CDFW to Host Public Meeting Regarding Pacific Halibut Management

A young blonde woman standing on a dock holds a large Pacific halibut.

CDFW scientific aid takes data from a Pacific halibut. Ed Roberts/CDFW photo

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend an informational meeting Monday, June 2 to discuss Pacific halibut management in California.

The meeting is scheduled from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the City of Eureka Wharfinger Building in the Bay Room, located at 1 Marina Way in Eureka.

The meeting will provide information on recent Pacific halibut management and science, and include a discussion on recreational fishery management measures for 2015. The public is encouraged to provide input to managers and representatives that will assist in the development of future Pacific halibut management for 2015 and beyond.

Pacific halibut fishing regulations are developed through a collaborative regulatory process involving the Pacific Fishery Management Council, the National Marine Fisheries Service, other West Coast states, the Fish and Game Commission and the International Pacific Halibut Commission.

Please visit the CDFW website for more details regarding Pacific halibut management: www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp.

Media Contacts:
Deb Wilson-Vandenberg, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2892
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

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

New Website Highlights Potential Restoration Alternatives at Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, State Coastal Conservancy and the Annenberg Foundation today announced a joint website to provide an initial outline of potential restoration alternatives at Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve on the Los Angeles County coast. The website builds on a prior site, and also features scientific studies, history of meetings and information about the wetlands.

The website, ballonarestoration.org, provides an early overview of proposed alternatives that will be presented in a draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) that is anticipated to be released before the end of 2014. Upon release, interested parties and members of the public will have an opportunity to review and comment on the EIR/EIS.

Because this website precedes the EIR/EIS, the proposed alternatives are subject to change. The state and private partners created the site to provide as much information as possible to interested parties.

In January 2013, the Annenberg Foundation entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the aforementioned state partners that proposes to enhance the state’s existing goal of establishing Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve as a thriving wildlife habitat and an outdoor education destination for local communities.

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Commercial Dungeness Crab Season Opens Dec. 1 in Northern California

Dungeness crab on gray background

Dungeness crab. CDFW photo

Media Contacts:

Tom Barnes, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4233
Pete Kalvass, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 964-9080
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

The Northern California Dungeness crab season will open on Sunday, Dec. 1, 2013 north of the Mendocino County line. The Director has established a 64-hour gear setting period for the season when crab trap gear can be set no earlier than 8 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 28. Quality tests conducted in the Northern California region in October and November indicate that California Dungeness crabs are ready for harvest. Despite incomplete testing data from the Eureka port area, data collected on Nov. 9 from this area indicated a high degree of probability that the crab would be ready for harvest by Dec. 1 and no data suggests low quality or soft-shell conditions. Fish and Game Code Section 8276.2 requires the Director to open the season on Dec. 1 unless the crab are soft-shelled or of low quality. Oregon and Washington Dungeness crab seasons are delayed pending future testing results. In addition, FGC Section 8279.1 prohibits anyone who fishes for crab in California, prior to the delayed openings in Oregon and Washington, from participating in those crab fisheries for 30 days following the opening of the crab fisheries in those states.

For the results from the pre-season quality tests, please visit: www.psmfc.org/crab/

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit: www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/management_com.asp#crab

CDFW Celebrates 10 Years of Landmark Environmental Law

Media Contacts:
Dr. Brenda Johnson, Habitat Conservation Planning, (916) 653-0835
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

rolling hills and sparse oak woodland behind a field of poppies and native grasses

Hidden Falls Park near Auburn, CA. Loren Clark photo.

vernal pool in a green and yellow grassland under a cloudy sky

Vernal pool near Sheridan, CA. Loren Clark photo

Highway interchange under construction

Palm Drive Interchange, a NCCP project in southern California.

Tall, red-flowering shrub in dry rocky landscape and hills.

Petroglyph Trail in April. Bill Halvert photo

The Natural Community Conservation Planning (NCCP) Act of 2003 is 10

Small reservoir with Mt. Diablo in a beautiful orange sunrise

Marsh Creek Reservoir in east Contra Costa County. Kristin McCleary photo

years old and the organizations that make it work commend its value and effectiveness. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and its partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and members of the California Habitat Conservation Planning Coalition, celebrate what they have accomplished since the Legislature passed the NCCP Act of 2003.

This environmental act is the only state law in the nation designed to actively protect ecosystems using a science-based, stakeholder-driven approach. Natural Community Conservation Plans balance the conservation and long-term management of diverse plant and animal species with compatible, economically beneficial land uses.

“These plans create ‘win-win’ situations by permanently protecting vast regions of habitat while streamlining the permitting process for carefully sited development and infrastructure projects,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “They also ensure the process is open to public input.”

To date, nine large, regional plans have been approved through the CDFW NCCP Program. Together they will permanently protect more than two million acres of wildlife habitat. More than one million acres have already been protected in reserves. Seventeen other plans that will protect millions of additional acres of habitat are now being prepared. These 26 plans specifically identify more than 700 species of plants and animals, and many unique natural communities, for conservation in perpetuity. CDFW has helped direct more than $254 million in federal funds to NCCP reserve land acquisition and more than $27 million for plan preparation. California has also provided nearly $12 million to help local organizations and agencies implement approved plans.

Information on the success of NCCPs in California and regional habitat conservation planning in general can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/habcon/nccp and www.fws.gov/endangered/what-we-do/hcp-overview.html.

2014-15 California Hunting Tags Now Available to Nonprofit Groups

Public Contact:  Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728
Media Contact: Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

A bighorn sheep ram runs up a hill in dry tundra

Bighorn sheep ram

A buck (male deer) in California foothills

A California buck

a pronghorn antelope standing in green and yellow grass

Pronghorn antelope

Tule elk in golden-brown meadow

California tule elk

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites nonprofit organizations to help wildlife by auctioning big game hunting license tags for the 2014-15 season. These tags will allow the highest bidder to hunt bighorn sheep, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope in California. Only 12 to 14 of these special fund-raising tags will be reserved for 501(c)(3) nonprofit groups to sell.

Nonprofit organizations compete for a chance to auction these special fund-raising tags, which hunters can only buy through such auctions. The possibility of winning such a rare prize attracts bidders to the groups’ fund-raising events, which helps them raise more money for their organizations.

A call for applications and the required application form are on the CDFW website at
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/fundraising/index.html.

Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2013.

Fish and Game Code, section 4334 requires the proceeds from the sale of these tags to be returned to CDFW to fund programs that benefit bighorn sheep, deer, elk and pronghorn antelope. In last year’s auctions, tags for hunting two bighorn sheep, one pronghorn antelope, two elk and eight deer raised more than $385,000 for the research and management of these wildlife species.

Organizations that have previously applied or expressed interest in future opportunities to sell these tags have been notified by e-mail. Representatives of nonprofit groups without Internet access may request a printed application package by calling the CDFW Wildlife Branch at (916) 445-4034, sending a FAX to (916) 445-4048, or writing to:

Ms. Regina Abella
CDFW Wildlife Branch
1812 Ninth Street
Sacramento, CA  95811

CDFW Opens Lottery for Apprentice Wild Bird Hunts in San Luis Obispo County

Media Contacts:
Robert Stafford, CDFW Region 4, (805) 528-8670
Rocky Thompson, CDFW Region 4, (805) 594-6175
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a lottery for apprentice wild bird quail hunts on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve in San Luis Obispo County. These opportunities are designed for intermediate apprentice hunters who have some bird hunting experience.

The hunts will be held on Oct. 26 and 27, 2013 and guided by volunteers from the Arroyo Grande and Santa Maria Valley sportsmen’s associations. Ten permits will be drawn for each day of the hunt. All applicants will need to possess a valid junior hunting license at the time of the drawing.

All apprentice hunts are staffed by CDFW employees and trained volunteers who provide guidance and assistance to the hunters and ensure that good safety practices are followed.

Interested applicants should apply through the Game Bird Heritage link at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/GameBirdHeritageHunts/Default.aspx no later than Oct. 10. Late or incomplete applications will not be entered in the draw. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt.

The Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve is located in southeastern San Luis Obispo County. It is a 30,000-acre property owned by CDFW that was acquired for habitat protection of deer, tule elk, pronghorn antelope and a host of other wild bird species.

California Spiny Lobster Season Opens Sept. 28 with Improved Lobster Report Card System

Spiny LobstersMedia Contacts:
Kai Lampson, CDFW Marine Region, (805) 965-7216
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Fishing for California’s spiny lobster is one of the most highly anticipated angling activities of the year. Beginning Saturday, Sept. 28, hundreds of divers and fishermen equipped with lobster hoop nets will descend upon the ocean waters of Southern California in pursuit of this tasty crustacean. Lobsters may be taken only by hand or hoop nets.

Everyone diving or fishing for lobsters must have a valid California fishing license, a spiny lobster report card and must carry a measuring gauge to ensure their lobsters are of legal size. Daily bag and possession limits are seven lobsters per person and each lobster must measure a minimum of three and one-fourth inches measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back. For a diagram and instructions, please see page 101 in the 2013-2014 Ocean Fishing Sport Fishing Regulations, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/regulations.asp or wherever licenses are sold.

New this year, recreational lobster fishermen may purchase a spiny lobster report card that will run the entire fishing season, from Sept. 28, 2013 through March 19, 2014. Lobster report cards must be returned to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by April 30, 2014, following the closure of the lobster fishing season on March 20. Fishermen may record report cards online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols anytime between the end of the lobster season until the April 30 deadline, or return report cards by mail as has been done in the past.

CDFW staff anticipates a higher return rate with the new seasonal program. Last year, just 32 percent of the 37,000 lobster report cards purchased were returned.

“We depend on the recreational lobster fishermen to provide CDFW with data to help us better manage the fishery,” said Senior Marine Biologist Kristine Barsky. “Low return rates result in increased costs for CDFW, such as conducting additional data collection to fill data gaps, managing without adequate data, increasing outreach efforts to remind anglers to return report cards, and enforcement.”

Report card holders who fail to return their 2013-2014 seasonal lobster report card by the April 30, 2014 deadline will be assessed a $20 non-return fee when they purchase a 2014-2015 lobster report card. The non-return fee can be avoided by returning lobster report cards by the deadline, or by sitting out the entire next fishing season.

“The lobster report card is the primary means of collecting data from the recreational lobster fishery,” Barsky said. “The number of report cards being purchased suggests a sizeable population of people targeting lobster in Southern California. Data collected from report cards allows CDFW to detect changes in the fishery, whether it’s a trend in harvest success or a change in gear type. This information is vital for managing California’s lobster resource.”

Fishermen who have already purchased a 2013 calendar year lobster report card can rest assured that the card is still valid through Dec. 31, 2013, and due back to CDFW by Jan. 31, 2014. If 2013 calendar year cardholders wish to continue fishing for lobster from Jan. 1 through March 19, 2014, they will need to purchase the new seasonal lobster report card. CDFW notified all 2012 and 2013 lobster report cardholders by mail with a letter and new brochure detailing the changes affecting the lobster report card. The brochure includes new protocols for reporting a lost card in order to avoid the non-return fee.

For more information about the Spiny Lobster Fishery Management planning process currently underway, or to download a copy of the new lobster report card brochure, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/lobsterfmp.

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