LEADBETTER - The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife is searching for the person or persons responsible for recent illegal poaching in the Leadbetter area.

WDFW officer Dan Bolton said his office received a call a week and a half ago of a raccoon stuck in trap in a drainage ditch near Hines Marsh, milepost 18, off of Stackpole Road. Upon investigation they found the trap to be an illegal leg-hold trap with teeth. Upon further inspection they found three more such traps, one containing a dead river otter.

"The traps were unmarked," said Bolton. "They were unlawful."

The person who set the traps was trying to catch beaver, said Bolton, thus making him a poacher as well - beaver season ended on Feb. 15 and raccoon season ended in January.

"The people that set these are poachers, not somebody in minor violation," he said.

Bolton said the style of trap is easy to pack into an area. Though caught past the end of the season, any resulting fur pelts could still be passed off and sold as a legally caught.

"The person who set the trap is a knowledgeable trapper," said Bolton.

WDFW is offering a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the offender or offenders. Please contact Officer Bolton at (360) 589-1122 or call Washington State Patrol dispatch at (360) 533-5707 with any information.

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