CPW receives third K-9 for pilot program thanks to the generosity of Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger
DENVER - Colorado Parks and Wildlife will be adding a third certified K-9 to its pilot program and it is all thanks to the generosity of NFL two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
CPW already has two K-9’s in a pilot program to see how dogs can be used for law enforcement and wildlife management. Last Thursday, Samson, an 18-month old Belgian Malinois, began his month-long training to become a certified law enforcement K-9 that will partner with Ian Petkash, wildlife officer for the Lake George District.
Petkash received a $12,000 grant from the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation at The Giving Back Fund back in November when Roethlisberger’s Pittsburgh Steelers played in Denver. The funds CPW received will be used to purchase and train Samson.
“This K-9 will not only aid in the apprehension of those who seek to exploit wildlife, but will also be trained in canine hard-releases on bears and mountain lions that have come into conflict with people,” Petkash said. “This non-lethal tool will serve to keep wildlife wild and keep people safe. Furthermore, the K-9 will serve as an ambassador for wildlife management to Colorado's public. On behalf of the wildlife and the people of Colorado, I want to thank the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation for providing this opportunity.”
In commenting on why the mission of the foundation is so important to him, Roethlisberger said, “We’re very fortunate to be in the position that we are able to help these K-9 units. The work that is performed by the dogs and their handlers as well as the bond that is formed is incredible. We’re just thrilled to do our small part.”
CPW enlisted Johnson’s K9 out of Colorado Springs to search for and purchase the dog, which was obtained from a private breeder in Texas. Johnson’s K9 will also be administering the training for Samson and Petkash.
Samson’s responsibilities will focus on assisting Petkash with law enforcement detection work as well being used as an experiment on hard-releases for bears and mountain lions.
Samson will be trained to detect the scent of nine different wildlife species - bears, deer, elk, moose, mountain lions, pronghorn, trout, upland birds and waterfowl. He will also be a tool used by wildlife officers in the negative reinforcement of bears and mountain lions that CPW relocates following conflicts with people.
The other two K-9’s already enlisted in CPW’s pilot program are Sci, a Dutch Shepherd partnered since 2015 with wildlife officer Philip Gurule in Area 14, and Cash, a black Labrador partnered with wildlife officer Brock McArdle in Area 4 since 2017.
Certified with the National Police Canine Association for handler protection, fugitive apprehension and various wildlife species odor detection, Cash and Sci are working hard to help protect Colorado’s natural resources and all of those who enjoy them. Samsom will help further that mission once he gets his law enforcement training completed over the course of the next month. Additional training on the bear and mountain lion hard releases will be dependent on live situational training's throughout the springtime months.
Since CPW’s K-9 program is in a pilot stage, it relies almost entirely on public donations for funding. The funds support continual training's for the wildlife officers and their K-9 partners, cost of food, boarding, veterinary services, maintenance and training equipment.
To support CPW’s K-9 program, please visit its GoFundMe page by clicking here.
About The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
This marks the 12th season that the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation has distributed grants to K-9 units. The mission of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation is to support K-9 units of police and fire departments throughout the United States, with a particular emphasis on support for working dogs in Pittsburgh, PA.
During the 2018 NFL season, The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation will be distributing grants to K-9 units of police and fire departments in the cities and surrounding communities of each regular season away game for the Steelers. The Foundation will also distribute several grants to the Pittsburgh area. The Ben Roethlisberger Foundation invited police and fire departments across the country to submit proposals detailing their needs. The Foundation has distributed in excess of $1.92 million since 2007.
Top: Wildlife Officer Ian Petkash with Samson (CPW photo).
Bottom Left: Ben Roethlisberger pictured with the K-9 officers that worked his charity softball game fundraiser last June (Courtesy of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation)
Bottom Right: Courtesy of the Ben Roethlisberger Foundation
CPW is an enterprise agency, relying primarily on license sales, state parks fees and registration fees to support its operations, including: 41 state parks and more than 350 wildlife areas covering approximately 900,000 acres, management of fishing and hunting, wildlife watching, camping, motorized and non-motorized trails, boating and outdoor education. CPW's work contributes approximately $6 billion in total economic impact annually throughout Colorado.