June 16, 2010
California – When Danny Moraga entered the police academy
to become a game warden, Gerald Ford was our nation’s president.
He is the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) longest tenured game
warden and he retires in June after more than 33 years of service.
Lt. Moraga is proud to have spent three decades working among of
the most dedicated law enforcement officers in California - game
“Lt. Moraga’s institutional knowledge and long term dedication to
California’s fish and wildlife serves an example to wardens,” said
Capt. Roy Griffith, his supervisor. “Many current wardens weren’t
born when Danny started.”
Lt. Moraga supervises the southern California hunter education
program, serving as a mentor to those who do the most to conserve
California’s fish and wildlife. He set his career goal to become a
warden after he was contacted in the field by two DFG wardens
while scouting for deer. A conversation ensued and soon he was on
his way to the Academy. One night during the first month on the
job near the desert town of Brawley, a suspected drunken driving
stop ended with a stolen car and three burglary suspects, a loaded
handgun on the front seat and more stolen firearms in possession.
Lt. Moraga quickly realized that a warden’s job would regularly
put him in harm’s way.
His desert days also included a rescue of a desert bighorn sheep
from an irrigation canal and contacts with reptile poachers who
fashioned hidden storage compartments in their vehicles for their
venomous snakes. After transferring to the San Francisco Bay Area,
Lt. Moraga worked many undercover details involving illegal sale
of fish and he thoroughly enjoyed catching salmon poachers. He
then moved to Plumas County, where he thought the pace might slow
down a bit - only to have northern pike be discovered in Lake
Davis in 1994.
During his career with DFG, Lt. Moraga has seen improvements to
equipment and procedures that have made a warden’s job safer.
Wardens have newer radios allowing them better communication with
dispatch while on contact with potential law violators. They wear
bullet-resistant vests, use better equipment and have more
advanced training. They also have access to far more advanced
investigative techniques such as DNA analysis to solve poaching
crimes. Wardens train more frequently in defensive tactics and
firearms use than ever before. At the same time, wardens still
often patrol alone with little or no backup. Methamphetamine
addicts and other drug-enraged suspects often engage in poaching
activity that poses a very serious threat to a warden’s safety.
In retirement, Lt. Moraga plans to hike the John Muir trail, a
feat he accomplished in 1998. He will take the trek a little bit
slower this time, stopping to fish for golden trout in some of the