Illegal Marijuana Farms Endanger Wildlife on California’s Public Lands | National Geographic

September 22, 2019

So two teams coming off separate points on the ridge, press out with it Okay, right where we’re at right now is what would be considered the lion’s den of marijuana cultivation in California or North America? This is also a prime area for a lot of threatened endangered species There’s a marijuana garden about a half mile away and hopefully we can apprehend them That risk of coming into a grow that has people that are defending their crop to the end with guns There’s always a risk there. Go ahead and get your team ready to make entry start heading your way My name is dr. Murad Gabriel I’m the co-director of a nonprofit organization called integral ecology Research Center Our specific mission is to generate and disseminate scientific information for wildlife managers politicians and other individuals involved in the conservation realm we’ve been in this work since about 2013 Looking at Fisher ecology Fisher is a mid-sized carnivore that relies on mature forests They’re kind of the honey badger of North America. You’re pretty ferocious little guys We started finding out the Pacific fishers were dying from rodenticide toxicosis so rodenticides this type of pesticide and so what was causing this Only thing that was coming up was there was something around these forests that was placing these rodenticide out there And it wasn’t until a for service special agent stated that your answer is marijuana cultivation on their public lands Emerald triangle has been coined by marijuana cultivators as the central hub of where domestic marijuana cultivation kind of Sprouted and so that would be humbled Mendocino in Trinity County If you get rid of wildlife you have no conflict with it, it doesn’t destroy your plants it doesn’t eat your food That’s what these suspects constantly reiterate. I get rid of wildlife by poisoning them multi-year contamination of soil poisoning terrestrial wildlife poisoning avian wildlife I Would ask any conservationist if that was occurring in an impacting threatened endangered or sensitive species? Is that a significant conservation threat I would bet you 10 out of 10 conservation should be like yes, that is Yes, that is So from the time that we detect the site What we’ll do at that point is we’ll begin investigating and starting to try identifying who’s doing it through surveillance Get as much Intel as we can on them before we actually come in and do the raid Yeah, they’re turning left here. And then the drop points right underneath the powerlines. Yeah those reference In these cases these really large growths are probably being run by a drug trafficking organization And so they’ll get whatever pesticides or fertilizers they need brought to them They’re gonna go down raw, so extremely important. We stay behind these trees Waiting for the suspects to show up in the vehicle once they show up. Hopefully we can apprehend them Sounds like we’re gonna go in and get him the camp coming up Stop it, I Can explain what happened real quick, oh they were waiting They saw the guys who are attending the plants and then when the suspects were apprehended By canine unit with this officer and another suspect evaded Horseman until they can actually catch up to him. Can’t you chain them? Loose uh-oh throws people stay in sick to see those malathion Mercado nada nada, no guy Says he doesn’t use insecticides Pretty surprised to find out all right, he said no car for urine, but what we’re finding is a spray bottle up there It’s got paint on the inside of the spray. There’s no insecticides or pesticides that we know of that are pink other than the car bro fear This is highly plausible that these are meth amid Depot’s or cover fearing that is it probably dying that house carbo Furion, it takes literally a quarter of a teaspoon to kill a male African lion a 600 pound male African lion quarter teaspoon So, you know don’t offend us on that Iran, yes, uh, don’t it’s very important to be there on that day if that raid happened, and I was not there and Then I come out a week later Bears have destroyed the whole area I’m gonna lose local growers are actually doing so, you know nothing than that data How does the site compared to other ones you’ve seen before this cookie cutter ran? Poison kill plant poison kill plant repeat I mean, it’s I mean hate to be so blunt And simplistic about it, but that’s pretty much it poison kill plan They were talking about bringing some a Murad’s group in from ier C to help document the site process You know some samples, but because it’s getting late in the evening. We’ll we’ll do that environmental survey stuff more tomorrow The raid happens we go out there document it and then we go in there and clean it up I’m gonna go ahead and start marking this guys. So if you guys want to follow me Okay, whoa, what is this I don’t like that you can see that it almost looks like Calamine lotion that’s been diluted. That is a big big big red flag for us I am going to Take samples Murad’s group helped us so much as far as assessing the sites. They analyzed the soil They analyzed the plants they help us identify. How much damage there is to the resource into the National Forest? I see there’s a bear puncture in this I mean that is a bear getting, you know several ounces in its mouth if it’s Karbo fear, and that bear is done It has federally been designated as critical habitat And now we have what I call a death ring a death pit if that bears raising young now You didn’t kill that cell you killed her and maybe her two or three cubs that she’s raising That’s the ramifications that people need to grasp So, how do you see the way forward after this you think the pesticides are just gonna continue to be this bad Well, you guys try to make a dent in it. Oh, we’re making a dent in it. Our organization is completely optimistic There’s no way we’re quitting on this. So another twenty four fourteen fourteen fifty pounds You got to be relentless and show know pretty much what I say no reclamation. Mercy, you clean it all up You don’t give them this quarter where they can come up and set up shop any time and we contaminate the environment to go in investigate See the chemicals that are there see how much trash is there and to finally see it come out of that site I’m sort of reversing. The damage is a really really great feeling What we do is document environmental degradation because what we’re doing is gathering data in order to demonstrate that Contamination is occurring. I care about conservation Rectifying something that us as humans are contributing towards in Creating the scientific evidence so that policymakers and agency folks can make the best sound decisions. That’s my main mission It doesn’t matter what species it is. It doesn’t matter the topic. It’s conservation I do this work because it’s a conservation issue. That’s my mission

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