License and Tag Violations: Know the Rules
Hunters, it's crucial to understand the rules and regulations regarding licenses and tags. Here's what you need to know to stay compliant:
You may NOT:
Use False Information: It's strictly prohibited to buy, possess, or attempt to obtain any license, tag, or permit using false information. Additionally, this applies if your license, tag, or privilege has been revoked or suspended.
Multiple Licenses or Tags: You cannot purchase or possess more than one of each license, tag, permit, or stamp during the same year, unless it's a legally obtained duplicate or authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
Transfer or Borrow: You are not allowed to transfer, loan, or borrow licenses, tags, permits, or stamps from another person.
Out-of-State Residents: If you are hunting as a resident in Washington State, it is illegal to purchase or possess a resident license from another state.
Avoid Common Violations: Be Informed
Hunters, staying informed and following these guidelines can help you avoid the most common violations while hunting:
Carry Valid Documents: Always have valid and appropriate licenses, tags, and permits with you when you hunt. It's your responsibility to ensure you have the necessary paperwork.
Vehicle Safety: Never have a loaded shotgun or rifle in or on a motor-driven vehicle. Keep firearms unloaded and securely stored while in a vehicle.
Tag Notches: After a successful hunt, immediately and completely remove the tag notches that indicate the month and day the animal was killed. This is a crucial step to maintain compliance.
Tag Attachment: Once an animal is harvested, immediately attach the appropriate tag to it. Proper tagging is essential for legal and ethical hunting practices.
Loaded Firearms in a Vehicle: Know the Law
Hunters, it's crucial to understand and adhere to the law regarding loaded firearms in a vehicle:
Loaded Firearms Prohibited: It is illegal to carry, convey, transport, possess, or control a loaded shotgun or rifle in any motor vehicle, with exceptions for disabled hunters in compliance with WAC 220-200-170 (Please refer to Persons with Disabilities).
Definition of Loaded: A rifle or shotgun containing shells or cartridges in either the chamber or magazine, or a muzzleloading firearm that is loaded and capped or primed is considered loaded.
Off-Road Vehicle Use: Using an off-road vehicle to pursue, harass, concentrate, or kill wildlife is also illegal. Respect wildlife and hunting regulations.
License Suspensions and Property Forfeiture: Serious Consequences
Hunters and anglers, be aware of the serious consequences for violations under Washington State's Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code (Revised Code of Washington Chapter 77.15). Convictions for certain offenses will result in mandatory suspension of hunting privileges. These violations include:
- Assaulting a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer or Department employee on duty.
- Unlawful hunting of big game.
- First-degree waste of fish and wildlife.
- Harvesting endangered fish or wildlife.
- Hunting big game with artificial light or spotlight.
- Violating bear hunting with bait or using dogs for bear, cougar, bobcat, or lynx.
- Unlawfully purchasing or using a license.
- Committing a crime demonstrating willful or wanton disregard for wildlife conservation.
- Shooting another person or domestic livestock while hunting.
Repeat offenders face a mandatory two-year suspension of all fishing and hunting privileges. Repeat offenders are defined as those with two strikes within ten years for big game hunting violations and three strikes within ten years for other recreational hunting and fishing violations. Notably, uncontested notices of infraction or guilty pleas count as convictions.
Hunting or fishing with a suspended license or demonstrating disregard for conservation can lead to permanent loss of these privileges. Additionally, Washington may honor suspensions from other states, and other states may be informed of suspensions in Washington.
Criminal Wildlife Penalty Assessment: Protecting Wildlife
Convictions for illegal killing or possession of wildlife carry significant criminal wildlife penalties in addition to regular fines. These penalties are designed to discourage wildlife violations and protect Washington's wildlife resources.
Here are the criminal wildlife penalty assessments for various species:
- Deer, Elk, Bear, or Cougar: $2,000
- Moose, Pronghorn Antelope, Bighorn Sheep, or Mountain Goat: $4,000
- Trophy Deer (four or more antler points on both sides, not including eye guards), or Elk (five or more antler points on both sides, not including eye guards): $6,000
- Woodland Caribou, Grizzly Bear, or Trophy Mountain Sheep (3/4 curl or better): $12,000
Firearm Laws: Possession and Licensing
Firearm possession in Washington is governed by specific laws to ensure safety and compliance. Here are some key points related to firearm possession:
Felons Prohibited: It is illegal for individuals with felony convictions to possess firearms. Felons are prohibited from owning or having access to firearms under Washington state law.
Non-U.S. Residents: Non-U.S. residents living in Washington must apply for a firearm license through the sheriff's office of the county in which they reside, unless they meet specific conditions outlined in RCW 9.41.175.
Unlawful Possession of Firearms in Washington State
Washington State law, specifically RCW 9.41.040, addresses the unlawful possession of firearms. It states:
"A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, if the person owns, has in his or her possession, or has in his or her control any firearm after having previously been convicted in this state or elsewhere of any serious offense as defined in this chapter."
If you have previously been convicted of a serious offense, whether in Washington State or elsewhere, it may affect your privilege to carry a firearm. If you are found in possession of a firearm while hunting and have a previous conviction as defined in RCW chapter 9.41, you could be subject to arrest.
Common Violations in Washington State
Washington State has strict regulations in place to ensure responsible hunting and wildlife conservation. Violating these regulations can result in legal consequences. Here are some common violations to be aware of:
Violation: Trespassing on private land without permission.
Details: It is unlawful to hunt or retrieve wildlife from another person's property, even if the landowner has not posted signs indicating private property.
Violation: Leaving litter on any land, whether public or private, that does not belong to you.
Details: Hunters are responsible for properly disposing of their waste and ensuring they do not leave litter on the land they are hunting on.
3. Tampering with Traps
Violation: Taking a wild animal from another person's trap without permission, or damaging, removing, or destroying traps without authorization.
Details: Traps are legal tools used for hunting and wildlife management. Tampering with them without permission is illegal.
4. Unauthorized Vehicle Operation
Violation: Operating a motor-driven vehicle on lands owned, controlled, or managed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) without proper authorization.
Details: Off-road travel on WDFW-managed lands is typically prohibited unless specifically authorized.
5. Aiding and Assisting
Violation: Aiding or assisting anyone in the commission of a game law violation.
Details: It is illegal to help or assist someone in breaking hunting or wildlife conservation laws.