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Wildlife Officers Shut Down Several Illegal Cannabis Grows

Wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have shut down several illegal cannabis grows in Kern and Tehama counties over the past few weeks. The properties are owned by CDFW and set aside as protected wildlife habitat.

Support for the different missions was provided by several entities, including the California Department of Justice, the National Guard, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.

In Kern County, wildlife officers eradicated nearly 10,000 illegal cannabis plants. One grow was discovered on the Allensworth Ecological Reserve with approximately 509 plants. Four subjects were arrested for felony cultivation, conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a stolen firearm and numerous environmental violations. During the course of that investigation, officers located and eradicated another two plots adjacent to the ecological reserve with another 6,799 plants.

A third illegal grow site was discovered on CDFW land in western Kern County. Approximately 2,270 plants were eradicated and six search warrants were served all within a quarter mile of each other. There were no suspects at the locations.

“Sadly, discovering thousands of illegal plants on CDFW property demonstrates the extent those involved in illegal cultivation will go to grow their product,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Those individuals engaged in this egregious behavior have no respect for the unique species of plants and wildlife that depend on these protected areas to live and thrive.”

In Tehama County, an illegal grow was discovered along Antelope Creek in the Tehama Wildlife Area. Approximately 2,500 fully budded plants were eradicated and nearly 250 lbs. of processed cannabis was seized. Evidence of a poached deer was also discovered. No suspects were onsite or arrested. Each property contained numerous environmental violations including litter, pollution, habitat destruction, illegal water diversions, alteration of a streambed, sediment discharge and other serious environmental crimes.

All these illegal cannabis grows were located in counties with sensitive wildlife habitat which are home to several important species of plants, birds, mammals and fish found nowhere else in the world.

CDFW encourages the public to report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).