all of their hunting gear and camping equipment. A search warrant was then served at the home of one of the men, and antlers and portions of the first elk were recovered, along with two unlawfully possessed raptors that were found in the freezer, officials said.
The Hunt While Trespass law carries a penalty of up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
In addition, upon conviction, the Department of Fish and Wildlife will revoke hunting licenses and suspend hunting privileges for two years.
Any animal harvested or retrieved in violation of the law will be seized by authorities.