Category Archives: Enforcement

Public Meeting to be Held on Proposed Closure of Part of Sacramento River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed emergency fishing closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to the Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 1 through July 31.

The meeting will be held Friday, Jan. 29, from 4-5:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding (96001).

“Because of the drought, we had to close the river last year to save as many of these fish as possible,” said Lt. Richard Wharton, CDFW Law Enforcement supervisor in Redding. “The great news is we had widespread cooperation from Shasta County anglers, who clearly demonstrated they care about this dwindling species.”

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run Chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for Chinook, but incidental catch by anglers who are targeting trout could occur.

An additional measure taken was an agreement with the city of Redding to reduce the amount of artificial light from the Sundial Bridge during the critical stages of salmon migration. The bright lights were causing the fish to stop their journey at the bridge; by dimming the lights, city officials removed the deterrent while still sufficiently illuminating the bridge for tourists.

“We appreciate the city stepping up to help conservation efforts by lowering the lights on one of the city’s most popular attractions,” said Neil Manji, CDFW Northern Region Manager. “In our studies we found that once the light levels came down, the fish immediately swam under the bridge on their way to the sea.”

This reach is the principal winter-run Chinook spawning area during these extraordinary drought conditions. An estimated 98 percent of 2014 and 2015 in-river spawning occurred in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014 and 2015, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run Chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2016-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.


CDFW Names Warden Frank Milazzo Wildlife Officer of the Year

Fish and Wildlife Officer Frank Milazzo, a 27-year veteran, was selected as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year. Milazzo recalls his first encounter with a game warden vividly at age 11, on one of many outdoor adventures with his grandparents. From that day, he developed a love and passion for California’s fish and wildlife and set a goal to become a game warden.

Milazzo attended California State Polytechnic University-Pomona, graduating with a degree in zoology. He attended the first Fish and Game Academy at Napa Valley College in 1989. Milazzo enjoyed a variety of patrol districts and assignments in his career, including the patrol boat Hammerhead in Long Beach; positions in the San Gabriel Valley, Santa Barbara County and his current position in Mariposa County, where he has served since 1999. Milazzo gained expertise handling a variety of wildlife-human conflicts including mountain lion and bear attack investigations. Milazzo is known as a thorough, tireless and detailed investigator and technical report writer. He has investigated hundreds of deer and bear poaching cases over the years using a variety of techniques from old-fashioned hard work and surveillance to use of the latest forensic techniques and applications. Over the past 16 years, Milazzo has worked closely with local law enforcement and the citizens of Mariposa County and built a solid reputation as a go-to resource for all fish and wildlife related issues.

Milazzo has developed a reputation for deep community involvement. In 2014, he was selected by Mariposa County Judge Dana Walton to serve on the Mariposa County Civil Grand Jury, where he served with distinction for a one-year term. Milazzo is a past member of the Mariposa County Resource Conservation District and was selected by the Mariposa County Board of Supervisors for a position on the Mariposa County Historical Sites and Records Preservation Commission.

Milazzo received the Director’s Achievement Award in 1993 for his outstanding accomplishments in support of CDFW’s wildlife and conservation goals. In 1997, he was nominated as the southern enforcement district’s officer of the year. In 2008, Milazzo was awarded the department’s Medal of Valor and received the Governor’s Gold Medal of Valor, the highest honor bestowed on a state employee, for his selfless acts of heroism in deterring and detaining an armed, suicidal and homicidal suspect.

“In light of Milazzo’s awarded and dedicated career, his diverse experience with the department and his extensive involvement with his community, he is an excellent choice for the CDFW 2016 Wildlife Officer of the Year,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division Chief David Bess.

When Milazzo is not pursuing his warden endeavors and proudly serving the department, he enjoys spending time with his children sharing his inherited values of hunting, fishing and collecting historic fish and game memorabilia.


Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

CDFW Cites Lobster Poachers in Southern California 

Media Contact: Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Wildlife officers in Orange County conducted a successful four-day lobster poaching detail over a two weekend period.

Following the season opener in October, public complaints began pouring in to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) poaching hotline about undersized lobster taken from the San Clemente Pier and the Dana Point jetties. The information came from law-abiding lobster anglers who were witnessing the crimes and reporting them through the CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters) program.

Meticulous planning and coordinated patrol efforts resulted in seventeen citations, with a total of 25 violations found. Charges included possession of undersized lobsters, lobster report card violations, possession of undersized kelp and barred sand bass, and failure to have a lobster measuring device in possession. If convicted, the individuals cited could face up to a $1,000 fine and up to six months in jail for each offense.

The wildlife officers successfully returned a total of 33 illegally harvested undersized lobsters, two kelp bass and three barred sand bass to the ocean.

“Protecting California’s natural resources requires dedication, passion and teamwork,” said CDFW Lieutenant Dave McNair. “Those anglers who came forward and provided information became an integral part of our team. This was a perfect example of how the CalTIP program works.”

CalTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to tip411, which allows the public to text message an anonymous tip to wildlife officers and lets the officers respond back creating an anonymous two-way conversation. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411). There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and how to download the new CalTIP app, please visit

Wildlife Officers to Conduct Checkpoints in Nevada County

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting wildlife checkpoints in October and November to promote safety, education and compliance with laws and regulations.

Wildlife officers will be at the California Department of Food and Agriculture Inspection Station on westbound Interstate 80 in Truckee from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the following dates:

-Sunday, Oct. 18
-Saturday, Nov. 14
-Sunday, Nov. 22

Wildlife checkpoints encourage safety and sportsmanship by promoting voluntary compliance with laws and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

All anglers and hunters will be required to stop and submit to an inspection. CDFW officers will also be providing informative literature about the invasive quagga mussel to anglers and chronic wasting disease to deer hunters.

CDFW Wildlife Officer Academy Graduates 30 Cadets

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

Thirty new law enforcement cadets graduated from the California Wildlife Officer Academy during ceremonies at the Performing Arts Center in Paradise on Aug. 14, 2015. The graduating class includes 23 sponsored warden cadets who will begin field training immediately. Another seven self-sponsored cadets paid their way through the academy and will apply to become wildlife officers.

Cadet William H. Castillo and his father, Lt. Sam Castillo, rejoice at the graduation ceremony.

“After 31 weeks of hard work at the academy, these cadets have earned the right to begin protecting California and ensuring the future of wildlife resources for the people of this great state,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Chief of Enforcement David Bess.

The CDFW Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California.

For the 23 sponsored cadets, graduation concludes a rigorous 31 weeks of formal academy training, but marks the beginning of an additional three weeks of specialized training and certifications, followed by an additional 15 weeks of field training with seasoned field training officers (FTOs). Upon successful completion of the FTO program, these new officers will begin their incredible career patrolling California and protecting the fish and wildlife resources.

A special moment will occur during this year’s graduation, when Cadet William H. Castillo will be pinned by his father, Lt. Sam Castillo. Lt. Castillo is nearing retirement after a noteworthy ­­­30 year career as a wildlife officer and Lieutenant for CDFW. Lt. Castillo will pass the torch to his son to honor the commitment of all wildlife officers who dedicate their lives to protecting California’s natural resources.

Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. Wardens mostly work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who nearly always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wardens cover large patrol districts, the average being more than 600 square miles. They do all this with a sense of pride and honor, for a job that is not only rewarding, but truly enjoyable.

In 2007, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wardens. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art academy facility and a POST-certified training program for wildlife officer cadets on the Butte College Oroville campus.

Butte College has a 40-year history of police recruit training. The 928-acre community college campus, the largest in California, is also a designated wildlife refuge.

CDFW anticipates the next round of warden cadet selection to begin in September or October of 2015, for the January 2017 academy. For more information about becoming a warden and to monitor when applications will be accepted, please visit