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January 06, 1999
Contact: Margaret Ainscough, (360) 902-2408

Vancouver man sentenced for selling bear gall bladders, other poaching violations

VANCOUVER—Richard Dale Harris, 38, of Vancouver, was sentenced today to 100 days in jail and a $19,200 fine for illegally selling bear gall bladders and other poaching violations.

Clark County District Court Judge Darvin Zimmerman sentenced Harris to concurrently serve 90-day sentences on 12 gross misdemeanor violations including unlawful sale of wildlife, possession of wildlife (cougars) in a closed season and unlawfully possessing wildlife (black bears) in excess of bag limits, according to Clark County Deputy Prosecutor David Seeley. The judge added another 10 days of jail time for a misdemeanor count of importing and possessing dead wildlife taken unlawfully in another state, Seeley said.

Harris was convicted Nov. 2 of the violations following a jury trial in Clark County.

Besides the jail sentence and fine, Harris will be barred from hunting in Washington for at least two years, and his hunting equipment was seized by the state, according to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) detective who investigated the case.

Harris was the subject of an undercover investigation over several years by WDFW's Statewide Investigations Unit. During the course of the investigation, Harris sold bear gall bladders to an undercover WDFW officer and led an officer on illegal guided black bear hunts in Idaho, according to WDFW Enforcement Chief Bruce Bjork. Besides the bear hunting violations, Harris also was found in possession of two cougars taken out of hunting season.

Bear gall bladders, valued by some for medicinal purposes, fetch $100 to $400 here and between $6,000 to $25,000 in Asia, according to WDFW enforcement officers.

"This individual did a significant amount of damage to the animals in this state and bringing him to justice required an extensive investigation on the part of the state," said Bjork.