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March 24, 2010

The HSUS Renews Support for Calif. Department of Fish and Game Work Against Poaching

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The Humane Society of the United States announced its renewed support for the California Department of Fish and Game's efforts to combat poaching in California. The collaboration includes an additional $5,000 donation to DFG's K-9 program for food and veterinary care for five rescued shelter dogs, who have been trained to assist Fish and Game wardens in cracking down on poachers as part of their innovative K-9 program. The HSUS made an initial donation of $5,000 in 2009.

California has about 200 field game wardens, the lowest ratio of game wardens to population in any state or province in North America, and a number that has remained virtually unchanged since the 1950s. What's more, three furlough days per month have been imposed on California wardens, further limiting their enforcement abilities. Working alone, at all hours of the day and night, wardens' backup can often be hours away. Given these realities, trained dogs are an invaluable resource for wildlife officers. 

To aid DFG's anti-poaching efforts, during the last year The HSUS supported legislation that increased the minimum fines for poaching; wrote to Gov. Schwarzenegger to request that he exempt wardens from furloughs; provided $5,000 to CalTIP for the K-9 program; and committed to paying rewards of up to $2,500 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of poaching and animal cruelty suspects. DFG's work and The HSUS' comprehensive program to combat poaching are profiled in the cover feature of the March/April issue of HSUS' magazine All Animals, which is sent to HSUS members nationwide.

"Poaching is a serious crime. With the department's resources severely limited by budget cuts, innovative and proven tools like the K-9 program are invaluable to combating the rampant poaching problem in California," said Jennifer Fearing, senior state director for The HSUS. "We applaud the department for its anti-poaching work, and we are pleased to tell the world about it and to continue our partnership with the DFG K-9 Program."

CalTIP is a confidential witness program that encourages the public to provide DFG with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers. DFG's K-9 program trains dogs to detect evidence of wildlife poaching, such as identifying 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, DFG's chief of law enforcement. "We are again very grateful to The Humane Society of the United States for their support of the wardens' efforts to combat the increase in poaching. We look forward to continued collaboration on this issue."

Facts:

  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 and to read the All Animals cover story, visit humanesociety.org/poaching.

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Follow The HSUS on Twitter. See our work for animals on your iPhone by searching "HumaneTV" in the App Store.

The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization — backed by 11 million Americans, or one of every 28. For more than a half-century, The HSUS has been fighting for the protection of all animals through advocacy, education and hands-on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty — On the Web at humanesociety.org.

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