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Swinomish’s salmon-crusading tribal chair cited for poaching

July 19, 2012
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Brian Gladoosby’s reported poaching incident was turned over to the Swinomish Tribe — of which he has been chairman for 17 years — for disciplinary action.

Brian Cladoosby, under whose leadership Washington’s Swinomish Tribe has actively opposed everything from wells drilled on private property to plastic water bottles in the name of preserving salmon runs, was apparently cited himself last month for poaching.

According to a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Program report, Cladoosby allegedly sold sockeye salmon to the operators of several recreational vessels on Cornett Bay on June 25.

When confronted by investigating officers, Cladoosby admitted he didn’t have a ticket for the fish he’d just sold – and then offered to sell more to the WDFW personnel.

“During the recreational crab opener on Sunday, officers responded to a (Washington State Patrol) call for service regarding a tribal member selling sockeye salmon to recreational crabbing vessels out of his,” the report noted. “Officers contacted the recreational vessel and found out that the group had paid the tribal fisherman $100 for six sockeye salmon.”

After confiscating the fish – which were donated to the tribe – the officers questioned Cladoosby.

“The fisherman stated that he had sold fish to numerous recreational boats who wished to purchase fish,” the report said. “The fisherman then offered to sell some to the officers. The officers asked if the salmon had been recorded on a fish ticket prior to being sold. The fisherman stated that he would later record the sold fish on his fish ticket as take-home fish. The tribal member was informed that this was a violation of state and tribal law, and that the officers would be in communication with tribal fisheries officers.”

By law, the WDFW authorities referred the case to the Swinomish – of which Cladoosby has served as tribal chairman for 17 years – for disciplinary action.

According to campaign finance records, the tribe has donated more than $414,000 since 2004 to a variety of Democratic political candidates and causes – most notably Gov. Christine Gregoire.

“If Brian Cladoosby — the self-proclaimed protector of salmon – can’t be bothered to follow one of the very few salmon laws that apply to him, why should the rest of us?” wrote Mount Vernon Zachary J. Barborinas in an unpublished letter to the Skagit Valley Herald, which has also thus far declined to write a story about the incident.

“This isn’t 1970, and the Swinomish isn’t downtrodden,” Barborinas wrote.  “Brian Cladoosby heads an entity that is the second largest business in Skagit County, the result of preferential laws at all levels of government. Cladoosby uses his money and power in aggressive ways that no other tribe in the region seems to be doing, allegedly in the name of salmon. So when he can’t follow the few salmon laws that apply to him, we feel like it deserves objective media coverage.”

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