Category Archives: Enforcement

20-Year Prison Sentence for Man Convicted of Attempting to Shoot a Wildlife Officer

A Humboldt County man who attempted to shoot a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CFDW) wildlife officer has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr., 25, was convicted in Humboldt County Superior Court of assault with a firearm upon a peace officer with an enhancement of personally using a firearm, being a felon in possession of a firearm, using threats and violence upon an executive officer, negligently discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle, and one misdemeanor violation of “spotlighting” (using artificial light to poach wildlife). On Jan. 16, Humboldt County Superior Court Judge John T. Feeney issued the 20-year sentence. By law, Hof must serve at least 85 percent of his sentence because of the serious nature of the offenses.

In the early morning hours of Aug. 21, 2016, a CDFW wildlife officer was patrolling in Carlotta, Humboldt County. The officer saw a pickup truck with two occupants using spotlights on Redwood House Road near Highway 36. The driver sped away when the officer attempted an enforcement stop. During the subsequent pursuit, Hof began shooting at the wildlife officer from the truck. The suspects crashed their vehicle into a tree and escaped into the woods. Hof was on the run for more than a year.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt District Attorney’s Office led the initial investigation into the shooting incident and, working with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division, applied intensive pressure to locate and arrest Hof. A group of private donors, including the California Wildlife Officers Foundation, California Fish and Game Warden Supervisors and Managers Association, California Waterfowl Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, The Nature Conservancy, Sportfishing Alliance and others collaborated on a $20,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Hof ultimately turned himself into police on Aug. 10, 2017.

“We are pleased with the sentence handed down by Judge Feeney,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “It took a dangerous felon out of the community making it safer for the citizens of Humboldt County. CDFW thanks our allied agency partners for their efforts since the moment the incident began and the coalition of donors who offered the reward money. We’re relieved the situation was resolved without injuries to our officers or the public.”

Hof’s accomplice, Thomas Wheeler, 19 of Fortuna was sentenced last month to a suspended sentence of eight years in state prison for the use of a firearm in aiding and abetting the assault on a peace officer, evading a peace officer with wanton and reckless disregard for person and property, two misdemeanor violations for allowing another person to shoot from a vehicle, and spotlighting.

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

 

CDFW to Sell Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Answer Questions and More at Sportsmen’s Show

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is returning to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento from Jan. 18-21. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California.

Wildlife officers, fisheries and wildlife scientists, hunter education instructors, license agents and many other CDFW staff will be available during the show to answer questions and provide information regarding fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. CDFW’s license sales booth will be located in the Pavilion Building (space 3700) and licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps will be available for purchase. Customers may pay by credit card or check, but not cash.

For the fifth year, CDFW’s top leadership – including Fisheries and Wildlife Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr, Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer, Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis and Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess – will hold a panel discussion about topics of interest to California’s hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel will be held in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building at noon on Saturday, Jan 20. Members of the audience are encouraged to ask questions of the panel.

Right afterward, the panel participants will head over to the west side of Building A’s Adventure Theater on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. to hold another question and answer session with hunting attendees. This will take place on stage directly after the youth essay contest winner is awarded (see below for more information).

“Every year, I look forward to this opportunity to interact with hunters and anglers face to face and talk to them about the topics of particular interest and concern to them,” Lehr said. “We always welcome questions from those who share our passion for wildlife conservation.”

Additional CDFW booths and highlights include:

  • Online Harvest Reporting — Tag holders can log onto their online profile to view and complete all tags that require reporting. The tag holder will receive a report confirmation number that should be written in the space provided on the report card. The harvest report card will not have to be mailed in physically. CDFW encourages all tag holders to use this online service to meet their harvest reporting requirements.
  • Wildlife Officer Recruitment — CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside of the Pavilion Building, featuring an impressive display of taxidermy and a free enclosed laser-shot hunting simulator game. Wildlife officers, including statewide recruiting Lieutenant Specialist Chris Stoots, will be on hand to answer questions about employment opportunities.
  • Meet Your K-9 Team — CDFW K9 wardens and their handlers will be available for a meet-and-greet in the Sporting Dog Pavilion on Saturday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. and Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
  •  Youth Fishing — Bring your child to the Youth Fair Expo Center to fish for beautiful rainbow trout supplied by CDFW. Each child who participates will go home with a California Fishing Passport book, an official stamp and a fish identification book containing pictures and information about 150 different species of California fish!
  • Learn How to be “Bear Aware” — CDFW staff will demonstrate how to keep a campsite safe from unwanted ursine visitors.
  • 2018 Warden Stamps — At the main booth, CDFW will be offering and promoting this year’s stamp, which features the silhouette of a K-9 warden. Proceeds from the $5 stamp support wildlife officers and K-9 teams and help fund the purchase of necessary law enforcement equipment.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth. Yearly subscriptions may also be purchased for $15.
  • Youth Essay Contest — CDFW and the Wildlife Officer Foundation will be awarding this year’s contest winner, 11-year-old Landon Sabol of Morgan Hill, a lifetime hunting license for his outstanding essay emphasizing the theme of “Passing on the Tradition.” Sabol and the second- and third-place contest winners will be honored on Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the west side of Building A’s Adventure Theater. Stop by to congratulate them and get information on how to become the next youth contest winner.

The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento. ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $16 for adults (door sales are cash only, although tickets may be purchased in advance online). Youths age 15 and under are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the grounds.

For additional information, schedules and to purchase tickets, please visit the ISE webpage at www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento/.

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Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

Massive Poached Sacramento County Deer Leads to Trophy Penalty Enhancement

A Sacramento County man entered a no contest plea Tuesday to charges of poaching a huge blacktail deer in Sacramento County. John Frederick Kautz, 51, of Lodi, was charged with possession of an illegally poached deer and falsification of deer tag reporting information, both misdemeanors, following a three-month investigation.

Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.
Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.

Kautz illegally killed the trophy-sized buck on private property in Wilton in December 2016, two months after the deer season closed in the area. The deer had an antler spread of 31 inches with four antler points on one side and five on the other, which is an unusually large size for this part of California.

Kautz transported the illegally killed deer across state lines to Nevada to have the deer head mounted by a taxidermist. Kautz was also working through the process of scoring the trophy class buck to have it entered into the Safari Club International hunting record book. The deer’s trophy-sized antlers would have been surely accepted if the animal had been legally taken. However, the poaching conviction for the buck makes it ineligible for that recognition.

Working on a tip provided in September 2017, Wildlife Officers Sean Pirtle and Anthony Marrone spent an exhaustive three months on the investigation, collecting evidence that would prove the year-old incident was an act of poaching. Through extensive interviews, multiple search warrants and forensic analysis of computer records, and with the help of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Computer Crimes Unit, they slowly pieced together the puzzle. Then, collaborating with Nevada game wardens who conducted multiple follow-up interviews outside of California, they worked together in an attempt to track down the actual deer that had been mounted by the Nevada taxidermist.

All California wildlife officers are federally deputized to investigate fish and wildlife crimes anywhere in the United States. The wildlife officers submitted the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

On Dec. 19, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney David Brown announced a plea bargain resulting in a conviction of two poaching related misdemeanors. Kautz was sentenced to two days in county jail, placed on three years probation with a search and seizure clause, ordered to surrender the mounted deer head and was prohibited by the court from hunting or accompanying anyone else who is hunting during his probation. The fine was set at $5,000 pursuant to a new legislation and regulation package which took effect on July 1, 2017, increasing penalties associated with poaching “trophy class” or very large wild game animals.

The vast majority of hunters are ethical and abide by hunting laws and regulations, including the individual who provided this tip that helped lead to Kautz’s conviction.

“We would like to thank our wildlife law enforcement partners in Nevada and the CHP, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution, and the hunter who gave us the original tip,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief.

“We are also pleased how the newly effective legislation and regulations package helped increase the penalties in this case to hopefully deter others from the same poaching behavior. A case like this is exactly why this package was enacted.”

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

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Delayed Again Due to Quality Testing

 

The Director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced a final 15-day delay for the northern California commercial Dungeness crab season. Crab condition improved from the last round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 19. However, crab had not reached the minimum meat recovery criteria as established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee testing protocol.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Jan. 15, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Jan. 12, 2018. This is the last delay the Director can issue due to Dungeness crab quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

Testing results for domoic acid are posted by the California Department of Public Health.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opener Pushed Back to Dec. 31

The director of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced an additional 15-day delay for the upcoming commercial Dungeness crab season, based on the results of another round of pre-season quality testing conducted on Dec. 5. The tests continued to show that Dungeness crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

The delay affects Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open on 12:01 a.m. Dec. 31, 2017, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2017.

Crab quality tests are conducted regularly to ensure that crab are filled out enough prior to harvesting. Tests follow guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee, which is overseen by the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 22. If quality remains low, an additional delay until Jan. 15, 2018 will be issued by the director. This date is the latest the season can be delayed due to quality testing.

No vessel may take or land crab within Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 during the closure period.  In addition, any vessel that lands crab from ocean waters outside of Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9, or any other delayed opening areas in Oregon or Washington, for 30 days following the opening of those areas as outline in California’s Fair Start Provision (Fish and Game Code, section 8279.1).

The director’s memo can be found here.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2017-18 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories.

For more information about Dungeness crab fisheries in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937