Four charged in big game poaching case after tip from citizen

Three area men and a woman, two of them from Lebanon, have been charged with poaching 27 big game animals from various locations in Western Oregon, including Linn County, over the past two years.

Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife troopers issued criminal citations in lieu of custody for William Hollings, 34, of Philomath; Nicholas Lisenby, 39, of Lebanon; and Eric Hamilton, 33, of Alsea. Amanda Hughes, 37, of Lebanon, was also charged.

The investigation began after a concerned citizen alerted authorities, police said. Restitution for the crimes, which occurred in western Oregon, may top $162,000.

Details of the case remain confidential until trials are complete, according to the OSP. However, after conducting several searches, OSP troopers recovered evidence indicating numerous wildlife crimes, police said.

They issued multiple charges of unlawful take or possession of buck deer, bull elk, black bear, bobcat and cougar. Charges also include felon in possession of a firearm; illegal transfer of a tag; hunting during a closed season and hunting without big game tags.

The alleged crimes are believed to have occurred throughout Linn, Benton, Lane, Lincoln, Polk and Tillamook counties.

Evidence of the crimes was discovered after an initial search warrant executed on Hollings’ residence on April 8, police said. Based on those findings, troopers served additional warrants for related suspects on April 25. They discovered multiple subjects, who allegedly poached at least 27 big game animals, according to an OSP statement.

OSP Senior Trooper Jim Andrews led the investigation. Andrews received a tip through the Turn In Poachers (TIP) Line, which started the wheels turning. People who report poaching and other wildlife crimes are eligible for cash rewards or hunter preference points if their report leads to a citation or arrest.

“We had an anonymous member of the public lodge the original complaint,” Andrews said, “He did an awesome job. He’s the reason we got this case going and he’s going to get some hunting preference points.”

TIP preference point reward options include five for bighorn sheep, rocky mountain goat, moose and wolf, and four for elk, deer, antelope, cougar and bear.

Legislation passed in 2019 increased fines and restitutions for fish and wildlife crimes. Under Oregon Revised Statute 496.075, charges related to this case call for $162,700 in restitution to the State of Oregon, police said.

The three men will likely lose hunting privileges and pay additional fees. Restitution fines generally fund improved wildlife and habitat programs through the Department of Fish and Wildlife.

ODFW Stop Poaching campaign coordinator Yvonne Shaw is pleased with the effort.

“This sends a message to others who might poach, that we can and do find perpetrators,” Shaw said, “Poachers steal from all Oregonians. Everyone who enjoys our natural resources lost numerous opportunities to observe these animals, to enjoy their presence. It was stolen away.”

To report fish, wildlife and habitat crimes, call the Turn In Poachers Line at 800-452-7888 or dial *OSP or email [email protected].