The Denver Post reports an extensive poaching ring is responsible for slaughtering more than 100 black bears, cougars, bobcats, deer and elk in southwestern Washington and northwestern Oregon, with many of the animals hunted with dogs and then left to rot, authorities said.
“There was an absolute wanton disregard for our conservation laws,” Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Capt. Jeff Wickersham said.
Seven people—six adults, some of whom have previously been targeted in poaching investigations, and one juvenile—were charged so far, but investigators plan to recommend charges against more people, he said. Some face upward of 60 counts related to illegal hunting and wasting animals.
The investigation was reported by The Chronicle newspaper of Centralia, which said it obtained hundreds of pages of case reports from the department through a public records request.
According to the documents, the hunters used dogs—sometimes as many as 11. The 50-plus poaching expeditions date back to 2015. The vast majority took place within the Gifford Pinchot National Forest, in remote areas either closed to hunting or in areas where special permits are required.