California Fish and Game officials estimate that poaching 151 the illegal taking of wildlife 151 is a $100 million problem. Two of the most sought-after animals are red abalone, found off the coasts, and caviar-producing white sturgeon, which live in the Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta.
You can watch the program segment, an 11-minute video clip, at California Connected: Wild Profits (PBS 7/13/06)
Poaching is not exclusively an immigrant crime, of course. But the most lucrative species appear to be largely plundered by immigrants, at least in California. This being PBS, the "i" word is never mentioned; instead we learn that today's Fish and Game officer needs to know about the state's "evolving cultural landscape" .
But the meaning is clear. Russians are engaged in sturgeon poaching for the valuable caviar, and Asians dive for abalone, which can easily be sold in San Franciso Chinatown. Poaching threatens the survival of these species.
There is serious money to be made when an egg-bearing female sturgeon can currently bring $2000, or a single abalone's black market value is up to $100. These are hardened felons who make their living stealing from the bounty of America's wildlife.
Without the thin green line of dedicated game wardens, foreign criminals would rapidly destroy an important part of America's natural heritage to fill their wallets. Unless, of course, we stop the cultural landscape "evolving".