The Humane Society of the United States announced new efforts to support the California Department of Fish and Game’s work to combat poaching in California. The HSUS’ latest effort is intended to improve the troubling discrepancy between the rise in poaching crime over the last 10 years and the lack of meaningful punishment for many poachers.
The HSUS will be working with local supporters to implement community-based programs that will be collectively known as the California Anti-Poaching Action Network. This is the first effort of its kind in the nation. Concerned Californians will volunteer to closely follow poaching cases in their counties. The HSUS will work with these volunteers to help implement citizen-driven efforts to support law enforcement and encourage prosecutors and judges to bring poachers to justice. The action network launches with 25 counties and will grow to cover the entire state within a year.
In addition, The HSUS donated $5,000 to the DFG’s K-9 program to provide food and veterinary care for several dogs saved from animal shelters and trained to assist game wardens in cracking down on poachers. This is the third year that The HSUS has provided funds to support the dogs’ ongoing care for this innovative program.
“There is a serious wildlife law enforcement shortage in California and our state’s game wardens work tirelessly with very limited resources at their disposal,” said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for The HSUS. “We are excited to mobilize The Humane Society of the United States’ membership in support of these laudable anti-poaching efforts and to once again support the K9 program.”
California has about 200 field game wardens, the lowest ratio of wardens to population in any state or province in North America, and a number that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s.
“California’s wildlife and habitat are under pressure from poachers,” said Nancy Foley, chief of DFG’s Law Enforcement Division. “We are again very grateful to The Humane Society of the United States for supporting the work of our game wardens. We look forward to continued collaboration with HSUS to combat poaching.”
To aid DFG’s anti-poaching efforts over the last year, The HSUS has also offered rewards of $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of several poaching crimes in California.
- California is facing an unprecedented assault on wildlife. With 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.
- DFG statistics show that Fish and Game Law Enforcement Division citations rose nearly 70 percent between 2000 and 2009 while hunting violations rose 225 percent during the same period. Despite this rise in poaching, warden staffing has remained virtually unchanged for the past six decades.
- According to DFG’s K-9 Coordinator, studies show that one well-trained dog can save about 800 personnel hours per year. Some estimates place the scenting capabilities of a dog at up to 1 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.
- The HSUS runs a nationwide anti-poaching program where it works with state and federal law enforcement agencies to combat poaching.
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