Accused poacher bragged about kills on social media, WA officials say. He’s sentenced

A 29-year-old hunter boasted about his illegal kills online, leading to charges against him in western Washington, officials say.

Investigators began looking into Jason Smith in 2021 after seeing a “multitude of successful harvest posts,” the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife said in a June 7 news release.

From there, wildlife police suspected Smith had killed several elk in the North Bend area, which is about a 30-mile drive southeast from Seattle, officials said.

But there was more.

Man uses bait to kill animals, officials say

Police discovered Smith had illegally baited deer, elk and and black bears and then trespassed onto private property to get the animals he illegally killed, officials said.

He then posted photos of his kills on social media and boasted to his friends about his “tracking and killing prowess,” officials said.

At one point, Smith said “he should be featured on extreme outdoor TV shows” because of his hunting skills, officials said.

Yet most of these poaching incidents happened on his property or in his neighbor’s yard, officials said.

Hunter charged and sentenced

Wildlife police obtained search warrants for Smith’s social media and his home, officials said. They found wildlife parts, meat, animals from a taxidermist and other evidence from his social media.

Officials said Smith “was charged with two felony counts of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game, 27 gross misdemeanor charges of second-degree unlawful hunting of big game, unlawful black bear baiting and unlawful waste of wildlife.”

Additionally, he was charged with three misdemeanor charges of unlawful hunting or retrieving wildlife from private property.

Smith is accused of illegally killing four elk, four black bears and five black-tailed deer in the western part of the state.

He was sentenced to 80 hours of community service and fined $8,000, officials said.

“Smith attempted to portray himself as a type of outdoor celebrity, using social media to boast - when in reality, there was nothing ethical about his actions,” department captain Dan Chadwick said in the release.

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