OMAK — Authorities have seized five severely underweight cows and a horse, and also discovered five cows and a goat that apparently already starved to death at an Omak woman’s property.
Lisa M. Smith, 50, owns the animals and the residence, and deputies with the Okanogan County Sheriff’s Office are seeking a warrant for her arrest, said Sheriff Frank Rogers.
The animals that were still living had no food or water, he said, but deputies did find bales of hay in another barn. They were taken to Keystone Animal Shelter. Rogers said it appeared the animals were starving one by one. Some of those that did not survive appeared to have died recently, while others looked like they had been there for months, the sheriff said.
In addition to first- and second-degree animal cruelty charges, Smith could face charges related to the poaching of several hawks, deer and a coyote, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Sgt. Jim Brown said.
He said Smith may not have been involved in the actual poachings, but “we have evidence to indicate she knew about it, she was in possession of these items at her house, and she was consuming the meat” of one poached deer, found in a closet of the residence, he said.
Two other men, one from Omak and one from Okanogan, are the main suspects in that investigation, which is still underway, he said. They are in their late teens or early 20s, he said.
Brown said tips from citizens led wildlife officers to get a warrant to search Smith’s home, and he asked for help from the sheriff’s office.
He said the men were suspects in hawk poachings on Happy Hill Road on the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area near Omak, where the birds were shot and left in early December.
In the home, wildlife officers found the carcass of a rough-legged hawk, and numerous hawk feathers, as well as a freshly killed mule deer, a whitetail deer, and a set of antlers, all believed to be poached, he said.
They seized a 1988 Toyota pickup truck believed to have been used in the poaching cases.
Officers believe the two men poached up to six hawks, three deer and a coyote. No charges have been filed.
This was the third time in January that Okanogan County deputies have removed underfed animals from their owners.
In mid-January, 11 dogs were taken from a home north of Tonasket, and their owner was arrested. A few weeks ago, they seized eight horses from a pasture near Wauconda, where they had no food or water.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512