WOODLAND WASHINGTON HUNTER SENTENCED FOR ILLEGALLY HUNTING WITHIN OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK
ROBERT HURST, 38, of Woodland, Washington pleaded guilty and was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Tacoma for hunting, killing, and transporting a trophy 6x7 Roosevelt bull elk from within Olympic National Park. HURST was assessed a $2,500 fine and placed on three years of probation with the added special condition that he immediately forfeit all current hunting licenses, stamps, or permits, cease all wildlife hunting and not seek any hunting license, stamp or permit during the period of probation. Magistrate Judge J. Richard Creatura ordered HURST to perform 80 hours of community service, and forfeit all parts of the illegally taken elk to the government. At the sentencing hearing Magistrate Judge Creatura said, “This animal was a prize possession of each and every citizen who enjoys the park, and that possession has been taken away.”
On September 19, 2007, ROBERT HURST entered Olympic National Park in the Discovery Peak area along the remote south boundary. HURST hiked in approximately one mile into the rugged Litchy Creek drainage. The trophy elk was called within bow range by a common tactic known as bugling. HURST shot and killed the elk utilizing a bow and arrow. The elk was field dressed and packed out over the course of several days. On September 23, 2007, HURST was contacted by a Washington State Fish and Wildlife agent about the elk parts in his possession. Forensic analysis tied the elk parts to the kill site within Olympic National Park.
Protection of Roosevelt elk was a key reason for the establishment of Olympic National Park in 1938 and, in fact, the park was almost designated as “Elk National Park.” Named for President Theodore Roosevelt, Roosevelt elk play an integral role in the forest ecosystem and provide enjoyment for the thousands of visitors who are fortunate enough to see, photograph and listen to these majestic creatures. In addition to its status as a national park, Olympic has received international recognition as a Wild Heritage Site and International Biosphere Reserve.
Each year thousands of visitors come from all over the world to view Olympic National Park’s Roosevelt Elk. Visitors view, and photograph these majestic creatures. Visitors also come to hear the wonderful sounds of the bulls bugling and sparing each fall.
Mature bull elk play a key role in the long-term survival of the herd; “trophy” bulls are typically the largest and healthiest members of the herd. By successfully mating with female members of the herd, mature healthy bulls pass along their superior genetic traits to future generations, enhancing the survivability and long-term health of the heard.
The two year investigation was conducted jointly by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service. Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Officers and Special Canine Mishka, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agent, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Forensic Laboratory, National Park Service Rangers, and volunteers all played an important roll in the investigation. The case was prosecuted by James Oesterle, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Washington.
For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.