A typical day at the Bali Hai Restaurant includes tables filled with excited tourists chowing down on Polynesian cuisine against the backdrop of a San Diego skyline. On Saturday October 13th, Bali Hai located on Shelter Island in San Diego was home to a scene of different sorts- California Wildlife Officers (often referred to as Fish and Game Wardens) in full attire, could be seen around tables at the restaurant laughing and chatting, some even with German Shepherds sitting dutifully alongside, and a large patrol boat known as the Thresher sat in the background. With nearly 100 attendees, this was the scene of the inaugural Wags and Waves event.

The California Wildlife Officers Foundation(CalWOF) with support from the San Diego MPA Collaborative and WildCoast hosted this first “Wags & Waves.” The event set out to honor many and highlight all the dynamic work of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Game Wardens. Included in the festivities were demonstrations from CDFW’s K-9 unit, mobile outreach, as well as tours of the Thresher, CDFW’s on-the-water patrol.

“The purpose of the event is to showcase how invaluable California Wildlife Officers are in protecting the state’s diverse wildlife and natural resources that covers a diverse terrain and extends 200 miles from our coastline,” said Nancy Foley, chairwoman, California Wildlife Officers Foundation. “This special group of dedicated men, women and their four-legged partners are generally unrecognized for their work, and we want to spotlight and support their efforts.”

A unique highlight of the event came when the San Diego County MPA Collaborative and WILDCOAST proudly recognized Wildlife Officer Clark McLennan with the Golden Hook Award. The award was presented to McLennan for his unwavering dedication to the protection of California’s coastal and marine resources and wildlife. “Clark has contributed immensely to our work at the Collaborative to help improve MPA compliance in San Diego County,” commented collaborative co-chair and WILDCOAST Conservation Director Zach Plopper.  “He is a tremendous asset to the state and we are excited to work much more with him and the department in the future.”