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Q & A
Disposition of Fish as Evidence
Question
I recently saw a Conservation Officer cite somebody for snagging a steelhead and trying to keep it. Afterwards, the officer put the steelhead in a plastic bag and took it with him in his truck. So the guy gets written up and fined - good! My question is: what ends up happening with the fish?
Answer
Any time we apprehend an individual for a violation such as illegal taking of a fish, the fish is confiscated. Once the case is closed - citations issued, any hearings held, fines paid, etc. - the fish is then no longer needed and is disposed of. Believe it or not, we have had hearings where the verdict has been determined largely by our ability to produce the actual fish taken in violation of the Fish and Boat Code.

Steelhead - click for more informationIn some instances where we've caught individuals with coolers full of illegally taken catch, the Commission has donated the fish to food banks and once even to a local zoo to feed the captive bears.

The real "crime" in poaching is that even when officers apprehend an individual who has exploited our collective resources, the damage is already done. The one solace we as anglers have is that at least a perpetrator who is caught is then deprived of the reward of keeping the ill-gotten gains. It's a small consolation, however, when your realize that if it were not for the actions of a few, those fish could still be out there for law-abiding anglers to pursue.

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