Tag Archives: waterfowl

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

Junior Duck Hunts at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

Media Contacts:
Patrick Graham, DFG Region 3, (707) 425-3828
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8908

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is now accepting applications for two special junior duck hunts at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area. On Saturday, Dec. 8 and Wednesday, Dec. 26, spaced blinds on Pond 11 and the Crescent Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will be available only to junior hunt participants and will be closed to the general public.

Hunters will be selected by draw and must be in possession of a current junior hunting license. An adult chaperone (18 years of age or older) is required to accompany and supervise each junior hunter. The adult may hunt with the junior hunter if he or she is in possession of the required 2012-2013 California hunting license, as well as State and Federal waterfowl stamps and the free HIP validation. Junior license holders who are age 16 or older must have a Federal waterfowl stamp.

All available blinds can accommodate two persons (the junior hunter and his or her adult chaperone). Hunters may only use non-toxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  A minimum of one dozen duck decoys are required at all blind sites and chest waders are recommended.

To apply for a reservation, send a standard postcard (available from your local post office) to:

Grizzly Island Junior Duck Hunt
2548 Grizzly Island Rd.
Suisun City, CA  94585

Please include the name of the junior hunter, his or her mailing address (including zip code), a phone number, the 2012-13 hunting license number, and the name of the adult chaperone. Also please include the desired hunt date. Each hunter may apply only once and for only one date.

Application cards must be received by close of business on Friday, Nov. 30. Junior hunt reservations will be filled by a random drawing conducted on Monday, Dec. 3. There will be 24 reservations issued for each date. All successful applicants will be notified by mail.

Please note that all chaperones who wish to hunt must have either a Type A One Day, Two Day, or Season Pass, and these must be purchased prior to arriving at the check station through either a license Agent or online at www.dfg.ca.gov (allow two weeks’ mailing time if ordering online).

The Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also accept junior hunters on the day of the hunt on a first-come, first-served basis to use the free roam areas and to fill any no-shows from the reservations. DFG would also like to encourage use of the West Family Unit, which is available only to junior hunters. Hunt days are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on a first come, first served basis throughout the open season. The gate will be opened approximately two hours before shoot time. An adult chaperone is required and five double blinds, including one mobility-impaired blind and one three-person blind, are available.

The unit is north of Benicia on Goodyear Road. From Highway 680, take the Marshview Road exit and turn right onto Goodyear Road from the off-ramp. The hunt area will be on the left.

Any questions can be directed to the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area at (707) 425-3828.

DFG to Offer Waterfowl Hunting Clinic in Southern California

Media Contacts:
Lt. Dan Lehman, Advanced Hunter Education Program Coordinator, (916) 358-4356
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8988

If you want to learn to successfully hunt waterfowl in Southern California, then the Department of Fish and Game has the perfect clinic for you.

DFG’s Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Southern California Hunter Education Instructor Association are jointly sponsoring a waterfowl hunting clinic on September 29 in Riverside County. This clinic, which will be held at the San Jacinto Wildlife Area, is designed to teach hunting techniques specific to waterfowl in Southern California and is appropriate for hunters of all skill levels.

The class will be hosted by experienced California Hunter Education Instructor Gregg Bouslog. Topics to be covered include concepts of decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, duck identification, dog considerations, gear, game care, cooking tips and safety. 

The clinic will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The cost is $45. Students 16 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by adult. Space is limited and participants must register online in advance at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced. After registering, participants will receive an e-mail with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

San Jacinto Wildlife Area is located approximately 8 miles east of Riverside.

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project Under Way With Public Input

Public Invited to Submit Comments on the Scope of Environmental Documents

The California Department of Fish & Game (DFG) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) have begun the process of developing environmental reviews for the restoration of the Ballona Wetlands in west Los Angeles County. The documents will review potential designs for the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve and evaluate their likely impacts on wildlife, water pollution, local traffic and other factors.  The public is encouraged to submit suggestions for the environmental review at a scoping meeting planned for August 16, 2012.

The Ballona Wetlands was at one time a large wetland complex that covered more than 2,000 acres along the coast near Los Angeles, from Playa del Rey to Venice. Today, the Ballona Wetlands Ecological Reserve encompasses 600 acres owned by the State of California and offers one of the largest opportunities for repairing lost coastal wetlands in Los Angeles County. The site contains important habitat and is identified as a high priority for restoration in the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Plan and the regional strategy of the Southern California Wetland Recovery Project.

The area is currently off-limits to the public. After restoration, the site will be open to residents and visitors for walking, biking, birdwatching and learning about nature. The project may involve removing the concrete levees on Ballona Creek to restore river and marsh habitat between Marina del Rey and the Westchester Bluffs, west of Lincoln Boulevard.  Due to construction costs logistics and wildlife management needs, the project would take several years to build even after it is approved.

DFG and the Corps will hold a scoping meeting on Thursday, August 16, from 4:00-7:00 p.m. at the Fiji Gateway entrance to the Ballona Wetlands (13720 Fiji Way, Marina del Rey, CA 90292. The site is across from Fisherman’s Village and the Los Angeles County Department of Beaches and Harbors).

Members of the public are invited to attend, speak to agency representatives and provide input for the environmental review. The agencies expect to examine the impacts to aesthetics, air quality, biological resources, cultural resources, geology and soils, water quality, land use and planning, noise, public services, recreation, sea-level rise, traffic and others.

Written comments on the scope of environmental review, or additional issues may be submitted at the scoping meeting or sent to the address listed below. Comments will be accepted until September 10, 2012

Ballona Wetlands Restoration Project
C/O Donna McCormick
1 Ada, Suite 100
Irvine, CA  92816 or by email to Donna.McCormick@icfi.com

Additional information on the project and the environmental review process is available on the Ballona Wetlands Restoration website at: www.ballonarestoration.org.

Media Contacts:
David Lawhead, DFG Region 5, (858) 627-3997
Donna McCormick, ICF International, (949) 333-6611
Dr. Daniel P. Swenson, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, (213) 452-3414

Registration Opens for DFG’s Annual Pre-Season Waterfowl Hunting Clinic

Media Contacts:
Lt. Dan Lehman, DFG Advanced Hunter Education, (916) 358-4356
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8988

California’s 2012 waterfowl season is quickly approaching, and the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is offering tips to help both new and advanced hunters prepare for a successful harvest.

“The Central Valley has some of the best waterfowl hunting opportunities in the state,” says DFG Lt. Shawn Olague, who teaches the one-day clinic. “This clinic is a great opportunity to acquire new skills, learn more about the terrain and get into the right mindset so you’re prepared in October.”

Hunters of all skill levels will benefit from DFG’s annual waterfowl hunting clinic, which will be held at the Los Banos Wildlife Area on Sept. 8 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The clinic, which is jointly sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Advanced Hunter Education program and the California Waterfowl Association, will teach tried-and-true techniques for successfully hunting waterfowl in the grasslands of California’s Central Valley. Topics to be covered include decoy placement, blind design, waterfowl calling, duck identification, hunting gear, game care, cooking tips and safety.

The cost of the clinic is $45 for adults. Students 16 years and younger are free, but must be accompanied by an adult.

Space is limited and participants must register in advance at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced. After registering, participants will receive an e-mail with directions to the Wildlife Area and a list of items to bring to the clinic.

In the Central Valley, duck season traditionally begins on the third weekend in October and lasts until the last weekend in January. Prime public lands open to waterfowl hunting include the Los Banos, West Hilmar, North Grass Lands, Volta and Mendota Wildlife Areas and the San Louis National Wildlife Area.

DFG Completes 2012 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has completed its 2012 waterfowl breeding population survey. The results show that although the overall number of breeding ducks decreased, the number of mallards – the most abundant duck in the survey – increased 21 percent since last year.

“Surveys indicated an increase in mallard abundance and habitat conditions were good in most of northeastern California and good throughout the Central Valley, so we expect above-average production for all waterfowl species,” said DFG Waterfowl Program Biologist Melanie Weaver.

The total number of ducks (all species combined) decreased from 558,600 last year to 524,500 this year. The decline was attributed to lower numbers of gadwall and cinnamon teal. This estimate is 11 percent below the long-term average. The breeding population of mallards increased from 314,700 in 2011 to 381,900 this year. Mallard numbers are above their long-term average.

DFG biologists and pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1955. The survey covers most of the suitable waterfowl nesting habitat in the state, including wetland and agricultural habitats in northeastern California, the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Suisun Marsh, Napa-Sonoma Marshes, the Delta and some foothill areas.

Most 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 the results of those surveys should be available in July. DFG survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS when setting hunting season frameworks for regulations in California and other Pacific Flyway states.

The Federal regulation frameworks specify the earliest and latest permissible hunting dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once DFG receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, DFG will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission (FGC) regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations. The FGC traditionally sets waterfowl hunting regulations at their August meeting.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

At its May 31 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved $29.4  million to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. The 30 funded projects will provide benefits to fish and wildlife species, including some endangered species, and others will provide public access opportunities 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, the landowner and the local community. The funds for all of these projects come from recent bond initiatives approved by the voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $1.4 million grant to the Regents of the University of California to construct a new classroom/lecture hall, install underground utilities, improve existing roadway and parking areas, and replace water control structures at the Sierra Nevada Aquatic Research Laboratory, approximately eight miles east of Mammoth Lakes in Mono County.
  • A $234,000 grant to the East Bay Regional Park District to replace an existing vault toilet with an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible restroom, construct an ADA parking space, improve an ADA path and conduct a structural engineering inspection of the Point Pinole Fishing Pier at Point Pinole Regional Shoreline Park in Contra Costa County.
  • A $552,076 grant to the Monterey County Parks Department to acquire approximately 113 acres to protect native grasslands, oak woodlands, riparian woodlands and seasonal wetlands that serve as an important wildlife corridor. The land is located west of Salinas, adjacent to the Toro County Park, along Highway 68, in Monterey County.
  • Acceptance of a $10,000 grant from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services Habitat Conservation Planning grant that will be passed on to the Coachella Valley Conservation Commission to acquire approximately 1,342 acres of land for the protection of Peninsular bighorn sheep habitat, and to provide future wildlife oriented public use opportunities.
  • A $2 million grant to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to acquire a working forest conservation easement over approximately 4,024 acres located two miles southeast of the community of Bridgeville in Humboldt County, where the State proposes to administer federal Forest Legacy Program  funds to protect forest land, important scenic, fish, wildlife, riparian and other ecological values under the California Forest Legacy Program.
  • A $1.5 million grant to the California Waterfowl Association (CWA) to acquire fee title of approximately 763 acres of land south of Suisun City, north of Grizzly Bay in Solano County, for the protection of San Francisco Bay Area wetlands and associated upland areas that support migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and threatened and endangered species, including the fully-listed salt-marsh harvest mouse.
  • A $2 million grant to CWA to acquire fee title of approximately 982 acres of land in Solano County, south of Suisun City and north of Grizzly Bay for the protection of San Francisco Bay Area wetlands and associated upland areas that support migratory waterfowl and shorebirds and threatened and endangered species, including the fully-listed salt-marsh harvest mouse.
  • A $2.8 million grant to the Solano Land Trust for a cooperative project with the California Coastal Conservancy, Moore Foundation, City of Fairfield, Resources Legacy Fund and the Syar Foundation to acquire approximately 1,165 acres of land in the hills north of Cordelia Junction, in Solano County to protect significant natural landscapes and wildlife corridors. This land runs north to the Blueridge open space areas near Lake Berryessa and includes oak woodland, grassland, wetland and riparian habitats, and will provide access and passive recreational opportunities to the public.
  • An $8 million grant to Ducks Unlimited, Inc., for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy and the Department of Fish and Game to restore approximately 230 acres of coastal wetlands and to construct public access improvements at ponds E12 and E13 at DFG’s Eden Landing Ecological Reserve, approximately 5.5 miles west of Union City in Alameda County.
  • A $400,000 grant to the State Coastal Conservancy for a cooperative project with the Earth Island Institute to assist with the implementation of the Community Wetland Restoration Grant Program that provides funding for community-based restoration projects in coastal wetlands and watersheds in Southern California. Projects are located in the five coastal counties from Point Conception to the U.S.-Mexico border, including portions of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego Counties.

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

DFG to Offer Three Late Season Goose Hunting Opportunities

Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

The California Fish and Game Commission has approved a third 2011/2012 late season hunting opportunity for geese.

Licensed hunters can now hunt white-fronted geese and white geese during the late season for geese in the Balance of the State Zone. This is in addition to the already established late season goose hunts in the North Coast and Imperial County Special Management Areas.

The purpose of these late season goose hunts is to reduce goose crop depredation complaints on private lands. Providing hunting opportunities in the late season will help reduce potential crop depredation by lowering the population(s) and shifting geese onto public areas. Most goose populations that winter in California are at or above population goals and remain in California through late spring. Providing hunting opportunities at this time helps minimize potential damage on agricultural lands. All late season goose hunts are closed on Type A and B wildlife areas. However, other public lands open to waterfowl hunting may be open during these late season hunts.

The new season in the Balance of the State Zone will be open from Feb. 18 through Feb. 22. A daily bag limit of eight geese is allowed which may include up to six white geese or up to six white-fronted geese. The Sacramento Valley Special Management Area will be closed to the take of white-fronted geese during the late season goose hunt. Type A and B wildlife areas will not be open to hunting. However, Type C areas and other public lands that allow waterfowl hunting may be open.

The North Coast Special Management Area will be open from Feb. 18 through Mar. 10. The daily bag limit is six small Canada geese only. Large Canada geese cannot be taken during the late season hunt. Type A, B and C wildlife areas will not be open to hunting but other public lands that allow waterfowl hunting may be open.

The Imperial County Special Management Area will be open from Feb. 11 through Feb. 26. The daily bag limit is six white geese. Type A, B and C wildlife areas will not be open to hunting but other public lands that allow waterfowl hunting may be open.

The complete regulations can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

Fowl Weather a Boon for Poachers: Butte County Wardens Make Huge Overlimit Case

Media Contacts:
Pat Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

No one welcomed the recent storms more than California’s 70,000 waterfowl hunters. Rain and wind in California’s central valley has salvaged what was an extremely slow hunting season for waterfowl. All of the central valley wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges with hunt programs reported increased hunter success averages last weekend.

The vast majority of hunters in the field were law abiding and ethical. But wardens cited three Butte County men and one San Jose man who stepped far out of bounds by shooting a total of 108 ducks in two days.

California regulations provide for a duck hunting limit of seven ducks per day with 14 in possession if taken over two or more days. Collectively, the four men had an overlimit of 52 ducks, with additional individual species violations.

On Jan. 20, Butte County Warden Tyson Hulse observed unusual behavior from the men that suggested they might be “double tripping.” Double tripping is a term used to describe when a poacher takes a limit of ducks or geese, brings them back to his residence, then goes out again in an attempt to shoot more.

For 12 hours the following day, Hulse watched the four men continue taking overlimits of ducks. At the end of the day, he gathered three members of his squad and contacted the suspects at two different residences. In addition to the 108 ducks the men killed in the two day period, they had freezers full of additional duck meat in various states of processing that made it difficult to count.

Citations were handed to Todd Gregory Owen, 48, and Cody Lee Owen, 21, both of Biggs; Clint Matthew Owen, 24, of Richvale; and Jeffrey Delte, 24, of San Jose.

Hulse offered a special thank you to the Butte County Fish and Game Commission for their recent purchase of high quality binoculars and a spotting scope, without which the case would not have been possible.

DFG Completes Second Phase of Moss Landing Wildlife Area Upgrade

Media Contacts:
Jeff Cann, DFG Environmental Scientist, (831) 649-7194  
Janice Mackey, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8908

Expanded Public Access and Enhanced Wildlife Habitat Creates Win-Win for All

Public access to the Moss Landing Wildlife Area (MLWA) in Monterey County has now been restored for nature enthusiasts and the general public. Located in the Elkhorn Slough along the north shore, the recent closure allowed crews to create a new public access observation platform and upgrade the existing viewing deck which are now compliant with the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) guidelines. Additionally, there is a new off load area in the adjoining parking lot with a wide bridge that is also ADA compliant allowing easy access to the wildlife area.

Also during the closure, crews excavated ponds to a shallow depth to provide for better foraging and nesting habitat for the western snowy plover (a federally threatened species) in spring and summer months. In fall and winter, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) staff can flood the units for additional water bird and waterfowl use, allowing the habitat to be utilized year round.

“I’m very excited about the progress and investment that we have made over the last few months with this incredibly important wildlife area,” said Jeff Cann, DFG Environmental Scientist. “These incremental steps at improving management of the ponds and wildlife viewing for the general public are perfect examples of how teamwork across multiple organizations can benefit the public and nature’s habitat as a whole.”

Created through a cooperative partnership between DFG and Ducks Unlimited, funding for the project was provided by the Wildlife Conservation Board and the Packard Foundation. Additionally, Point Reyes Bird Observatory staff contributed to the project design, as they have studied snowy plovers at this site for many years.

“Ducks Unlimited is proud to have been a part of this cooperative effort to benefit waterfowl, endangered species and the public,” said Jeff McCreary, Director of Conservation Programs for Ducks Unlimited. “I think Central Coast residents and all visitors will really enjoy the enhancements made here at Moss Landing.”

Standing at 872 acres, MLWA was purchased by the State of California from the Western Salt Works Company in 1984 for shorebirds, waterfowl and brown pelican habitat. It later became significant habitat for the snowy plover. To learn more about the partners involved in this habitat enhancement project, please visit the following websites:

DFG: www.dfg.ca.gov
Ducks Unlimited: www.ducks.org
Wildlife Conservation Board: www.wcb.ca.gov
Point Reyes Bird Observatory: www.prbo.org
The Packard Foundation: www.packard.org