Walla Walla man charged with poaching

Kyle O'Brien faces an assortment of charges in connection with four out-of-season mule deer deaths.

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WALLA WALLA -- State wildlife officials have charged a Walla Walla man with poaching four deer earlier this month.

Kyle O'Brien, 18, was charged in Walla Walla County District Court last week based on evidence gathered by state Department of Fish and Wildlife enforcement officers, WDFW Capt. Mike Whorton said.

In a release, Whorton said wildlife Officer Rob McQuary received a tip Aug. 2 about two mule deer bucks that had been shot and killed found off Nelms Road, just north of Woodward Canyon Road in western Walla Walla County.

After finding the two carcasses with velvet-covered antlers still attached, McQuary and WDFW Officer Mike Johnson set up watch in the area to see if the shooter returned to remove the antlers.

Before 11 p.m. that night, the officers saw a person shining a spotlight from a car and shooting a rifle seven times within a few minutes. The officers stopped the vehicle, driven by O'Brien, and questioned him. Whorton said O'Brien admitted to shooting two deer that night and two the night before.

Officers recovered the two other mule deer nearby and seized O'Brien's rifle.

Whorton said O'Brien has been charged with four counts of hunting deer during closed season, four counts of wastage and one count of spotlighting big game, all gross misdemeanors. He has also been charged with two misdemeanor counts of shooting from a road and having a loaded firearm in a motor vehicle.

A gross misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $5,000 fine. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 90 days in jail and-or a $1,000 fine. In addition, criminal wildlife penalties can be assessed up to $6,000, Whorton said.

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