2020 Warden Stamp, Featuring Marine Fish, Now Available for Purchase

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released the 2020 Warden Stamp, a collectible decal that many diehard hunters and anglers collect and display on vehicles and other items in order to show support for California’s wildlife officers. This year’s stamp, which features a dorado, a marine fish also known as mahi-mahi or dolphinfish, can be purchased online or at CDFW offices for just $5.

shield shaped stamp with dorado illustration, warden badge, and text - Support California Wildlife OfficersThe Warden Stamp Program was initiated in 2010 to address the need for better equipment and training for the state’s wildlife officers and to provide funding for special law enforcement programs. All funds raised from the sales of the stamp go to purchase necessary equipment for wildlife officers and to support CDFW’s K-9 program.

“Those who purchase the Warden Stamp – hunters, anglers and non-consumptive users – appreciate and want to conserve our state’s amazing natural resources,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Purchase of the stamp demonstrates public support of wildlife officers and allows them to do their jobs more safely and efficiently.”

Approximately 465 wildlife officers patrol and protect 159,000 square miles of California’s natural habitat and 200 miles out to sea. Though their primary function is to enforce California’s Fish and Game Code, they may be called upon to enforce any of California’s laws.

Wildlife officers patrol on foot, on horseback, by plane, boats and in a variety of vehicles. They investigate reports of violations, collect and preserve evidence, write reports and testify in court.

Wildlife officers are also expected to promote and coordinate hunter education programs, collect and report information on the conditions of fish and wildlife and their habitat and represent CDFW at local schools, meetings of hunting and fishing clubs and other community events.

To view an image of the 2020 Warden Stamp, visit wildlife.ca.gov/warden-stamp. To purchase the stamp, visit  wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales.


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

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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.


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

DFG K-9 Handlers Take 2011 and 2012 Officer of the Year Honors

Media Contacts:
Warden Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

Two of the most energetic dogs in the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) K-9 program are teamed with perhaps the most energetic wardens in California. Today, these wardens were named Officer of the Year: Trinity County Warden Paul Cardoza for 2011 and Shasta County Warden Brian Boyd for 2012. (DFG’s Law Enforcement Division traditionally announces the Officer of the Year during its annual Advanced Officer Training, but because budget constraints pre-empted last year’s training, both this year’s and last year’s award recipients were announced today.)

“Wardens Cardoza and Boyd have developed a reputation for maximizing the effectiveness of their K-9 partners to catch a lot of poachers,” said Nancy Foley, Chief of DFG’s Law Enforcement Division. “We are proud of their efforts and accomplishments.”

Warden Paul Cardoza – Officer of the Year 2011

DFG Warden Paul Cardoza
DFG Warden Paul Cardoza

Warden Cardoza and his K-9 partner Kilo have proven themselves time and again on a number of poaching and general law enforcement cases, including one investigation where Kilo searched a murder scene a few days after the incident and found a firearm that witnesses had attempted to hide. The duo’s find resulted in the arrested man being cleared of murder charges (https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/?s=Cardoza).

Both Warden Cardoza and K-9 Kilo are known for their extremely high-energy personalities. Cardoza’s tireless pursuit of poachers is well respected by his law enforcement peers, both in and outside of DFG. He is very serious about his role as a game warden and as a K-9 handler.

In addition to his patrol responsibilities, Warden Cardoza is a firearms instructor, defensive tactics instructor and an armorer for all department firearms. He conducts quarterly firearms training and teaches quarterly defensive tactics to his own squad, neighboring squads and academy cadets.

Warden Brian Boyd – Officer of the Year 2012

DFG Warden Brian Boyd and Phebe
DFG Warden Brian Boyd and Phebe

Warden Brian Boyd and K-9 partner Phebe have developed an effective technique for apprehending some of the most difficult and dangerous suspects in law enforcement work: fleeing illegal marijuana cultivation suspects on remote forest lands. The suspects are actively engaged in the commission of a felony, extremely physically fit, know the area better than their pursuers and are usually armed. To date, Warden Boyd and Phebe have apprehended 40 suspects (https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2011/10/13/good-dog-bites-bad-guys/).

Warden Boyd and Phebe are prominently featured on “Wild Justice,” the National Geographic reality series about California game wardens. Fans of the show routinely comment on the high-energy personalities of both Boyd and Phebe. In one episode during the show’s first season, producers attached a camera to Phebe’s collar to give viewers a never-before seen K-9 view of a chase and apprehension. They will duplicate the effort this season, which premiered March 11.

Warden Boyd has a reputation for pursuing poaching suspects with dogged determination, both by physically outrunning them and by outsmarting them. He has been known to use everything from disguises to creative surveillance techniques in his efforts to develop evidence of poaching crimes. Boyd has had an above-average number of trainees (rookie wardens right out of the academy) who commonly claim they learned more from him during their brief training cycle than from any other game warden in their careers. Three of those former trainees submitted lengthy nomination forms for his Officer of the Year honor.

DFG Warden and K-9 Partner Help Clear Man Charged with Murder

Warden Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement (916) 508-7095

Trinity County Sheriff’s Deputies and a DFG Warden and his K-9 partner searched a snow covered property in Douglas City and recovered a hidden rifle at the center of a murder investigation. The man accused of murder said the rifle was used to threaten him in an altercation that left an elderly man dead.

Trinity County District Attorney’s Office yesterday dismissed all charges against Jesus Salas, 50, of Douglas City, stemming from the Nov. 26, 2010 incident. Salas was charged with the murder of Melvin Burtis, 78, of Douglas City, as well as elder abuse, hit and run, and other charges. It was determined that Salas acted in self defense as Burtis pointed a rifle at him twice, making Salas fear for his life.

According to initial reports and witnesses, Salas ran over Burtis with his car as he was leaving the property only after Burtis threatened him with a rifle from close range. Two Burtis family members told officers that no gun was ever brandished. Responding Sheriff deputies were unable to locate a firearm and Salas was charged murder.

Four days later a search warrant was issued and DFG Game Warden Paul Cardoza and his K-9 partner, Kilo helped detectives search the snow-covered property. After 20 minutes, Kilo found a rifle hidden in a shed, under a pile of insulation. The rifle matched Salas’ description of the one he said Burtis was brandishing. It was covered with blood.

“Fortunately for Mr. Salas, law enforcement did an exemplary job at continuing the investigation and were able to take advantage of a well-trained officer, Kilo,” said Trinity County District Attorney Michael Harper.

After the gun was recovered, a Burtis family member admitted removing the gun from Burtis’ hands as he lay there on the ground and hiding it in the shed, then lying to investigators.

“Warden K-9s are trained to detect firearms, bullet casings and several varieties of game, as well as protect their handlers,” said Lt. Lynette Shimek, DFG K-9 program director. “While Warden Cardoza and K-9 Kilo’s efforts are usually directed at solving poaching crimes, the loss of life made the Trinity County investigation a priority.”

Trinity County officials are continuing the investigation and charges are expected to be filed against one of the witnesses.