Tag Archives: California

CDFW Completes 2014 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

A mallard drake takes flight from calm waters
Mallard drake. Photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its 2014 waterfowl breeding population survey. The resulting data indicate the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) remains similar to last year. The number of breeding mallards, however, has declined 20 percent compared to 2013.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 448,750 compared to 451,300 last year. This estimate is 23 percent below the long-term average. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 238,700, a decrease from 298,600 in 2013, which is below the long-term average. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. However, many other species increased in number this year.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last two years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2014,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Biologist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2014. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1955. The California Waterfowl Association, under contract with CDFW, assists CDFW by surveying a portion of the transects using a helicopter. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, although surveyed areas include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. These areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada, and these results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

The federal regulation frameworks specify the outside dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once CDFW receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, CDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations.

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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

2013-2014 Full Season Spiny Lobster Report Cards Due by April 30, 2014

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds 2013-2014 Full Season Spiny Lobster Report Card holders to return their cards by April 30, 2014 as required by law. Cardholders should review their cards carefully and check that the information recorded is complete and accurate. Information collected from the cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s spiny lobster fishery.

One orange spiny lobster on a sand and rock seabed
California’s spiny lobster. CDFW photo

Please Note: Any 2013-2014 Full Season Spiny Lobster Report Card holder who fails to return their card by April 30, 2014 will be charged a non-return fee of $20 upon issuance of a Spiny Lobster Report Card in the subsequent fishing season, or they may choose to skip one fishing season to be able to purchase a lobster card the following season at no extra cost.

Past lobster report card return rates have been too low to accurately estimate catch for the fishery but the Automated License Data System (ALDS) has greatly increased CDFW’s ability to remind card purchasers of the need to return report cards. ALDS was used to mail reminder notices to all cardholders last year to return their report cards through the mail or submit their harvest data online. If you receive a reminder notice but have already submitted your card or reported online, CDFW thanks you!

The cards need to be returned even if no lobsters were taken or no attempts were made to take lobsters. Spiny Lobster Report Card data can be submitted online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting. Report cards also can be submitted by mail to:

CDFW – Lobster Report Card
3883 Ruffin Rd.
San Diego, CA 92123

Additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program can be found on CDFW’s Ocean Sport Fishing webpage, w

ww.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/lobster.asp.

Media Contacts:
Kai Lampson, CDFW Marine Region, (805) 965-7216
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

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 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.

CDFW Team Investigates Major Trinity County Marijuana Cultivation Sites

Sept. 6, 2013
Media Contact:
Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

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The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) participated in a multiagency narcotics task force that executed 23 search warrants in Trinity County on Aug. 29. All of the warrants were served in the Trinity Pines subdivision in the town of Hayfork.

The parcels were part of a long investigation conducted by the State Marijuana Investigation Team, Bureau of Land Management and Trinity County Narcotics Task Force, relating to illegal cultivation of marijuana for sale. Eight wildlife officers and six CDFW environmental scientists inspected nine of the 23 parcels for environmental crimes.

Violations found by the CDFW team include eight unlawful water diversions, 18 incidents of state water pollution, five violations of littering state waters, and multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and Porter Cologne Water Quality Act.

Some environmental violations involved the terracing of slopes above fish streams and other unpermitted construction that negatively impact stream banks, water quality and riparian zones through loss of natural habitat and uncontrolled water runoff. Large quantities of trash and plastic fertilizer bags were discarded throughout the parcels, creating environmental and wildlife hazards.

“What we observed on these parcels contributes to the cumulative impacts we see downstream including low stream flows, nutrient loading causing algae blooms, poor water quality and ultimately fish kills,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Jane Arnold, who has been working environmental crime investigations associated with illegal marijuana growing operations for several years. “These stream impacts are undermining decades of restoration and fish recovery efforts in the Trinity River watershed, and ultimately affect its wild and scenic character.”

CDFW’s Lt. Jackie Krug added that wardens and environmental scientists have been working together closely for several years to investigate environmental crimes associated with illegal marijuana growing operations. “This detail resulted in similar types of environmental crimes that we often see on these sites,” she said.

Wildlife Conservation Board funds environmental improvement and acquisition projects

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

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At its Sept. 4 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $8.6 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 10 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, land owners and the local community. The funds for all these projects come from bond initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $172,000 grant to the Tehama County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with the landowners and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to initiate planning, design, and environmental review on two ranches in Tehama County: the Leininger Ranch and the C&R Ranch, approximately 10 miles east and 17 miles west of the City of Corning, respectively.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the River Partners for a cooperative project with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of Water Resources and others to restore approximately 599 acres of riparian habitat at the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers in Stanislaus County.
  • A $3 million grant for a cooperative project with the River Partners, Department of Water Resources and the Packard Foundation, to acquire in fee approximately 466 acres of valley floodplain and riverine habitat for protection of threatened and endangered species located approximately 10 miles west of the City of Modesto, just south of the confluence of the Tuolumne and San Joaquin rivers, in Stanislaus County.
  • A $1 million grant to the River Partners for a cooperative project with the City of San Diego to restore approximately 100 acres of riparian and oak woodland habitat on City of San Diego property just upstream of Lake Hodges, near Escondido in San Diego County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

September 2013 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

Media Contact: Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

DATE — EVENT

Weekends — Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve (95076), Docent-led walks are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. Day use fee is $4.32 per person, age 16 and older. Groups of 10 or more should schedule a separate tour. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html.

Every Monday — Volunteer Stewardship Field Crew Mondays at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Royal Oaks (95076), 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Help preserve natural habitat by doing seed collection, planting, trail maintenance and weeding introduced species. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html or http://www.elkhornslough.org.

1 — Reservation applications for waterfowl hunting become available online, Hunters can apply for reservations online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols or at any license agent or California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) license sales office. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/waterfowl/waterfowlresinfo.html.

2 — Last day of recreational groundfish season for all boat-based anglers in the Mendocino Groundfish Management Area (Cape Mendocino, Humboldt County to Point Arena, Mendocino County), For more information, please visit the Groundfish Central webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/groundfishcentral.

4 — Wildlife Conservation Board meeting, 1 to 4 p.m., in Room 2040 of the State Capitol, Sacramento (95814), The location is subject to change. For more information, please visit http://www.wcb.ca.gov.

5 — CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response Oil Spill and Sector San Diego Exercise Coastal Response, 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Carlsbad CDFW Office, 2177 Salk Ave., Suite 250, Carlsbad (92008). CDFW is jointly hosting this Table Top Exercise with the U.S. Coast Guard Sector San Diego and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. For more information, please contact Kris Wiese at (760) 681-6473 or at Kris.Wiese@wildlife.ca.gov.

8 — Last day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from the Oregon/California state line to Horse Mountain, For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

11 — Lobster Advisory Committee meeting, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the CDFW Office, 4665 Lampson Ave., Suite C, Los Alamitos (90720). The meeting will be in the CDFW conference room on the second floor. It is open to the public and a brief public comment period is scheduled. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/lobsterfmp/involved.asp.

16 — Red Abalone Survey and Density Estimates Scientific/Technical Review Kick-off meeting, 2 to 5 p.m, This meeting will be conducted online via WebEx. The California Ocean Science Trust (OST), on behalf of CDFW, is conducting a scientific/technical review of the survey design and methods used to estimate red abalone densities in northern California. The meeting is open to the public and a brief public comment period is scheduled. For more information, please visit the OST website at http://calost.org/science-advising/?page=ongoing-reviews.

18 — CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response Sensitive Site Strategy Evaluation Program San Diego Area (Oil Spill) Contingency Plan (ACP) Equipment Deployment Exercise, 8 a.m. until completed at San Elijo Lagoon, at the ACP site immediately north of 2531 South Coast Highway, Encinitas (92007). For more information, please contact Kris Wiese at (760) 681-6473 or at Kris.Wiese@wildlife.ca.gov.

21-22 — Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunt Zone, To participate in the Youth Waterfowl Hunts, federal regulations require that hunters be 15 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/waterfowl-summary-13-14.html or contact Melanie Weaver at (916) 445-3717.

27-28 — Oroville’s 19th Annual Salmon Festival & Street Fair, Located in downtown Oroville and at the Feather River Fish Hatchery in Oroville (95965). Celebrate the return of King salmon to Oroville at the free event. For more information, please visit http://www.salmonfestoroville.org, or contact the Oroville Chamber of Commerce at (530) 538-2542 or the Feather River Hatchery at (530) 538-2222.

28 — Early hunting season for large Canada geese opens in the Balance of State Waterfowl Hunt Zone, For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/waterfowl-summary-13-14.html or contact Melanie Weaver at (916) 445-3717.

28 — First Day of the California Spiny Lobster Recreational Fishing Season, statewide, For more information, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/lobster.asp.

Previously Oiled Sea Otter Seen with Second Pup

July 31, 2013
Media Contact:
  Eric Laughlin, OSPR, (916) 214-3279

a sea otter floats in a kelp bed with a newborn pup on her stomach
Olive with her second pup. Colleen Young/CDFW

Olive_pup_nursing_IMG_5665dfg

Facebook followers of “Olive the Oiled Otter” received good news today: Scientists found her with what they believe is her second pup. The birth of Olive’s first pup last fall was a milestone in oiled wildlife rehabilitation as it was the first pup born to a previously oiled sea otter in California.  The birth of this pup further confirms that oiled wildlife can continue contributing to the population after rehabilitation and release.

After a several week hiatus, during which scientists could not locate Olive, she was spotted Tuesday morning clutching a newborn pup, according to CDFW Environmental Scientist Colleen Young, based at CDFW’s Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz.

Both mom and pup appeared to be healthy and Olive was observed holding, grooming and nursing her new pup at the Capitola surf spot she’s been known to frequent, known to locals as “The Hook.”

“Olive’s second known pup further demonstrates that formerly oiled wildlife can successfully reproduce, again validating the importance of rehabilitating oiled wildlife,” Young said.

In July 2012 sea otter researchers from CDFW, the U.S. Geological Survey and Monterey Bay Aquarium discovered Olive was pregnant with her first pup when they brought her into a mobile veterinary lab for the first exam since her release. The team determined she was about halfway through a normal pregnancy term. She was given new flipper tags and released back to her capture site.

“Olive,” who was estimated to be a year old at the time of her rescue in February 2009, earned her name during rehabilitation when the staff used olive oil as part of the intensive washing process.

After being rehabilitated, she was released back into the wild on April 7, 2009 and has been monitored since. Most of her sightings have been at the near shore kelp beds off Capitola.

CDFW scientists will continue monitoring Olive and her new pup at a safe distance to document her success in the wild while avoiding disturbance to the new family.

CDFW teams with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the U.S. Geological Survey to study the ecology and population trends of the Southern Sea Otter, which is listed as a federally threatened species. Results of the 2012 sea otter survey listed a population index of 2,792, which represents a very small increase in number and reverses the downward trend of the last few years.

The public has the opportunity to donate to the Sea Otter Tax Check-off Fund to support sea otter research. Donations can be made on line 410 of Californians’ individual income tax returns. For more information on the Sea Otter Tax Check-off Fund visit www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck.

Additional information on Olive’s progress and photos are available at www.facebook.com/Olivetheoiledotter. General information on sea otter research is also available at
http://www.dfg.ca.gov/ospr/Science/marine-wildlife-vetcare/index.aspx#.

Photos for media use provided by CDFW:
https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=69797
https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=69798

Video:
http://youtu.be/gQw97SGlnzY