The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife recovered 50 dead ducks and geese Friday east of Lynden, Wash., and the Whatcom County chapter of the Northwest Washington Waterfowl Association has offered a $500 reward for information leading to the conviction of those responsible.
Wildlife officer Joshua Koontz told The Bellingham Herald in an interview Tuesday that a bus driver reported seeing the carcasses in the middle of the road and in the roadside ditch Friday, and Koontz went out and collected 50 birds that had been dumped. Koontz said he spoke to area residents who had not noticed the rotting birds before that morning.
“They were not breasted out,” Koontz told the Herald. “They were not harvested. They were just left there.”
Koontz said it appeared the birds had been hunted and killed a few days earlier.
“It was frustrating. ... Most of the people you talk to out there are respectful of the wild,” Koontz said. “For someone to throw away these birds in this manner is disgusting. ... This kind of behavior moves people to anti-hunting, and it would be a shame to lose it for a few really bad apples.”
Thought Koontz said he generally works on the marine side of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, he said the department receives a couple of instances of hunters wasting wildlife like this “in varying degrees” per year.
Wasting of fish and wildlife is a criminal misdemeanor in Washington state (RCW 77.15.170), and Koontz said the department has gotten a number of calls with information about the incident.
“It’s disgusting and it reflects negatively on the hunting population. ... Wild game is a public resource so this is a crime against us all,” Northwest Washington Waterfowl Association Whatcom County chapter chairman Matt Berry told The Bellingham Herald in an email Tuesday.
In a Facebook post made Monday, the waterfowl association announced that the Whatcom County chapter was offering the reward. Berry said that half of the reward was coming from the chapter itself, while another $250 was donated by individual members, and the amount of the reward may also increase thanks to the overall association.
“The WWA mission includes preserving and protecting waterfowl,” Berry said. “We also work closely with the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. We want to let folks know that we don’t tolerate wasting game meat and do what we can to help catch those responsible.”