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 Game Wardens are in Trouble – you can help

Endangered Species and Homeland Security are not protected

By Jacqui Krizo, Klamath Courier Reporter 6/6/06

TULELAKE - Third generation Fish and Game warden Jake Bushey from Burney has been a warden for 28 years but the tradition stops there.

"Although our resources and homeland security are in jeopardy," said Bushey, "few people want to be wardens. We are unable to recruit and retain officer because of the salary disparity between game wardens and other state and local agencies. The difference between being a warden and being a California Highway Patrol officer for 30 years stands at approximately $1,000,000."

Bushey’s 27 year old son Jake Jr. became a California Highway Patrolman instead; after just four years on the job he makes $90,000, as opposed to dad’s $60,000 after nearly three decades as a Fish and Game Warden.

Law enforcement officers in other state agencies make time and a half overtime, however Fish and Game wardens are off the job for an hour and a half for every hour of overtime they work. Warden staffing is at the 1957 level with just 192 wardens in the State of California. That means for every 197,000 people there is one warden.

176 people showed up this year to take the Fish and Game Warden test, the lowest turnout in 30 years, and only six people qualified. There are currently 64 vacant positions, and in the next four years, 25 percent of the wardens will retire.

Fish and Game Wardens are sworn peace officers who patrol and protect 159,000 square miles of land and 220,000 square miles of ocean. They also have a mini navy with state-of-the-art patrol boats which go as far out as 200 miles from the California coast line and work with agencies from the Department of Homeland Security.

Bushey said, "What about Robbie Robison, retired game warden from Tulelake. He gave his lifeblood to protecting resources. He worked full time, getting calls night and day, missing barbecues, birthday parties and holiday celebrations. What do we tell him now that there are no game wardens in these areas; do we tell him his job was not important?"

Tule Lake, the most important feeding stop for waterfowl on the Pacific Flyway, has not had a warden since 2000.

This effects all the Klamath River water users

"This affects you and all the Klamath River water users!" said Bushey. " The green sturgeon in California south of the Eel River will be listed as threatened on July 1, 2006 by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. If the green sturgeons in the Klamath River are listed as threatened it will be one more reason to cut water supplies in the Klamath Basin. At one time there were two wardens in Happy Camp to protect the sturgeon in the Klamath River between Orleans and Weitchipec. Now there are no wardens between Yreka and Crescent City."

Bushey was a warden in Happy Camp for eight years and was busy all the time. He said it is legal for Indians to gill net a certain amount of fish for subsistence, but there is no enforcement on the reservation.

Bushey seized dozens of salmon taken illegally. In one year he seized 13 illegally-taken sturgeons, and he said wardens only catch ten percent of the culprits. That means 130 sturgeons are being taken illegally every year, causing the remaining sturgeons to become endangered.
Species listed as endangered including plants, animals and bugs, have caused water and property rights to be taken, and millions of acres of land to be eradicated of Americans by their government. They also are expensive to the taxpayer.

According to the Government Accountability Office, since the Endangered Species Act’s inception, 1300 domestic species have been placed on the list of threatened and endangered species. Estimated cost for recovery of each species averages $15.9 million dollars. This does not include impacts to communities. In 2001 there was $200 million dollars of impact in the Klamath Basin alone during the water shutoff.

You can help wardens protect you

Bushey and other representatives of the California Fish and Game Wardens’ Association have spent a lot of time lately in Sacramento lobbying for equal pay for game wardens and California Highway Patrolmen. $17.5 million dollars would give parity with CHP’s and would fill their vacancies.

Bushey and the wardens’ association ask you to help them protect your homeland security and natural resources. Please write before June 15th to Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, State Capital Building, Sacramento, CA 95814, or email www.govmail.ca.gov . Tell him you support Fish and Game Wardens’ parody with CHP., and tell him why.

You can also write California Assemblyman Doug LaMalfa because he his supporting the wardens in their request for help. State Capitol, Room 4177, P.O. Box 942849, Sacramento, CA 94249-0002, Phone: (916) 319-2002, Fax: (916) 319-2102

Game wardens are the oldest law enforcement agency in California; in 1870 the agency was created to protect resources.




Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM  Pacific

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