DARRINGTON (June 11, 2004) — Poachers beware: the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe is fighting illegal fishing in Western Washington by hiring four new natural resources enforcement officers. The new officers — three full-time and one part-time — will work to prevent poaching from depleting area fish and wildlife.
“As co-managers of Washington’s resources, the tribes work to protect the salmon,” said Jason L. Joseph, chairman of the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe. “Enforcement of our fishing regulations is a crucial part of that. These officers will make a big difference in our anti-poaching programs.”
As co-managers of the state’s fisheries, treaty Indian tribes have always taken enforcement of fishing regulations seriously, Joseph said. For example, the tribes already have a better ratio of officers to fishermen and hunters than the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife does.
One of the officers began work in May; the remaining three were hired on June 1. 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. They will supplement enforcement efforts by the Swinomish Tribe, Sauk-Suiattle’s partner in the Skagit River System Cooperative.
Funds for the program were acquired last September, when 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 allowed Sauk-Suiattle to hire the new natural resources officers and purchase vehicles and technology needed to make a difference in the fight against 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.