OLYMPIA – A Kennewick man has pleaded guilty to charges of illegal big-game hunting in the Blue Mountains of Columbia County following an investigation by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW).
Jason Locke, 37, pleaded guilty March 9 in Columbia County District Court to poaching a bull elk and using a hunting license illegally. Locke was fined a total of $11,345, including a $6,000 criminal wildlife assessment penalty for taking a trophy-size bull elk.
Two other men – David E. Myles, 50, of Richland, and Brian E. Badgwell, 40, of Pomeroy – earlier pleaded guilty to charges of unlawfully transporting wildlife in that case.
Locke is also facing poaching charges in Chelan County, and allegations that he guided Columbia River steelhead trips without a commercial license.
Along with additional fines, Locke could lose hunting and fishing privileges for two years and forfeiture of elk meat and hunting and fishing equipment seized as evidence in those cases.
WDFW’s investigation of Locke’s activities was sparked by an anonymous tip to WDFW last October that he had killed two bull elk in the Blue Mountains and claimed one of them using his wife’s permit tag. Under Washington law, it is illegal to harvest game for another person.
The informant also told WDFW enforcement officers that Locke killed a buck deer near Chelan in 2009 using his wife’s permit tag.
Based on WDFW’s investigation, Locke has been charged in Chelan County District Court with three counts of unlawful big game hunting and one charge of unlawful transportation of wildlife. He could face up to $6,000 in fines there, including a $4,000 criminal wildlife penalty assessment for taking a trophy-size buck deer.
In addition, Locke has been charged in Benton County District Court with unlawfully guiding fishing trips on the Columbia River without a license and making a false report regarding fish and wildlife. Both are gross misdemeanors, punishable by fines of more than $2,000.
That case, which WDFW investigated in conjunction with the Oregon State Police, has been forward to the U.S. Coast Guard, since Locke also did not have a required Coast Guard license to guide commercial fishing trips.
“All of these cases started with an anonymous tip by a concerned citizen,” said Mike Cenci, WDFW deputy chief of enforcement. “We encourage people who witness fish and wildlife violations to contact the department and let us know about it.”
The WDFW Enforcement Program encourages citizens who witness a fish and wildlife offense to report the violation. Reports can be filed by phone (1-877-933-9847), email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or text message (847411 TIP411).