The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released its 2021 Warden Stamp, a decal sticker that is an annual tradition for the department and collector’s item for many Californians.
The 2021 stamp commemorates the 150-year anniversary of both CDFW and the California Fish and Game Commission. The stamp features the sesquicentennial CDFW wildlife officer badge and silhouettes of California conifer trees along with the CDFW bear that has been used on badges and department logo shields for decades. The 2021 stamp can now be purchased at the CDFW website for just $5. To purchase the 2021 Warden Stamp, visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales.
“After a year like 2020, we knew the 2021 stamp should celebrate the essential work our department and wildlife officers have been doing for 150 years,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The purchase of this stamp will show continued support for CDFW’s efforts to manage and protect California’s diverse fish, wildlife and plant resources.”
The Warden Stamp Program was started in 2010 to address the need for better equipment and training for the state’s wildlife officers (formerly called wardens) and to provide funding for special law enforcement programs. Since 1871, wildlife officers have been dedicated to being CDFW’s “boots on the ground” when it comes to maintaining the balance of the state’s many plants and animal species. During the first several decades, they worked to keep species such as tule elk, sturgeon, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep from going extinct in California.
The first two full-time wardens in 1871 were appointed to patrol San Francisco Bay and the Lake Tahoe area. Patrolling on foot, horseback or sailboats (because the internal combustion engine was still decades away from being used), wardens patrolled with very little resources or support.
In 2021, there are now approximately 465 wildlife officers that protect California’s 159,000 square miles and 200 miles out to sea. Though their primary function is to enforce California’s Fish and Game Code, they may be called upon to enforce any of California’s laws. They also collect and report information on the conditions of fish and wildlife and their habitat for management decisions, and represent CDFW at local schools, meetings of hunting and fishing clubs, along with other community events. They also help promote and coordinate various hunter education programs.
Wildlife officers still patrol on foot and on horseback, but now also by plane, boats and in a variety of vehicles. Although their main objectives of protecting California’s plants and animals remains the same, threats to native species are always evolving. From the growing threat of wildfires, internet wildlife traffickers and learning to navigate through a global pandemic – CDFW wildlife officers remain committed to being the stewards of the Golden State’s natural resources. California residents can continue to support wildlife officers and their mission by purchasing the 2021 Warden Stamp.