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Plea Deal Sends Wrong Message to Wildlife Poachers

Conservation Northwest expresses disappointment in plea deal for poacher Bill White

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Apr 05, 2012

A Twisp man charged with conspiracy to kill endangered wolves, as well as illegally killing several other wildlife species, has plead guilty in exchange for a plea deal. The wolves killed were from the Methow Valley’s “Lookout Pack” which was Washington’s first documented pack since wolves were wiped out last century. Only a few wolves are believed to remain in the pack today.

According to a press release issued yesterday by the Department of Justice (DOJ), William White entered a plea agreement and plead guilty to three counts including conspiring to unlawfully take an endangered species and illegal import and export of wildlife. In exchange, it is expected that the DOJ and White will jointly recommend that White serve “a period of three years of probation and to pay criminal fines, restitution, and other penalties totaling $38,500.” In addition, White agreed to “forfeit firearms and other items related to the violations.”

White’s lawyer made public statements that White was just defending his livestock, which is contrary to the record of the case. There is no evidence that the White’s few cattle were harmed by the wolves (not to mention bear, deer and moose that White also poached), or that White attempted any other remedy besides destroying the state’s first wolf pack.

No plea deal has yet been announced for White’s son, Tom White, who is charged with unlawfully killing two wolves, and his daughter-in-law, Erin White, who faces charges of false labeling of wildlife for export.

Conservation Northwest, a non-profit wildlife conservation group that helped document the Lookout Pack, expressed its disappointment in the deal.


“Mr. White showed blatant, deliberate and repeated disregard for both game and endangered wildlife and the laws that protect them,” said Mitch Friedman executive director of Conservation Northwest. “Yet under this deal he escapes spending a single night in jail.”


“This weak deal sends the wrong message to other potential poachers that the courts don’t take wildlife abuse seriously. Looking at the example of Bill White, I’m wondering what a poacher would have to do to get to jail.”



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