Elk NetworkWashington Man Sentenced for Poaching Elk, Other Wildlife

General , Poaching | July 1, 2024

Below is a news release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. For 2024-2025, Fiocchi partnered with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to increase the visibility of poaching incidents in an effort to reduce poaching. 

A King County judge has sentenced a big game poacher to 80 hours of community service and fined him $8,000, the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) announced.    

In total, Jason Smith (29) was charged with two felony counts of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game, 27 gross misdemeanor charges of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game, unlawful black bear baiting and unlawful waste of wildlife; and three misdemeanor charges of unlawful hunting or retrieving wildlife from private property. Smith illegally killed four elk, four black bear, and five black-tailed deer in Western Washington.

In early 2021, WDFW Police began investigating Smith on social media based on his multitude of successful harvest posts. Early in the investigation officers began to suspect that he had illegally killed multiple elk in the North Bend area of King County. Over the course of the next year and a half, officers were able to obtain numerous search warrants for social media and mapping tools to gather evidence of the suspect’s poaching activities.

In numerous cases, Smith used illegal means to bait deer, elk, and black bear as well as trespassed onto private property to poach or retrieve illegally killed animals. In one case, he left an elk carcass to waste after another person found the poached elk before he could retrieve it.

Smith posted photos of his exploits on social media and told friends about his tracking and killing prowess, suggesting he should be featured on extreme outdoor TV shows. In reality, much of the wildlife he poached was baited into his yard or poached on his neighbor’s property. In a text message obtained during the warrant, Smith also said he would kill another elk for a friend that hadn’t shot one yet if he got to keep the head to mount.

In the end, Officers served a search warrant at Smith’s residence and seized some of the wildlife parts, including meat. Other animals were seized from a taxidermist.

“Smith attempted to portray himself as a type of outdoor celebrity, using social media to boast – when in reality, there was nothing ethical about his actions,” said WDFW Captain Dan Chadwick. “I commend our Officers’ hard work and ingenuity in completing this case. They are committed to ensuring safe and ethical opportunities while conserving our big game natural resources. We’d also like to thank the King County Prosecutors Office and the Attorney Generals Office Environmental Protection Division for their work on this case.”

(Photo credit: Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)