DARRINGTON (September 19, 2003) — Treaty Indian tribes in Washington state are already leaders in fisheries and wildlife enforcement. Now, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe is taking those existing anti-poaching efforts to the next level.
This week, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe received a $1.1 million Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) tribal resources
grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The money will allow Sauk-Suiattle to add four new natural resources officers, three full-time and one part-time, to the tribe’s enforcement staff – and purchase vehicles and technology needed to make a difference in the fight against poaching.
“Enforcement is one important piece in the responsible fisheries and wildlife management puzzle,” said Jason L. Joseph,
chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe. “In our area, we have a lot of territory to cover, and the new officers and vehicles will make a big difference.”
As co-managers of the state’s fisheries and wildlife resources, treaty Indian tribes have always taken enforcement of fishing regulations seriously. For example, the tribes already have a better ratio of officers to fishermen and hunters than the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does. The new officers will supplement a strong and growing regional tribal enforcement team. In addition to the entire Skagit River system, including the tribe’s namesake Sauk and Suiattle rivers, the enforcement officers will monitor areas of the Stillaguamish River as well.
Besides funding the new officers, the grant will also make possible the purchase of three new boats, one a 27-foot vessel
similar to those used by the U.S. Coast Guard. This will enable the enforcement officers to have full marine capability. Through agreements with other tribes, Joseph said, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe hopes to promote cooperative use of these valuable new tools.
“We have to work together with other governments – tribal, state and local – to succeed,” said Joseph. “Our goal has always been to make sure people follow fishing and hunting regulations to the letter, and we hope other jurisdictions will work with us to achieve that goal.”
When the hiring is complete, the tribe will have a full complement of fish cops able to cover a great deal of territory.
“No one supports poaching – poachers threaten the resources we all share in common,” said Joseph. “By putting more and better equipped officers out there, we’re hoping to reduce those threats.”
For more information, contact: Jeff Shaw, Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, 360.424.8226; Jason Joseph,
Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe, 360.436.1124.