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Violations & Penalties

License and Tag Violations

You may NOT:

  • Buy, possess, or attempt to obtain any license, tag, or permit by using false information; or if your license, tag, etc. has been revoked or the privilege has been suspended.
  • Purchase or possess more than one of each license or tag, permit, or stamp during the same year, unless it is a legally obtained duplicate or authorized by the Fish and Wildlife Commission.
  • Transfer, loan to, or borrow from another person any license, tag, permit, or stamp.
  • Purchase or possess a resident license from another state, if hunting as a resident in Washington State.

Common Violations

To avoid the most common violations:

  • Have valid and appropriate licenses, tags, and permits on your person when you hunt.
  • Don't have a loaded shotgun or rifle in or on a motor driven vehicle.
  • Immediately and completely remove the tag notches that indicate the month and day the animal was killed.
  • Immediately attach your appropriate tag to the animal you've killed.

Loaded Firearms in a Vehicle

It is illegal to carry, convey, transport, possess, or control a loaded shotgun or rifle in any motor vehicle (except for disabled hunters in compliance with WAC 220-200-170. Hunters with disabilities please reference Persons with Disabilities). A rifle or shotgun containing shells or cartridges in either the chamber or magazine, or a muzzleloading firearm that is loaded and capped or primed is considered loaded. It is illegal to use an off-road vehicle to pursue, harass, concentrate, or kill wildlife.

License Suspensions and Property Forfeiture

Washington State’s Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Code (Revised Code of Washington Chapter 77.15) requires the mandatory suspension of a person’s hunting privileges if a person is convicted of one of the following violations:

  • Assaulting a Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officer or an employee or agent of the Department performing official duties.
  • Unlawful hunting of big game.
  • First degree waste of fish and wildlife.
  • Harvesting endangered fish or wildlife.
  • Hunting big game with an artificial light or spotlight.
  • Violating the prohibition on hunting bear with bait or the limitations on using dogs to hunt bear, cougar, bobcat, or lynx.
  • Unlawfully purchasing or using a license.
  • Committing a crime that involves a willful or wanton disregard for conservation of wildlife.
  • Shooting another person or domestic livestock while hunting.

In addition, repeat offenders will receive a mandatory two-year suspension of all fishing and hunting privileges. A repeat offender is any person with two strikes within ten years for big game hunting violations and three strikes within ten years for all other recreational hunting and fishing violations. The law treats an uncontested notice of infraction, a finding of “committed” on an infraction, or a guilty plea as a conviction that will count toward a potential suspension.

You will permanently lose your fishing and hunting privileges if you hunt or fish on a suspended license or demonstrate a willful or wanton disregard for the conservation of fish or wildlife.

The privilege to hunt or fish in Washington will also be revoked if notice of a suspension is received from another state whose suspensions Washington has agreed to honor. Similarly, Washington will report the issuance of a suspension in this state to other states.

Property that is used to violate any fishing and hunting regulations, or that is held with the intention of committing a violation, may be seized for evidence and may ultimately be forfeited to the state.

Criminal Wildlife Penalty Assessment

In addition to criminal penalties, courts assess a criminal wildlife penalty for conviction of illegally killing or possessing: deer, elk, bear, or cougar - $2,000; moose, pronghorn antelope, bighorn sheep, or mountain goat - $4,000; trophy deer (four or more antler points on both sides, not including eye guards), or elk (five or more antler points on both sides, not including eye guards) - $6,000; and woodland caribou, grizzly bear, or trophy mountain sheep (3/4 curl or better) - $12,000.

Firearm Laws

Felons may not possess firearms. Non-U.S. residents must apply for a firearm license to the sheriff of the county in which he or she resides, unless conditions are met under RCW 9.41.175. (RCWs 9.41.040, 9.41.173, and 9.41.175).

Unlawful Possession of Firearms Washington State Law RCW 9.41.040 states:

“A person, whether an adult or juvenile, is guilty of the crime of unlawful possession of a firearm in the first degree, if the person owns, has in their possession, or has in their control any firearm after having previously been convicted in this state or elsewhere of any serious offense as defined in this chapter.” Have you previously been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a crime which may affect your privilege to carry a firearm? If you have been convicted of one of the offenses as defined in RCW chapter 9.41 and are found in possession of a firearm while hunting, you may be subject to arrest. If you are in doubt, seek appropriate legal counsel. Possession rights may in some cases be restored, per RCW chapter 9.41.


1. - Do Not Trespass

The state of Washington has strict laws prohibiting trespass on private land. Per RCW 77.15.435, it is unlawful to hunt or retrieve wildlife from the property of another. Owners are not required to post their land.

2. - Littering

You may NOT place or leave litter on any land, either public or private, which is not your own.

3. - Traps

It is illegal to take a wild animal from another person’s trap without permission, or to damage, remove, or destroy a trap. Exception: A trap may be removed by the property owner.

4. - Driving Vehicles on WDFW-managed Lands

You may NOT operate a motor-driven vehicle on lands owned, controlled, or managed by the WDFW, except as authorized. Off-road travel on Department lands is usually prohibited.

5. - Aiding and Assisting

It is unlawful to aid or assist anyone in the commission of a game law violation.