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Wash. hunter pleads guilty to wolf poaching conspiracy

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.

Tom Banse covers national news, business, science, public policy, Olympic sports and human interest stories from across the Northwest. He reports from well known and out–of–the–way places in the region where important, amusing, touching, or outrageous events are unfolding. Tom's stories can be found online and heard on-air during "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered" on NPR stations in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.
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