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Yelm Fish & Wildlife

Have You Been Cited for a Fish & Wildlife Violation in Thurston County?

Washington state is home to a substantial diversity of ecosystems including prairies, wetlands, estuaries, rainforests, shrubsteppe, marine waters, and grasslands. Because the state is home to such biodiversity, we have become a hot spot for hunters and anglers from around the globe.

Careful management of Washington’s unique ecology is incredibly important. This means that local wildlife is strongly protected by serious penalties for misconduct. In Thurston county, many offenses are based on conduct rather than intent. This means you can be convicted for an action you took regardless of whether or not you knew what you were doing was illegal.

This website details some of the most common Fish & Wildlife violations that happen in Yelm and around Thurston county. For more specific information on Fish & Wildlife laws or details about your specific charge, please contact our team of criminal defense attorneys.

Whether you’re a seasoned hunter/fisher or a novice just starting out, you must familiarize yourself with the fish and wildlife laws in Thurston county to avoid facing charges for a crime you may not have even been aware you were committing. If you or a loved one have already been charged with a Fish and Wildlife violation in Yelm and are seeking an experienced attorney, please contact our firm today for help with your specific case. We offer a no-cost initial case consultation to provide you more information about your rights.

Common Fishing Violations In and Around Yelm

Approximately 8 miles southeast of Yelm lies the 330 acre Lake Lawrence. Open to anglers year-round, this lake is stocked with largemouth and smallmouth bass, yellow perch, bullhead catfish, channel catfish, and rainbow trout. Popular with chefs and home cooks, rainbow trout is known for its mild nutty flavor. Because of its mild flavor, anglers may be tempted to stock up when fishing for this tasty trout, unaware that there are strict rules and regulations in place for when and where you can fish in Thurston County.

The most common fishing violations that occur in Thurston county are Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the first degree and Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the second degree.

Here is an excerpt from State Statute RCW 77.15.370, regarding Unlawful Recreational Fishing in the First Degree
“(1) A person is guilty of unlawful recreational fishing in the first degree if:
(a) The person takes or possesses two times or more than the bag limit or possession limit of fish or shellfish allowed by any rule of the director or commission setting the amount of food fish, game fish, or shellfish that can be taken or possessed for noncommercial use;
(b) The person fishes in a fishway;
(c) The person shoots, gaffs, snags, snares, spears, dipnets, or stones fish or shellfish in state waters, or possesses fish or shellfish taken by such means, unless such means are authorized by express department rule;
(d) The person fishes for or possesses a fish listed as threatened or endangered in 50 C.F.R. Sec. 223.102 (2006) or Sec. 224.101 (2010), unless fishing for or possessing such fish is specifically allowed under federal or state law;
(e) The person possesses a white sturgeon measuring in excess of the maximum size limit as established by rules adopted by the department;
(f) The person possesses a green sturgeon of any size; or
(g)(i) The person possesses a wild salmon or wild steelhead during a season closed for wild salmon or wild steelhead.”

Additionally, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife releases yearly emergency rule updates that, if violated, can result in criminal charges. Violating any of these rules can result in negative consequences for your fishing license as well as misdemeanor charges, and you may have to pay additional fines should the fish in question die as a result. Misdemeanor charges may require you to appear in Thurston County District Court, which is located in Olympia.

Unlawful Fishing in the Second Degree is, thankfully, a little less complex. Simply put, you will be charged with this violation if you fish for fish or shellfish and have not purchased the appropriate fishing or shellfishing license and catch record card. Every angler over the age of 15 is required to have a fishing license in Washington state. This violation is categorized as a simple misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or up-to a $1,000 fine.

Common Hunting/Wildlife Violations in Thurston County

Every year the hunting seasons and regulations change throughout Washington state. While there are plenty of violations covering firearms, hunting permits, and even falconry, the biggest Wildlife violation that occurs around Yelm and throughout Thurston county is the unlawful hunting of big game. Mostly charged to new hunters hungry to take down deer or elk, unlawful hunting of big game is broken down into two separate charges-

  1. Unlawful hunting in the Second Degree is charged when you hunt for, take or possess big game and do not have and possess all licenses, tags, or permits required. It can also be charged if you violate any department rule regarding seasons, bag or possession limits, closed areas, closed times, or any other rule governing the hunting, taking, or possession of big game. In addition to having your hunting license suspended, a conviction of unlawful hunting of big game in the second degree is a gross misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
  2. Unlawful Hunting in the First Degree happens when you hunt for, take, or possess three or more big game animals within the same course of events; or the act occurs within five years of the date of a prior conviction for this charge. Unlawful hunting of big game in the first degree is a class C felony, which is punishable by up to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. In addition, the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife will revoke all hunting and fishing tags and licenses and order your hunting privileges suspended for 10 years.

Ignorance of the laws is not an applicable defense to fish and wildlife violations. Our team of Yelm criminal defense lawyers has over 50 combined years of criminal defense experience, including successful representation in cases involving fishing and hunting regulations. Let us help you keep your license and your freedom.

How Can a Tumwater Criminal Defense Attorney Help You With a Fish and Wildlife Charge?

A lot of people who find themselves before the courts charged with a Fish & Wildlife violation attempt to go pro se, which means they represent themselves, believing that the charges aren’t serious enough to warrant paying for an attorney. However, these offenses can carry serious penalties, fines, and sometimes include the forfeiture of fishing and hunting privileges. In addition, some offenses can result in felony convictions and prison sentences. It is critical to understand the possible consequences before paying a fine or pleading guilty.

Fish and wildlife violations in Washington can be serious charges and should never be taken lightly. Most attorneys don’t deal with wildlife or fishing violations. You need an experienced Yelm criminal defense attorney who has handled cases like yours. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you need professional legal assistance. We offer a free case consultation because a good outcome for your case starts with hiring good legal counsel.

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