Tag Archives: wardens

California Wildlife Officers Receive State’s Highest Honor, Medal of Valor

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers Ryan Stephenson and Timothy Little received awards today at the 2016 Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award Ceremony in Sacramento. The awards acknowledge state employees for acts of heroism and bravery. Officer Stephenson and Little will both receive the Gold Medal for their “Special Acts” defined by the program as, “an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at great risk to his/her own life in an effort to save human life.”

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Wildlife Officer Ryan Stephenson:

On September 12, 2015 approximately 3 p.m., Stephenson was patrolling Lake County when the Valley Fire ignited. The fire had just consumed the small town of Cobb and was now headed toward Middletown and Hidden Valley Lake.

Stephenson raced ahead of the inferno to warn people about the fire and help them evacuate so they wouldn’t be trapped by the flames. Working door to door, he had evacuated several homes and escorted eight people to safety when one of the residents realized their neighbor had been overlooked. The neighbor, an 88-year-old wheelchair bound woman, was still in her home, lying on the couch, unaware of the approaching fire. Officer Stephenson quickly returned to her street, which was now engulfed in flames, identified the woman’s house, entered, and found her asleep on her couch. She was unable to get out on her own, so Officer Stephenson carried her in his arms to his patrol truck. As he was getting ready to leave, the woman told him she was worried about her dog. Officer Stephenson then went back into her home and returned to the truck with her dog, driving them all to safety just minutes before her home became engulfed in flames. The fire subsequently destroyed the woman’s home.

Stephenson’s heroic act saved the life of an elderly woman and her dog.

Wildlife Officer Timothy Little:

On September 12, 2015 approximately 3 p.m., Little was working as a safety patrol in the town of Cobb as he and other first responders scrambled to evacuate or assist residents during the Valley Fire.

As the fire began to consume the small town of Cobb, an emergency call went out about an elderly woman trapped in her home and in need of immediate rescue. Hearing radio calls from other rescue personnel saying they were unable to respond because of fire and debris in the roadway, Little immediately headed toward the woman’s home. Driving his patrol vehicle through raging flames and burning road hazards, Little found the house and entered the home where he found an elderly woman trapped with her 11-month old granddaughter. Little rescued both the woman and child, getting them out of their home safely just minutes before fire incinerated her home.

Shortly afterward, Little learned that another elderly woman was trapped in her house and needed serious medical attention. He also learned that no medical transport crews would be able to make it there in time. He raced to provide aid. After locating the house, he found the woman trapped on the second floor, unable to walk. Little carried her down a flight of stairs to a waiting vehicle and escorted them to the hospital. Little then continued to assist in other searches.

Little’s heroic acts saved the lives of two women and one infant.

“Our more than 400 wildlife officers understand and accept their roles as peace officers, caretakers, guardians and public servants,” said CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “They are well trained and prepared to not only deal with wildlife law enforcement, but general peace officer work and first responder duties. The brave and selfless acts by these officers exemplify the outstanding force of CDFW wildlife officers.”

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

Shikar-Safari Club International Honors Lt. Andrew Halverson as Wildlife Officer of the Year

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Andrew Halverson was recently selected by the Shikar-Safari Club International as recipient of its 2015 Wildlife Officer of the Year award.HalversonAndrew (2)

Shikar-Safari honors one wildlife officer each year who exemplifies outstanding leadership, skill, conduct and ingenuity in the performance of his or her duties. Lt. Halverson demonstrates these characteristics and more, and is recognized as a true leader among his peers, fellow wildlife officers and command staff. He has good working relationships with allied agencies and constituents in communities he proudly serves. He is known and respected for his work ethic, sense of humor, professionalism and integrity. In addition to performing his lieutenant duties in Kern County, he balances a diverse case load, field training officer tasks, department firearms armorer tasks and his special assignment to the Inland Region of the California Hazardous Materials Investigators Association, covering 13 counties.

“Lt. Halverson truly encompasses everything the Shikar-Safari award stands for,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division Chief David Bess.

Lt. Halverson embodies the skills and abilities of a well-rounded wildlife officer and leads his squad of six in Kern County by example. Last year, Halverson was lead case officer in several challenging cases involving environmental and habitat violations. He takes the extra steps necessary to assure properly investigated cases, with accurate documentation of events and actions. His value as an investigator is immeasurable. Halverson possesses a master’s degree in forensics and has five years of experience as a crime scene investigator. As a lieutenant, he is creative, supportive and readily applies his abilities to stop poachers, polluters and unlawful marijuana cultivators.

Kern County has experienced an increase in black bear activity over the last few years and as result, Lt. Halverson and his squad have handled a high volume of difficult human-wildlife conflicts involving bears. They have handled a variety of issues ranging from bears in homes, bears in trees and bears in towns. Halverson applies his creative nature to develop unique and successful approaches to dealing with these challenges.

Halverson readily conducts public outreach events and meetings. He has a talent for working with the public, the media, businesses and allied law enforcement agencies. Regardless of the challenges, even in highly charged and potentially political situations, Lt. Halverson has a natural ability to see problems through to a successful resolution.

Shikar-Safari was founded in 1952 as a hunting organization but quickly recognized its potential to affect meaningful change in the area of wildlife conservation. Funds raised by the Shikar-Safari Club International Foundation are used to support various conservation projects in the United States and throughout the world.

# # #

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

CDFW Warden Saves Baby, Two Elderly Women from Burning Homes

A California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officer based in Lake County recently risked his own life to save three lives in the Valley Fire.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Saturday, Sept. 12, Warden Timothy Little was working mutual aid law enforcement safety patrols in the town of Cobb, just south of Clear Lake, in support of the Valley Fire. Little, other wildlife officers and numerous first responders were scrambling to evacuate residents trapped or needing assistance from their homes.

As the fire began to consume the small town of Cobb (pop. 1,780) an emergency call went out that an elderly woman was trapped in her home on Pine Summit Road and needed immediate rescue. Hearing radio calls that other units were unable to respond because of fire and debris in the roadway, Little headed toward the home. Driving his four-wheel drive patrol vehicle through raging fire and burning road hazards, he found and entered the home, where he located an elderly woman trapped in the house with her 11-month old granddaughter.

Little safely got both the woman and child out of their home, into his patrol truck and on the road to safety just minutes before fire destroyed the home. Both are now safe with family.

Shortly after this rescue, Little again put his own safety at risk to assist another elderly woman, this time needing transport due to serious medical needs.

When Little learned that no medical transport crews would be able to make it to the woman in time, he raced to Anderson Springs, five miles away, on Hot Springs Road in Middletown, to aid the woman. After locating the house, he found the woman trapped on the second floor, unable to walk.  Little carried her down a flight of stairs to a civilian vehicle and escorted them out of immediate danger before continuing to assist in other searches.

“The entire department is incredibly proud of every warden in the field who is supporting efforts to fight the raging wildfires in northern California,” said CDFW Chief of Patrol David Bess. “Tim Little’s bravery and courage are a credit to both CDFW and the State of California.”

CDFW has more than 20 wildlife officers working around the clock to provide mutual aid support to allied law enforcement agencies, fire crews and paramedics fighting both the Butte Fire in Amador and Calaveras counties and the Valley Fire in Lake County.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720

CDFW Now Recruiting New Wildlife Officers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting those interested in a career as a wildlife officer. CDFW will accept applications for wildlife officer cadet through the final filing deadline of Oct. 16, 2015. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a passion for conservation of California’s fish and wildlife resources.Warden with binoculars

For information on minimum qualifications and other requirements for wildlife officer cadets, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/.

The CDFW Law Enforcement Division expects an overwhelming number of inquiries and asks prospective candidates to extensively review materials on the website before contacting CDFW with questions.

California wildlife officers are charged with ensuring public safety, enforcing fish and wildlife laws, investigating illegal sales of wildlife, protecting the state from pollution, enforcing habitat protection laws, fighting illegal drug trafficking, keeping the homeland secure and responding during natural disasters. As peace officers, they have the authority to enforce all California laws, such as the Vehicle Code and Penal Code, and are federally deputized to enforce federal fish and wildlife laws.

A typical day for a California wildlife officer is diverse as the state’s fish and wildlife. Wildlife officers patrol ocean, desert, mountain and valley environments, as well as urban areas. They frequently work independently and conduct full-scale law enforcement investigations. Wildlife officers employ everything from all-terrain vehicles to jet skis and snowmobiles while on patrol and spend much of their typical day making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. CDFW has a dive team and utilizes K-9 partners as well. Environmental crimes and pollution incidents also fall under the purview of wildlife officers. 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 will enter a 31-week academy training program, followed by 19 weeks of field training, where they will work with a seasoned field training officer. CDFW’s academy at Butte College is California Peace Officer Standards and Training certified. Cadets are trained as police officers with specific emphasis on wildlife, pollution and habitat protection.

In California, with 159,000 square miles of habitat and wildlife diversity unequaled by any other state, the average wildlife officer has a patrol district of more than 600 square miles. The state has more than 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs, three desert habitat areas and scores of high mountain peaks.

For more information and to apply, please visit the following links:

Applications must be postmarked no later than Oct. 16.

###

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

Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW, Partner Agencies Conclude Operation Yurok in Humboldt County

Marijuana Eradication Effort Focused on Misuse of Water and Habitat

Officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently participated in a large-scale, multi-agency operation to address the devastating effects of illegal marijuana cultivation on fish, wildlife and the environment in northern California’s watersheds. The four-day mission concluded Thursday, July 16.

Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015
Operation Yurok, July 2015

Allied law enforcement agencies including the State Water Resources Control Board, Yurok Tribal Police, Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office and federal law enforcement teamed with CDFW wildlife officers to serve dozens of search warrants, investigate pollution and water diversion crimes, and eradicate numerous marijuana plants as part of the joint effort dubbed “Operation Yurok.”

More than 100 environmental violations of the Fish and Game Code were discovered and eight suspects were arrested. Charges are pending for additional suspects.

“This operation was about more than just the criminality of marijuana cultivation,” said Lieutenant DeWayne Little of CDFW’s Watershed Enforcement Team (WET). “At its roots, it was about protection of the environment.” Created by CDFW in the last year, WET is comprised of both law enforcement officers and biologists, whose primary mission is to take an all-encompassing approach to investigating and protecting waterways from diversion, obstructions, alteration, pollution and litter.

During this period of unprecedented drought, water conservation is gravely important. An average mature marijuana plant consumes an estimated six to 12 gallons of water per day.

“Operation Yurok” teams eradicated more than 29,000 thirsty marijuana plants from the area, which equates to hundreds of thousands of gallons of water per day that will no longer be diverted and prevented from feeding the nearby Klamath River.

The Klamath River is considered by the locals to be the lifeline for many people. Water flows from the river must be great enough to sustain local drinking water needs and support successful salmon runs, which equate to a food source for the local Yurok tribe. Yurok Tribal members and other locals have expressed great concern about illegal marijuana grows in the area, due to the Klamath River’s historic low levels.

###

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982