DFG Regional Manager Honored by Presidential Appointment

Marija Vojkovich
DFG Marine Region Manager Marija Vojkovich. DFG photo by Debra Hamilton.

Media Contacts:
Marija Vojkovich, Marine Region Manager, (805) (805) 568-1246
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Marine Region Manager Marija Vojkovich has been appointed by President Barack Obama to the  Commission for the Conservation and Management of Highly Migratory Fish Stocks in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean.

“We are pleased to see our colleague so honored,” said DFG Director John McCamman. “Marija is a valued member of the DFG family who has a wealth of knowledge and skills gained through experience. She will make an excellent United States Commissioner.”

Vojkovich has been the Marine Region Manager since 2007. In this position, she oversees 148 employees, all marine habitat, fisheries and regulatory activities. She closely coordinates with government agencies at all levels, non‑government organizations and a diverse constituency.

For the past eight years Vojkovich has been the State of California Principal Official on the Pacific Fishery Management Council, which, among other things, sets the dates and certain regulations for the annual salmon seasons on the West Coast. As a member of the Council she has been active in issues associated with the Fishery Management Plan for U.S. West Coast Fisheries for Highly Migratory Species, which directs federal management of the West Coast‑based fisheries for the resources under the purview of the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission.

Vojkovich has more than 30 years of experience in fisheries management and policy, and earned a B.S. in Fisheries Management from Humboldt State University.

Fish and Game Commission Votes on Effective Date for South Coast MPAs

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

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) today selected Oct. 1, 2011 as the effective date for implementation of the marine protected areas (MPAs) in Southern California.

In a 4-1 vote, Commissioners selected this day to better inform affected ocean users of the new regulations in the South Coast Study Region, which spans from Point Conception in Santa Barbara County to the U.S./Mexico border. Commissioner Daniel Richards was the only vote in opposition.

On Dec. 15, 2010 the Commission adopted regulations to create a suite of MPAs in this study region. Developed under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) planning process, this network of 49 MPAs and three special closures covers approximately 354 square miles of state waters and represents approximately 15 percent of the region. The regulatory package is being prepared for the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) and the date selected today allows time for OAL review and approval, finalizing the lawmaking process. For more information on the south coast MPAs or MLPA, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/southcoast.asp.

Habituated Bear Euthanized in San Luis Obispo

Media Contact: 
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944
Bob Stafford, DFG Associate Biologist, (805) 528-8670
Todd Tognazzini, DFG Game Warden, (805) 610-3916

A black bear that broke into four chicken coops on four separate nights was euthanized near a San Luis Obispo neighborhood Tuesday night.

Two landowners requested a depredation permit from the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) after several failed attempts by the San Luis Obispo Police and local residents to scare the bear away with non-lethal methods. Officers used pepper balls and rubber bullets to chase away the animal with no success.

The bear continued to frequent several residences and break into chicken coops, killing a number of chickens over the past two weeks. The bear was euthanized while attempting to break into a chicken coop Tuesday.

Numerous efforts over many years have clearly established that relocation is not an option for bears that develop behavioral patterns of killing livestock or pets. Wildlife experts have made many such attempts witnessing bears travel many miles back to the area from which they were removed and exhibit the same repeated behavior. Those bears that do not return to their prior home range often seek out human habitation and exhibit similar patterns of destructive behavior.

For more information about how to discourage break-ins and avoid attracting bears, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html.

Ecosystem Restoration Funding Comment Period is Now Open

Media Contacts:
Carol Atkins, DFG Water Branch, (916) 445-0074
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is accepting comments on recommendations for proposed projects related to the 2010-2011 CALFED Ecosystem Restoration Program (ERP).

As the state implementing agency for the ERP, DFG released a Proposal Solicitation Package (PSP) in December 2010 requesting proposals focused on three ERP priorities:

1)     Restoration projects that restore or enhance aquatic habitat in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and Suisun Marsh and Bay;

2)     Research that tests hypotheses identified in the Delta Regional Ecosystem Restoration Implementation Plan (DRERIP) evaluation of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan’s conservation measures or the National Research Council Operations Criteria and Plan Biological Opinion review, or addresses uncertainties identified with either of these activities; and

3)     Projects that (a) construct facilities to control waste discharges that contribute to  low dissolved oxygen and other water quality problems in the lower San Joaquin River and south Delta or (b) construct facilities to control drainage from abandoned mines that adversely affect water quality in the Bay-Delta.

DFG convened a selection panel on June 7 and 8, 2011 to discuss the scientific merit of the eligible proposals and their relevance to ERP priorities. The Selection Panel then made initial funding recommendations for consideration by the DFG Director. The selection panel was comprised of ERP Implementing Agency representatives including DFG, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service, as well as representatives from other state and federal agencies that work closely with the ERP, including the Delta Science Program and the Interagency Ecological Program.

The selection panel recommended funding 16 projects for approximately $15.25 million.  Approximately 30 percent of the award is for on-the-ground restoration/remediation projects. The proposals will be funded from multiple bond sources including Propositions 13, 84 and 204. A list of the proposed projects is posted at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ERP/grants_2010_grants_psp.asp.

As part of the ongoing transparent review process the ERP has with awarding funds for projects, DFG staff has discussed these recommendations with the Delta Stewardship Council and Delta Conservancy and now seek comments from the general public. The Director will consider all comments when making the final funding decision.

All public comments must be submitted by 5 p.m. July 15, 2011. Electronic comments can be sent to ERPPSP@dfg.ca.gov. Mailed or hand delivered written comments may also be sent to:

Ms. Carol Atkins, Staff Environmental Scientist
California Department of Fish and Game
Water Branch
830 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Questions about the proposals should be directed to Carol Atkins at catkins@dfg.ca.gov or (916) 445-0074.

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).

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News