March 8, 2016

California Wildlife Officers Foundation Board

I wanted to say thank you to all of the board members past and present for the great opportunities you are forwarding to the men and women of the California Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division.  I’ve been a Game Warden going on eighteen years but before that I was a Commercial Guide and Packer in the Sierra Nevadas as well as cowboy in the San Joaquin Valley.  The vast Sierra Nevada’s is home to some of the nation’s greatest natural wonders along with fishing, hunting, camping, exploring and photography opportunities.  These areas were once part of my divisions focus utilizing saddle animals for patrol.  With progress, exploding populations and a generation of Game Wardens that grew up in an era of technology, the Sierra Nevada backcountry patrol somewhat became overlooked.  In the Summer of 2012 I was asked to organize a Pack Trip for Governor E.G. Brown into the Emigrant Wilderness.   This assignment sparked a renewed interest in backcountry patrol throughout my division.  I began hearing Wildlife Officers comeback from some week long pack-animal training that didn’t fit the needs of our Wildlife Officers.  It was at that time I felt the need to put on some practical Saddle and Pack training.  In the Winter of 2014 I approached the California Wildlife Officers Foundation for a grant to pay for a four day riding and packing clinic that included food, lodging and the practical hands on training for eleven Wildlife Officers.  To my knowledge this was a first of its kind  training opportunity and each Officers went away with better skills and understanding of backcountry patrol.  Since that training, Officers have begun an increased effort to patrol on horseback and have made poaching cases they would not have made otherwise.   I am very thankful for the generous donations that our Private Citizens continue to provide to our California Wildlife Officers Foundation and please know every dollar helps protect your resources and save lives.


Gary Densford, Game Warden

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Angels Camp, Calaveras County