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Longest-Tenured California State Game Warden to Retire

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 wardens.

“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 high-elevation waterways.


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