Category Archives: Enforcement

Reward Offered to Catch Trout Thieves

Media Contact:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

The Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters program (CalTIP) will give up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of trout thieves. The thieves are responsible for stealing approximately 1,000 trout from the San Joaquin Hatchery last weekend. The toll-free, 24-hour CalTIP hotline is 888-334-2258. The value of the fish and the cost to repair the damage to the hatchery elevate the crime to a felony.

On Aug. 21, between 3 and 4 a.m., someone forced entry into the San Joaquin Trout Hatchery and stole up to 1,000 large trout. They also killed and left another 70 large trout in the process. The trout weighed three-to-four-pounds each and had been growing in the hatchery for three years. DFG wardens have collected evidence at the scene and hope to get additional information from anyone who may have seen someone trying to sell the trout.

Citizens are encouraged to be watchful for anyone attempting to sell trout on the street, outdoors markets, or markets where trout are not normally sold. Physical descriptions, vehicle license plate numbers, time, date and locations would be extremely helpful.

For details on the CalTIP program, please see

Game Wardens Set to Graduate from Academy

Media Contacts:
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

More than two dozen men and women are set to graduate from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) law enforcement academy on Aug. 12. The graduation ceremony in Butte County will mark the start of their careers as game wardens, tasked with preserving and protecting the natural resources and wildlife of California.

The class of 39 features 28 DFG warden cadets (those sponsored by DFG and already hired as wardens pending their passing the academy) and 11 cadets who are “self-sponsored” (individuals who paid their way through the academy with the hope of becoming game wardens once their training is complete). The graduation ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise, Calif.

“I am personally very proud of every one of these cadets, they represent the department to the hunting and fishing community while protecting valuable natural resources,” said DFG Chief of Enforcement Nancy Foley. “They will work alongside some of the most dedicated and highly trained law enforcement officers in the state.”

Annually, wardens make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations. They often work alone and in remote areas that do not allow for immediate backup protection.

In California, with 159,000 square miles of area that offers habitat and wildlife diversity unequaled by any other state, the average warden has a patrol district of more than 600 square miles. The state has more than 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs, three desert habitat areas and scores of high mountain peaks.

The warden often acts as arbitrator for issues involving conflicts between wildlife and people. They recommend recreational activities and serve as educators to the public by speaking to schools, service groups and media.

The following are the graduating cadets and their hometowns.

Thomas Anderson              Arroyo Grande

Timothy Bolla                     Winters

Jennifer Bretney*                Corning

Christopher Cahill               Elk Grove

Eric Craig                          Bakersfield

Steven Crowl                      Cottonwood

Kevin DeRose                    Visalia

Zachary Gibson*                 Cottonwood

Chris Giertych*                   San Jose

Michael Harris                    Del Rey Oaks

Michael Higgins*                Atascadero

Rodger Holscher*               McArthur

Travis Jarrett*                     Palo Cedro

Jacob Juarez                      Monterey

Ryan Keylock                    Sacramento

Kevin Kintz                        Port Hueneme

Benjamin Matias                Huntington Beach

Mike McCain                      Escondido

Atilano Morales                  Los Angeles

Scott Moss                        Merced

Bert Olson                         San Clemente

Alan Oratovsky                   Los Angeles

Jerry Prater                      Sacramento

John Pritting                     San Diego

Mark Ratley                       Roseville

Matthew Renner               Ferndale

Andrew Ross                      Rocklin

Russo Anthony                  Sacramento

Kenneth Snyder                 Escondido

Nicholas Spiess*                Chico

Cory Stewart                      Sacramento

Jared Strouss                     Atascadero

Kevin Sullivan*                Morgan Hill

Todd VanEpps                   San Diego

Robert Wardlow                Torrance

Donald White*                    Willits

Martin Willis                       San Luis Obispo

William Witzel                    Elk Grove

Paul Zurawski                    Hawthorne

* Self Sponsored

DFG teamed with Butte College in 2007 to provide peace officer training for prospective wardens. This new partnership secured an academy facility and a California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST)-certified training program for warden cadets on the college’s Oroville campus. Butte College has a 39-year history of police recruit training and has trained more than 5,000 students through its law enforcement academy. The 928-acre campus, the largest in California, is also a designated wildlife refuge.

Duplicate Deer Tag Report Cards Inadvertently Mailed to Hunters

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is recalling approximately 1,000 duplicate deer tags inadvertently sent out to hunters who participated in this year’s Big Game Draw. Of the nearly 53,000 tags printed and issued by Active Networks on behalf of DFG, approximately two percent were inadvertently printed more than once and sent out in separate mailings causing hunters to receive one or more duplicate tags. These duplicate tags must be returned to DFG and cannot be used for the take of additional deer.

DFG has a list of duplicate tags by hunter and zone and is contacting those hunters who received them to retrieve the extra tags. DFG warns that use and possession of a duplicate tag is illegal. DFG will fully enforce all statutes and regulations related to use and possession of duplicate tags.

This is the first glitch since the implementation of DFG’s Automated License Data System (ALDS) in September 2010. In fact, a recent survey indicated that hunters were very happy with the ease of the new system. However, the duplicate tag mailing is a significant error caused by Active Network, the vendor contracted to print and mail the licenses. DFG and Active Network are working closely to address this problem and eliminate any risk of this happening in the future.

“We sincerely regret the inconvenience to the California Department of Fish and Game and its valued customers due to errors in a recent mail fulfillment of awarded Big Game tags,” said Denny Bennett, General Manager of the Outdoors Unit, State Government Licensing and Services at Active Network. “We inadvertently mailed duplicate tags to some customers, while others entitled to receive tags may not have received them. We are working with DFG staff to minimize the effects of any possible errors.”

DFG requests that hunters return the duplicate tags and will be contacting hunters who received them by mail. DFG will provide an addressed, postage paid envelope enclosed with the letter. Hunters need only put the additional tags in the envelope and mail it. All returned items will be logged by DFG and reported to the Law Enforcement Division.

To identify duplicates, please check the Document ID located at the top of the tag. Multiple tags with the same Document ID are duplicates.

Active Networks and DFG apologize for any inconvenience caused to our hunters. Conversely, DFG will aggressively pursue hunters who may choose to act illegally as a result of receiving additional Deer Tag Report Cards.

Department of Fish and Game Seeks Reserve Peace Officer Applicants

Media contacts:
Captain Rob Roberts, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 653-7575
Warden Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is now accepting applications for the new Reserve Peace Officer Program. Applicants must be California peace officers who are currently POST-certified for Level 1 Reserve Training. The position is unpaid, but offers current California peace officers the opportunity to work as reserve game wardens on a regular basis and assist current game wardens with their law enforcement-related activities.

Candidates for the program will have to pass a background investigation, medical evaluation, psychological evaluation and pre-employment physical that includes a basic swim test. Reserve officers may also have to complete a minimum 40-hour field training program regarding natural resource management and fish and game laws.

Reserve officers will work in the field or on vessels and will typically be assigned to work alongside full-time, paid wardens. They will be required to work a minimum of 16 hours per month to remain active.

Interested candidates should submit a standard state application form (also known as a Standard 678, available at to the Law Enforcement Division Reserve Peace Officer Program.

DFG is charged with protecting California’s diverse natural resources, including wildlife and fish and their native habitats. Fish and Game wardens work on land and water, deserts and mountains, in urban and remote areas, and encounter wildlife poachers and polluters of every sort.

The DFG Law Enforcement Division receives regular requests from well-qualified peace officers to participate in a Reserve Peace Officer Program. The original program was phased out in the late 1990s as the volunteers were not POST-certified. The new program will include recently retired game wardens and other retired or full-time California peace officers.

For more information about the Reserve Peace Officer Program in Southern California, please contact Lt. Kent Smirl at (714) 638-8488 or In northern California, questions can be directed to Lt. Josh Nicholas, (415) 883-6160 or

California Wardens Break Up Deer Poaching Ring

Media Contacts:  
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

California game wardens served two search warrants on members of a deer poaching ring early Thursday, resulting in the arrest of three Stockton men. Wardens arrested Thongseuth Khounchanh, 58, Ti Sila, 51, and Bounleuna Sysenglath, 59, as they returned from an all-night poaching trip in El Dorado County. The men were charged with killing deer and selling deer meat for profit.

“It took intensive effort from wardens to stop this poaching operation,” said California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Assistant Chief Tony Warrington. “Wardens from all over the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, including wardens from our Special Operations Unit, the Delta-Bay Enhanced Enforcement Program, the air services unit and our K-9 unit, worked together to make this case.”

On May 26, 2011, an anonymous caller to the DFG CalTIP hotline reported suspected deer poaching activity involving Khounchanh, Sila and Sysenglath. Local Wardens Todd Estrada and Raul Lomeli immediately followed up on the tip and realized it led to a much larger case involving the illegal commercialization and selling of poached wildlife for profit. Wardens conducted an extensive investigation that revealed the suspects made multiple illegal poaching trips each week. The deer meat was sold as fast as they could get it.

The three poachers illegally used lights to help identify the deer in the darkness before using a .22 caliber rifle to make the kill. The deer were processed in the field and the meat was transported to the men’s homes in Stockton, where it was then sold to an established network of buyers.

Wardens used all available resources to make observations and collect evidence in this case, including warden K-9s that worked with their handlers to search for deer parts, spent bullet casings and other trace evidence. K-9 teams located parts of several freshly killed deer, including evidence that would likely have been missed otherwise, at multiple locations throughout El Dorado County.

On June 22, with three arrest warrants and two search warrants in hand, wardens waited for the poachers to start home from another all-night poaching trip. All three men were arrested without incident during a vehicle stop. The vehicle and all contents were seized as evidence and will be processed by wardens and the DFG Wildlife Forensics Lab. Wardens also served two search warrants on the subjects’ homes, and conducted more than 20 follow-up interviews with people suspected of purchasing deer meat from the suspects.

Evidence collected at the houses will undergo DNA analysis to find matches with evidence found in El Dorado County.

All three men were booked into El Dorado County Jail on charges of felony conspiracy and commercialization of deer. Khounchanh, a prior felon, will also face further felony charges of illegal firearm possession.

Selling any deer meat in California, whether it was taken legally under a recreational hunting license or killed illegally, is a crime. DFG encourages all Californians to report wildlife crimes to the CalTIP hotline at 1-888-334-2258 (DFG-CALTIP).