Hunting Laws and Regulations in the State of Washington
Hunting is a popular recreational activity in Washington, with over 174,600 paid hunting licenses as of 2021. To ensure the safety of hunters, wildlife, and the environment, specific regulations have been put in place. Violating these regulations can lead to criminal charges, including hefty fines, suspension of hunting licenses, and even imprisonment. Adhering to hunting laws is crucial, but some regulations can be complex and unclear. If you have questions or concerns regarding hunting laws or are facing charges, the attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer are available to provide assistance and clarification. Please don’t hesitate to contact us for help.
Common Hunting Violations
Navigating the numerous hunting laws and regulations can be challenging, and some violations are more prevalent than others. Among the most common hunting offenses are hunting without a valid license, hunting outside of legal hunting hours, and exceeding bag limits.
Exceeding Bag Limits: Each license year, there are specific restrictions on the number of certain species that can be hunted or fished. Going beyond these limits can result in being charged with Unlawful Hunting of Wild Animals in the First Degree, which is categorized as a Gross Misdemeanor. The consequences of this charge can include imprisonment for up to 364 days and a fine of up to $5,000.
Hunting Outside of Legal Hunting Hours: To avoid penalties, hunters must comply with the state’s designated hunting hours. Hunting outside of these hours can result in a charge of Unlawful Hunting of Wild Animals in the Second Degree, which is categorized as a Misdemeanor. This offense can carry a sentence of up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
Hunting Without a Valid License: Hunting without a valid license is a widespread offense that can have severe legal repercussions. Violators may face fines of up to $1,000.00 and a potential suspension of hunting and fishing privileges for two years. Hunting with a suspended license can result in even more severe consequences, including permanent revocation of hunting and fishing privileges.
Additionally certain groups of animals, or animals with certain characteristics are prohibited from being hunted. Illegally killing a protected animal can result in fines from $2,000.00 to $12,000.00 for each killing. These protected animals as well as their respective fines are as follows:
- Deer, Elk, Bear, or Cougar: $2,000.00
- Moose, Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, or Mountain Goat: $4,000.00
- Deer with four or more antler points on both sides: $6,000.00
- Elk with five or more antler points on both sides: $6,000.00
- Woodland Caribou or Grizzly Bear: $12,000.00
- Mountain sheep with ¾ curl or better: $12,000.00
It’s essential to note that fines for hunting offenses may vary depending on the nature of the violation. However, having a skilled attorney to handle your case can be beneficial in reducing or even eliminating the fines altogether. If you are facing hunting charges, seeking legal assistance from an experienced attorney can help protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome for your case.
Washington Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Caught Poaching
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plays a crucial role in setting and enforcing hunting regulations throughout the state, aimed at safeguarding wildlife and hunters alike. However, recent news reports in early 2022 revealed that a WDFW regional director was charged with Unlawful Hunting of Big Game in the Second Degree. This case underscores the significance of comprehending hunting laws and regulations, as even a high-ranking official in the WDFW can fall afoul of hunting violations.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms
If you have your gun rights restricted due to a previous conviction, hunting with a firearm is risky as you may be subject to arrest and charged with unlawful possession of firearms. Fortunately, the state of Washington offers a legal process known as Firearm Restoration which is aimed at restoring gun rights to those eligible. This process is usually done with a hired attorney as there are important pieces of legal paperwork that must be completed and filed in order to restore your gun rights. Additionally, while you may regain your rights at the state level, you may not be able to regain your federal firearm restrictions lifted depending on your conviction. Read our Firearm Restoration blog post to learn more about the process and what it entails.
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Regional Director Caught Poaching
The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) plays a critical role in implementing and enforcing hunting regulations statewide, aimed at protecting both wildlife and hunters. However, recent news in early 2022 revealed that WDFW regional director Brock Hoenes was charged with Unlawful Hunting of Big Game in the Second Degree. This development highlights the complexity of hunting laws, as even a high-ranking official in the WDFW can find themselves facing hunting violations. In such situations, seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney is crucial to protect your future. The attorneys at the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer are well-versed in defending against hunting violation charges and will work diligently to defend you to the fullest extent of the law. Even seeking clarification by reaching out for legal advice can help you avoid unnecessary conflicts. Our team of experienced attorneys are available to provide comprehensive legal advice and representation, assisting you in navigating the complexities of hunting laws and regulations, and helping to protect your rights.
If you need legal assistance with hunting violation charges, want to explore the Firearm Restoration process, or require guidance on hunting laws and regulations, don’t hesitate to contact the Law Office of Erin Bradley McAleer at (360) 334-6277.