Two hunters cited for elk poaching near Rainier

Officers with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife cited two hunters in the Rainier area Saturday on suspicion of poaching immature elk.

According to Fish and Wildlife Officer Carl Klein:

Fish and Wildlife officers responded to a game management unit off Rainier Road on Saturday after getting a tip about possible elk poaching in the area. When they arrived, they found two immature “spike” elk that had been shot by hunters.

The area where the Fish and Wildlife officers found the hunters is open only to the taking of bulls with three or more antler points on one beam.

The Fish and Wildlife officers seized the hunters’ equipment as well as the vehicle they were using to transport the elk. The seized items may be forfeited, Klein said.

During the investigation, officers learned that one of the hunters had poached a third immature elk in September, Klein said.

Klein said he is forwarding charges to the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office.

Possible misdemeanor charges against the two hunters may include unlawful hunting of big game and unlawful transportation of wildlife.

Civil penalties for poaching immature elk could reach as high as $2,000 per animal, Klein said.

Klein said it is a hunter’s responsibility to determine an elk’s maturity by looking at antler size, and to know the rules for hunting in game management units across Washington state.

Fish and Wildlife officers rely on the public to give them tips about illegal poaching, Klein said. Concerned residents can report information to 1-877-933-9847, or by calling 911 about serious violations in progress.

Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5465