Category Archives: Enforcement

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

Law Enforcement’s Hunt for Murder Suspect Closes Portion of D-9 Deer Hunt Zone

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Cpt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Law enforcement’s multi-week search for Benjamin Peter Ashley continues in Eastern Kern County, California, which will affect a small number of deer hunters in zone D-9. Ashley became a person of interest in an ongoing investigation into a kidnapping which occurred on July 28, a murder which occurred on July 30 and an attempted murder of a peace officer which occurred Aug. 1.

The primary focus area of the search has been in and around the south and east areas of Lake Isabella. Portions of the search area include public lands, but due to the seriousness of the suspect violations public access is being restricted for safety reasons.

The U.S. Forest Service ordered a mandatory public safety closure for a portion of the Sequoia National Forest. The order restricts public activity including entry onto lands and driving upon roadways in the Kern River District within the Sequoia National Forest. The order became effective on Aug. 5 and extends through Aug. 30 unless otherwise repealed.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was advised that the closure order will affect a portion of the D-9 deer hunt zone, which is set to open for archery hunting this Saturday, Aug. 15. While the closure was not a directive issued by CDFW, the department wants to emphasize that the closure is for public safety and that strict adherence to the order is strongly advised. CDFW wants to remind the public that failure to comply with emergency closure orders of this kind could result in detention, citation or arrest.

CDFW does not provide exchange options for premium deer tag zones, thus no exchanges for D-9 deer zone tags will be issued.

Public land closures for purposes of public safety that affect deer hunt zone opportunities are not uncommon. Occurrences of closures happen somewhere in the state almost every year. For this reason, CDFW does not often make exception to the deer tag exchange rule. The most frequent cause of emergency closures of public lands is wildland fire.

CDFW wildlife officers are assisting with the multi-agency operation and will continue to do so.

CDFW thanks the public for their patience and understanding and encourages all outdoor recreationists to remain alert and vigilant at all times.

The Kern County Sheriff’s Office is asking the public’s assistance in locating Benjamin Peter Ashley. The Sheriff’s Office has established a 24-hour TIP LINE. If anyone has information on Ashley or his whereabouts they are asked to call the TIP LINE at (661) 392-4360.

For description and picture of Ashley, please click

For the complete details and maps of the closure order, please click

Three Prosecutors Awarded 2014 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year

Patrick McGrath, Yuba County DA. (Not pictured: Brad Enos, Yuba County DA, and Kevin Weichbrod, Santa Barbara DA.)
Patrick McGrath, Yuba County DA. (Not pictured: Brad Enos, Yuba County Deputy DA, and Kevin Weichbrod, Santa Barbara Deputy DA.)

The California Fish and Game Commission recently recognized three prosecutors for their exemplary dedication to the prosecution of wildlife crimes. District Attorney Patrick McGrath, Deputy District Attorney Brad Enos, both of Yuba County, and Deputy District Attorney Kevin Weichbrod of Santa Barbara Countywere selected from the ranks of California’s 58 counties to receive this notable distinction.

The 2014 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year Award was presented to these outstanding prosecutors amongst their peers at the California District Attorneys Association annual summer conference today in Napa.

“We do our best to thoughtfully craft regulations to protect California’s fish and wildlife resources and those who violate those regulations are destroying the natural resources that belong to all of us,” said Commission President Jack Baylis. “Successful prosecutions of poaching and pollution cases are directly dependent upon the working relationships between officers and the prosecutors. Thanks to these prosecutors, justice is served to those who violate the law.

The selection process was based upon recommendations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division, who regularly work with the various District Attorneys’ offices.  All three prosecutors came highly recommended by the respective wildlife officers from their counties. These three prosecutors understand and appreciate natural resource violations. They have shown a willingness to pursue felony charges when appropriate for the most egregious violators. These prosecutors regularly took on time consuming, tough cases and have followed the cases to the full extent, up to and including jury trials. They regularly requested forfeiture of equipment involved in the commission of the poaching crimes, high fine amounts, and revocation of fishing and hunting privileges to help put poachers permanently out of business.

CDFW and the Fish and Game 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. In 2014, McGrath, Enos and Weichbrod were particularly effective.

The Fish and Game Commissioners intend to formalize the process of selecting a Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year, making it an annual award. For more information about the Commission, please visit


Media Contacts:
Sonke Mastrup, California Fish and Game Commission, (916) 653-4899
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982


CDFW Law Enforcement Now Recruiting Current Peace Officers

Warden with binocularsThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting current peace officers who are interested in a career as a wildlife officer. Applications are open only to those who have:

  1. Successfully completed a California POST accredited Law Enforcement Academy,  possess a valid California POST basic peace officer certificate, and are currently employed as a peace officer within the State of California at time of application; or,
  2. Successfully completed (within the last 12 months) the CDFW Law Enforcement Academy, and possess a valid California POST basic academy certificate.

Applications must be postmarked by June 26.

“We are particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a passion for conservation of California’s fish and wildlife resources,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division Chief David Bess.

The CDFW Law Enforcement Division expects an overwhelming number of inquiries and asks prospective candidates to extensively review materials on the website before contacting CDFW with questions. To read more about law enforcement careers with CDFW, please go to

To view the official job bulletin and detailed information on how to apply, please visit

Those who are not currently working as a peace officer but are interested in a career as a wildlife officer may apply to attend the full 31-week Wildlife Officer Academy as a Wildlife Officer Cadet. The application period for the Academy is expected to open in the September or October.

California wildlife officers are charged with ensuring public safety, enforcing fish and wildlife laws, investigating illegal sales of wildlife, protecting the state from pollution, enforcing habitat protection laws, fighting illegal drug trafficking, keeping the homeland secure and responding during natural disasters. As peace officers, they have the authority to enforce all California laws, such as the Vehicle Code and Penal Code, and are federally deputized to enforce federal fish and wildlife laws.

A typical day for a California wildlife officer is as diverse as the state’s fish and wildlife. Wildlife officers patrol ocean, desert, mountain and valley environments, as well as urban areas. They frequently work independently and conduct full-scale law enforcement investigations. Wildlife officers employ everything from all-terrain vehicles to jet skis and snowmobiles while on patrol and spend much of their typical day making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. CDFW has a dive team and utilizes K-9 partners as well. Environmental crimes and pollution incidents also fall under the purview of wildlife officers. Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.


Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 523-6720

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Honors Assistant Chief John Baker

Assistant Chief Baker in Fay Canyon
Asst. Chief John Baker on a cleanup operation in Fay Canyon

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) today honored Assistant Chief John Baker of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) with the Guy Bradley Award for his 28 years of service to California’s citizens, fish and wildlife. Established to honor the first United States wildlife law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty in Florida in 1905, the Guy Bradley Award seeks to recognize extraordinary individuals who have made an outstanding lifetime contribution to wildlife law enforcement, wildlife forensics or investigative techniques.

The award was presented to Baker at a ceremony held in Seaside in front of half the state’s wildlife officers. Baker was chosen from a list of extraordinary nominees from across the country, and he is the first nominee from California to win the award.

To the 50 officers he directly supervises and the rest of the state’s law enforcement division, Baker is one of the most highly respected wildlife officers serving the people of California today. Baker spent the majority of his career in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where he developed a passion for catching poachers and for working in cooperation with fish and wildlife conservation organizations in the region for the betterment of fish, wildlife and the habitats on which they depend.

Baker also spearheaded an effort that began in the mid-2000s to quantify environmental impacts associated with illegal marijuana cultivation. He was one of the first law enforcement leaders to move beyond rooting out illegal and often dangerous marijuana operations and to commit the resources necessary to remediate the contaminated sites the growers left behind. Remediation of these sites has become common practice today among CDFW and allied law enforcement agencies.

Baker began his career with the department in 1987 as a student assistant and later attended the warden academy. After 28 years of wildlife law enforcement, Baker remains enthusiastic about going to work every day.

“I’ve got a few years left in my career,” he said. “I hope to continue to honor Guy Bradley’s memory and this very special award.”

About the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) protects and restores our nations wildlife and habitats. Chartered by Congress in 1984, NFWF directs public conservation dollars to the most pressing environmental needs and matches those investments with private contributions. NFWF works with government, nonprofit and corporate partners to find solutions for the most complex conservation challenges. Over the last three decades, NFWF has funded more than 4,000 organizations and committed more than $2.9 billion to conservation projects. Learn more at


Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 523-6720
Rob Blumenthal, NFWF, Communications, (202) 595-2457

Shikar-Safari Club International Honors Lt. Sheree Christensen as Wildlife Officer of the Year

Lt. Sheree Christensen - 2014 Wildlife Officer of the Year.
Lt. Sheree Christensen – 2014 Wildlife Officer of the Year.
Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Sheree Christensen was recently selected by the Shikar-Safari Club International as the recipient of its 2014 Wildlife Officer of the Year award.

Each year, the club honors a wildlife officer who has shown exemplary conduct and initiative in the performance of his or her duties. Christensen was selected for her innate ability to lead by example. She has worked in Contra Costa and Alameda counties for more than 25 years and understands local natural resource issues better than anyone in the area. Christensen is known to take the extra step and share her experience and knowledge with those who work with her. She takes the time to teach other wildlife officers within and outside of her squad about San Francisco Bay Area natural resource issues, the laws that protect the resources and why those laws were enacted.

Without hesitation, Christensen accompanies the wildlife officers she supervises on boat patrols, fish business inspections, decoy operations, wildlife checkpoints, undercover operations, investigating illegal streambed alterations and pollution incidents. She has been a leader in CDFW’s tenacious effort to stop the illegal sale of prohibited, threatened and endangered species. Christensen has led many special enforcement details to target those who sell recreationally caught fish for personal profit. She prepares the detail plans, utilizing members of her squad, other CDFW squads and allied law enforcement agencies, and follows the cases from the investigation stage through the prosecution stage. Countless state resources have been protected by the tireless efforts of Christensen.

CDFW congratulates Lt. Christensen on this exceptional honor.

Shikar-Safari was founded in 1952 as a hunting organization but quickly recognized its potential to affect meaningful change in the area of wildlife conservation. Funds raised by the Shikar-Safari Club International Foundation are used to support various conservation projects in the United States and throughout the world.

California Rifle and Pistol Association Honors CDFW Assistant Chief Roy Griffith as Wildlife Officer of the Year

Asst. Chief Roy Griffith is honored by the California Rifle and Pistol Association
Asst. Chief Roy Griffith is honored by the California Rifle and Pistol Association

Since 2004, recently promoted Assistant Chief Roy Griffith of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has worked tirelessly to recruit and train new hunter education instructors from throughout California. During his 11 years as captain of California’s Hunter Education Program, the number of certified instructors rose from 300 to more than 1,000. The California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA) recently recognized these efforts by naming him as their 2014 Wildlife Officer of the Year.

Griffith began his wildlife officer career with CDFW in 1990, working in Southern California’s Chino District. He conducted extensive undercover operations as a member of the Special Operations Unit before changing his focus to the enforcement of laws related to habitat destruction. But he is best known for his role as captain of the Hunter Education Program, where his multi-generational approach and passion for “passing on the tradition” are evident to all who have worked with him.

When Griffith took the position of captain, California was experiencing a dramatic decline in the number of hunter education instructors. Griffith stepped up recruitment efforts, putting a special emphasis on bilingual outreach in order to reach prospective hunters who do not speak English as their first language. Now as Assistant Chief, Griffith continues to oversee the Hunter Education Program as part of his overall duties.

The all-volunteer cadre of hunter education instructors forms the framework for CDFW’s efforts to promote safe and ethical hunting to the next generation. The program includes annual re-certification of all 1,000 hunter education instructors. During the recertification, they learn the most current hunting and firearm safety training standards aligned with the state’s wildlife conservation needs and principles.

Hunter education instructors often volunteer for CDFW in many non-hunter education related venues, such as outdoor sporting shows, community events and anywhere else CDFW staff needs a hand.

Part of CRPA’s mission is to ensure proper management and respect for our state’s wildlife resources and to encourage public education concerning these resources. CRPA has regularly supported wildlife conservation, wildlife officers and hunting and firearms safety training statewide.


Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Poachers Take Advantage of Drought Conditions to Target Juvenile Salmon

California wildlife officers patrolling the Sacramento River recently cited six suspects for unlawfully taking and possessing juvenile salmon, and using the young fish as bait to target sturgeon. All of the suspects initially denied use of salmon as bait, but wildlife officers were able to reel in their lines and show them the dead salmon on their hooks.

The alleged poachers worked during the early morning hours under the cover of darkness and focused their effort on sandbars on the Sacramento River in Yolo and Sacramento counties. The sandbars were recently exposed due to drought conditions. Wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Delta Bay Enhanced Enforcement Project (DBEEP), Special Operations Unit (SOU) and local squads continue to use the Governor’s drought overtime support to step up patrols in these sensitive areas to protect salmon and sturgeon from poachers.

In the first case, a wildlife officer observed two subjects wading in the Sacramento River and using a large net to capture juvenile salmon near a sandbar created by the low flow conditions. They netted the small salmon for later use as bait to fish for sturgeon. The wildlife officer ultimately determined that the two anglers and one more fisherman used fishing rods baited with the juvenile salmon they’d caught. Tony Saetern, 25, Michael Anglero, 24, and Kao Saeyang, 28, all of Sacramento, were each cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait and unlawful possession of salmon out of season.

A few nights later, wildlife officers observed a suspect using a hand light and dip net to unlawfully capture and keep multiple juvenile salmon in the same area of the Sacramento River. The officers watched as a total of three suspects in the group appeared to use the salmon as bait for fishing. Officers contacted the suspects and found two of them in possession of fishing rods with hooks baited with the salmon. As the officers were conducting the investigation, a sturgeon was hooked on another fishing rod belonging to the group, was landed and released. Officers found the group in possession of a Snapple beverage bottle containing 14 additional juvenile salmon for later use as bait.

Nai Poo Saechao, 36, of Antelope and Lai C Saechao, 27, of Sacramento, were both cited for unlawful use of salmon as bait, possession of salmon out of season and an overlimit of salmon. Vincent Sai Poo Saechao, 23, of Antelope, was cited for unlawful method of take of salmon.

“During this time of year, juvenile salmon are migrating downstream to the Delta and are vulnerable to this type of poaching as they seek shelter from prey fish close to shore,” DBEEP Warden Byron Trunnell explained. “Salmon season is closed on the Sacramento River, and nets are not an authorized method of take for game fish in inland waters.”

The unlawful practice of catching juvenile salmon for bait has long been a concern and is an enforcement priority this time of year. Poaching pressure on salmon is particularly harmful now, given California’s current drought situation. CDFW and numerous other agencies on both the state and federal levels are taking action wherever possible to support the long-term viability of salmon populations of the Sacramento River watershed.

CDFW appreciates legitimate anglers and asks for the public’s help in apprehending those who are taking advantage of our natural resources. Illegal activity can be reported through the CDFW Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters (CalTIP) line at 888-334-2258, or via email or text (please see for details).

Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095CDFW Wildlife Officer (2)

Six Wildlife Officers Receive Medal of Valor, California’s Highest Honor

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Six wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) were awarded the California Medal of Valor, the state’s highest honor, at a ceremony today. The six are among 52 state employees receiving the medal for demonstrating extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism in order to save the life of another.

Governor Brown’s Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden presented the awards.

“All of our officers are trained and ready to take on any challenge while working in a remote county, on a river or the ocean or patrolling in an aircraft,” said CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “The officers whose actions are being recognized represent the integrity of the entire CDFW force and we are very proud of them.”

There are more than 400 wildlife officers responsible for protecting California’s natural resources, often working alone on nights, weekends and holidays. They face many challenges as they enforce the laws relating to fish, wildlife and habitat within the state and its offshore waters.

The following officers are being recognized:

Crew of the Patrol Boat Bluefin
On Feb. 10, 1996, while patrolling waters off the Santa Cruz coastline aboard the department’s 65-foot patrol boat Bluefin, Lt. Doug Huckins (now retired), Wildlife Officers Gary Combes and John Ewald and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Richard King, overheard a radio call about a capsized boat in the area.

After a 15-minute dash to the scene, they found the white hull of an overturned boat in the surf line and several people in 50 degree water, including two surfers who had paddled out to assist the victims. The crew could see the surfers taking turns holding up four of the five victims. Both surfers and victims were nearing exhaustion and waving frantically for help in the 12-foot waves.

With no real training on how to affect a rescue of that nature within the surf zone, the entire crew risked themselves to save lives.

Huckins backed the Bluefin just off the surf line, while Combes and Ewald launched a rigid-hull-inflatable skiff. They maneuvered into the surf zone riding the backs of the swells, and managed to pluck three of the victims from the water. They rushed them back to the Bluefin before returning to locate the other victims, but none were found. Huckins and King recognized that all three victims were in advanced stages of hypothermia after having struggled in the frigid waters for almost 45 minutes, and got the men into the crew’s survival suits for added warmth. The men were then airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

The two surfers had managed to get one victim to shore, but sadly a fifth victim drowned.

The rescued victims later visited Huckins. One of them told of becoming so exhausted he could no longer stay afloat – he sank once, then fought his way to the surface for what he knew would be his last breath, and as he began to sink for the last time, a wildlife officer’s hand came “out of nowhere” and pulled him to safety.

Wildlife Officer Kyle Kroll
On June 17, 2011, Wildlife Officer Kyle Kroll was patrolling the North Fork of the Feather River when he heard a 911 call over the county fire department radio. A vehicle had gone over a ledge and into the Feather River. Kroll was only five miles away and the nearest other rescue personnel were 45 minutes away.

Kroll arrived on scene and saw the vehicle was off a steep embankment and resting precariously on a rock in a section of the river with dangerous rapids. A severely injured husband and wife occupied the vehicle. Kroll determined he could not risk moving either passenger as the weight shift would have caused the vehicle to slip into the river. Kroll provided first aid and relayed pertinent information to emergency responders who were still many critical minutes away.

Kroll then secured the damaged vehicle with a tow strap and chain from his truck. He carefully waded into the swiftly moving river and attached them to the front and rear axles of the car. Assisted by a PG&E worker, Kroll tied the strap and chain to a tree and a rock in order to stabilize the vehicle and prevent it from falling into the river.

Rescue personnel and California Highway Patrol officers then arrived on scene. Because of the continued risk of the vehicle falling into the river, they provided Kroll with another chain, and he again went under the car and attached it to the axle, then to a tree. Only after securing additional straps and cables could the team work to extract the victims from the car and get them to safety.

Lt. Tony Spada
On July 24, 2013, Lt. Tony Spada was off-duty, riding his mountain bike on the south side of Ash Slough in Madera County. A woman ran from the bushes alongside the slough shouting, “My baby was swept away, help me!” Despite the fact he had no rescue equipment available, not even a life jacket, Spada dropped his bike, surveyed the scene and dove into the slough. He swam with the current approximately 50 to 70 yards downstream where he found two small girls hanging onto a branch to keep from being swept under a section of the slough with dense vegetation. Spada swam to their location and found it too difficult to rescue both children at the same time.

He located a safe exit point on the opposite side of the slough. Taking the smallest girl first, he placed her arms around his neck and proceeded to swim her across the slough to safety. He exited the waters, ran up stream and dove back into the water to rescue the second child in the same way.

Spada escorted the children over to officers of the Chowchilla Police Department who were waiting nearby. Both girls were treated for a mild case of hypothermia and shock.

Without Spada’s heroic actions, there is no doubt these two young girls would have lost their lives.

Wildlife Officer Arthur Golden
On Oct. 12, 2012, Wildlife Officer Arthur Golden was driving home from training when he came upon a vehicle accident near Corcoran. A small pickup truck had gone off the road and down a steep embankment.

A bystander reported that the victim was pinned in the vehicle and not breathing. Golden quickly checked on the driver, then radioed for help at his vehicle and went back down the hill to the heavily damaged vehicle. Inside, the driver was unconscious and bleeding. The truck was perched precariously on a slope and ready to slide down, potentially rolling over.

Putting himself in great jeopardy, Golden reached through the smashed driver’s side window to assess the victim’s injuries and provide immediate medical care. While Golden was half-inside the truck, it slid several inches down the hillside. Golden pulled the driver toward him to relieve the pressure on the downside truck door and stabilize the vehicle from rolling over onto both of them.

Shortly after, local fire and rescue arrived and fully extracted the man from the vehicle and got him to safety.

Video and high resolution photos of the wardens are available at