New Support for Game Wardens on Washington’s Coastal Rivers

Good news: The Wild Steelhead Coalition just helped out WDFW do a better job of going after poachers.


FISHERY CONSERVATION GROUPS JOIN FORCES TO PROVIDE CRUCIAL TOOLS TO WDFW LAW ENFORCEMENT

In 2019, the Wild Steelhead Coalition donated a collection of trail cameras, spotting scopes, and a new raft and oars to the Washington Department of Fish and Game (WDFW) Law Enforcement Detachment responsible for safeguarding the rivers, coastal waters, and forests of the Olympic Peninsula and Hood Canal. These game wardens are responsible for vast amounts of territory and the equipment was immediately, and effectively, put to use by the team.

This summer the new rafts were used to great effect, providing the means to effectively patrol smaller rivers. On a day when a number of citations for violations were written, Officer Patrick Murray holds up a wild chinook an angler had kept after cutting off the adipose fin. Photo courtesy WDFW Police

Over the following two years, the cameras and raft allowed law enforcement officers to greatly expand their reach and led to increased enforcement against illegal fishing, hunting, logging, and other wildlife violations and numerous poaching arrests. Encouraged by this success, the Wild Steelhead Coalition reached out to our colleagues at the Wild Salmon Center and Wild Steelheaders United of Trout Unlimited and our friends at Simms, Outcast Boats, and Sawyer Paddles & Oars to expand the impact of the original donation with a larger, additional gift in 2021.

After working with WDFW Law Enforcement staff to ensure we provided helpful tools to enforce regulations and find poachers, our group of conservation organizations and business partners have donated a new collection of equipment that includes a pair of small one-person rafts, multiple sets of waders and boots for game wardens, new oars for an existing drift boat, almost forty trail and security cameras, and a drone. Combined, the equipment has a retail value over $20,000 and gives WDFW Law Enforcement – especially with the drone – the ability to survey a much wider geographical area, and many more miles of river, than might otherwise be possible.

This larger inventory of gear also means the cameras can be spread further afield. The new cameras will be utilized on the Olympic Peninsula, Hood Canal, and throughout the Chehalis River Basin. A few will also go to North Puget Sound where they may be deployed on the Skagit and Sauk Rivers, and other watersheds depending on the need, as well.

As fishery groups, we are particularly interested in this new equipment’s ability to provide important, necessary protections for Washington’s struggling populations of wild steelhead and salmon, but in the off-season it will all also assist WDFW Law Enforcement in their work to protect big and small game animals and non-game wildlife, prevent illegal timber harvest, and discover and document unpermitted hydraulic projects that damage watershed and shoreline habitat.

Read the rest of the story and see additional photos at:

One Response

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Al. Washington’s game wardens are responsible for a huge amount of territory and are incredibly dedicated public servants. They deserve all the support possible. Happy Holidays to you and your readers!

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: