Last updated August 14, 2007 7:03 a.m. PT
2 Silvana, WA, men arrested in bear-hunting case
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
VERLOT, Wash. -- Deep in the woods as the sun set, state Fish &
Wildlife officers Julie Cook and Jennifer Maurstad tracked down their
quarry: illegal hunters.
One man was up a tree on a hunting stand. Another man was about 50
The pair, both from Silvana and in their 40s, were arrested for
allegedly bear-bait hunting.
The illegal hunters were literally sniffed out by the officers by the
smell of rancid oil deep in the woods. The discovery of corn, oats and
barley confirmed to the officers that there were hunters illegally using
bait to lure black bears.
Cook has been a wildlife agent for 16 years. She said it's highly
unusual to catch poachers and their stands up in a tree. Typically,
tracking illegal hunters can take state law enforcement agents weeks,
"It was really satisfying and exciting to catch them in only a week,"
The men who were arrested on Friday evening were taken into custody
The officers seized the men's hunting bows, an oil can filled with
oats and grease, and the pair's Dodge Ram 1500 pickup.
There was a sticker on the back of the truck cab advertising PETA:
"People Eating Tasty Animals."
In bait hunting, animals are lured to an area with food, then
ambushed by hunters. Bear bait typically is sweet and high in fat.
Illegal hunters use doughnuts to lure bears.
Bear-bait hunting is illegal in all but 10 states, Cook said.
"Bear baiting is egregiously unsporting and inhumane and violators
should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Andrew Page,
spokesman for the Humane Society of the United States, told The Herald
Beat-bait hunting has been outlawed in Washington since 1996.
Cook said bait hunting can put people at risk because it can
acclimate bears to human food and once a bear becomes used to the taste,
it continues to seek it out. Typically, the bear then needs to be
Cook said if bears start showing up at campgrounds and are
aggressive, they are dangerous to humans.
Since Aug. 1, state game officers have been looking for bait hunters
east of Granite Falls on the Mountain Loop Highway.
"It's bear season, and we've had complaints about bait hunters in the
past," Cook said.
About a week ago, Cook saw evidence not far from Coal Lake Road.
Every morning and evening, Cook patrolled the area looking for signs
of hunters. On Friday, a pickup truck was parked at a trailhead. Cook
and Maurstad set out for their catch.
But tracking armed hunters deep in the woods is dangerous, Cook said.
"We're out in the middle of nowhere with no backup," she said.
The armed officers quietly approached and then started making lots of
noise, so the hunters didn't mistake them for an animal. "Police!" they
The men told officers they hadn't taken a bear, but the evidence
suggested otherwise, Cook said. The officers discovered a wheelbarrow
smeared with blood, and in the truck's bed, the windpipe from a slain
animal. The men said they had hauled an animal for another hunter.
Cook said the men knew what they were doing was wrong, but they had
the opportunity and were going to take it.
Bear-bait hunting is a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to a year
in prison and thousands of dollars in fines, Fish & Wildlife Sgt. Randy
Information from: The Herald