The California Fish and Game Commission yesterday recognized Colusa County Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Beauchamp as the 2016 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year.
Beauchamp was selected from the ranks of California’s 58 counties to receive this notable distinction because of his unwavering commitment to protecting California’s natural resources. The award was presented last night amongst a congregation of Beauchamp’s peers at the California District Attorneys Association annual summer conference in San Diego.
“The Fish and Game Commission has a wide range of regulatory responsibilities related to protecting and conserving California’s fish, wildlife and the habitat they depend on for future generations,” said Commissioner Peter Silva, who presented the award. “State wildlife officers go to great lengths to build solid cases, but taking the steps to bring cases to convictions requires immeasurable dedication, exceptional knowledge of fish and game laws and superior skill in prosecuting crimes against wildlife, natural resources and the environment.”
According to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, over the last few years Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Beauchamp has been instrumental in handling fish and game prosecutions for Colusa County. He is always available and approachable for questions and advice in case handling. He readily assists with, and reviews, search warrants for CDFW Wildlife Officers.
As a prosecutor, Beauchamp goes above and beyond to assure thorough case filings, which he handles with seriousness and diligence. Beauchamp pays special attention and gives focused interest in cases involving blatant and intentional poaching and steadfastly prosecutes those cases as felonies where applicable.
Beauchamp prosecuted several cases over the last few years involving Sacramento area poachers who traveled to Colusa County to poach deer and wild pigs. He also prosecuted a case dubbed “Operation High Hog” involving four subjects taking deer, elk and wild pigs to sell for personal profit. Beauchamp fought for unprecedented convictions and sentences, which resulted in multiple felony charges and prison sentences. These higher sentences resulted from a three-day felony jury trial that took extensive time and resources on behalf of Beauchamp and the Colusa County District Attorney’s office, but was done so without hesitation.
“It’s funny to be awarded for something that seems like part of my nature,” Beauchamp said. “As an outdoorsman, hunter and fisherman, I care deeply about conservation of the state’s public resources. I can’t thank the department and commission enough for the work they do to protect those resources. I am proud to continue working with them to support their important mission.”
At its meeting last week in Bakersfield, the Commission formalized the process of selecting a Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year, making it an annual award. In an effort to address wildlife crime and to recognize leaders in the District Attorneys’ offices throughout the state, the new policy states that the Commission will honor a courtroom champion who tirelessly prosecutes crimes against fish, wildlife, natural resources and the environment in California courts.
The award recognizes one attorney who exhibits one or more of the following:
■ exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment to protecting California’s fish, wildlife and natural resources;
■ superior performance in prosecuting crimes against wildlife, natural resources and the environment;
■ relentless pursuit of justice for the most egregious violators and keen ability to prosecute complex, controversial or landmark cases; or
■ exemplary work promoting and maintaining a collaborative working relationship with wildlife officers in pursuit of conserving our natural resources.
■ The selection process is based upon recommendations from the CDFW Law Enforcement Division, who regularly work with the various District Attorneys’ offices.
CDFW and the Commission recognize and appreciate the efforts of all 58 counties’ District Attorneys’ offices when it comes to protection of the environment, fish and wildlife. There are many prosecutors within those offices who take poaching crimes seriously. CDFW remains committed to working with each of those offices to provide as much information as needed to assist in bringing these crimes to convictions.■