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Officers seize 250-plus reds in Kenai bust
POACHING: Stakeout nabs group of anglers who were cited earlier.


By TATABOLINE BRANT
Anchorage Daily News

(Published: July 23, 2003)
Wildlife protection officers in Soldotna seized more than 250 salmon over the weekend from a group of New Yorkers and one Virginian after some of the visitors were filmed taking far more than their legal share of reds from the Kenai River, Alaska State Troopers said Tuesday.

Wildlife Protection Sgt. Glenn Godfrey Jr. said the bust was one of the bigger ones the Soldotna post has seen this summer. It involved a two-day stakeout and the help of an anonymous tipster, he said.

The first tip about the poaching came in on July 16, Godfrey said. The tipster told troopers there was a group of people taking more fish than they were supposed to from the Kenai River. The limit at the time was three reds a day per person, Godfrey said.

Wildlife protection troopers paid the fishermen a visit, and four of them were found to be fishing without a license, Godfrey said.

Man Yim Wu, 31, of Gilmhurst, N.Y.; Thye Thye Ng, 43, of Fairfax, Va.; Sam W. Gee, 53, of Bellose, N.Y.; and Xia Jiang, 41, of Albertson, N.Y. were all cited for not having a sportfishing license, troopers said. They were fined $210 each.

The group was also found to be 60 fish over the limit, Godfrey said. Xia Jiang took the ticket for that offense for the entire group, he said, and was fined an additional $1,310.

The next day, the tipster called troopers back again. She said something along the lines of: "You're not going to believe it; they're at it again," Godfrey said.

Wildlife protection troopers teamed up with state parks officials and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service on a two-day stakeout, Godfrey said.

"We found a very good hiding place to sit and watch them," Godfrey said. He would not say where the hiding place was, only that a private landowner let them onto the property.

"We put two guys at a time on them," Godfrey said. Officers watched the alleged poachers "almost around the clock," he said, and videotaped much of the action.

Godfrey, who was speaking from his home and did not have the case file in front of him, said he thought there were nine people total in the group being watched during the stakeout. Some were seen taking "gross over-limits of salmon," Godfrey said, which means double their limit. Other members of the group "couldn't fish very good," he said. Troopers found out later it was their first trip to Alaska, he said.

Jiang -- who was cited for the 60 fish initially -- was seen taking nine reds in a five-hour period on the second day of the stakeout and was still fishing, Godfrey said.

Most of the fish were caught using high-end fly rods with a little piece of red sponge on the end of a single hook, Godfrey said. The gear was legal, he said.

"We did witness a few fish snagged," he said.

On Saturday, after the stakeout, troopers got a search warrant and went to the campground where the group was staying. "Some in the group were more apologetic than others," Godfrey said.

Troopers seized nine 50-pound boxes of processed frozen salmon, two 35-pound boxes of salmon lox, several freshly cleaned reds, four fly-fishing rods, fishing equipment and video cameras and film.

Troopers estimated 265 salmon total were seized in the two busts.

In the second bust, Wai Ming So, 42, of Bayside, N.Y.; Van Tien Phan, 65, of Woodside, N.Y.; and Keung Kwong Mok, 53, of Searingtown, N.Y., were each cited for illegal possession of sport-caught fish.

Hok Yu Chan, 48, of Brooklyn, N.Y., was cited for being over his limit of sport-caught fish.

Jiang was arrested for illegal possession of sport-caught fish and taken to Wildwood Pre-Trial Facility. Jiang's bail was set at $5,000, troopers said.

An arraignment date was set for Aug. 14 in Kenai District Court, troopers said. Godfrey said the seized salmon is being held for evidence and will eventually be given to charity.
 
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