Last month, The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) announced the successful prosecution of a poaching incident involving giant white sturgeon. According to the ODFW, the incident took place in 2022.  

A group of young sportsmen were fishing along the bank of Scappoose Bay in Northern Oregon when they noticed that several people on a nearby boat had caught a sturgeon but had not released it as required by law. The shore fishermen reported what they saw to Oregon State Police (OSP) game wardens, who began monitoring the area.  

After two days, OSP Troopers approached the potential suspects at the dock. “The subjects claimed that they had not caught any fish,” explained the ODFW in a press release. “However, Troopers could see two lines extending from the dock into the water. When they pulled up the lines, they found four live sturgeon, ranging in size from five feet to more than seven feet long.” 

An additional 5-foot sturgeon was found aboard the boat. White sturgeon are notoriously slow growing—which is why the take of the species is highly regulated. According to the ODFW, the 7-plus-footer the men captured was “likely more than 80 years old.” 

The agency was able to successfully charge and prosecute the group. Julio Duran pleaded guilty to the take/possession of a giant white sturgeon—a Class C felony. He served 20 days in county jail, owes over $5,000 in restitution, faces 36 months of probation, and has a 3-year angling license suspension.  

Jose Plascencia and Axel Guell both pleaded guilty to angling without licenses and must serve community service and pay hefty fines. Fortunately, the white sturgeon were still alive when the poachers were apprehended and were released alive back into the Bay. 

“This poacher spent 20 days in jail in hopes of changing his behavior. Luckily, the quick-thinking juvenile sportsmen were able to report what they witnessed to the Oregon State Police through the TIP line, and we were able to apprehend this individual and release the large sturgeon back into the bay,” said Senior OSP Trooper Justin Morgan.  

“These recent acts by young sportsmen to protect wildlife is a testament to values of young Columbia County residents and is a direct reflection of their parents and mentors,” Morgan added. “A game warden’s biggest asset is the public doing the right thing by reporting poaching incidents.” 

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The young men were awarded $500 each for their role through the state’s Turn In Poachers (TIP) Reward Program, which incentivizes folks to report wildlife crimes with cash and hunter preference points.