Category Archives: Enforcement

CDFW Steps in to Protect Animals at Wildlife Waystation

On August 11, 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was notified by the Wildlife Waystation, a wild animal refuge that houses exotic and domestic animals in Sylmar, that their Board of Directors had voted to surrender the facility’s CDFW permit voluntarily and to close the facility. CDFW has implemented an incident command structure to handle daily operations and assist with the placement of animals.Wildlife Waystation 2

As of this morning, CDFW is on site, actively ensuring that daily operations remain smooth at the facility, and is working with animal welfare organizations to place the animals into other facilities. CDFW will maintain oversight of the facility until all animals are placed appropriately.

CDFW’s primary concern is for the health and welfare of the animals. CDFW is working collaboratively with Wildlife Waystation staff to ensure the best possible care during this transition.

The Wildlife Waystation was founded in 1976 and has been operating with a current permit issued by CDFW. The aging facility was extensively damaged in the 2017 Creek Fire and again in flooding in early 2019. Wildlife Waystation leadership is unable to repair the facility to current standards.

Media and the public are asked to please refrain from traveling to the property. The property is closed until further notice and access will not be granted. There is very limited road access and no cellular reception.

CDFW is contacting its network of local and national animal welfare organizations both for assistance and expertise in care of the animals as well as assistance in finding permanent placement for the more than 470 animals at the facility.

CDFW Deputy Director Jordan Traverso will be available for media interviews at the command center at the Hanson Dam Ranger Station at 10965 Dronfield Ave., Sylmar, Calif. until 3:30 p.m. She can also be reached at (916) 654-9937.

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CDFW Warden Academy Graduates 31 New Wildlife Officers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the addition of 31 Wildlife Officer Academy graduates to the Law Enforcement Division.

The Wildlife Officer Academy Class 62 graduation ceremony took place Friday, Aug. 9, at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise, Butte County. The 31 newly graduated wildlife officers will begin the CDFW Field Training Program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced Field Training Officers (FTOs). Three additional cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of applying for a wildlife officer position with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division or a different law enforcement agency.

CDFW’s 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. Field training with experienced FTOs is also mandated by POST to be sure new wildlife officers can apply the skills they learned during the academy to real life circumstances. The Field Training Program is the final stage of formal training. Upon successful completion, these officers will begin patrolling California to protect the natural resources of this great state.

The Academy has been located at Butte College since 2008 and provides peace officer academy training to California’s prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state-of-the-art POST-certified academy facility with nearly 50 years of police training history.

CDFW recognizes the citizens of Butte County, and Paradise in particular, for their steadfast resolve to overcome the devastating Camp Fire. Some of those affected by the disaster are instructors, caretakers of Butte College, nearby business owners and employees, and others who keep the Academy and Butte College moving forward. “We acknowledge the efforts of those who trained our cadets while at the same time recovering from devastating losses,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Congratulations to the staff and graduating wildlife officers of Academy 62 for your accomplishments during trying times.”

Wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations annually. These officers primarily work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who almost always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wildlife officers have large patrol districts and great responsibilities, and frequently a sole officer will cover an entire county. The average California wildlife officer’s patrol district exceeds 500 square miles.

For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy , CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

 

CDFW Honors Wildlife Officer of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division has selected Warden Anastasia Norris as the 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

“Warden Norris has spent plenty of time doing traditional wildlife law enforcement work, but her expertise in oil spill investigations and response is where she has shined over the course of her career,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Investigations involving habitat damage from oil and hazardous materials spills are integral to the Law Enforcement Division’s mission. Warden Norris is one of the finest in this regard.”

Warden Norris received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Sciences from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1998 and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She graduated as part of Academy Class 53 at Butte College in 2009 and began her career as a wildlife officer in Long Beach, where she gained expertise in marine enforcement and commercial fishing.

She soon transferred to the CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), where she has excelled as the State On-Scene Coordinator and/or lead investigator for 20 complicated oil and hazardous materials spills. In 2015, Norris was designated the lead investigator on the Plains All-American/Refugio spill in Santa Barbara County, one of the largest and most detrimental oil spills to hit California’s coast in the last 50 years.

The Refugio oil spill began on May 19, 2015. Norris managed and coordinated the evidence and documentation efforts throughout the investigation, including embarking upon a cross-country drive to ensure chain-of-custody and security of a seized section of pipeline in Ohio. She interviewed dozens of witnesses during the investigation. The final 118-page report included support documentation that was an additional 13 inches thick. Norris also provided support for the prosecution and was in court every day of the almost four-month duration of the trial. On Sept. 7, 2018, guilty verdicts were reached on nine counts, including eight misdemeanors and one felony. Even while the Refugio investigation was dominating her workload, Norris continued to respond to numerous other petroleum spills.

“Warden Norris is the force behind major investigations involving water pollution and numerous environmental statutes and regulations affecting our great state’s waterways and ocean environment,” said Brett Morris, Supervising Deputy Attorney General of the California Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the Refugio case. “While away from her assigned beat and her family for over three months, Warden Norris successfully guided to conviction the largest criminal prosecution of corporate water polluters in Santa Barbara County’s history.”

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

 

CDFW and Partners Target Illegal Marijuana Grows in Hayfork

Coordinated Enforcement Focuses on Sensitive Watersheds

On June 25 and 26, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Trinity County Sheriff’s Office served 15 warrants in the Hayfork area of Trinity County. Support for the mission was provided by U.S. Forest Service, National Guard, Trinity County Environmental Health and the State Water Resources Control Board.

The Duncan Creek and Barker Creek watersheds were specifically targeted due to the presence of critical habitat for winter run steelhead, foothill yellow-legged frogs, western pond turtles and other species. Each watershed had unauthorized water diversions which significantly impacted instream flow and the amount of available resources for these sensitive aquatic species.

A records check confirmed that none of the parcels were permitted by the county nor were they licensed by the state for commercial cannabis cultivation. In addition, none of the sites had taken the necessary steps to notify CDFW, which is a requirement in the licensing process.

“These missions were a highly coordinated effort between local, state and federal entities who worked tirelessly to protect California’s natural resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

The two-day operation yielded 12,548 black market marijuana plants, 801 pounds of processed marijuana, 15 firearms and $435,875 in U.S. currency.

Forty-four combined Fish and Game Code violations were documented among all grows, which included illegal water diversions, pesticide and petroleum products placed near streams, sediment discharge and garbage placed near waterways. Twenty-three suspects were detained during the operation.

“Trinity County is known for its outdoor activities and its beautiful environment, which should always be treated with respect and appreciation,” said Donna Daly, Trinity County District Attorney. “Those who blatantly damage our county’s natural resources should and will be held accountable.”

CDFW’s cannabis program consists of scientists and law enforcement officers and is a critical component of California’s transition into a regulated cannabis industry. Staff members work with cultivators to bring their facilities into compliance, provide assistance in remediating environmental violations, and facilitate enforcement actions with other local agencies to remove illegal grows. Learn more about CDFW’s role at www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

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Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891

Wildlife Officers Shut Down Illegal Marijuana Grows in Tulare County

Meth, Firearms and Trash Pit Discovered Near Restored Wetlands

On June 21, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant on an illegal marijuana grow in Tulare County. The parcel was located south of the city of Alpaugh. Assistance was provided by members of the Southern Tri Counties High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area team.

A records check confirmed the parcel was not permitted by the county nor licensed by the state for commercial cannabis cultivation. In addition, the site had not taken the necessary steps to notify CDFW of their activities, which is a requirement in the licensing process.

The location was in close proximity to the Atwell Island Recreational area which consists of 8,000 acres of restored native grassland, wetland and alkali sink habitats. It is an important habitat for migratory waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds and is one of the few remaining wetlands in the area.

“Tulare county is home to over 20 listed state species and 10 listed federal species, many of which are found nowhere else in the world,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “It is a thoughtless act to leave trash and harmful chemicals near protected habitats that threatened and endangered wildlife call home.”

On site, officers located numerous fertilizer and pesticide containers, including a 55-gallon drum of roundup. The suspects had constructed a large lined water pit where they pre-mixed chemicals to water the plants. This unsecured set up was particularly alarming because the neighboring bird population could inadvertently be exposed to these harmful chemicals. The property was also littered with trash and had a huge open trash pit.

Officers removed 1,581 of illegal marijuana plants and approximately 1,000 lbs. of processed marijuana. CDFW seized three firearms, one being an AK-47, $8,980 in cash and 18.5 grams of methamphetamine. CDFW took all eight suspects into custody who were all charged with seven different violations including three felonies.

In addition, while officers were driving up the road to serve the warrant, they observed another illegal cultivation site in plain view with two subjects actively working in a 500-plant grow. Those two individuals were also taken into custody and booked into jail on felony charges.

Charges for all suspects include felony cultivation, possession of methamphetamine and a loaded gun, possession of an assault rifle, drug sales, resisting arrest and water code violations. Along with this, clean-up of the property will also be requested to help restore the surrounding wildlife habitat and ecology.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891