CDFW Completes Emergency Restoration Project to Save Giant Garter Snakes in Sacramento County

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Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Eric Kleinfelter, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (209) 744-1598

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed an emergency restoration project at the Cosumnes River Preserve to help save a state and federal threatened species, the giant garter snake (Thamnophis gigas).

Snake Marsh at the Cosumnes River Preserve is home to a genetically unique population of giant garter snakes. With two consecutive years of drought, there was a significant chance of the marsh ponds drying up, potentially causing severe impacts to the snakes.

“The project consisted of well water being pumped into the marsh and the ponds where the snakes live. It was planned and carried-out on CDFW land that is part of the Preserve,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Eric Kleinfelter. “We had very dedicated contractors and department staff who completed this project in just one month. The Nature Conservancy also played an important role by funding a hydrologic study that showed just how vulnerable to drought this aquatic system is. It was truly a collaborative effort.”

Endemic to California’s Central Valley, the non-venomous giant garter snake is olive to black in color with light yellowish stripes on each side and can grow from three to five feet long. Secretive and difficult to find, this aquatic snake will quickly drop into the water from its basking site before the observer can get close. When threatened, it will excrete a foul-smelling musk. It feeds primarily on fish, frogs and tadpoles and can live up to 12 years.

Located approximately 25 miles south of Sacramento near Galt, the Cosumnes River Preserve consists of approximately 48,000 acres of wildlife habitat and agricultural lands. The Preserve is buffered by a variety of agricultural operations and provides numerous social, economic and recreational benefits to local communities residing in the larger Sacramento and San Joaquin areas. The habitat supports many species of native wildlife, including greater and lesser Sandhill cranes, Swainson’s hawks and waterfowl that migrate throughout the Pacific Flyway.

Preserve ownership includes seven partners: The Nature Conservancy, Bureau of Land Management, CDFW, Sacramento County, Department of Water Resources, Ducks Unlimited, and the California State Lands Commission. The Preserve is centered along the Cosumnes River, its floodplains, and riparian habitat. For more information about the Cosumnes River Preserve, please visit

Deer Hunters Urged to Check Public Land Closures Caused by Wildfires

Media Contacts:
Lt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement (916) 508-7095
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications (916) 651-7824

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises deer hunters to check for fire closures before heading into the field for upcoming deer hunts. Drought and extremely dangerous fire conditions have combined in many areas of the state to ignite several large wildfires in many popular deer hunting areas.

Some areas of public land and roads have been closed to protect public safety. Deer hunting season opens in some of these areas over the next few weeks.

The U.S. Forest Service’s most updated closure information can be found at

CAL FIRE’s most updated closure information can be found at

King Fire closure information for deer zones D3-5 can be found at

Hunters are urged to check these links frequently in order to obtain the most up-to-date information. Although some hunting areas may be closed, there is still plenty of public land where deer hunters can find hunting opportunities.

Detailed information and maps of California deer zones can be found at .

Deer season opening and closing dates by zone can be found at

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that hunters do their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more at

Northern California Swan Tours Slated to Begin in November

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Media Contacts:
Bruce Forman, CDFW Interpretive Services, (916) 358-2353
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will offer free swan tours near Marysville from Nov. 2014 through Jan. 2015.

Co-hosted by local rice farmers, the tours will focus on tundra swans at one of the premier viewing locations in California. Ducks, geese, shorebirds, herons, egrets and raptors are also commonly seen in this viewing area, which contains 23,000 acres of rice fields.

Tours will be held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. These are driving tours, which also involve walking a short distance.

Up to 30 people may register for each tour. Online pre-registration is required at

The swan tours are part of CDFW’s wildlife viewing services program, which includes similar outdoor opportunities at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Isenberg Crane Reserve and North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.

Be sure to also mark your calendar for the California Swan Festival in Marysville, Nov. 8 and 9. Please visit for more information.

For more information, please call (916) 358-2869 or email

SHARE Program to Offer Fall Hunts for Wild Pig, Waterfowl, Dove and Pheasant

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program is offering wild pig, waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunting opportunities on three different properties.

For the first time, SHARE is holding wild pig hunts at Rush Ranch in southern Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh near Fairfield. There will be eight hunt periods from November to February with two permits per period which will be good for two hunters each. Hunters will be randomly drawn for each of the eight periods. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch and will be allowed to camp in a designated area for no extra fee. Method of take for these hunts will be restricted to archery, crossbow or shotgun slugs only.

SHARE is offering three semi-guided wild pig hunts in December, January and February on the Tejon Ranch in Kern County. Six permits, good for two hunters each, will be randomly drawn for each period. These 2.5-day group pig hunts include lodging, meals and a guide that will provide advice on techniques and areas of the ranch to focus hunting efforts. Hunters are allowed to take one pig each during this hunt.

SHARE is offering waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunts on the wildlife management area at the Merced Wastewater Treatment Plant. The property is located five miles south of the city of Merced with 300 acres open for hunting. Tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields, the seasonal pond and wetland area provides cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant.

For more information about each SHARE property, the opportunities available and how to apply for the hunts, please go to

A non-refundable application fee of $11.06 will be charged for each hunt choice. Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) by visiting

The SHARE program has partnered with the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) to offer public hunting opportunities on private lands for fall hunts. California Waterfowl’s Hunt Program has expanded and is now offering additional hunting opportunities, including the recently acquired Goose Lake Wildlife Management Area located approximately eight miles south of Kern National Wildlife Refuge. For a full description of the hunts offered through CWA and step-by-step instructions on how to apply, visit CWA online at

These hunting opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California.


CDFW Reminds Hunters to Help Keep Chronic Wasting Disease Out of California

Media Contacts:
Dr. Ben Gonzales, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 358-1464
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is asking hunters to help prevent the introduction of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) into California. CWD is a neurologic disease that is fatal to deer, elk and moose.

Out-of-state big game hunters should review CDFW’s hunting regulations regarding interstate transport of deer and elk before bringing game meat across state lines.

“If an infected carcass is transported into California and is improperly disposed of in deer or elk habitat, it could result in infection of California cervids,” said CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Ben Gonzales. “If it enters the state, CWD has the potential to devastate our cervid populations and severely impact deer and elk hunting in California.”

California hunting regulations specifically prohibit importing brain or spinal cord tissue from deer and elk harvested outside of California to minimize the risk of introducing CWD into the state. Hunters are encouraged to only bring back deboned elk or deer meat. Wardens have the authority to inspect harvested game and conduct vehicle stops when successful hunters return to California.

It is unlawful to import, or possess any hunter harvested deer or elk carcass or parts of any cervid carcass imported into the state, except for the following body parts:

  • Portions of meat with no part of the spinal column, brain or head attached (other bones, such as legs and shoulders, may be attached)
  • Hides and capes (no spinal column, brain tissue or head may be attached)
  • Clean skull plates (no brain tissue may be present) with antlers attached
  • Antlers with no meat or tissue attached, except legally harvested and possessed antlers in the velvet stage are allowed, if no meat, brain or other tissue is attached
  • Finished taxidermy mounts with no meat or tissue attached (antlers in the velvet stage are allowed if no meat, brain or other tissue is attached)
  • Upper canine teeth (buglers, whistlers, ivories).

California hunters who have been successful in other states must complete and return a declaration for entry form prior to returning home. The form is available at all CDFW regional offices and online at Failure to complete the form could result in a citation.

CWD has been detected in free-ranging cervids in 19 states and two Canadian provinces including Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Saskatchewan and Alberta. There is no evidence the disease affects humans. A map of the areas infected with CWD can be found at

CDFW Seeks Public Comment on Wetland Restoration Grant Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking comments on a new solicitation of grant proposals for wetland restoration grants.

Dry grasses surround blue water in a seasonal wetland
Flooded section of Yolo Basin Wildlife Area, north of the Delta. Dana Michaels/CDFW photo

CDFW recently initiated its Wetlands Restoration Greenhouse Gas Reduction Grant Program, and is seeking public input on the development of a solicitation for projects to reduce greenhouse gases (GHG) and achieve co-benefits for fish and wildlife habitat. CDFW is seeking input on the geographic scope of projects, solicitation priorities, types of projects, methods of monitoring and quantifying GHG reduction, and proposal evaluation criteria for this solicitation. The project area is currently defined as the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, coastal wetlands and mountain meadows.

Proposals submitted under this solicitation will undergo an evaluation and ranking process to identify high quality projects to achieve the priorities and objectives of this solicitation.

Written public comments on this solicitation must be submitted by noon on Sept.18 and sent to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attention: Helen Birss
Re: Wetland Restoration Grant Program
1416 Ninth Street, Suite 1260
Sacramento, CA 95814

Comments can also be sent via e-mail to (please use “Solicitation comment” in the subject line.)

For more information on the solicitation process, please visit

Media Contacts:
Helen Birss, CDFW Habitat Conservation Branch, (916) 653-9834
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Eastern Sierra Wardens to Conduct Wildlife Checkpoint

Lt. Bill Dailey, CDFW Law Enforcement, (760) 872-7360
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be conducting a wildlife checkpoint operation to promote safety, education and compliance with laws and regulations.

CDFW wardens will be conducting the inspection on westbound Highway 108, 1.5 miles east of the Inyo/Mono county line on Monday, Sept. 22, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The wildlife checkpoint is being conducted to protect and conserve fish and wildlife, to encourage safety and sportsmanship by promoting voluntary compliance with laws, rules and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

CDFW reminds hunters to make sure they are familiar with all game laws before entering the field. View California’s hunting and fishing regulations by visiting

Deer tags need to be checked carefully as local wardens have been finding hunters with D Zone tags hunting in the premium X Zone areas.

All anglers and hunters will be required to stop and submit to an inspection. CDFW officers will also be providing informative literature about invasive quagga mussels and New Zealand mud snails.

CDFW Seeking Research Projects on Watershed Predation of Threatened and Endangered Species

Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay-Delta Region, (209) 234-3486
Kevin Fleming, CDFW Water Branch, (916) 445-1739
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is announcing the public release of a proposal solicitation package (PSP) titled Research Regarding Predation on Threatened and/or Endangered Species in the Delta, Sacramento and San Joaquin Watersheds. CDFW has approximately $1 million available to award to grantees to conduct research as outlined in the PSP.  As a condition of funding, grantees must issue a publication-worthy final report at the conclusion of the three-year grant term.

Eligible research projects must present an experimental design that:

Tests explicit alternative hypotheses about the role(s) of predation as it may affect the demographic status and trends of one or more of the Bay-Delta listed species;

  • Samples across salient spatial and temporal gradients in the Delta and/or the anadromous waters of the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River watersheds; and
  • Does not direct funding to an activity or activities that CDFW or any consortium with which CDFW is affiliated is already undertaking or obligated to undertake.

The grant priorities, guidelines and application can be found in the PSP which posted on CDFW’s Grant Opportunities website at

Eligible grant proposals must be postmarked no later than Nov. 10, 2014 and be sent to:

CDFW Water Branch
Attn: Predation Research PSP
830 S Street
Sacramento, CA, 95811

CDFW to Offer Wild Game Cooking Clinic in Southern California

Lt. Dan Lehman, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education Program, (916) 358-4356
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Hunter Education Instructor Association of Southern California are jointly sponsoring a wild game cooking clinic on Saturday, Nov. 8. The clinic will be held at the Compton Hunting and Fishing Club in Compton.

Designed for hunters of all skill levels, the clinic will be led by experienced certified California hunter education instructors and will focus on how to make the most of what you harvest. The clinic will include demonstrations on game care, butchering and cooking. Several recipes for big game, upland game and waterfowl will be cooked on-site and available for students to sample. A wild game cookbook will also be provided.

The clinic will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  The cost is $45 for adults. Youths 16 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by adult.

CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment. Space is limited, so participants are asked to preregister online at After registering, participants will receive an email with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

Fall General Hunting Seasons Opening Soon

Media Contacts:
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) would like to remind hunters that California’s fall general big game hunting seasons are right around the corner.

The upcoming California general deer and bear seasons are some of the most popular hunting opportunities in the state. With weather cooling off and leaves starting to turn color, autumn in California is a great time to be in the wilderness. General season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.

Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. Hunters can pursue black bears in the redwood forests of Humboldt County, or mule deer in the high desert of San Bernardino County and everything in between. While California has its fair share of privately-owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW also offers hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program and Private Lands Management Program.

In addition to big game, fall upland game seasons include quail, pheasant, wild turkey and grouse. The California Fish and Game Commission also recently adopted regulations opening a year-round hunting season with no bag limit for the invasive Eurasian collared dove. Learn how to identify them here.

California also offers coveted pronghorn antelope, elk and bighorn sheep hunts through a drawing system. Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round.

2014 Deer Seasons

2014 Bear Seasons and Important Hunting Information

2014 Pronghorn Antelope Seasons

2014 Elk Seasons

2014 Bighorn Sheep Seasons

2014 Upland Game Seasons and Limits

A valid California hunting license and appropriate tags for each species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. Buy a hunting license and tags online here or find a CDFW license agent here.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course. Find a class here.

Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. Regulations can be found here.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.

CDFW would like to encourage Californians to get out and enjoy our state’s unmatched wild places. Whether just for a day hike on the coast, or a 10-day pack trip to hunt deer in the Trinity Alps, California offers some of the most diverse outdoor experiences anywhere. Be safe and have fun.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News


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