Category Archives: Law Enforcement

CDFW Law Enforcement Academy Graduates 30 Cadets, Adding 18 New Wildlife Officers to the Ranks

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Academy Class 60 today added 18 new wildlife officers to the ranks of those who have dedicated their lives to the protection of California’s incredible natural resources.

The graduation ceremony took place Friday, Aug. 11 at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise. The 18 new wildlife officers will be going directly into CDFW’s Field Training Officer (FTO) program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced FTOs. An additional 12 cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of either applying for a law enforcement position with a different law enforcement agency or with CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division.

CDFW is also pleased to announce the recent hiring of four new wildlife officers who left previous full-time peace officer positions to work as wildlife officers. They will receive additional wildlife law enforcement specific training at the Academy prior to beginning their FTO Programs.

“Our cadets and Academy staff have worked tirelessly every day during the duration of the Academy to help develop necessary skills they will need to protect California’s natural resources and the California’s communities for generations to come,” said David Bess, CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement.

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. FTO 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.

Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. 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.

In 2008, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art POST-certified academy facility with 42 years of police training history.

The Law Enforcement Division will be accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2017, for the Academy beginning in January 2019. For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

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

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr. Wanted for Attempting to Shoot a CDFW Wildlife Officer

A reward of up to $20,000 remains available for information leading to the arrest of Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr., suspected of attempting to shoot a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer in August 2016. Anyone with information in this case (#201604226), particularly the whereabouts of Hof, is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539, or the CDFW CalTIP line at (888) 334-2258.

The California Wildlife Officers Foundation, California Waterfowl Association, Defenders of Wildlife, Humane Society of the United States, Nature Conservancy, Sportfishing Alliance and private donors collaborated on the reward.

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Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr.

On Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016, at approximately 12:40 a.m., a CDFW wildlife officer was patrolling in Carlotta, Humboldt County.  The officer saw a pickup truck with several occupants using spotlights on Redwood House Road near Highway 36.  The officer attempted an enforcement stop of the truck when the driver sped away. A pursuit ensued and a person in the rear of the truck, believed to be Hof, began shooting at the wildlife officer during the attempt to get away. The suspects crashed their vehicle into a tree before fleeing on foot into the woods, where they escaped.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and Humboldt District Attorney’s Office took lead in the initial investigation into the shooting incident. Through their investigation, they identified Hof as the suspect.   The Sheriff’s Office obtained a $500,000 Ramey Warrant for Hof’s arrest.

Shawn Eugene Hof, Jr. is 25 years old. He is 5’9”, 150 lbs., with brown hair and brown eyes.

Humboldt County Sheriff Office Tip Line 707-268-2539

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

Central Valley Fish Trafficking Ring Sentenced Following CDFW Bust

Three Fresno men face jail time and fines after being caught poaching and unlawfully trafficking sport-caught fish, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Kue Her, 36, Leepo Her, 33, and Michael Vang, 31, all of Fresno, all pled guilty to charges of illegal poaching of wildlife for profit. Kue Her was sentenced to 52 days in county jail and four years probation, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation. Leepo Her was sentenced to serve nine days in county jail, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.

Vang was sentenced to one day in county jail, six hours community service, four years probation and a $1,050 fine, with a court-ordered lifetime fishing license revocation.  

Over the course of a year, CDFW wildlife officers made contact with the three men on multiple occasions as they were fishing throughout California’s Central Valley. The men were frequently found in violation of various laws, including possession of gross overlimits and retention of undersized striped bass. The egregious nature of their poaching activities led wildlife officers to suspect they might be selling fish on the black market.

Wildlife officers analyzed the suspects’ citation history and began a focused investigation into their activities. The investigation uncovered an abundance of evidence that the men had made thousands of dollars through the illegal sale of wild-caught striped bass and other local fish species. The investigation culminated in multiple search warrants served in December 2016, where wildlife officers located live crappie and bluegill in an aquarium, frozen striped bass, marijuana and evidence of a marijuana cultivation and sales, and methamphetamine and evidence of methamphetamine sales.

“The cases are a result of wildlife officers’ recognition of each independent poaching offense for the egregious offenses they were as a whole,” said Assistant Chief John Baker, Central Enforcement District, Fresno. “From there it was good old-fashioned investigative work.”

The Fresno County District Attorney’s Office and Deputy District Attorneys Sabrina Ashjian and Adam Kook prosecuted the case. Ashjian displayed particular vigilance, perseverance and tenacity in her handling of this case. These efforts, along with multitudes of other environmental and poaching prosecutions, contributed to her selection as the 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year by the California Fish and Game Commission.

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.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Doug Barnhart, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (559) 685-5456

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

CDFW Law Enforcement Now Hiring Wildlife Officers

Do you have what it takes to be a California wildlife officer? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division (LED) is currently accepting applications for wildlife officers and cadets. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a love of the outdoors and a passion for fish and wildlife conservation.

Applicants who are current peace officers must fill out a warden application by July 31, 2017.

Applicants who are not current peace officers must fill out a warden cadet application by Sept. 30, 2017.

All prospective candidates are encouraged to extensively review informational materials on the Law Enforcement Division’s website before contacting CDFW with questions.

CDFW wildlife officers are fully sworn California peace officers with a fundamental duty to serve and protect the public. They have the authority to enforce all California laws, including the Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Health and Safety drug laws and more. The primary mission of a wildlife officer is to enforce wildlife resource laws; to protect California waterways and habitat from destruction, pollution and litter; provide the public with hunting and fishing information; and to promote and coordinate hunter education, and safe weapons handling.

Wildlife officers patrol the mountains, valleys, deserts, creeks, streams, rivers and ocean. They frequently work alone and cover both rural and urban areas. California’s diverse ecosystem spans 159,000 square miles divided into 58 counties, with a human population in excess of 39 million. The state has 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers. Wildlife officers patrol utilizing trucks, ATVs, personal watercraft, boats, snowmobiles and airplanes, making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. Wildlife officers work undercover, conduct surveillances and complete in-depth investigations, including writing and serving search warrants. CDFW LED has numerous specialized teams and assignments including K-9, wildlife trafficking, marijuana eradication, marine patrol, and oil spill prevention and response.

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 for warden cadet will attend a Peace Officer Standards of Training (POST) certified law enforcement training academy, conducted by CDFW at Butte College, near Chico in northern California. Following the academy, probationary wildlife officers will work with a seasoned field training officer for several weeks, where they will learn to apply their training in practical circumstances.

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

Nicole Kozicki Recognized Nationally as Wildlife Officer of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is proud to announce that Wildlife Officer Nicole Kozicki has been selected as the Pogue-Elms Wildlife Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. The award, which was formally presented to her at the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) annual conference on July 10, is considered their highest honor. Kozicki is also the first female recipient of the award.

CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division selected Kozicki as the 2017 Wildlife Officer of the Year, which led to her nomination for the WAFWA award. Kozicki has honorably represented CDFW in the San Francisco Bay Area and its communities for 27 years.

“We are very happy to see Wildlife Officer Kozicki receive the Pogue-Elms award for her extraordinary dedication to the protection of California’s natural resources,” said Assistant Chief Steve Riske, who supervises Kozicki. “Her tireless investigations of poaching, pollution, and environmental crimes are an example to her fellow wildlife officers in California and to others throughout the country. Her reputation brings great credit to herself, CDFW and California.”

Kozicki’s ability to handle complex, large-scale investigations — many of which have involved harm to threatened and endangered species — has earned her a reputation as an expert in the field of environmental crimes. Throughout her career, Kozicki has led hundreds of streambed alteration and pollution cases to successful prosecution. Her tireless pursuit of the truth has resulted in hundreds of acres of mitigated lands being preserved in perpetuity and has generated millions of dollars in fines. Fellow wildlife officers as well as investigators from local, state and federal agencies often seek her investigation expertise.

Among the greatest of Kozicki’s accomplishments is her leadership of an investigation related to illegal development practices that threatened two endangered species – the California tiger salamander and the red-legged frog – at Dublin Ranch in Alameda County. Conducted jointly with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the three-year investigation uncovered numerous violations of state and federal law, including egregious grading and illegal stream alterations, habitat destruction and falsification of permitting documents. Kozicki provided testimony in state court for two full weeks. The developer eventually pled no contest to charges of submitting fraudulent documents in an attempt to avoid development requirements.  The terms of the plea agreement between the developer, the California Attorney General’s Office and CDFW included almost $1.1 million in fines and restitution, preservation of 107 acres of land in Contra Costa County (known as the Brown Ranch) in a conservation easement and $300,000 put into an account to manage the property.

“Wildlife Officer Kozicki has an extraordinary capability and reputation for investigating cases that affect not only California’s fish and wildlife, but the very habitat where those fish and wildlife live,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The benefits of her investigations will be measured for generations to come.”

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. Idaho Department of Fish and Game Wildlife Officers Bill Pogue and Conley Elms were killed in the line of duty in 1981, during a poaching investigation. WAFWA created the award in their honor.

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