He Dumped BLEACH – Killed PROTECTED Species!

An Oregon man is facing down more than a bit of trouble after he dumped bleach into a fish hatchery tank in Douglas County, a move which killed around eighteen thousand juvenile Chinook salmon.

The ODFW (Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) released a statement announcing that they had arrested 20 year-old Joshua Heckathorn of Gardiner, Oregon on the charge of poisoning thousands of members of the protected species. They have characterized the event at the volunteer-run hatchery as a “significant poaching incident.”

Investigation into the incident began when the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office responded to an April 22 call that someone had broken into a hatchery building. The report then said that someone then poured a chemical of some sort into one of the rearing-ponds where the pre-smolt Chinook salmon were growing.

Around 6:30 PM on the following day, a Sheriff’s deputy was patrolling the area when he spotted a man in the hatchery, on the far side of a locked gate covered with “no trespassing” signs. The man, whom the Sheriff’s Department has identified as Heckathorn, was detained for questioning. He confessed to trespassing, to entering the storage area, and to handling a  chemical bottle that was dumped into the pond.

After questioning, Heckathorn was arrested on charges of criminal trespass, burglary, and criminal mischief, and was taken to the Douglas County jail where he was booked in. Poaching charges, according to authorities, will soon be added to the litany Heckathorn already faces.

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife division is working with the Douglas County Sheriff’s office, due to the number of salmon that were killed. Poaching charges will likely include “Unlawful Taking” of 17,890 Chinook Salmon, which is a Class C felony. It is likely that Heckathorn will also be charged with the Class A Misdemeanor of Making a Toxic Substance Available to Wildlife. In addition to steep criminal penalties, he will likely also face damage suits for the unlawful killing of the wildlife.