Wash. hunter pleads guilty to wolf poaching conspiracy

Apr 5, 2012

A Twisp, Washington man has changed his plea to guilty in a high-profile federal wolf poaching case. As part of a plea agreement, the 62-year-old man will not go to prison.

The lack of jail time greatly disappoints a conservation group.

Last year, federal prosecutors filed a dozen charges against Bill White and his son and daughter-in-law. The indictment alleged that in 2008 and 2009, the father and son killed at least five federally-protected wolves from the first confirmed pack to reestablish in Washington state.

The poaching conspiracy began to unravel when police intercepted a FedEx package dripping blood. It contained a fresh wolf pelt. Now Bill White has pleaded guilty to three related charges, while nine others were dropped.

Prosecution and defense agreed on a proposed sentence of three years probation, a $38,500 fine, and no jail time. The director of the pro-wolf group Conservation Northwest says he's dismayed by the lack of jail time. 

"It feels like a punch in the gut," Mitch Friedman said.

Federal charges are still pending against the other members of the White family.