Home News Local News TROPHIES LEAD TO POACHING CHARGES
TROPHIES LEAD TO POACHING CHARGES
By T.L. Petersen
Observer Staff Writer
A door opens to an Oregon State Police storage unit.
The site is impressive, disturbing. At least four huge bull elk head-and-shoulder mounts seem ready to move into the deep shadows.
Several black bears snarl from wall mounts and draped rugs. One wall is covered with mule and other buck deer mounts.
The man allegedly responsible for the heads was given a clue Wednesday of just how much trouble he might be in. The Union County District Attorneys Office filed 18 counts of game violations against Michael R. Mead, 42, owner of M&M Archery in Kennewick, Wash.
Mead was cited Jan. 12 with Class A misdemeanor game violations. If convicted, Mead would face up to a year in jail on each charge, fines, and a loss of hunting privileges from two to five years. A search warrant had been served at Meads home and business. Many of the mounts were on public display at the archery business.
The case is among the largest this season, District Attorney Russ West said Wednesday, but the search warrant that was used to seize the mounts was the result of a five-year investigation.
Oregon State Police and Washington Fish and Game officials said that additional illegal wildlife mounts, including four bears, will be seized from area taxidermists as they are currently in various stages of completion. Illegal elk meat also reportedly was seized from Meads home, relating to an illegally killed branch-antlered bull elk in Northeast Oregon during the 2001 archery season.
Most of the trophy game animals were taken in the Wenaha and Mount Emily units, primarily in Union and Uma- tilla counties over the past five years.
According to the Oregon State Police, Mead was charged with the wildlife crimes in Union County and numerous wildlife crimes in Washington for the alleged illegal possession and importation of illegally killed wildlife.
He could face more charges as the investigation continues.
West said Mead, who is not in jail, will be arraigned in Union County Feb. 12 on charges of taking branch-antlered bull elk during a closed season (four counts), taking elk with the aid of an artificial light (three counts), waste of elk (two counts), hunting with a prohibited method/using firearms during archery season (four counts), taking bear using bait (three counts), exceeding the bag limit on elk (one count), and loaning of a bear tag (one count).
Involved in the investigation in past years have been Todd Vandivert, Mike Johnson and Sgt. John McIntosh, all of the Washington Fish and Game Department; and Sr. Trooper Tim Gallaher, Sr. Trooper Daren Chandler and Sgt. Scott Moore of the Oregon State Police.