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Poaching is increasing in California: New efforts to catch poachers

By Gary Bogue
Thursday, June 4th, 2009 at 7:45 am in Poaching.

Deer are commonly poached for their meat. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA

The Humane Society of the United States Teams Up with CalTIP, Department of Fish and Game to Combat Poaching in California

The HSUS has just announced new efforts to work with the California Department of Fish and Game to combat poaching in California. The collaboration includes a $5,000 donation to California Turn in Poachers (CalTIP) to support food and veterinary care for five rescued dogs who have been trained to assist Fish and Game wardens in cracking down on poachers.

Wild pigs are also poached for their meat. Photo by Brian Murphy, Walnut Creek, CA
wild pig1

California has a small force of field game wardens, which is a bit more than 200 field wardens when fully staffed. Working alone, at all hours of the day and night, wardens’ back-up can be hours away. Given these realities, trained dogs are an invaluable resource for wildlife officers.

The HSUS also announced its ongoing commitment to provide up to $2,500 augmentation of CalTIP reward funds for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of poaching and animal cruelty suspects.

“The Department of Fish and Game’s innovative and successful K-9 program and CalTIP’s rewards efforts are critical to the fight against poaching, which is increasing in California,” said Jennifer Fearing with The HSUS. “We are delighted to be partnering with CalTip and look forward to telling these dogs’ stories to our nearly 1.3 million supporters in California, in the hopes of raising awareness of our state’s growing poaching problem and the need for sustainable funding for wildlife conservation and protection.”

CalTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide Fish and Game with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers. CalTIP’s K-9 program trains dogs to detect evidence of wildlife poaching, such as identifying the scents including bear, deer, and ammunitions as well as to help apprehend poaching suspects.

“California’s wildlife and habitat are under severe pressure,” said Nancy Foley, Department of Fish and Game’s Chief of Law Enforcement. “We are very grateful for the support from The Humane Society of the United States for our efforts to combat the scourge of poaching and look forward to developing a lasting partnership.”

Petplan Pet Insurance, the official pet insurance provider for The HSUS, has generously agreed to contribute to CalTIP to assist with the dogs’ health care.


** California is facing an unprecedented assault on wildlife. With fewer than 200 game wardens in the field — about one warden for every 180,000 people — and the state facing a budget crisis, poachers are finding it easier to stay one step ahead of the law.

** The introduction of invasive species, environmental degradation and poaching all contribute to demise of wildlife. To compound the problem, the international black market preys on California’s natural resources with illegal sales of wildlife and wildlife parts estimated at $100 million a year, second only to the illegal drug trade.

** According to CalTip, studies show that one well-trained dog can save approximately 800 personnel hours per year. Some estimates place the scenting capabilities of a dog at up to a million times greater than a human, which allows them to quickly find concealed evidence and items. For instance, a dog can locate a bear gall bladder hidden in a hub cap or an expended rifle cartridge casing on a wooded hillside.

** Recent California cases in which The HSUS offered rewards include the poaching of two California condors and a cruel incident involving several antelope.

For more information about poaching, visit

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3 Responses to “Poaching is increasing in California: New efforts to catch poachers”

  1. clayton dewberry Says:


    Nice points…what will happen w/ the massive budget cuts? The game wardens are distributed where the poaching population is, so there are more up in the hoofed poaching areas and far fewer at sea level where the poaching of abalone, for instance, is just as real an issue, if not more so. Quite a bit of pressure on that population – out a site, out of mind to the public perhaps.

  2. Gary Bogue Says:

    Clayton: Good question. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. That’s one of the reason’s Ths HSUS got involved, so they could help with a little $$ to help provide the dogs and reward money. We’re definitely going to have to get more creative on these things. /Gary

  3. eric mills Says:

    Dear Gary,

    Good column. And Mr. Dewberry is right: There should be a greater focus on the coastal areas, esp. in urban centers such as the Bay Area and L.A.–that’s where the bulk of the poaching trade takes place, particularly of abalone, crab, sturgeon and rock fish, reportedly.

    As you noted, there are fewer than 200 game wardens in the field, a catastrophe for our beleaguered wildlife. California, to our ever-lasting shame, has the lowest ratio of wardens-to-population of any state in the country, and our wildlife suffers accordingly. Florida, by comparison, has some 700 wardens, Texas 500.

    A MAJOR cause of the problem is the fact that our heroic game wardens are paid only about 3/5’s the salary of a CHP officer, for far more dangerous work. No wonder there’s a dearth of wardens. Not fair!

    And poaching problems are only likely to increase if the park closures being proposed by the Governor are implicated.


    Thanks for your ongoing efforts, Gary. They are much appreciated.

    Eric Mills, coordinator

    P.S. – I’m reading a cheerless little opus now entitled ENDGAME: THE PROBLEM OF CIVILIZATION, by Derrick Jensen (Seven Stories Press, NYC, 2006). The book deals with many of these problems. Recommended.

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