Fish and Game Commission Adopts 2014 Big-Game Tag Quotas

Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3642
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) finalized big-game tag quotas at their April 15 meeting in Ventura. A total of 204,337 deer, 316 elk, 200 pronghorn antelope and 14 bighorn sheep tags were approved for distribution to California’s hunters for the 2014 hunting season.

“Hunters should be aware of the changes for the 2014 season,” said Stuart Itoga, CDFW Big Game Program Coordinator. “We are still dealing with the after-effects of several large wildfires, and the drought conditions are not helping the habitat recover. A prolonged drought could negatively impact big game species populations, but the biggest hurdle for hunters now is gaining access to hunting grounds.”

Notable changes from the 2013 hunting season include a reduction in the D6 general season tag quota from 10,000 to 6,000; a reduction in the G11 deer hunt from 500 to 250; loss of the Del Norte elk hunts and a reduction in antlerless elk hunting opportunities in the Owens Valley hunt area; and a 40 percent reduction in overall bighorn sheep tags due primarily to a recent disease event in the Kelso/Old Dad hunt area. No tags are being issued for that hunt zone this year.

The 2014 Big-Game Digest can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/ and the final tag quotas will be posted for the individual programs at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/Hunting/.

Hunters are urged to review this information carefully as there are significant tag quota changes to consider.

CDFW and Siskiyou County Landowners Collaborate on Black-Tailed Deer Capture

A doe is transported by helicopter during a CDFW deer capture in Siskiyou County.

A doe is transported by helicopter during a CDFW deer capture in Siskiyou County.

Media Contacts:
Bob Schaefer, CDFW Region 1, (530) 842-4387
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

With cooperation from local landowners, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently captured and attached telemetry collars to 10 adult female black-tailed deer before successfully rereleasing them in western Siskiyou County.

CDFW staff work on a black-tailed deer during a recent capture in Siskiyou County.

CDFW staff work on a black-tailed deer during a recent capture in Siskiyou County.

The capture began a five-year investigation into factors responsible for declining population trends in the far north state. Beginning next year, CDFW plans to collar and monitor up to 50 adult females annually for this study.

The does were captured April 2 using helicopter net-gunning techniques, then carried to a base camp where biological samples and measurements were taken. An ultrasound was performed on each deer to determine body condition and reproductive status and satellite telemetry collars were attached so that biologists can monitor the movements of the deer for up to a year. This capture would not have been possible without the permission and cooperation of Scott Valley landowners near the towns of Fort Jones and Etna.

This was one of three successful deer captures conducted by CDFW this year. Information from these studies will be used to improve the department’s deer management programs. Key components of the studies will help identify population trends, movement, nutritional status, reproductive rates and survival. Movement data will help CDFW identify habitat that is important to deer conservation.

Nimbus Hatchery to Host Speaker Series

Media Contacts:

Laura Drath, CDFW Interpretive Services, (916) 358-2884
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The public is invited to attend a presentation on the effects of the ongoing drought on salmon and steelhead trout in the American River. The event will be held at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center in Rancho Cordova on May 3 at 11 a.m. It is the first of three planned speaker sessions at Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center this spring.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Senior Environmental Scientist Rob Titus will address the state of the salmon and steelhead runs and the challenges the drought poses to their survival. Titus will also outline actions CDFW is taking to protect these fish and increase their survival rates. Forest Williams of the Sacramento County Water Agency will then describe ways the public can reduce water use and lessen human impact on the river. Both speakers will field questions from the audience.

The event is free and preregistration is not required. Future sessions in the speaker series will include Climate Change and its Effects on Salmon and Steelhead in June and Fishing the American River in July.

Nimbus Hatchery is located at 2001 Nimbus Road in Rancho Cordova. The hatchery offers hands-on exhibits, a river bluff trail, a play area for children and opportunities to feed fish. It is open daily to the public free of charge from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekends.

For more information about the speaker series, please call (916) 358-2884 or visit the hatchery online at www.facebook.com/NimbusHatchery.

 

Finding an Alternative to Rodenticide: Use a Better Mousetrap

A gray-colored black rat climbs down rocks.

Black rat (rattus rattus). © 2004 Larry Jon Friesen

Recent news that California will remove second-generation rodenticides from the consumer market was welcome at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Unfortunately, some consumers concluded that they would soon have no way to keep “disease-ridden vermin” away from their homes. That is not the case.

The Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) is only restricting consumers’ access to rodenticides whose main active ingredients have caused the most illness and death to non-target wildlife and pets. (Trained, certified applicators will still be able to use the restricted products when necessary to control rodents.) The four chemicals subject to new regulations are known to have caused hundreds – probably thousands – of unintended animal deaths. They also poison more than 10,000 American children each year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers. A primary cause of these tragedies is misuse by consumers – failure to read and follow label directions.

“The best way to keep rodents out of your home, garage or any building is by blocking all the access points rats and mice may use to enter,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Stella McMillin. “It can be as easy as stuffing steel wool into small holes or using a canned foam filler like ‘Great Stuff’ sold at hardware stores.”

Remove things that attract animals, especially food sources such as pet food or children’s snacks, that are left outside or accessible to rodents indoors. Rodents aren’t the only critters food attracts. It also attracts ants, yellow-jackets, raccoons, opossums and – if you’re in coyote, bear or cougar country – even more dangerous wild diners.

Make sure your garbage is secured in a solid container with a tight lid and remove anything rodents might use for shelter, such as wood piles. You can discourage voles, which like to “tunnel” in high grass, by keeping your lawn trimmed. Grass cut at two inches is tall enough to conserve some soil moisture but short enough to provide poor shelter for the vole species in California.

If you still see evidence of rodents, use traps to eliminate the existing rats and mice in or around your home. Traps pose little danger to humans and pets when placed in the small spaces rodents frequent. They are also effective, inexpensive and have no harmful side effects. There are also some environmentally friendly pest control companies that use exclusion and trapping methods rather than poison to keep your home free of rodents.

If you take these actions, still have a rodent problem and feel you must use some kind of poison, please use rodenticide products that DO NOT contain the active ingredients brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone or difenacoum. These are the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides (SGARs) most likely to kill non-target animals.

DPR’s decision to restrict those four chemicals is based on decades of monitoring studies and mortality incidents. Every monitoring study done in the last 20 years has found widespread exposure of predators and scavengers with SGARs, most commonly brodifacoum.

“We have owls, hawks, foxes and bobcats dying every year from these materials,” McMillin said. “Three endangered San Joaquin kit foxes died last year because they were exposed to SGARs, and those are just the ones we know of. Since animals usually go somewhere like a den to die alone, these are most likely just the tip of the iceberg.”

CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory confirms that these deaths were caused by SGARs but the department can take no further action as long as the products’ use by consumers is legal. Typically these animals are found severely weakened and are taken to wildlife rehabilitators, where they are often bleeding and bruised, and die shortly after.

The EPA has been working with rodenticide manufacturers to develop safer rodent control products that are effective, affordable and widely available. Nearly 30 companies that produce or market mouse and rat poison products in the U.S. have adopted the recommended safety standards, including Tomcat products by Bell Laboratories, Assault brand by PM Resources and Chemisco’s rodenticides.

To learn where you can safely, legally dispose of rodenticides containing the four most dangerous anticoagulants in your area, see the Department of Toxic Substances Control web page on household hazardous waste at www.dtsc.ca.gov/HazardousWaste/UniversalWaste/HHW.cfm.

You can learn more about rodenticides and wildlife on CDFW’s website, at www.dfg.ca.gov/education/rodenticide/.

To learn how to use nature to deal with pests, avoiding toxic chemicals, visit the University of California, Davis webpage on integrated pest management at www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.homegarden.html.

The EPA’s webpage on Safer Rodenticide Products is also an excellent source of information, at www.epa.gov/pesticides/mice-and-rats/.

Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Conservation Lecture Series Available to the Public

Two small brown birds -- cactus wrens -- stand atop a cactus

Cactus wren. Steve Brad/USGS photo

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is offering a Conservation Lecture Series to the general public via the department’s website, starting Thursday, April 17.

This lecture series introduces participants to California’s diverse wildlife. Each lecture focuses on a unique plant or animal. The conservation, protection and enhancement of these species and their habitat is of statewide concern. To date, the series has hosted lectures from distinguished researchers on a variety of species including giant garter snakes, fishers, endemic fishes, Northern spotted owls and more.

The Conservation Lecture Series webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/lectures features a list of upcoming lectures and speakers. These scientific lectures are open to anyone who is interested. Advance registration is required and people may attend either in person or remotely via WebEx.

In addition to a schedule of upcoming lectures, the website has videos of past lectures and lecture materials such as PowerPoint slides saved as portable document files (PDF).

In the April 17 lecture (1-3 p.m.), Dr. Kristine Preston will discuss research on the coastal cactus wren. To attend – either in person or by WebEx – visit www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/lectures, then click on, complete and submit the enrollment form that is appropriate for you.

Upcoming lecture subjects include the Alameda Striped Racer, California Tiger Salamander, Shasta Crayfish and Desert Tortoise.

Participants may earn credit for watching the videos. Up to eight hours spent participating in the Conservation Lecture Series may be used toward The Wildlife Society (TWS) Category I requirements of the Certified Wildlife Biologist Renewal/Professional Development Certificate Program. Please see www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/lecturesfor more information and to register for lectures.

Media Contacts:
Margaret Mantor, CDFW Habitat Conservation Planning Branch, (916) 651-1278
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Annual Trout Fest Series Splashes Into 2014

Media Contact:
Jana Leiran, CDFW Hatchery Interpretive Services, (916) 539-6644

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all to Trout Fest, Central California’s annual celebration of one of the state’s most popular fish. Regardless if you are a beginner, novice or experienced angler, this activity-filled event has something for everyone.

“We encourage the public to join us for a fun day of recreation and discovery at Trout Fest,” said Cheryl Moxley, CDFW Fish and Wildlife Interpreter. “Hatcheries are a terrific family destination for learning about California’s aquatic wildlife. Trout Fest offers a variety of activities that encourages hands-on experience.”

Trout Fest kicked-off Sat., April 12 at Moccasin Creek Hatchery in Tuolumne County with tremendous success. If you missed it, try either of these upcoming locations:

• Sat., May 3 – San Joaquin Hatchery in Friant (Fresno County)
• Sat., June 28 – Hot Creek Hatchery in Mammoth Lakes (Mono County)

Some of the many fun things to do at Trout Fest:

1. Touch a fish – Trout skin is slimy, colorful and cool. You can learn all about these things at the Trout Touch Pool!
2. Taste a fish – Fish are Delicious! There are so many ways to cook a trout; here’s your chance to try a few tasty recipes at our Trout Tasting Booth.
3. Feed a Fish – Watch trout jump for joy when you toss them a handful of their favorite food. Learn what trout eat in the hatchery and in the wild at the Aquatic Insect Activity.
4. Catch a Fish – Try your new skills to catch your very own “whopper” at our Small Fry Fishing Activity. For ages 15 years and younger only.
5. Be a Fish – Travel through the River Maze with all the young “fry” avoid the predators and find prey that trout encounter in nature.
6. Clean a Fish – Trout are easy to clean. Learn how at our Trout Cleaning station!
7. Paint a Fish – Make some fishy art at the Fish Print booth.
8. Join a School of Fish – Learn angling ethics, techniques and helpful fishing tips from expert anglers at our Knot Tying, Rigging, Casting and Fly Tying activities.

Fishing, science, art and cooking are only some of the fun and interesting activities Trout Fest offers. Local fly fishing groups will provide individual fly casting lessons, demonstrate the art of fly-tying and talk about catch and release techniques. CDFW wildlife officers will also be on hand to answer your wildlife-related questions.

Hours for all events are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Parking, admission and activities are FREE. All gear and tackle is provided (fishing is for kids 15 years and under only).

Additional information can be found at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/.

Two Santa Barbara County Men Arrested for Felony Fish Theft

Two commercial fishermen were arrested by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers early Sunday morning in Santa Barbara Harbor on felony charges of conspiracy and grand theft.

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John Wilson, 53, of Santa Ynez and Kai Griffin, 23, of Buellton, both licensed commercial fishermen, are being charged with stealing live rock crabs from fellow commercial fishermen and stealing from commercial fish markets at the commercial dock in Santa Barbara Harbor. Wildlife officers allege that the pair then sold the crabs, along with several other illegally landed species, at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market.

“Thanks to some good tips from the fishing community and good, solid police work, we were able to catch the suspects and stop these illegal sales,” said CDFW Lt. Wes Boyle

Wardens had received reports from commercial fishermen and two Santa Barbara fish markets regarding stolen rock crabs and other assorted species. The thefts were said to be occurring in the early morning hours. During the two-month-long investigation, the subjects were observed stealing live rock crabs from receivers in Santa Barbara Harbor and then selling them at the Farmer’s Market. The investigation also showed that the subjects were selling sea urchins, Kellet’s whelks (out of season), live rock crabs and clawed rock crabs that were illegally landed.

The suspects were booked into Santa Barbara County Jail, and charges will be filed with the county District Attorney.

Media Contacts:     
Capt. Mike Stefanak, CDFW Law Enforcement, (805) 746-7590
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

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