Thursday, April 5, 2012

Twisp man pleads guilty in wolf killing case

The Associated Press
SPOKANE, Wash. —

A Twisp rancher pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiring to kill a protected gray wolf and send its pelt to a friend in Canada.

The case stemmed from a 2008 report of a bloody package that had been left with a private shipping company in Omak. A suspicious employee called police, who opened the package and discovered a fresh wolf hide.

No public hunting of wolves is allowed in Washington.

William D. White, 62, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to charges of conspiracy to take an endangered species, conspiracy to transport endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife.
The latter charge stemmed from a moose White brought back to the Methow Valley from Alberta, Canada, where he hunted illegally on a local man's tag.

As part of the federal plea, White also agreed to plead guilty to two state charges, including hunting bears with a dog.

White declined comment Wednesday. His attorney, Bevan Maxey, said White was simply trying to protect his livestock.

"I think the issues point out the inherent difficulties livestock owners are presented with relating to wolves," Maxey told The Spokesman-Review newspaper.

But Assistant U.S. Attorney Timothy Ohms said the investigation showed that White, and his family, engaged in a pattern of illegal game hunting.

White's son, Tom White, faces charges of unlawfully taking an endangered species in the killing of two wolves. Tom White's wife, Erin White, faces charges of false labeling of wildlife for export.

Ohms said Erin White was sending the wolf pelt back to the hunting buddy in Canada who had helped William White get the moose.

The wolves were from the Methow Valley's Lookout Pack, the first documented wolf pack in Washington in several decades.

Wolves were removed from the Endangered Species list in the eastern one-third of Washington state last year, but they remain a federally protected species in the rest of the state.