More than two dozen men and women are set to graduate from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) law enforcement academy on Friday, Aug. 12. The graduation ceremony in Butte County will mark the start of their careers as game wardens, tasked with preserving and protecting the natural resources and wildlife of California.
The class of 39 features 28 DFG warden cadets (those sponsored by DFG and already hired as wardens pending their passing the academy) and 11 cadets who are “self-sponsored” (individuals who paid their way through the academy with the hope of becoming game wardens once their training is complete). The graduation ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise, Calif.
“I am personally very proud of every one of these cadets, they represent the department to the hunting and fishing community while protecting valuable natural resources,” said DFG Chief of Enforcement Nancy Foley. “They will work alongside some of the most dedicated and highly trained law enforcement officers in the state.”
Annually, wardens make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. They often work alone and in remote areas that do not allow for immediate backup protection.
In California, with 159,000 square miles of area that offers habitat and wildlife diversity unequaled by any other state, the average warden has a patrol district of more than 600 square miles. The state has more than 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs, three desert habitat areas and scores of high mountain peaks.
The warden often acts as arbitrator for issues involving conflicts between wildlife and people. They recommend recreational activities and serve as educators to the public by speaking to schools, service groups and media.
The following are the graduating cadets and their hometowns.
|Thomas Anderson||Arroyo Grande|
|Christopher Cahill||Elk Grove|
|Chris Giertych*||San Jose|
|Michael Harris||Del Rey Oaks|
|Travis Jarrett*||Palo Cedro|
|Kevin Kintz||Port Hueneme|
|Benjamin Matias||Huntington Beach|
|Atilano Morales||Los Angeles|
|Bert Olson||San Clemente|
|Alan Oratovsky||Los Angeles|
|John Pritting||San Diego|
|Kevin Sullivan*||Morgan Hill|
|Todd VanEpps||San Diego|
|Martin Willis||San Luis Obispo|
|William Witzel||Elk Grove|
* Self Sponsored
DFG teamed with Butte College in 2007 to provide peace officer training for prospective wardens. This new partnership secured an academy facility and a California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certified training program for warden cadets on the college’s Oroville campus. Butte College has a 39-year history of police recruit training and has trained more than 5,000 students through its law enforcement academy. The 928-acre campus, the largest in California, is also a designated wildlife refuge.
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