After a grueling 10 months, the Wildlife Officer Academy Class of 2020 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently graduated in Oroville.
“It’s a great day when we add wildlife officers to the Law Enforcement Division,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement. “These new wildlife officers have shown unparalleled resolve and were able to overcome the challenges many of us have and continue to face in 2020. I am proud of these wildlife officers as they begin their new careers dedicated to serving and protecting the people of California and safeguarding the diverse landscape of California’s natural resources.”
The 2020 academy class is made up of 35 cadets, including 21 new wildlife officers, nine State Parks peace officers, one Butte County Deputy Sheriff and four self-sponsored cadets. The academy participants began instruction in January at Butte College near Oroville, but classes were abruptly interrupted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not stop the learning process as the academy staff rose to the challenge of implementing distance learning. Online instruction was offered in place of classroom training and when deemed appropriate, required in-person training modules were conducted in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.
At the graduation ceremony, 21 wildlife officers were pinned with the badge indicating the rank of warden.
The next training phase is the Field Training Program, which begins in November. During field training, newly sworn wildlife officers patrol with a seasoned Field Training Officer. These wildlife officers will begin to employ the skills they learned in the academy by apprehending poachers and polluters, protecting our ocean waters and beaches, responding to human wildlife conflict incidents, shutting down illegal cannabis cultivation and protecting the people of California.
A career as a California wildlife officer offers individuals interested in natural resources and law enforcement a lifetime of challenges, diverse assignments and opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. To find out more about what it takes to become a California wildlife officer, visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.