Wolf poacher deserves stiff sentence!

Wolf poacher deserves stiff sentence!

He made public statements opposing wolf recovery, and said he'd take action against them if they returned. Now, a Washington wolf is dead, he admitted killing it, and he's looking for leniency. He doesn't deserve it. Rather, he deserves the stiffest possible fine, and even jail time. Wolves are protected by both the federal Endangered Species Act, and the Washington State ESA. The animals are listed as "Endangered" under both laws. wolf Killing a wolf in Washington carries a federal penalty of up to a year in federal prison and a fine of $100,000. Under state law, wolf killers also face another $100,000 fine, and a year in the State Penitentiary. Mr. Tom White of Twisp should be sentenced to full terms under both laws. White, a Twisp-area rancher, made public comments last fall not only opposing the natural recovery of wolves in Washington State, but indicating he would take action to prevent such recovery. A wolf pack has been identified in the North Cascades near the Methow Valley. These wolves are natural dispersers, having relocated here from their birth place in British Columbia. For the first time in more than 70 years, Washington has a wild wolf pack in residence! This is incredible news, and welcomed news to more than 80 percent of Washington residents, according to recent polls. But Tom White and his father Bill, another Twisp rancher, are part of the 20 percent who don't welcome the return of this native species. The Whites vowed to fight wolf recovery, and this week, word came out that they have taken action to support their vows. Detectives with both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife are in the midst of an investigation into an illegal kill of a wolf in the Methow Valley. The investigation began after Tom White's wife tried to ship a package to Canada. A "rug", she told the Fed Ex counter clerk. But the "rug" was bleeding through the box, and the Fed Ex worker notified law enforcement. A search warrant was acquired, the box was opened and the rug was found to be a bloody pelt, which DNA testing showed to be the skin of a gray wolf. Further search warrants were issued, the Whites were questioned, and their homes searched. Bill White claimed to have no knowledge of the wolf hide. His son Tom admitted the hide was his, though he claimed it had died after being tangled in a fence. Bill recanted his story and said he gave the name of a friend in Canada to his son, saying he could send the hide to that friend. The White's computers, seized under the state and federal search warrants, contained pictures of Tom posing with the dead wolf, with evidence of it having been caught in a leg-hold trap. Neither White is talking to the media now. No charges have yet been filed, but even if there is no other evidence but the scant bit that's been made public (off the record, officers and prosecuters suggests there's far more evidence yet to be unveiled), Tom White deserves the stiffest possible penalty. He's admitted to participating in killing an endangered species – protected by both state and federal law – and he tried to cover up that criminal act. Likewise Bill White deserves a stiff sentence for trying to cover up federal and state violations. And Tom's wife, whose name has not been released, should be held accountable, too, for her participation in federal and state crimes. Killing endangered species is not a petty crime. Wildlife laws must be enforced and violators must be vigorously prosecuted. By minimizing the penalties for wildlife crimes, we disrespect the wildlife and the wildlife enforcement officers. Wolves are a rare, endangered species. They were hunted to extinction in Washington in the 1930s. Today, the vast majority of our residents welcome these animals, seeing them as a vital part of our wild ecosystem. A few ranchers, who benefit from essentially free grazing on public lands vehemently oppose wolf recovery. Those ranchers have had a free ride from far too long. I say, if they don't like wolves interacting with the herds, GET THE COWS OFF PUBLIC LANDS!!! Tom and Bill White deserve jail time. They should pay maximum fines for their crimes, and they should sit in a federal jail for a year to reflect on their actions. Give the maximum term so the next self-righteous rancher who decides his profits are more important than the public good might think twice before pulling the trigger. Read more about this case at: The Seattle Times The Wenatchee World The SeattlePI.com
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