Operation Silence The Hounds
A Cooperative Investigation between Washington
Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program
and Oregon State Police, Fish and Wildlife Division
On December 3, 2016, troopers from The Dalles detachment of the Oregon State Police caught up with two individuals suspected of spotlighting deer in North Central Oregon, in an area well known for its trophy class bucks. This contact began an investigation into a group of individuals whose suspected illegal activities crossed state lines and included numerous game species. In order to give this investigation justice, one needs to step back a few years.
In November of 1996, voters in Washington State overwhelmingly supported a citizen initiative to ban the baiting of bears. The use of dogs to pursue black bears, cougars, bobcats, and lynx for hunting purposes was also banned. Without getting into the political aspects of this citizen initiative, suffice it to say this caused difficulties for enforcement. The new law meant a hunter couldn’t use dogs for some species, but could for other game. With this change in hound-hunting regulations, WDFW (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife) officers began running into trained bear and cougar dogs being worked in fresh snow for “raccoons.” The loopholes were troubling. Over the years, WDFW enforcement officers tried their best to respond to complaints of this questionable activity, but with little success.
In the mid 2000’s a determined officer with WDFW received information about a group of individuals, who were suspected of illegally using hounds to pursue bears, cougars and bobcats. This group, who called themselves the “Kill ‘em all boyz,” was very tight-knit and working them from the outside was difficult at best. This officer never gave up and finally caught a break when an opportunity surfaced, which allowed WDFW’s Statewide Investigation Unit (SIU) to introduce an undercover officer into the group. After months of working this group, going on illegal hunts, and documenting numerous criminal violations, the decision was made to bring the case to closure. Arrests were made, search warrants were conducted, and several individuals were ultimately charged and convicted of a variety of hunting violations and one felony animal cruelty charge. This should have been the end of the “Kill ‘em all boyz”.