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WA: Wash. wildlife agent nabs gang of hunters

Wash. wildlife agent nabs gang of hunters
By WARREN CORNWALL
The Seattle Times
Sunday, March 1, 2009

The body count began the moment Tom Sharpe met Mick Gordon.

When Sharpe stepped from his pickup, he found four men and a boy in the garage of Gordon's Longview duplex stripping the skin from a big bull elk.

Gordon retrieved a hunting dog Sharpe was thinking about buying, and they drove toward the woods to test the dog.

Along the way, Gordon bragged that he killed lots of bears, cougars and bobcats. He shot four or five bull elk a year. A few months earlier he'd poached a big cougar. He and a buddy tossed dynamite into a creek to kill fish.

Gordon declared that "he had poached everything there was to poach." ...

The investigation that started in 2006 finally ended in November, when the last of four defendants - including Gordon - pleaded guilty to poaching-related charges in Lewis County.

Gordon, a one-time hospital nurse who is now serving 13 months in prison, declined to comment. But the state Fish and Wildlife Department recently opened its files from the investigation, which included the account of Sharpe's first meeting with Gordon. The case is notable for its colorful characters, the extensive use of an undercover officer, the fact that jail sentences were handed down in a case where people poached for fun rather than profit, and the scale of wanton carnage claimed by a group of Southwest Washington men.

Nothing, it seemed, was too big or too small for the hunters, who took wildlife both legally and illegally. Their claimed victims included house cats, bobcats, mountain lions, elk, deer, bears, a turkey vulture, fish and one of their own hunting dogs.

They even had a name for their group: They called themselves the "Kill 'Em All Boyz."

... Gordon was an avid hunter, rounding up friends to join him and driving dirt roads late into the night. He bragged of tricking an old lady into giving him three house cats, then killing them while training his dogs. ...

The hunters started delivering jolts of electricity to the dogs through remote-controlled collars used to scare the animals away from something.

But at the end of a long, fruitless day of hunting, the dogs full of porcupine quills, Gordon lost his temper, according to the undercover agent. Instead of a few quick jolts, Gordon kept his finger down on the shock button.

Then he got a second shock collar and strapped it around the dog's torso, near its groin.

For roughly three minutes, Gordon shocked and kicked the dog so ferociously the agent feared it would die, according to the records.

... The dog died within two weeks. ...

Four men eventually pleaded guilty to a variety of hunting and trespassing charges, many of them misdemeanors. Hall got 60 days in jail. Dills got 90 days. Lee got a month in jail. Gordon received the stiffest sentence - 13 months in state prison. Lee and Gordon lost their hunting privileges for life. Gordon's nursing license also was suspended.

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