PASCO—Three Kennewick men have been charged in Franklin County District Court on several counts involving theft of salmon and steelhead from a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) fish hatchery collection site on the Snake River in southeast Washington.
Peter P. Robison, 50, Robert D. Bowen, 31, and William S. Lueck, 40, all of Kennewick, were charged with unlawful fishing, fishing closed waters and closed season, and several other violations in an Oct. 2 incident.
The men are accused of illegally taking 22 fish, including three wild steelhead and two wild Chinook salmon. Federal charges are pending on possession of the wild steelhead and salmon, which are listed as threatened in the Snake River under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA). The alleged ESA violations are being referred to the federal NOAA Fisheries Service for review and possible civil prosecution.
Fines for the multiple state charges range up to $5,000 per count and up to year in jail. An 18-foot boat, trailer, five fishing rods, and miscellaneous fishing and boating equipment were seized for forfeiture proceedings.
Working on an anonymous tip, WDFW Enforcement Officers Brian Fulton of Pasco and Rob McQuary of Walla Walla observed the three men fishing from a boat at night within the 400-foot area around the broodstock collection area on the Snake River adjacent to the Lyons Ferry Fish Hatchery—an area closed to all fishing, as stated in the state fishing rules pamphlet.
Fulton and McQuary reported the boat had no navigation lights. The boat made several passes inside the closed area, and the men caught and landed several fish, which were placed in a large cooler. The officers confronted the men just before 3 a.m. after they removed the boat from the river at the Lyons Ferry Marina and were attempting to leave the parking lot.
WDFW Enforcement Sergeants Mike Jewell of Pasco and Jim Nelson of Walla Walla commended their officers’ diligence in making the case, and noted that the anonymous tip instigated their nighttime watch.
“We appreciate this kind of information from citizens,” Nelson said. “We need everyone’s eyes and ears out there to protect our fish and wildlife resources.”
To report poaching, call toll-free to (800) 477-6224, or contact the Washington State Patrol to reach WDFW officers.