OLYMPIA -- County prosecutors often face complicated legal issues in their efforts to bring fish and wildlife violators to justice, but they are getting some help on that front this week from the Attorney General's Office.
The office is distributing a new Prosecutors Manual for Fish and Wildlife Violations. It contains relevant laws, a discussion of tribal treaty rights and other legal information, as well as sample charging documents that prosecutors can use in fish and wildlife cases.
"Fish and wildlife related crimes are unfamiliar territory for many prosecutors who don't ordinarily deal with that area of the law," said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. "If we can make the prosecutor's job a bit easier, we will increase the chance that these crimes will be prosecuted and our valuable resources protected."
The new manual is an updated version of a similar document written in 1985. Gregoire said the project was undertaken partly because the nature of fish and wildlife crimes has changed in recent years by becoming more organized and lucrative for criminals. In addition, there have been significant changes in the laws, including the merger of the state departments of Fisheries and Wildlife, and the 1998 rewrite of the Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code.
Distribution of the manual to all county prosecutors statewide should be completed soon.