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2008: Year of extreme poachers and dangerous encounters

By Gary Bogue
Monday, January 5th, 2009 at 6:02 am in Department of Fish & Game, Poaching.

Deer always alert for danger. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.

The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Law Enforcement Division noticed an upswing in “extreme” poaching cases in 2008.

These cases are characterized by the excessive killing of fish and wildlife species and repeat poaching offenders undeterred by prior poaching convictions. Wardens also experienced two officer involved shootings during 2008, serving as a chilling reminder of the dangerous work wardens do.

Deer always alert for danger. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, Calif.

The actions of extreme poachers challenge wardens, who often confront these poachers alone with little or no backup. This dangerous work is frustrating when wardens encounter the same poachers again and again.

For example, during 2008:

** A Tuolumne County man was convicted of deer poaching to the extreme. During the initial investigation, wardens found evidence of 26 deer, many of them fresh kills with body parts strewn about the property. In the garage, 23 severed deer tails were tacked up on the wall.

** A Gilroy man was convicted of a gross overlimit of waterfowl among other violations. Wardens found him to be in possession of 335 birds, mostly waterfowl species, representing almost every species of waterfowl that migrates to and from California.

** Two Monterey County men were arrested for take and possession of 66 abalone from an area completely closed to abalone harvest year round. Both men had multiple prior convictions for abalone/commercial fishing violations.

The two shootings wardens were involved in took place during marijuana garden raids with allied law enforcement agencies. One grower was killed by a member of an allied agency during one raid and in a separate incident, another grower was apprehended after shots were fired. Marijuana garden eradication on public lands is a high priority for wardens because of public safety concerns, poaching associated with the growers, pollution of grow sites and extensive habitat destruction.

On a positive note, DFG added 23 wardens from the 2008 Warden Academy and eight lateral transfers from other law enforcement agencies. The January 2009 Warden Academy is scheduled to begin with 28 new warden cadets. /Gary

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2 Responses to “2008: Year of extreme poachers and dangerous encounters”

  1. Gayle Reece Says:

    What will the consequences be for these extreme poachers? The numbers indicate that they were not out for mere personal consumption. The economy has everyone in dire straights but 26 deer, 335 waterbirds, and 66 abalone can only mean they were demented or selling on the black market. I hope they throw the book at them. The wardens are unsung heroes. Very brave and much needed.

  2. Doc Says:

    Even beyond poachers, for me, 2008 has been a year of numerous, unpleasant encounters with hunters — including a recent outing on a refuge where duck hunters on adjacent land were threatening hikers who ventured near decoys. I’ve witnessed a deer brutally left to suffer after being shot by crossbow on private property. I’ve discovered dead and injured ducks shot but not retrieved by hunters. Poaching is horrific indeed, but the hunting industry has succeeded in whitewashing some of the more “legitimate” practices which often amount to much more cruelty, inhumane practices, and more ethical breaches than the non-hunting public is led to believe.

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