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

CDFW Law Enforcement Active at Eastern Sierra Deer Opener

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers contacted more than 800 hunters while patrolling more than 14,000 square miles of Inyo and Mono counties during the deer season opener that started Sept. 20. During the opening weekend, 13 CDFW wildlife officers issued eight citations and 22 warnings.

Violations included hunting deer without a valid deer tag in possession, having loaded guns in a vehicle on a public roadway, overlimits of trout, speeding and driving without insurance.

Officers also conducted a wildlife checkpoint operation to promote safety, education and compliance with law and regulations through education, preventative patrol and enforcement.

On Monday, Sept. 23, the southbound lanes of Highway 395 were reduced to one lane and all vehicles traveling south on U.S. 395 were screened by the CDFW’s law enforcement officers. Screening consisted of an introduction and brief questions. Approximately 2,000 vehicles were contacted. Of those, 262 vehicles submitted to an inspection. A total of four violations were found, including three deer tagging violations, and one angler was found to have an overlimit of trout (32 trout). Several hunters were warned for not fully filling out their Deer Harvest Report Cards.

Average screening took less than 20 seconds per vehicle and the average inspection took about two minutes and 30 seconds per vehicle. If violations were found, the occupants were detained and issued citations.

CDFW also provided informative literature about the invasive quagga mussel and New Zealand mud snail to help reduce the spread of these invasive species.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Bill Daily, CDFW Law Enforcement, (760) 872-7360
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

120128-F-8708H-1031

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.

CDFW, Caltrans and Partners Highlight Safety for People and Wildlife During “Watch Out for Wildlife Week”

Media Contacts:
Mark Dinger, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060
Dana Michaels, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, (916) 322-2420

Two-lane highway in high sierra conifer forest

Wildlife may cross any of California’s roads; please watch out for them. Dana Michaels/CDFW photo

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert while driving to improve safety for travelers and wildlife alike during “Watch Out for Wildlife (WOW) Week,” September 16-22.

“It’s important that motorists, when driving through areas frequented by deer, elk and other animals, do all they can to protect themselves as well as some of California’s greatest natural resources – our wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty.

The California Highway Patrol reported more than 1,800 wildlife-vehicle collisions in 2010. Approximately $1 billion in property damage is also caused by these incidents. The Defenders of Wildlife (DOW), a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native animals and plants, reports more than 200 people are killed in collisions with deer, elk, and other wildlife each year with an estimated 1.5 million animals hit annually.

The WOW campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis. Caltrans and its partners work together to protect natural resources while providing safe and effective transportation.

“It’s a shame so many animals are injured and killed on our roads every year,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Deer Program Coordinator. “And it’s not a pleasant experience for the drivers who hit them, either. Many deaths, injuries, and costly vehicle repairs could be avoided if drivers would just pay more attention, be aware of when animals are most active and be prepared to react safely if an animal moves onto the road.”

Caltrans and CDFW offer a few tips for motorists:

  • Be particularly alert when driving in wildlife areas.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. It could entice animals to venture onto the road.

Examples of what Caltrans, in cooperation with our partners, is doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions:

U.S. Highway 101, San Luis Obispo County

U.S. Highway 101 near San Luis Obispo bisects a major wildlife corridor in the Los Padres National Forest. Caltrans installed electric mats at unfenced intersections to prevent animals from entering the roadway and ramps to allow wildlife to escape from the highway, if necessary. In recognition of this effort, the California Transportation Foundation gave Caltrans its 2013 Safety Project of the Year Award.

State Route 76, San Diego County

State Route 76 serves the North County inland areas of San Diego County. Five wildlife crossings and fencing were installed as part of the SR-76 Melrose to Mission Highway Improvement Project in 2012. A wildlife movement study is now underway to determine the effectiveness of the crossings and fencing. Data gathered from the survey will help improve wildlife fencing and crossing effectiveness.

State Route 89, Sierra County

This month, Caltrans will begin Phase II of the Kyburz Wildlife Crossing Project on State Route 89 in Sierra County.  Fencing and other barriers will be erected to prevent wildlife from accessing the highway and encourage use of the undercrossing. In addition, monitoring cameras will be installed to evaluate the effectiveness of the fencing and barriers.

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.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Natural Resource Volunteer Program Seeks Monterey Bay Area Residents

Natural Resource Volunteer Program (NRVP)Media Contacts:
Lt. Joshua Nicholas, CDFW Law Enforcement, (707) 944-5562
Warden Mark Michilizzi, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking applicants for the Natural Resource Volunteer Program (NRVP) to serve within the newly created Monterey NRVP Chapter. Interested residents of Monterey, Santa Cruz and Santa Benito counties are strongly encouraged to apply.

“The natural resource volunteers do not have law enforcement authority, but they are trained to be educational ambassadors and to provide assistance and support for the department,” said NRVP Coordinator Lt. Joshua Nicholas. “The mission of the Natural Resource Volunteer Program is to provide conservation and enforcement education in public service while providing biological, enforcement and administrative staff support to CDFW.”

CDFW will hold the NRVP training academy from October 21-23, 2013 in Monterey. Classes will continue from November through February one day a month. These positions are unpaid. Interested individuals go through a selection process, which includes an initial screening, application, interview and background check. If selected, individuals must complete an 80-hour conservation course to prepare them for a monthly service commitment of at least 16 hours. Volunteers will work with trained mentors to implement their newly acquired skills during a six-month probationary period.

Applicants should be teachable, accountable, have basic computer and writing skills and a willingness to talk about conservation principles to the public in the field and in a classroom setting. Applicants must show a desire to work well with others in a team environment and do tasks that free up time for paid CDFW staff.

Natural resource volunteer duties may include responding to human/wildlife conflict calls, instructing at NRVP academies, representing CDFW at community outreach events, working on CDFW lands, ecological reserves, and coastal and inland fishing areas, and disseminating useful information to the public.

For further information and the application, please visitwww.dfg.ca.gov/volunteer/NRVP/.

Applications should be mailed no later than Sept. 15 to:

Lt. Joshua Nicholas
CDFW Bay Delta Region Office
7329 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558

Please contact Lt. Nicholas at (707) 944-5562 with any questions.

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

Deer, Bear, Pig and Upland Game Hunting Opportunities Offered in Santa Barbara County

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Program Manager, (916) 445-4034
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering mammal and upland game hunts through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program in northern Santa Barbara County.

The fall hunts are for deer, bear, pig, turkey, quail, and dove at Sleepy Creek Ranch and Jones Ranch.

These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them, and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannahs, riparian habitat, juniper-sage woodlands, and chaparral. Approximately 250 acres of BLM land adjoin these ranches, and the Los Padres National Forest backs up to both ranches, providing extra hunting access if needed.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). A $10.25 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. To apply for these hunts please go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols/.

These 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 will receive 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. For more information about these opportunities or the SHARE program please go to: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share/.

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