Hanford workers who poached elk will keep their jobs

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldFebruary 21, 2014 

Washington State Fish and Wildlife officials are looking for the antlers of a trophy bull elk illegally shot after hunters trespassed on the closed Hanford nuclear reservation.

COURTESY WASHINGTON DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND WILDLIFE

Two Hanford workers who pleaded guilty to charges related to poaching elk that roamed Hanford continue to be employed at the nuclear reservation.

Daniel Charboneau and Brock Miller were accused of shooting two trophy elk, with evidence of the kills found near the old Hanford townsite on a portion of the Hanford nuclear reservation off-limit to the public.

A third elk was shot in the same area along the Columbia River -- an area that is closed to hunting, according to court documents and the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The Hanford Patrol told state investigators that the two men did not have permission to hunt or retrieve elk from Department of Energy property, nor would anyone ever be given that permission, according to Benton County District Court documents.

The Rattlesnake Hills elk herd, which frequents Hanford, numbers about 700 and tends to move onto Hanford during hunting season.

The two men came up the Columbia River by boat, and signs are posted along the river warning not to trespass on Hanford land, according to court documents. Federal law allows trespassers to be punished by imprisonment and fines. Workers also are prohibited from carrying guns onto Hanford.

Charboneau, who pleaded guilty to hunting big game without a state tag, works for Washington River Protection Solutions at Hanford. The contractor said it was not aware of the incident until reading about it in the Herald on Jan. 25.

It launched an investigation, which recently concluded. Charboneau continues to work for the contractor and is listed on a Hanford employee database as a safety specialist.

Miller is listed as working for Wildlands Inc., a Washington Closure Hanford subcontractor, in the field of environmental safety, health and quality. Wildlands refused to comment on the case.

Miller pleaded guilty to unlawful hunting on another's property, hunting big game without a tag and using a tag belonging to another person.

Both received jail sentences but the time was suspended. In plea agreements, both agreed to pay a mandatory state penalty of $6,000. However, the fine is only listed on Miller's court sentencing form. A state investigator said Charboneau also must pay the fine.

DOE said in a statement that when the Hanford Patrol discovers illegal activities, they are reported to the appropriate local, state or federal authorities.

w Annette Cary: 582-1533; acary@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews

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