Undercover operations net fish poachers

Friday, October 27th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

Two separate undercover investigations into the illegal selling of game fish in southcentral Oklahoma have culminated in arrests. A sixteen-month undercover operation by the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation into the illegal sale of fish in Love County and a three-year undercover operation of the same offense in Ardmore were both recently brought to a close when search warrants were served.

A number of items, including a vehicle and boat, were seized as evidence.

"We're proud of the work our law enforcement division accomplishes for the sake of conserving our natural resources," said John Streich, chief of law enforcement for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

"We should all feel good about this kind of story...after all, our fish and wildlife literally are owned by all the people of the state of Oklahoma. Poaching or making an illegal buck on wildlife is a crime against everyone, not just hunters and anglers," continued Streich. One of the investigations began after receiving a complaint from a concerned sportsman that a subject was selling fish caught from Lake Texoma.

The other grew out of another ongoing case by the department's Special Operations Unit. During the investigations, undercover game wardens were able to purchase and trade for blue, channel and flathead catfish from an individuals that caught the fish in the Red River and Lake Texoma.

Combined, both investigations resulted in nine counts of illegal sale of game fish, but additional charges could be filed as the investigations continue.

Illegal sale or offering or exposing for sale protected fish or wildlife is a misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $500, plus court costs and/or10-60 days in county jail for each count. Subsequent violations are punishable by a $1,000 fine and/or 10-60 days in county jail for each count. State law also allows for the forfeiture of vehicles, boats, freezers and any other equipment used in violation of the statute.