Wildlife protector

Steven T. Callan

photo courtesy of steven t. callan

Retired wildlife-protection officer Steven T. Callan, 65, is a man on a mission to expose the illegal poaching that endangers wildlife the world over. The Chico State graduate and Redding resident published a book on the subject this past spring, Badgers, Bears and Eagles: The True-Life Adventures of a California Fish and Game Warden, which tells the story of his 30 years of tracking down poachers and protecting nature. It’s already in its second printing and has sold out at each of his 10 book signings. Buy it at Lyon Books (135 Main St.), online at www.coffeetownpress.com or from Amazon. Call 524-2997 for bookings and visit Callan’s blog at callan.coffeetownpress.com/ for info on future signings.

Is your book selling well?

Yes, my publisher is ecstatic that it’s already in its second printing. I’ve received lots of great feedback and glowing reviews from sources like Publishers Weekly, a former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Interior and a former Shasta County DA. It has lots of exploits of me as a wildlife detective doing things people wouldn’t expect a game warden to do. The first chapter has a very interesting investigation that starts with a game warden finding a dead bald eagle dropped on his doorstep to taunt him. The FBI and San Francisco homicide department get involved and I help prosecute it.

Do you have a favorite story?

Yes, the last chapter where my partner, Warden Dave Szody, and I conduct a three-year undercover investigation into the illegal killing of black bears. The bile in their gall bladders has been used for centuries as a Chinese cure for dozens of ailments. Many bears are cruelly kept immobilized in super-small cages while their gall bladders are drained and sold for thousands of dollars in Asian countries. We convicted 20 defendants of over 50 felonies and 100 misdemeanors. One person was fined $54,000, which was the largest game-related fine in U.S. history [at the time].

What motivated you to write a book?

My No. 1 reason was to inform the public about the plight of wildlife throughout the world. As a kid I used to go on ride-alongs with my dad, who was a game warden. I loved wild animals and wanted to do something tangible to save them. There are so few wildlife officers, especially in the oceans. If we want to have wildlife for our kids and grandkids, we must take action to protect them.

How severe is the problem of poaching?

It’s extremely bad. Wildlife trafficking is the fifth most lucrative criminal activity in the world, with billions of dollars being made yearly. In Africa, tens of thousands of elephants are killed each year for their ivory. Tigers and rhinoceros are also being wiped out illegally. The public should be aware and demand that penalties be harsh enough to deter it.