Lt. Liz Gregory, CDFW Law Enforcement (916) 358-2939
Lt. Liz Gregory, CDFW Law Enforcement (916) 358-2939
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Wildlife Officer Foundation have announced the winner of the annual “Passing on the Tradition” Hunting Heritage essay contest. Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, was awarded the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation. Tyler won second place in the 2015 essay contest.
Junior hunting license holders or youths under 16 who earned a hunter education certificate in 2016 were eligible to participate in the contest. Entrants were asked to describe their favorite hunting memory in 500 words or less.
Tyler’s winning essay described his introduction to turkey hunting, first tagging along with his father at age five, and his eventual transition to becoming a hunter himself. In recent years, he wrote, his father would bring a camera, rather than a gun, when they ventured into the field together.
“In hindsight, he was always toting a camera, decoys, blinds and pockets of calls. Every trip he planned was for the kids,” Tyler wrote. “I’ll always be grateful for the unselfish giving of his time, foregoing his own ability to hunt, so that I could develop skills and memories that will last me a lifetime.”
The essays were reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives.
“Tyler’s essay stood out because it tells the story of not only his own development as a hunter, but his father’s as well,” said CDFW Lt. John Nores. “The simple act of trading his own gun for a camera says so much about what’s most important to him. That’s what hunting heritage is all about — passing on the tradition and the love of the sport to the next generation.”
Eleven-year-old twins Dan Elliott and David Elliott of Rancho Cordova tied for second place this year. The third place winner is 14-year-old Blake Iverson of King City. All will receive plaques and other prizes donated by the Wildlife Officers Foundation.
AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.
For more information on becoming a hunter education instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition,” please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.
The 2017 Warden Stamp is now available for sale online and at California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) license sales offices statewide. The design for this year’s fundraising stamp features a white sturgeon.
The stamps sell for $5 online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/. Proceeds from stamp sales fund equipment and training for California’s wildlife officers and provide funding for special law enforcement programs, including CDFW’s K-9 program.
“From catching poachers to stopping polluters, wildlife officers put their lives on the line every day to protect California’s natural resources,” said Chief David Bess of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Displaying the warden stamp shows your commitment to conservation and ending poaching in California.”
The 2017 stamp is the eighth to be issued since the program was established in 2010. Previous years’ stamps may also be purchased online.
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
Investigations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have culminated in illegal trafficking of wildlife cases pending in Los Angeles and Alameda counties, and in San Francisco.
In recent weeks, CDFW’s Wildlife Trafficking Team worked three separate investigations:
CDFW wildlife officers have submitted formal complaints to prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Alameda counties. Prosecutors will determine whether charges will be filed. No arrests have been made to date.
A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited. The legislation helped fund the team of CDFW officers to focus on ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife trafficking, including training and laboratory capability for evidence analysis.
“Under Governor Brown’s leadership, laws to combat illegal wildlife trafficking have been substantially strengthened,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The creation of our Wildlife Trafficking Team and enhancement of our laboratory and legal staff are important steps in stopping the epidemic of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in California and around the world. This effort by our wildlife officers demonstrates that the black market trafficking of wildlife in California will not be tolerated. We stand ready beside our federal and state partners, as well as District Attorneys across the state to take these poachers and traffickers out of business.”
Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:
Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977. The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Wildlife officers have arrested two suspects for trafficking striped bass in Fresno County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.
Leepo Her, 32, and Kue Her, 35, both of Fresno, were arrested Thursday morning, Dec. 8, on charges of illegally selling striped bass on the black market.
Over the last year, wildlife officers checked the two men on several occasions as they were fishing throughout California’s Central Valley. Both men were frequently found to be in violation of various laws, including possession of gross overlimits and retention of undersize striped bass. The two men were cited a total of eight times in the last year, and the egregious nature of their poaching activities led wildlife officers to believe they may be selling fish on the black market.
Wildlife officers analyzed the suspects’ citation history and began a focused investigation collecting an abundance of evidence showing that they had made thousands of dollars through the illegal sale of wild-caught striped bass. The investigation culminated in multiple search warrants served Thursday morning where wildlife officers located live crappie and bluegill in an aquarium, frozen striped bass, marijuana and evidence of a marijuana cultivation and sales operation, and methamphetamine and evidence of methamphetamine sales.
Striped bass were introduced to California more than a century ago and quickly became a highly prized game fish throughout California’s Central Valley. Known for its white flaky meat, striped bass are commonly targeted for consumption. Sport fishing activities related to striped bass generate millions of dollars annually to the California economy; however, commercial take of wild caught striped bass was outlawed more than 70 years ago. The continuing demand for wild-caught striped bass gives way to an illegal black market which threatens local bass populations and the legal sport fishery.
“This is another example of the threat that wildlife trafficking places upon a species,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The fish and wildlife of California belong to all the citizens of the state and cannot sustain the abusive greed of traffickers.”
CDFW officers booked both suspects into jail and will seek prosecutions for numerous counts of Fish and Game code violations related to unlawful take and illegal sales, various drug charges, and possible child endangerment. If convicted, the suspects could face several thousands of dollars in fines and penalties, incarceration, forfeiture of assets and equipment and the revocation of their fishing privileges.
Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CDFW CalTIP, a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to tip411, which allows the public to text message an anonymous tip to wildlife officers and lets the officers respond back creating an anonymous two-way conversation. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411). There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the new CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720