Posted by Patrick on January 11, 2005 at 17:37:34:
In Reply to: Reasonable enforcement posted by Elaine on January 11, 2005 at 13:05:05:
All the discussion about boarding or not boarding is a fine exercise, and let me say from the get-go some of my best friends have been F&G wardens. The field folks are awesome and work their asses off. Because of budget issues, they have been pretty much ham-strung for the last few years – often not even enough money to fuel their boats. That said, I DO have a bit of ambivalence about the organization, and this is based on two separate events a score + years apart.
First event, coming back to the launch ramp after a day at the islands, and on the next ramp over, is an oriental family loading stuff off their boat into a pickup truck. Now this was the time of no abalone take for us folks down at the low end of the state, but these folks are unloading gunny sacks full of abs – dumping the bags and transferring to plastic tubs, mostly blacks but a couple of greens and pinks. I was stunned. I walked over and asked them if they knew it was illegal to take or possess abalone. The response was in a foreign tongue, and none too friendly sounding.
I found a phone both and called Cal-Tip.
Got the answering machine - Leave a message.
I left time, location, license number of pickup and CFs of boat.
Found a phone book and started calling any and all numbers associated with F&G trying to get a human on the line.
Nada. Zero. Nothing.
I found a sheriff and told him about the blatant violation of F&G laws.
Not his problem or jurisdiction.
I finally gave up – I was out of change, and the ab poachers were leaving.
When I finally found a live Gamey (at a boat show) and recounted the whole thing and asked if the information I had left on Cal-Tip would be looked into, the reply was: NO!
I said I’d testify and bring the notes I’d made at the time of the event. NO!
Unless a warden actually witnesses the violation, THEY DO NOTHING!
Second incident happened just recently.
Diving the coast and find an illegal string of traps set up smuggler-style (no floats on surface but strung with poly line between traps so the string can be grappled pretty much anywhere along the lay of the traps). Each legal trap must have its own marker/float. So, in my own vigilante-like way, I cancelled my dive plan and swam the string of illegal traps, opening each one along the way, releasing the bugs and other critters, and severing its polyline connection to its neighbor. There was probably 70 to 80 yards of line between traps, and by the end of my BT, I had only found seven though the string continued. I wrapped the bitter end of the line around a substantial piece of bottom structure (let’s see you pull THAT), and did an ascent on the remaining end. When the boat came over to pick me up, they punched in the GPS position for that portion of the illegal string. When I get back, I try calling numbers for the F&G in Long Beach. No body answers the phone. I leave the usual info on Cal-Tip. I get on the internet and find the phone number for the Chief Enforcement warden in Sacramento. Ms. Lieutenant somebody, to whom I send the information on the illegal traps. I get a blistering reply about my illegal tampering with commercial fishermen’s equipment, how I may be prosecuted, blah, blah, blah.
I’m thinking, this can’t be narcosis, but something not quite right. I send another email asking when the season for lobster was changed and does it apply to sport take as well.
Long pause of perhaps three days. I’m starting to get nervous; will I be the target of a F&G SWAT team? Then the email comes, “my apologies, no you’re correct, it is illegal, I’ll pass it along to local office, sorry for the misunderstanding, I’m an upland game warden and not familiar with saltwater laws, blah, blah, blah.
My Gawd – She’s Chief of Enforcement and she doesn’t know the laws (or at least check ‘em before firing back).
So- I hate poachers. If I see them, or come across their equipment, I’ll make the effort to contact the enforcers of fish and game laws, but they really ought to get somebody to answer their phones – someone who actually knows the F&G laws would be helpful, too.
(Climbing down off soap box….)
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