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DNA Analysis Results Lead to Indictments in First OSP Wildlife Waste Investigation Case
02/05/2009
Lieutenant Randy Scorby
OSP Fish & Wildlife Division
East Region Headquarters
Office: (541) 523-5848 ext. 4070
 
DNA Pilot Program Contact:
Lieutenant Dave Cleary
OSP Fish & Wildlife Division
General Headquarters
Office: (503) 934-0223

Photograph links valid for 30 days - Source: Oregon State Police
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The efforts of numerous sportsman groups' paid off with the confirmation of the first Oregon State Police (OSP) Fish and Wildlife Division investigation where DNA results related to a Wallowa County case led to the indictment of two suspects, one from Gresham and one from Boring. Forensic DNA analysis is a known valuable investigative tool helping to identify and convict suspects in many criminal cases, and its use is now helping prosecute Oregon wildlife violators.
 
The OSP Fish & Wildlife Division had been researching new ways to help in their investigations when a trooper investigating an illegal big horn sheep killing met with the Oregon Federation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS). When the FNAWS organization asked how they could help, DNA analysis support was seen as an answer.
 
FNAWS and Oregon Hunters Association (OHA) presented a proposal for a two-year pilot project to evaluate the needs and effectiveness of a DNA program to user organizations. These organizations raised $25,000 to fund a pilot project in partnership with OSP and Idaho Fish and Game (IDFG). IDFG is home to a premier, cutting-edge wildlife forensic program that offers a full-service biological testing program, including DNA services (species comparison, gender determination, individual identification, and time/cause of death).
 
During the 2007 elk season, OSP Fish & Wildlife Division troopers investigated a waste complaint in Wallowa County wherein one elk was found left to waste and there were also remains of a second illegally killed elk. At the scene, troopers investigating the case collected numerous spent 9mm shell casings and a DNA sample from the wasted elk as evidence. Two suspects were identified and search warrants were served leading to the seizure of two 9mm pistols and a knife, rope, and hatchet with blood on them. The OSP Forensic laboratory determined that all the spent shell casings came from the seized pistols.
 
The elk DNA sample was recently sent to the Idaho Wildlife Lab for comparison to blood found on the other items. The lab confirmed an exact match from that sample to the blood located on the seized evidence. The Wallowa County District Attorney presented the case before the Grand Jury and obtained indictments for Theft in the First Degree (felony), Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (felony), Waste of Wildlife (misdemeanor), Taking Elk without a Valid Tag (misdemeanor), and Operating a Vehicle in a Cooperative Road Closure (misdemeanor).
 
ALEKSANDR Y. KATKO, age 52, from Gresham, and VADIM TIOUKH (aka: Tito), age 44, from Boring, are scheduled to be arraigned on the above charges in Wallowa County Circuit Court on February 11th. The felony charges can result in a maximum penalty of $125,000.00 in fines and five (5) years in prison. The misdemeanor charges can result in a maximum penalty of $ 6,250.00 in fine and One (1) year in prison.
 
"Although this is a two-year pilot project, the intention is to evaluate the program's effectiveness and how our Fish & Wildlife Division can proceed in the future to allow troopers, following strict protocol and management approval, to submit samples for high priority cases," said OSP Lieutenant Dave Cleary.
 
The OSP Fish & Wildlife Division thanks the following contributors whose participation makes the "bridge funding" possible for this pilot DNA project:
  • OHA State Board and the Capitol, Klamath, Ochoco, Rogue Valley, Josephine County, Hoodview, Lincoln County, Pioneer, Columbia County, and Yamhill County chapters
  • Oregon Federation for North American Wild Sheep
  • Mule Deer Foundation
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
  • Oregon Bow Hunters
  • Traditional Archers of Oregon
  • Safari Club International—Santiam Chapter
  • Benton Bowmen, Inc.
 
If the two-year project proves beneficial, these and other groups hope funding will be provided to make forensic DNA analysis a permanent program.