WDFW officers use cellphone data, Facebook to uncover McCleary man’s alleged poaching

Cody M. Young, 30, of McCleary, made his first appearance Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court.

The Chronicle

A McCleary resident is facing a felony charge after allegedly killing a cougar, then attempting to hide the fact that he didn’t buy his hunting license until the next day.

Cody M. Young, 30, of McCleary, made his first appearance Wednesday in Lewis County Superior Court on suspicion of one count of first-degree unlawful hunting of big game.

According to court documents, Young met with a Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife officer in Montesano to report that he killed and harvested a cougar while deer hunting on Sept. 10.

Young reportedly went through all of the correct procedures with the WDFW and reported that he killed the animal with a bow in the Tatoosh Wilderness in Lewis County. An officer confirmed that Young purchased his hunting license on Sept. 10, before the time he reported killing the cougar.

However, another officer recalled that Young had a 2012 conviction for unlawful hunting of big game in Grays Harbor District Court, and the officers began to investigate further. They found Young’s Facebook page, in which he described the hunt of the pictures, including a picture posted at 8:05 p.m., Sept. 10, with the cougar.

One officer noticed the picture was taken in complete darkness, but believed the deer would have been killed in daylight, given the time the picture was posted — when the sun should still have been up — and the information provided by Young. The officers found surveillance video from when Young purchased his hunting license, and accounted for his movements during that morning, according to court documents.

Finally, officers obtained Young’s cellphone records and learned that the picture of the dead cougar was actually taken on Sept. 9, the day before Young purchased his hunting license.

Young also allegedly sent a text message to a friend before he purchased the hunting license saying he had “smoked a cougar,” according to court documents.