3 sentenced in wolf-poaching case

  • Thu Jul 12th, 2012 1:22pm
  • News

By Nicholas K. Geranios Associated Press

SPOKANE — Three residents of Twisp have been sentenced for violating the Endangered Species Act in a case involving the poaching of wolves.

Federal officials said William D. White, 62, Tom D. White, 37, and his wife, Erin J. White, 37, were sentenced in federal court on Wednesday after reaching plea agreements with prosecutors.

“This case is not just about the illegal killing of wolves. It is about individuals who had utter disregard for the law and who bragged about violating state, national, and foreign laws,” said Pat Rogers, Special Agent in Charge of Law Enforcement for the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s Pacific Region.

The case began in 2008 after a suspicious package was left with a private shipping company in Omak. The package was addressed to a resident of Alberta, Canada. An Omak police officer observed that the package appeared to be leaking blood, even though it was labeled as containing a rug.

When the shipper and police officer opened the box, they found it contained a fresh wolf hide. Wolves are protected as endangered species in the Twisp area.

Agents identified Erin J. White as the shipper. During a subsequent search of Erin and Tom D. White’s home, Tom White admitted to killing the wolf and Erin White admitted to attempting to ship it to Canada. A further search of computer equipment revealed several photographs showing Tom D. White holding up a second dead wolf.

Agents also searched William White’s residence and computer, finding evidence that revealed he was involved in a conspiracy to kill wolves and to export a wolf hide to Canada. Agents also found evidence that William White had illegally killed wildlife in Alberta, Canada, and imported that wildlife into the United States in violation of the law.

William White pleaded guilty to conspiracy to take and export endangered species and unlawful importation of wildlife.

He was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation, including six months of home detention and a hunting prohibition; $15,000 in fines; and $20,000 in restitution to be paid jointly with Tom D. White to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. As a condition of his plea agreement, William D. White also paid $3,500 in previously unsatisfied fines assessed in connection with a Canadian case in which he pleaded guilty to using another person’s license to shoot a moose.

As a further condition of his plea agreement, William D. White was ordered to plead guilty to hunting bear with dogs.

Tom White pleaded guilty to two charges of killing endangered gray wolves, and was sentenced to three years of probation; three months of home detention and a hunting prohibition; $10,000 in fines and $20,000 in restitution to be paid jointly with William White.

As a condition of his plea agreement, Tom D. White was required to enter a guilty plea to a state offense of hunting bear with dogs.

Erin White, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and unlawful export of an endangered species, was sentenced to three years of probation and a $5,000 fine.

The federal court also found that both William White and Tom White had engaged in a pattern of similar violations regarding the offenses to which they had pleaded guilty.