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November 22, 2010

Now Showing: Wars Against Poaching

Spotlighting anti-poaching efforts in California and Florida

  • Poaching is a deadly crime against wildlife, and it's a bigger problem than you probably think. Roger Whiteway/iStockphoto

Poachers are ruthless criminals who callously disregard wildlife protection laws. And poaching—illegally killing or harming wildlife—claims the lives of more animals annually than all other forms of illegal animal killing.

At The HSUS we celebrate the heroic efforts of conservation officers against poaching, and we encourage our members to learn more about their daily battles. Two new TV shows get behind the scenes of law enforcement struggles to stop crimes against wildlife.

Planet Green airs Operation Wild, featuring officers from The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, on Fridays. Wild Justice, featuring officers from the California Department of Fish and Game, airs Sunday, Nov. 28, on the National Geographic Channel. Please check your local listings for air times.

Toil and terror

Because many crimes against wildlife never come to the attention of law enforcement, no one knows the actual number of wild animals who fall victim to poachers. In the United States, wildlife officials estimate that for every animal killed legally by hunters, another is killed illegally, amounting to perhaps more than 100 million wild animals poached each year.

On the front lines of the battle to protect wildlife from lawless poachers are wildlife conservation officers or game wardens. These specialized law enforcement officers enforce state and federal wildlife protection laws and build cases to bring poachers to justice.

Defending our natural resources is a demanding and perilous job. Officers are responsible for patrolling vast stretches of land, most of the individuals they meet are armed with weapons, and backup can be hours away.

Helping to meet the challenge

Yet these officers rise to the challenge, and often they do so with the sparsest of resources at their disposal. The budgets of state wildlife agencies are often the first target of legislators who fail to recognize the importance of protecting wildlife from those who wantonly exploit it.

Recognizing the value of those who protect wildlife, The Humane Society of the United States runs a nationwide anti-poaching program that is designed to support the work of law enforcement. Since our program began in 2008, we've offered over $260,000 in reward funds.

In California, we sponsor a team of K-9s who work with wardens to sniff out poachers. In Florida we donated forensic equipment that is used to analyze crime scene evidence and crack cases.

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