As Skagit County prosecutors announced their intentions to file criminal charges against a 14-year-old boy who fatally shot a hiker when he mistook her for a bear, a leading state legislator is pushing for tougher restrictions on juvenile hunters.
Rich Weyrich, the county's prosecuting attorney, said Tuesday the boy's actions on Aug. 2 "fit the definition of recklessness" and he will likely be charged with first-degree manslaughter. The boy from Concrete could face up to nine months in juvenile detention if convicted as charged, prosecutors said.
Weyrich said charges would be filed against the boy on Thursday or Friday.
More than 5,200 "big game" hunting licenses have been issued by the state in the first seven months of this year to children age 15 and younger, and that number is expected to grow during the fall hunting season.
More than 600 of those licenses were awarded to kids 10 and under, state records show. And statewide, there are more than 50 "big game" licenses granted to children 8 and younger.
In Skagit County, where the accident happened, more than 110 such licenses are held by kids 15 and younger, while in King County the number is more than 250.
The 14-year-old boy was hunting bear with his 16-year-old brother when the shooting occurred. Pamela Almli, 54, an experienced hiker from the Snohomish County community of Oso, was shot in the head on a marked hiking trail as she bent over to put an item into her backpack.