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Personnel Profile: Steve Martarano

NAME: Steve Martarano
JOB TITLE: Supervising Information Officer 2 at the CA Dept of Fish & Game

Capitol Weekly: How did you end up in this job?
Steve Martarano: I was a newspaper guy for 10 years–the old Sacramento
Union. I worked on school newspapers since junior high school, and at the
University of Nevada-Reno I was the editor of the school paper. I got a job
in the sports department at the Union right out of school. I did just about
everything there, even covered rock concerts in the mid-80s. My last four
years there I was the daytime police and crime reporter, covered the
Dorothea Puente boardinghouse murders among other stories.

I left in 1989 when the paper was sold to a local developer, and it folded
about four years later. I freelanced for awhile and then ended up at the
Board of Equalization in 1990. I’ve been at the CA Department of Fish & Game
for eight and a half years, by far the most fun I’ve had working for the
state. There’s times I miss being a reporter, the irreverence of a newsroom.

But I think I have an understanding of reporters and what they need to get a
story done. A lot of my friends are still reporters. This job gives me an
opportunity to use a lot of the same skills in a different way.

CW: What are some of the more interesting issues you’ve dealt with in this
job?
RM: Late last year, we had three deer attacks in about a month’s time that
got a lot of publicity. One of them resulted in a guy getting killed. People
don’t understand how dangerous deer can be when they get comfortable around
us. We put out a news release linking to a brochure we did on the need to
deer-proof your property. Right about the time it came out, there was a
fourth incident. USA Today did a story and we were in the lead; CNN followed
with a lengthy piece on the Anderson Cooper newscast.

Those are the kinds of things we do, educating people about wild animals and
what we can do to co-exist with them: mountain lions, bears, coyotes, deer.
Day after day we get calls. Any time there has been a mountain lion attack,
and most don’t realize how rare attacks are, mountain lion sightings go
through the roof because awareness is so high. In Riverside County a couple
years ago, police shot a large housecat after someone reported it as a lion.

2005 seemed to be the year to focus on our restricted species regulations
because of two high-profile incidents – the tiger shooting in Ventura
County, and the chimp attack at a permitted facility outside Bakersfield.
California actually has the most stringent restricted species laws in the
country. It seems that every year there is a bill to legalize ferrets. A
couple times it has actually reached the Governor’s desk, but it’s always
been vetoed. We’ve done six major poaching operations since I’ve been here,
for abalone, bear parts, sturgeon and party boat operators. It never ceases
to amaze me the breadth and scope of all the issues that we’re involved in.

CW: What do you do when you’re not working?
RM: I used to play a lot of softball, including with the Muckrakers, made
up of journalists and other Capitol types, such as [CW columnist] A.G Block.
When I turned 40 about 10 years ago, I started playing hardball again in
several of the local leagues, like the Men’s Senior Baseball League, and
National Adult Baseball Association. I was an infielder. At one point I was
playing about 70 games a year, playing on the major league spring training
fields in Arizona, but I burned out the cartilage in both my knees. I had
the same surgery in one knee that [former Sacramento Kings star] Chris
Webber had, microfracture they call it. My goal is to get back to the point
where I can play again in some capacity, even if it’s just to bat.

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