PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — An Oregon poacher has pleaded guilty to 22 charges related to a ‘wildlife crime spree’ that spanned over 18 months.
The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife said Pendleton resident Walker Erickson is required to pay a total of $75,000 in fines and serve several jail sentences due to trespassing, illegally hunting animals and then leaving them to waste.
According to the state agency, someone initially reported 28-year-old Erickson to the Turn In Poachers Line in the summer of 2020. After Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Troopers conducted further investigation, they issued a search warrant for the poacher’s home in December 2021.
Police found a rifle, bow, meat, six sets of deer antlers and three sets of elk antlers — including those of a 7-by-7-point bull elk, an animal that officials say is a “top trophy in any hunter’s collection.”
In addition to fines, the hunter has been ordered to serve 14-day jail sentences for the next three elk hunting seasons, turn over his rifle and bow, and return his trophy animals and parts.
ODFW said Erickson’s sentencing is the first to reflect the changes made in 2018, when Oregon lawmakers approved anti-poaching House Bill 3035.
“Elk season is now jail season,” Wildlife Anti-Poaching Resources Prosecutor Jay Hall said. “All of this conduct, if it had occurred only a year before, before the legislature created these felony level poaching crimes, he would be facing only misdemeanor sentencing,” Hall said.
Officials also launched the “Protect Oregon’s Wildlife – Turn In Poachers” campaign earlier this year. The campaign aims to inform the public of Oregon’s anti-poaching laws and encourage residents to report illegal hunting.
“In 2022 alone, nearly 5,000 animals were poached in Oregon – that we know of,” Campaign Coordinator Yvonne Shaw said. “We need all Oregonians to be our eyes and ears in the fields, forests, waterways, and beaches of Oregon.”