Category Archives: Enforcement

Mendocino Abalone Poacher to be Sentenced to State Prison

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

A previously convicted abalone poacher is facing a lengthy prison sentence after pleading guilty to new poaching charges.

Dung Van Nguyen, 41, of Sacramento was charged with poaching abalone along the Mendocino coast and selling them for personal profit. On Sept. 11, Nguyen appeared in the Mendocino County Superior Court and pled guilty to one felony count of forging an abalone report card and one misdemeanor count of taking abalone for commercial purposes.

Nguyen is a repeat offender with multiple convictions for similar poaching crimes. As a condition of his plea, he will be required to return to the court for sentencing on Nov. 11, where he will be remanded into custody. The conditions of his sentence will include 32 months in state prison, a fine of $15,000 and a lifetime revocation of his fishing license.

Wildlife officers observed Nguyen take at least 35 abalone in 2013, which is 17 in excess of the annual limit. The case was investigated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Special Operations Unit, a unique team of officers tasked with investigating persons involved in the black market sales of California’s fish and wildlife resources.

“Our team exists to stop people from stealing the state’s fish and wildlife for profit, and to stop people like Nguyen from engaging in this type of behavior,” said Capt. Nathaniel Arnold, head of the Special Operations Unit.

Tim Stoen, the Mendocino County Deputy District Attorney who prosecuted the case, said, “I commend the hard work of the department’s Special Operations Unit on this case.”

CDFW appreciates the effort of the vast majority of abalone divers who comply with the regulations, particularly the use of the abalone report card (which was an integral part of successful prosecution in this case). Their cooperation helps to keep the fishery healthy and sustainable for future generations.

 

 

 

CDFW Wildlife Officer Academy Graduates 28 Cadets

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692
Janice Mackey, CDFW Office of Communications, (916) 322-8908

Twenty-eight cadets graduated from the California Wildlife Officer Academy during ceremonies at the Performing Arts Center in Paradise, Calif. on Aug. 23, 2014. The graduating class included 17 sponsored warden cadets who will begin field training immediately. Another 11 self-sponsored cadets paid their way through the academy and have applied to become wildlife officers.

“Today’s wildlife officers have an intensive law enforcement component to their duties,” said Michael P. Carion, Chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division. “Thirty-one weeks of Academy training teaches them how to affect an arrest, maintain officer safety and many other skills.”

Chief Carion personally conducts two days of waterfowl investigation training for the cadets.

The CDFW Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California.

The 17 sponsored cadets’ graduation ends 31 weeks of formal academy training, but marks the beginning of an additional three weeks of specialized training and certifications. That will be followed by an additional 15 weeks of field training with a seasoned field training officer (FTO). Upon successful completion of the FTO program, they will go on patrol to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources.

A special moment occurred during graduation when cadet Garreth Brown was awarded the Wildlife Officer Academy’s Greg Cook Award. Cook was the Academy’s first cadet training officer in 1987. He was later killed in a helicopter crash while investigating an oil spill in the Carquinez Strait. The Academy class itself votes to give this award to the fellow cadet who contributed the most to the success of the class as a whole. Brown’s father, recently retired CDFW Wildlife Officer Wilbur Brown, won the same award when he was a cadet. Later in the ceremony, Wilbur Brown pinned Garreth with his wildlife officer badge.

Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. They often work alone and in remote areas that do not allow for immediate backup. In California, the average wildlife officer has a patrol district of more than 600 square miles.

CDFW teamed with Butte College in 2007 to provide peace officer training for prospective wardens. This partnership secured an academy facility and a POST-certified training program for wildlife officer cadets on the college’s Oroville campus.

Butte College has a 40-year history of police recruit training. The 928-acre community college campus, the largest in California, is also a designated wildlife refuge.

CDFW is actively hiring warden cadets and is currently accepting applications through Oct. 17. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/index.aspx.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife is Recruiting New Wildlife Officers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting those interested in a career as a wildlife officer. CDFW will accept applications for wildlife officer cadet from Aug. 22 through Oct. 17, 2014. The department is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a passion for conservation of California’s fish and wildlife resources. 

For information on minimum qualifications and other requirements for wildlife officer cadets, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/index.aspx.

The CDFW Law Enforcement Division expects an overwhelming number of inquiries and asks prospective candidates to extensively review materials on the website before contacting CDFW with questions.

California wildlife officers are charged with ensuring public safety, enforcing fish and wildlife laws, investigating illegal sales of wildlife, protecting the state from pollution, enforcing habitat protection laws, fighting illegal drug trafficking, keeping the homeland secure and responding during natural disasters. As peace officers, they have the authority to enforce all California laws, such as the Vehicle Code and Penal Code, and are federally deputized to enforce federal fish and wildlife laws.

A typical day for a California wildlife officer is diverse as the state’s fish and wildlife. Wildlife officers patrol ocean, desert, mountain and valley environments, as well as urban areas. They frequently work independently and conduct full-scale law enforcement investigations. Wildlife officers employ everything from all-terrain vehicles to jet skis and snowmobiles while on patrol and spend much of their typical day making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. CDFW has a dive team and utilizes K-9 partners as well. Environmental crimes and pollution incidents also fall under the purview of wildlife officers. Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.

Successful applicants will enter a 31-week academy training program, followed by 19 weeks of field training, where they will work with a seasoned field training officer. CDFW’s academy at Butte College is California Peace Officer Standards and Training certified. Cadets are trained as police officers with specific emphasis on wildlife, pollution and habitat protection. 

In California, with 159,000 square miles of habitat and wildlife diversity unequaled by any other state, the average wildlife officer has a patrol district of more than 600 square miles. The state has more than 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs, three desert habitat areas and scores of high mountain peaks.

To apply, please use the State of California application form 678 located at: https://jobs.ca.gov/pdf/std678.pdf Applications must be postmarked no later than Oct. 17.

Resource Agency Officers Arrest Pot Growers in Sonoma County

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Jeremy Stinson, State Parks Law Enforcement, (707) 875-3907
Vicky Waters, State Parks Communications, (916) 653-5115

Law enforcement officers from the California Natural Resources Agency arrested four men for cultivating marijuana in a remote area of Austin Creek State Recreation Area in Sonoma County over the weekend.

California State Park Rangers have been watching the illegal grow site for months after it was reported to officials by a park employee. On Aug. 2, officers cut down and removed more than 150 fully grown marijuana plants with an approximate value of $300,000. All the marijuana plants were growing inside the park boundaries.

“As the drought wears on, marijuana growers are likely to be more and more creative in finding places to set up these illegal grows where they can find easy access to water,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Assistant Chief Briand Naslund. “Marijuana uses six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day.”

Working with the State Park Rangers, wildlife officers from the CDFW Marijuana Enforcement Team entered the grow site and immediately located and arrested two suspects, one carrying a firearm. Two additional suspects were found and arrested at the trailhead above the grow.

Officers arrested Alfredo Soto, 33, of Santa Rosa; Noe Calderon-Garcilazo, 32, of Santa Rosa; Erick Reynoso, 34, of Cotati; and Jose Reynoso, 41, of Santa Rosa. All four were charged with marijuana cultivation, committing a felony while armed with a firearm, polluting a state waterway and damaging state park plant life and geological features.

During the arrests, a chihuahua belonging to one of the suspects ran into the forest. Fearing that the dog would be lost, several officers and CDFW K-9 officer Phebe set off in pursuit. After a short search and excellent tracking by Phebe, the terrified dog, “Snake”, was found hiding in a small canyon.

In addition to the plants officers found hundreds of feet of irrigation tubing, wire fencing, fertilizers and pesticides. The suspects were tapping a spring, which was the only water source in the vicinity. The water was diverted to the illegal marijuana grow, depriving all local wildlife of its most basic need and further exacerbating the state’s severe drought.

“Snake” was safely transported to Sonoma Valley Animal Control, where he is being cared for.

CDFW Wildlife Officer Chosen as Most Outstanding by Wildlife Association

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer was selected as the most outstanding wildlife officer in the western United States by the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) at their annual conference in July.

Warden Mark Imsdahl, who works in Butte County, was named Pogue-Elms Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for his exceptional performance throughout the year, his individual accomplishments and his leadership among his peers.

“We are very happy to present Warden Imsdahl with the Pogue-Elms award this year, as his dedication to the protection of California’s resources is second to none,” said WAWFA Secretary Larry L. Kruckenberg. “His individual accomplishments are truly exceptional, but even more important is his collaborative work with other wardens and fellow law enforcement agencies. His actions bring great credit to himself, CDFW and California.”

Warden Imsdahl joined CDFW in 1997. In addition to his regular game warden duties, he is a firearm instructor, a department armorer in every weapon system and a field training officer. He also teaches rural tactical operations and is a scenario evaluator at the CDFW warden academy.

“Mark’s dedication to the protection of the state’s resources is just outstanding,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Chief Mike Carion. “The department is very proud that WAFWA recognized Mark for his tremendous work ethic and drive to educate the public and enforce the resource laws of California.”

Some of Imsdahl’s 2013 accomplishments include:

• Selected to Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) pilot program, enforcing drug and public health and safety laws statewide.

• Awarded the California Medal of Valor for his courageousness during an officer-involved shooting in a marijuana grow in 2012.

• Investigated and prosecuted multiple illegal mining cases involving the Feather River along the Oroville Wildlife Area.

• Made several waterfowl, upland game and wildlife poaching cases in rural northern California counties.

• Pursued a suction dredge mining case where the suspects challenged the constitutionality of California state laws regulating mining. Because of the complete case work Warden Imsdahl did, the case was up held in court and the suspects were convicted of illegal suction dredging.

• Made two joint marijuana/poaching cases in Butte County. After making routine traffic stops, Imsdahl found large amounts of marijuana in the suspects’ trucks. During subsequent interviews, the suspects confessed to having illegally killed deer and bear. Large amounts of evidence were later recovered from the suspects’ homes, including animal carcasses, bear parts, baiting equipment, untagged deer antlers and several hundred pounds of marijuana.

WAFWA represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, spanning from Alaska to Texas and Hawaii to Saskatchewan. WAFWA is a strong advocate of the rights of states and provinces to manage fish and wildlife within their borders. It has also been a key organization in promoting the principles of sound resource management and the building of partnerships at the regional, national and international levels in order to enhance wildlife conservation efforts and the protection of associated habitats in the public interest.

Southern California Man Ordered To Pay $10,000 for Commercial Fishing Violations

Media Contacts:
Capt. Rebecca Hartman, CDFW Law Enforcement, (310) 678-4864
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

A Southern California man was given a stiff fine this week for a series of commercial fishing violations in Los Angeles County.

Adam Crawford James, 32, of Winnetka was sentenced to three years probation and revocation of all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) licenses for the duration of his sentence. In addition, he was ordered to pay $7,000 to the Fish and Game Preservation Fund and an additional $3,000 to the city of Santa Monica in fines and penalty assessments.

James pleaded no contest to four Fish and Game Code misdemeanor counts, including the illegal take of fish and invertebrates, the take of sea urchin without a permit, failure to obtain a receiver’s license, selling fish to person not licensed as a fish receiver and failure to pay landing taxes.

In 2013, CDFW wildlife officers received information from the CalTIP hotline that James was attempting to sell commercially caught fish to restaurants without a receiver’s license. In California, commercial fishermen are permitted to sell their catch directly to restaurants provided they have a receiver’s license.

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The toll free telephone number, (888) 334-2258 operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers may remain anonymous.

CDFW and Partners Raid Santa Cruz County Marijuana Grow

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and other agencies arrested two suspects, cut down marijuana plants and removed hazardous materials from a Santa Cruz county waterway on July 15.

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Acting on an anonymous tip on the CalTIP line, wildlife officers — with assistance from CAL FIRE, the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Cruz County Code Enforcement — raided an illegal marijuana cultivation site in the upper reaches of the south fork of Vicente Creek off Robles Drive near Bonny Doon. The site had been set up on private property without the landowner’s permission and was diverting water from the creek.

Officers arrested two male suspects and cut down and removed 180 fully mature marijuana plants with an approximate value of $360,000. Officers also found and removed several pounds of hashish, fertilizer, dozens of butane canisters used to manufacture concentrated cannabis, and other harmful materials that cause direct damage to the environment of Vicente Creek. CDFW officers conducted a full reclamation of the site.

“These marijuana cultivation sites are not only illegal but the trash left behind causes tremendous damage to the environment,” said CDFW Assistant Chief Brian Naslund. “Our officers are working hard around the state to find and remove these cultivation sites, keep harmful chemicals from entering state waters and ensure public safety.”

Marijuana cultivation is becoming an increasing problem in California as the historic drought wears on.

“Illegal marijuana growers steal substantial amounts of water, exacerbating our severe drought conditions,” said Naslund. “Marijuana plants use six to eight gallons of water per plant, per day, and are a direct hazard to wildlife that eats the plants.”

Law enforcement officials are also concerned that that hikers and walkers could be in danger if they accidentally come across a marijuana cultivation site. Illegal growers often carry weapons.

The suspects were taken into custody and will be charged with multiple violations including streambed alteration, pollution and placement of hazardous materials on the property of another.

The lower Vicente Creek is the southernmost salmon stream in California. It is a historic waterway that supports both anadromous steelhead and endangered Central Coast Coho salmon.

CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, please call 1-888-DFG-CALTIP (888-334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Media Contact:
Lt. John Nores, CDFW Enforcement, (408) 591-5174
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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Angler Will Not Be Cited by CDFW for Hooking White Shark from Manhattan Beach Pier

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced they found no evidence state fishing laws were violated by an angler who hooked a white shark from the Manhattan Beach Pier.

An investigation including evidence from videos, social media and personal interviews did not provide proof there was intent by the angler to target white sharks.

It is legal to fish for the many species of sharks, rays and other fish that frequent the waters surrounding the pier using the same techniques used that day. Facebook posts and interviews resulted in evidence that showed the angler was targeting bat rays, but admitted to catching sharks including white sharks.

This is a legal activity and consistent with numerous other fishing practices in waters where similar tackle is used to catch a variety of fish species. Incidentally caught species that are not legal to keep must immediately be released. In this case, the line was cut before the fish was landed.

Although this was a very unfortunate incident where a person was injured, criminal prosecution requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime was committed. Unless additional evidence is discovered, no charges will be pursued by CDFW in this case.

The department encourages a diverse range of ocean recreation and reminds all ocean users to be aware of their surroundings, including the activities of others, when recreating in or near the ocean.

CDFW looks forward to working closely with the city of Manhattan Beach to restore fishing access to the pier as soon as possible.

CDFW To Hold Public Workshop on Lead Bullet Ban Implementation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public workshop Saturday, July 19 to discuss the implementation of the lead bullet ban. The workshop will be held at the Community Room at City Hall, 777 Cypress Ave. in Redding from 7-8:30p.m.

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

Last year, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 711 requiring that the Commission adopt a regulation to ban lead ammunition in the state no later than July 1, 2015, with full implementation of the ban to occur 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 to the hunting community.

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, meetings with hunting organizations and now a series of public workshops throughout the state. A public workshop was held in Ventura in April and in Eureka in June. After Redding, planning is underway for workshops later this year in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento area), San Diego, Fresno and Riverside/San Bernardino. In addition, individuals and organizations may email comments to wildlifemgmt@wildlife.ca.gov (please use “Nonlead implementation” in the subject line) or mail hard copy correspondence to:

CDFW, Wildlife Branch
Attn: Nonlead implementation
1812 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Mishele Echelberger, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2313

Yolo County Jury Convicts Sturgeon Poachers

A Yolo County jury convicted a repeat sturgeon poacher and his accomplice of multiple felonies and poaching charges stemming from a 2010 poaching investigation. They were convicted June 19, with sentencing scheduled for Aug. 1.

In Feb. 2010, Nikolay Krasnodemskiy, 41, of North Highlands, and his partner Petr Dyachishin, 54, of Citrus Heights, were observed catching and retaining oversized sturgeon and processing their eggs into caviar. An extensive investigation conducted by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers from the Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project and the Special Operations Unit proved the two were selling the sturgeon and their eggs on the black market for personal profit. Sale of sturgeon, their parts, or any fish caught with a recreational fishing license is illegal.

Krasnodemskiy and Dyachishin were each convicted of two felonies related to conspiracy, in addition to multiple counts of commercial sales of sturgeon, possession of oversized sturgeon, failure to tag sturgeon and possession of sturgeon over the annual limit.

California’s sturgeon population is on the edge of sustaining a recreational fishery. As a result, sturgeon anglers must adhere to strict size, limit and tagging requirements to help wildlife officers distinguish between honest anglers and poachers, and to help CDFW biologists maintain adequate scientific data on the fishery and protect the larger breeding adults.

“Taking these poachers out of business will help ensure a healthy sturgeon population into the future,” said CDFW Captain David Bess, who participated in the investigation.

Nikolay Krasnodemskiy was the subject of multiple sturgeon poaching investigations including Operation Delta Beluga II in 2005, which culminated in a conviction and revocation of his fishing license. Soon after his fishing license was reinstated in 2009, he became the subject of another sturgeon poaching investigation. By Feb. 2010, wildlife officers had observed him continue his sturgeon poaching activities, including commercial sales.

Wildlife officers will seek a permanent revocation of Krasnodemskiy’s fishing license and forfeiture of all fishing gear seized during the investigation.

CDFW appreciates legitimate sturgeon anglers for their patience with sturgeon tagging and recordkeeping requirements, which were integral to making the case as well as the long-term management of the sturgeon fishery. CDFW also thanks the Yolo County District Attorney’s Office for their dedication and successful prosecution of the case.

Media Contact:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095