Two Santa Barbara County Men Arrested for Felony Fish Theft

Two commercial fishermen were arrested by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers early Sunday morning in Santa Barbara Harbor on felony charges of conspiracy and grand theft.

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John Wilson, 53, of Santa Ynez and Kai Griffin, 23, of Buellton, both licensed commercial fishermen, are being charged with stealing live rock crabs from fellow commercial fishermen and stealing from commercial fish markets at the commercial dock in Santa Barbara Harbor. Wildlife officers allege that the pair then sold the crabs, along with several other illegally landed species, at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

“Thanks to some good tips from the fishing community and good, solid police work, we were able to catch the suspects and stop these illegal sales,” said CDFW Lt. Wes Boyle

Wardens had received reports from commercial fishermen and two Santa Barbara fish markets regarding stolen rock crabs and other assorted species. The thefts were said to be occurring in the early morning hours. During the two-month-long investigation, the subjects were observed stealing live rock crabs from receivers in Santa Barbara Harbor and then selling them at the Farmer’s Market. The investigation also showed that the subjects were selling sea urchins, Kellet’s whelks (out of season), live rock crabs and clawed rock crabs that were illegally landed.

The suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, and charges will be filed with the county District Attorney.

Media Contacts:     
Capt. Mike Stefanak, CDFW Law Enforcement, (805) 746-7590
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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CDFW Warden K-9 Helps Reconstruct Deer Poaching Crime Scene

A good tip on the Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) hotline – combined with the well-trained nose of a K-9 wildlife officer – led to the recent conviction of a deer poacher in Susanville.

In June 2013, Warden Nick Buckler received a CalTIP from a concerned citizen regarding dangerous shooting activity southeast of Susanville. Suspecting a possible poaching incident, Warden Buckler searched the area and located a dead doe near a Susanville property owned by Loren Dewayne Gelwick, 52. The condition of the carcass suggested the deer was killed by a shotgun blast.

Based upon the available evidence, Buckler obtained a search warrant to further search Gelwick’s property. With the assistance of fellow wildlife officers, including Warden Paul Cardoza and his Warden K-9 Kilo, and deputies from the Lassen County Sheriff’s Department, Buckler systematically searched the residence and surrounding property. While serving the warrant, the search team gained information to suggest Gelwick may have disassembled the shotgun and hid it in heavy vegetation among several acres of dense vegetation on the property.

Warden K-9 Kilo stepped up to do the job he was trained for. In addition to apprehending dangerous criminals, Warden K-9 Kilo is trained to alert on several scents, including gunpowder and firearms. Kilo went to work on the property surrounding the residence. Not only did Kilo find every piece of the disassembled shotgun, but he found the spent shotshells and shotshell wads that were used in the commission of the crime. By finding all of the pieces, Kilo allowed Buckler to perfectly reconstruct the poaching crime scene.

“Warden Cardoza and K-9 Kilo were able to locate very small but very important items of physical evidence over a very large and difficult search area,” Buckler reported.  “Without Kilo, our chances of locating all the evidence were slim.”

Wardens and deputies awarded K-9 Kilo with lavish praise and his favorite rubber ball for a job well done.

On Feb. 8, 2014, Gelwick pled guilty to unlawful take of a deer out of season and unlawful discharge of a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling. He was fined $1,500 and was placed on two years of probation, during which time he cannot hunt or fish.

Buckler thanks the Lassen County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office for their assistance throughout the investigation. He also credits the citizens of Lassen County, who continue to protect their own wildlife and habitat by reporting poaching and pollution activity to CDFW through the 24-hour CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258. Callers may remain anonymous if they so choose. The most useful information from witnesses typically includes time and  location of the suspected crime, the suspect’s specific activity, suspect and vehicle descriptions (approximate style, size, color, age and especially unique characteristics), vehicle license plate number and last known direction of travel.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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CDFW To Hold Public Workshop on Lead Bullet Ban Implementation

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public workshop to discuss the implementation of the lead bullet ban. The workshop will be held at 911 San Pedro Street in Ventura on Tuesday, April 15 from 7-8:30p.m.

A CDFW representative will detail a proposed plan for implementation, the PowerPoint for which can be viewed on the CDFW website. Following the short presentation, interested parties can make comments and provide input. That input may help shape CDFW’s final recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission, which CDFW anticipates presenting to the Commission at the Wildlife Resources Committee meeting in Sacramento in September.

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711 requiring that a regulation to ban lead ammunition in the state be established by the Commission no later than July 1, 2015, with full implementation to be effective no later than July 1, 2019. Governor Brown has directed CDFW and the Commission to work with all interested parties in order to produce a regulation that is least disruptive.

In order to determine what is least disruptive to hunters, CDFW has been reaching out to interested parties this year in a number of ways, including question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, internal meetings with hunting organizations and now a series of public workshops throughout the state. After Ventura, planning is underway for workshops later this year in Eureka, Sacramento and San Diego.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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