Endangered Steelhead Bust

Endangered Steelhead Bust

While conducting a warrant search for illegal marijuana, law enforcement officials were surprised when they also found endangered wild steelhead and poached ducks.

While conducting a warrant search for illegal marijuana Mendocino County law enforcement officials were surprised when they also found endangered wild steelhead and poached ducks.

On March 7, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) warden Don Powers seized 18 wild steelhead and 56 ducks from freezers in two locations while assisting the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department in serving search warrants for illegal marijuana propagation. The wild steelhead, 17 of which were spawning females, are believed to be from the Garcia River in Mendocino County, where they are protected and listed under the Endangered Species Act.

Formal charges will be brought against Kyle Edward Stornetta, 31, of Manchester for unlawful possession of the wild steelhead as well as unlawful possession of an overlimit of ducks. Prosecutors are currently evaluating the case and deciding which additional state and federal regulations were violated, including marijuana violations.

“Enforcement efforts are critical to ensuring the threatened wild steelhead stocks are able to rebuild by returning and completing their spawning cycle on the Garcia River,” said Nancy Foley, DFG’s Chief of Enforcement.


Wild steelhead along the Mendocino Coast were listed as threatened by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2000 and it is unlawful to catch or possess them. The federal listing spurred the investment of millions of dollars of public and private funds in the Garcia River and its watershed to fund restoration and conservation efforts including bank stabilization, upslope sediment reduction, the planting of thousands of small willow, silt reduction programs, road upgrading or decommissioning, and other improvement and forestry projects and practices.


Specific contributions have included more than $1 million in grants issued by DFG’s Fisheries Restoration Grants Program, an $18 million purchase of the Garcia Forest by the Conservation Fund of the Garcia River Forest to manage and restore its 23,780 acres, and a $3.5 million for a conservation easement purchased by the Nature Conservancy to conduct studies and monitor fish and wildlife populations within the forest.


Other investors include the County of Mendocino, the Mendocino Redwood Company and California Trout Unlimited.

The steelhead population is responding to these efforts and showing increasing signs of recovery. In 2009, DFG biologists estimated only 65 steelhead returned to spawn to the Garcia River, but in 2010 approximately 250 steelhead were tallied and in 2011 an estimated 770 steelhead spawned. Even with these increasing numbers, the loss of 17 females is a significant blow to the Garcia River’s steelhead population.


“Those 17 females could have produced about 70,000 eggs to help restock the river,” said Doug Albin, a DFG fisheries biologist in Fort Bragg. “The Garcia River is gradually being nursed back to health by a number of groups pooling their conservation and restoration efforts, but those investments are negated when spawning females are illegally taken like this.”

Recommended for You

Bows

New TRUGLO Bowfishing EZ•Rest

May 23, 2019

Brush-style bowfishing arrow rest and kits designed for simplicity and reliability.

Hogs

Quick Tips: How to Spot and Stalk a Hog

Ian Nance - May 28, 2019

Try these tips to improve your wild boar hunting skill set.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor Hoody

John Frazier of Simms Fishing Products helps OSG's Lynn Burkhead understand the new features of the new Simms' Solarflex Ultra Cool Armor sun protection hoody.

MLF Pro Tips: How to Fish a New Lake

Major League Fishing pros Alton Jones, Jeff Sprague, Anthony Gagliardi and James Watson share their thoughts on how to approach fishing a new lake for bass.

Berkley's New Terminal Tackle

OSG's Lynn Burkhead and Chad LaChance, host of World Fishing Network's Fishful Thinker television show, talk about Berkley's new innovative terminal tackle being introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Catfish

Catfish Night & Day: How to Catch 'Em Both Ways

Terry Madewell - April 04, 2018

Catfish tend to be found in shallower water at night, but they are still active during the...

Other Freshwater

3 Deadly Bait Rigs For Stripers

J.B. Kasper - April 21, 2005

The colder waters of early spring are prime times to use bait rigs for stripers.

Other Freshwater

6 Tips for Nighttime Crappie

Keith Sutton - June 19, 2017

Fishing for nighttime crappie gets you out of the summer heat and puts more fish in the...

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×