Metadata is a thing people. If you don’t want people to know where you are, you need to cut off your location settings on your phone. This is one time I’m glad that someone forgot. These assholes were out in a federal park hunting big game while using highly illegal methods. From all the photo evidence, which is pretty brutal so be careful following the link, these guys have killed a lot of animals. I’m not against hunting but what these guys were doing is not something I consider hunting.

These “hunters” were poaching animals inside the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and using hunting dogs, also illegal when hunting bears and other large game in Washington. This group was charged with 80 counts of illegal large game killings, as many as the department of Fish and Wildlife pursue in a whole calendar year.  To give you some context that I definitely had to look up, the state of Washington will allow you to legally kill two, yes that’s right, 2 bears a year.  And they weren’t just killing bears; These guys were killing bobcats, elk, even bear cubs.   There are restrictions on all the other large game animals they were killing in addition to the bears. Authorities, tipped off to the poachers, set up trail cameras that eventually caught the criminals. Once they were caught on camera, a warrant was issued that allowed them to confiscate and search the criminals’ phones. Luckily for people who like our national parks, as well as the animals themselves, these poachers had thoroughly documented their illegal behavior in videos, pictures, and text messages that allowed authorities to reconstruct many of the killings with metadata, allowing them to place the poachers within the borders of the national park when the crimes occurred.

I’ve never been a super paranoid guy, so metadata doesn’t scare me. The scary stuff is the NSA/CIA using metadata on American citizens who have no relation to a crime in any way. This is a shining example of how, with due process, technology can have non-intrusive positive impacts on law enforcement efforts. This is even more true in cases such as this, where the crimes happen far from city centers and dense law enforcement presence, and the victims only voice in these crimes is often their dead and wasted carcass, left to rot for no other reason than the joy of an easy kill.