Man sentenced to 3 years in prison for poaching big game


PORT ANGELES, Wash. (AP) — A western Washington man has been sentenced to more than three years in prison for hunting violations in one of the largest poaching cases in state history.

Jason Hutt, 29, of Sequim was sentenced last week in Clallam County Superior Court after entering an Alford plea to five counts of unlawful hunting of big game and single counts of waste of wildlife, unlawful hunting of wild birds, hunting of wild animals, bail jumping and possession of methamphetamine.

An Alford plea means Hutt does not admit guilt but admits there is enough evidence to support a conviction

“What I did was wrong,” Hutt told Superior Court Judge Brian Coughenour. “I’m here to deal with it.”

State Department of Fish and Wildlife investigators said Hutt and an accomplice — Wyatt Beck — illegally killed several bears, deer and elk in Clallam and Jefferson counties in the summer of 2018.

Matthew Roberson, Clallam County deputy prosecuting attorney, said Hutt is the first person in the state to go to prison on a first-degree unlawful hunting of big game conviction since the charge became a ranked felony.

“This is the first poaching case that I’m aware of where there’s prison involved, and I think in this case it is merited,” Roberson said.

Beck, 24, also of Sequim, pleaded guilty in Clallam County Superior Court Jan. 30 to four counts of unlawful hunting of big game with accomplice liability.

He was sentenced to 240 hours of community service and 30 days on electronic home monitoring.

State game officers, working with Clallam County sheriff’s deputies and the Olympic Peninsula Narcotics Enforcement Team, discovered illegally-hunted or illegally-possessed river otter pelt, bobcat pelt and a harlequin duck carcass while serving a search warrant at Hutt’s residence last Aug. 30, court papers said.

Fish and Wildlife Officer Bryan Davidson said Hutt collected elk and deer heads as trophies. Roberson said Hutt had more than 40 antlers and animal skulls at his residence.

Beck and Hutt were also ordered to split $8,000 fines.