Category Archives: Public Safety

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

 

CDFW Law Enforcement Division Now Hiring Wildlife Officers

Are you interested in becoming 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.

Warden cadet applications and warden applications must be submitted by July 31, 2019. Apply for a warden cadet position if you are not currently a peace officer. Apply for a warden position if you have your POST certificate.

The Job Post Announcement can be found online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=148187.

All prospective candidates are encouraged to extensively review informational materials on LED’s webpage 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, 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 with 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, cannabis enforcement, marine patrol, and oil spill prevention and response.

Annually, wildlife officers contact 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, in Oroville. 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.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Perry Schultz, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-2082
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

 

CDFW Graduates Six New Warden K-9s

May is graduation season and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division K-9 Academy is no exception. Six new K-9s graduated from the program today and are now ready to put their skills in law enforcement and environmental protection to work.

All of the dogs are trained to detect illegally taken wildlife, invasive species, hidden firearms, expended casings and other evidence or articles. About half of CDFW’s K-9s are dual purpose, meaning they do detection work but also protect their handlers, other law enforcement officers, and the public and aid in the apprehension of suspects.

The new teams and their upcoming assignments are as follows:

  • Warden Shane Embry and K-9 Link. Link is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Humboldt County.
  • Warden Michael Hampton and K-9 Leeloo. Leeloo is a 3-year-old German Shepherd. Detection team assigned to Humboldt County.
  • Warden Michael Beals and K-9 Rage. Rage is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Glenn County.
  • Warden Jeffrey Moran and K-9 Tess. Tess is a 6-year-old Belgian Malinois. Detection team assigned to Stanislaus County.
  • Warden Casey Thomas and K-9 Canna. Canna is a 2-year-old Belgian Malinois. Dual Purpose team assigned to Marijuana Permitting.
  • Warden Nick Molsberry and K-9 Scout. Scout is a 2-year-old English Springer Spaniel. Detection team assigned to Orange County.

Today’s graduation followed eight weeks of intensive training to bring the dogs’ behavior and field responses up to the standards of detection and handler protection required by CDFW and California Peace Officers Standards and Training.

“Our Warden K-9 teams have dramatically increased the officer safety during some very dangerous missions in the backcountry, and have helped us track down and arrest hundreds of felony suspects,” said Lt. Bob Pera, CDFW K-9 program coordinator. “Then the next day, they may put on a demonstration at a public event or school function where they inevitably garner the attention of all present and help gain support for CDFW law enforcement programs.”

Notably, the teams have already begun to show their mettle in the field. Just after their formal certification May 22, Warden Beals and his new K-9 partner Rage joined two veteran K-9 teams, Warden Aaron Galway and K-9 partner Ghille and Warden Nick Buckler and K-9 partner Beedo, for a first patrol. Just nine minutes into the shift, they observed a vehicle committing several driving violations on Highway 36 near Red Bluff. The driver made some headway before they could make the stop. It took some investigative effort to realize a passenger had hopped out of the vehicle earlier and ran off to hide in the brush. Rage deployed and soon located a lighter and a hat off the side of the road 400 yards from the where the vehicle came to a stop. Rage immediately started directly on the track while Ghille came in from a different angle. Warden Buckler and Beedo deployed in an adjacent canyon to cut off any possible escape. Rage tracked the suspect to his hiding place about the same time Warden Galway and Ghille established visual contact. The suspect quickly surrendered for fear of sustaining a bite. He had outstanding warrants for 15 felony violations in North Carolina and had been on the run for more than 12 years.

“CDFW K-9s are selected for drive, determination and obedience. Then they are intensively trained for work specific to wildlife law enforcement,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “The dogs absolutely love what they do, as do their handlers. And at the end of the day, they ask for nothing in return other than a favorite rubber ball, lavish praise and belly scratches.”

CDFW’s K-9 program is funded largely by private donations through the California Wildlife Officers Foundation and handlers thank them for their continued support.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Kyle Kroll, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 575-5736
Warden Kyle Glau, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 559-7542

CDFW Confirms Mountain Lion Responsible for San Diego Attack

Wildlife officers and forensics scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have concluded their investigation of the mountain lion attack at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County. A complete mountain lion genetic profile was obtained from the samples collected from the young boy who was attacked on Memorial Day, which was found to be identical to the profile obtained from the mountain lion killed the day of the incident. This DNA analysis conclusively proves the mountain lion is the exact one that attacked the victim.

On Monday, May 27, in the afternoon, wildlife officers responded to the park where the 4-year-old boy was being treated by San Diego Fire-Rescue after sustaining a non-life-threatening injury consistent with a mountain lion attack. The boy was part of a group of 11 people recreating in the park at the time.

The wildlife officers identified mountain lion tracks at the scene. Very shortly thereafter and in the same area, a mountain lion approached the officers. The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion. The wildlife officers immediately killed the animal to ensure public safety and to collect forensic evidence to potentially match the mountain lion to the victim. The officers collected clothing and other samples from the boy. Those samples, plus scrapings from underneath the mountain lion’s claws, were sent to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento for DNA analysis.

CDFW emphasizes that despite this incident, the probability of being attacked by a mountain lion is very low. The last confirmed lion attack in California (which was also non-fatal) occurred in 2014. For more information on how to co-exist with mountain lions and other wildlife in California, and what to do if confronted by a threatening wild animal, go to the CDFW Keep Me Wild webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692
Lt. Scott Bringman, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (858) 864-2520

CDFW Wildlife Officers Investigating Suspected Mountain Lion Attack

Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife are investigating a suspected mountain lion attack at the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve in San Diego County. On Monday, May 27, in the afternoon, wildlife officers responded to the park where a 4-year-old boy was treated by San Diego Fire-Rescue after sustaining a non-life threatening injury consistent with a mountain lion attack. The boy was part of a group of 11 people recreating in the park at the time. The details of how the suspected attack occurred are not yet available.

While the wildlife officers were conducting their investigation at the scene, they identified mountain lion tracks. Very shortly thereafter and in the same area, a mountain lion approached the officers. The lion appeared to have little fear of humans, which is abnormal behavior for a mountain lion. The wildlife officers immediately dispatched the animal to ensure public safety. The wildlife officers collected clothing and other samples from the boy. Those samples, plus the carcass, are en route to the CDFW Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Sacramento for a necropsy and DNA analysis. CDFW wildlife forensics specialists will attempt to confirm that this animal was responsible for the attack.

The Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve is part of the city of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department. CDFW Lt. Scott Bringman will be available to discuss the investigation with the media at 11 a.m. at Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve near the intersection of Black Mountain Road and Mercy Road.

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