Category Archives: Law Enforcement

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 

2017 Youth Essay Contest Offers Chance To Earn Lifetime Hunting License

 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Wildlife Officers Foundation are again co-sponsoring the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest for young hunters.

The California Wildlife Officers Foundation will recognize one grand-prize winner with a lifetime California hunting license that is valued at more than $600. Second and third place winners will also be selected and prize packages will be awarded.

This year’s contest invites entrants to share how hunting has influenced or affected their lives.

“Youth hunters learn invaluable lessons about safety, ethics and conservation when they team with their mentors,” said CDFW Hunter Education Program Administrator Capt. Robert Pelzman. “This year’s essay topic promises to provide plenty of heartfelt examples of how their varied experiences in the field have had a beneficial impact on their individual lives.”

The contest is open to all junior hunting license holders, as well as youths under 18 who have earned a hunter education certificate. Entrants should submit an essay of 500 words or less.

Entries should be submitted via email to Lt. John Nores at john.nores@wildlife.ca.gov and must be received on or before Friday, Dec. 15 at 5 p.m. On their essay, applicants must also provide their date of birth, place of residence and a contact telephone number and email address.

Essays will be reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives. The winners will then be notified by telephone. For additional information, please contact Lt. John Nores at (408) 591-5174.

AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show scheduled in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018 at 1:30 p.m. The contest winner must be present and accompanied by a parent or guardian.

For information on becoming a Hunter Education Instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition” to others, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. John Nores, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (408) 591-5174
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

New Laws Enhance Poaching Penalties to Better Protect Wildlife

As many big game hunting seasons progress into the fall, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers have a new tool to deter poaching and punish violators for serious poaching crimes.

Legislation sponsored by the wildlife conservation community approved enhancements of penalties for the illegal take of trophy-class animals. Under Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 12013.3 penalties are significantly enhanced for any person convicted of poaching deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and wild turkey with certain characteristics that would define them as trophy game animal.

In addition to the legislation that enhanced poaching penalties, the California Fish and Game Commission developed regulations to define those trophy characteristics. Commissioners worked with the CDFW and several outdoors, conservation and hunting organizations to define the characteristics in California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 748.6. The legislation and regulation package went into full effect on July 1, 2017.

In summary, “…the punishment for a person who knowingly violated and has been convicted of [take out of season, spotlighting, baiting, waste of meat, or take without a tag]… where the violation involved a trophy… deer, elk, antelope, or bighorn sheep shall be a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) nor more than forty thousand dollars ($40,000), and where the violation involved a wild turkey, a fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or both that fine and imprisonment.”

“The first case adjudicated after the trophy law took effect exemplifies the potential benefits this enhancement law could have on wildlife protection,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

On July 5, 2017, Garrett Thomas Peacock, 22, of Yuba City, was sentenced to two years’ probation with a restriction from hunting during that time and ordered to pay $5,150 in fines and penalties. The case began months prior when wildlife officers, acting upon an anonymous CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poacher and Polluters), contacted Peacock during a follow-up investigation. The investigation revealed that Peacock unlawfully killed a trophy class “buck” deer without permission in an orchard on private property in Maxwell in Colusa County. Peacock did not possess the required deer tag at the time of the killing. Officers recovered photographic evidence, deer antlers, numerous packages of meat and a deer tag purchased after the fact from Peacock.

“Unlawfully targeting animals for their trophy qualities is an egregious violation,” said Chief Bess.  “Under the enhanced penalties of this law, the punishment will more closely match the severity of these types of poaching crimes.”

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CalTIP, CDFW’s 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 847411 (tip411). Text messages allow for a two-way conversation with wildlife officers, while preserving the anonymity of the tipster. Texts should begin with the word “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message. There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

Media Contact:
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW Arrests Four Suspects for Commercial Sale of Sport Harvest Abalone

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A CDFW Wildlife Officer places an abalone poaching suspect under arrest.
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Wildlife officers observed the suspects using dive gear to harvest abalone for suspected sale on the black market.
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Dive gear seized as evidence on Sept. 20, 2017.

 

Wildlife officers have arrested four suspects on charges of harvesting abalone with a recreational fishing license then selling it on the black market for profit, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. The arrests were preceded by a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom have been previously convicted of similar violations.

Arrested were Oakley resident Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, El Sobrante resident Dennis Nonnarath, 45, and San Jose residents Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42.

The group came to the attention of CDFW wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek, a popular recreational abalone fishery in Mendocino County. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions and the wildlife officers suspected the group may be engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, which is unlawful.

Beginning in May 2017, wildlife officers observed suspicious activity by the same group of suspects in several popular recreational abalone diving locations in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Further investigation revealed an extended group of people who were harvesting abalone and allegedly selling it on the black market. The five-month investigation uncovered evidence of various poaching crimes among the group, including unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, take of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime, among others.

“The collective efforts of these suspected poachers show a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect California’s abalone resources,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Whether it be California abalone or African ivory, wildlife officers will not tolerate trafficking of our wildlife resources.”

The alleged abalone poaching crimes occurred at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to unprecedented environmental and biological stressors. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission has re-adopted an emergency abalone regulation to continue the restriction of the annual abalone limit to 12 abalone per person and continue the reduced open season which is limited to May, June, August, September and October.

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Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982