Fish and Game Commission Approves Emergency Fishing Closure on Part of Upper Sacramento River

Winter-run Chinook Salmon
Winter-run Chinook

Recommendations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to provide dual areas of protection to Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon were approved by the state Fish and Game Commission on April 17.  An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River will go into effect on or about April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.

“We are taking proactive measures on two fronts to protect these endangered fish both in the ocean and on their natal spawning habitat,” said CDFW Chief of Fisheries Stafford Lehr. “The fishing communities have stepped forward to support these measures and work towards long-term sustainability of the resource. None of us wanted to be in this situation, but heading into a fourth year of extreme drought calls for extreme measures.”

The emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run salmon by anglers.

The Commission also adopted ocean sport fishing regulations, which will mirror federal regulations approved earlier this week. CDFW, in consultation with representatives of California’s sport and commercial salmon fishing industries, recommended additional strategic protective measures for winter-run Chinook salmon to the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC). Following a two-month evaluation process, the PFMC recommended federal regulations that provide for sport and commercial seasons off California designed to target more abundant stocks, including Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon, while minimizing contact with winter-run Chinook.

“The CDFW proposal to reduce the allowable ocean harvest rate on winter-run salmon and change the timing and location of ocean fisheries south of San Francisco was accepted by the PFMC after in-depth analysis, review and discussion,” said Marci Yaremko, CDFW’s representative to the PFMC. “The Commission concurred with these recommendations, realizing their conservation benefit to all winter-run.”

It is highly unusual for a state to propose even stricter guidelines on a listed species than required by the federal Endangered Species Act. However, CDFW scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and additional ocean fishing restrictions will help a significant segment of the winter-run population to avoid losses.

“Given the gravity of the current situation, the Commission recognizes the need for highly protective measures,” said  Commission President Jack Baylis. “It is imperative that our fisheries are given the best protections.”

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Media Contact:
H
arry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

CDFW Urges Natural Control Methods for Pesky Rodent Populations

Juvenile great horned owl
Juvenile great horned owl. CDFW photo by Phil Robertson.

Rats, mice and voles are commonly sighted around homes and businesses this time of year. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) encourages Californians to let nature control rodent populations by actively protecting their natural predators – owls, hawks, falcons, eagles and vultures – rather than using poisons to eliminate pests. Environmentally friendly tactics (such as providing tall trees that raptors favor) will encourage these birds of prey to hang around your yard and remove rodents for you.

Most raptors use the same nest for many years and some even pass from one generation to the next. Bald eagles are known to have used the same nest as long as 35 years. That makes them an excellent long-term control for rodent populations in the immediate area.

During breeding season, a family of five owls can eat as many as 3,000 rodents! You can encourage them by hanging a nest box on your property, but please don’t do that if you or any of your neighbors are using anticoagulant rodenticides. Remember that poisoned rodents can poison the predators, scavengers and pets that eat them!

Even though the state Department of Pesticide Regulation (DPR) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have restricted public access to the most dangerous rodenticides, all rodenticides – including the types still available to consumers – are poisons that can kill wildlife, pets and children.

More wildlife could be saved if people would use sanitation, removal and exclusion to keep rodents out of homes and reduce their numbers. Like most animals, rodents will congregate and multiply where food is available and they feel safe. The easiest way to discourage them is to remove or modify anything that could make them comfortable. Sanitation is the first step to controlling rodents. For example:

  •  Keep your home and yard neat and clean. Don’t give rats places to hide.
  • Remove objects and plants that rodents can hide under, such as wood piles, debris, construction waste, dense vegetation and ground-covering vines like ivy.
  • Pick up fruit that has fallen from trees as soon as possible.
  • Secure your garbage in a tightly sealed can.
  • Seal water leaks and remove standing water that can attract unwelcome animals, breed mosquitoes and waste water.

To remove unwelcome rodents, set traps in secluded areas where they’ve been seen or are likely to travel: close to walls, behind objects, in dark corners, on ledges, shelves, fences, pipes and garage rafters. In areas where children, pets or birds might go, put the trap inside a box or use some kind of barrier for their safety. Check traps daily and wear disposable gloves when removing rodents from traps. Place them in a sealed plastic bag then into your garbage bin for weekly collection. Wash your hands after handling traps or rodents, even when using gloves.

Once you’ve removed mice and rats from inside the building, seal the entries they used to get in: openings where cables, wires and pipes enter buildings, and cracks or holes in the foundation, walls and roofs. Rodents can squeeze into holes as narrow as ½ inch diameter! Use hardware mesh and concrete, plaster or metal whenever possible. At the very least, stuff stainless steel or copper pot scrubbers, or Stuf-fit copper mesh wool into the spaces. All of these are sold online and at hardware and dollar stores.

If you feel you must use “rat poison,” please carefully follow the label directions for all rodenticides. Only use them in small treatment areas indoors or right against building walls in tamper-resistant bait stations, never out in open field or garden areas, where they’re most likely to reach wildlife and pets. Much more information and practical advice can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/living-with-wildlife/rodenticides.

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Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954             
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Eastern Sierra Wardens to Conduct Wildlife Checkpoint

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

CDFW wildlife officers will be conducting the inspection on westbound Highway 108, north of Bridgeport, on Monday, April 27 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., weather permitting.

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

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

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

Annual General Trout Opener Coming Soon

The general trout opener in many counties throughout California will commence on Saturday, April 25, one hour before sunrise.

Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is making every effort to stock trout in all accessible waters approved for planting prior to the season opener. Lingering winter conditions and this year’s unprecedented drought could play a major role in determining how many rivers, creeks, lakes and reservoirs can be stocked before April 25.

Most lakes, rivers and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits, and gear restrictions.

Anglers are advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2015/16 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulation booklet at  www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations, for regulations specific to each body of water.

In 2012, CDFW regional staff created the Eastern Sierra Back Country Fishing Guide to provide anglers with a quick, informative and accurate account of the distribution of fisheries in back country high elevation lakes. This guide does not address front country waters, defined as lakes and streams that are accessible by vehicle. Most of the lakes lie within U.S. Forest Service lands managed as wilderness and usually require back country permits for overnight use. Most back country fisheries are based on self-sustaining populations of trout and do not need regular trout stocking to maintain fish populations. The guide can be found at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/6.

Crowley Lake in the Eastern Sierra is expected to be one of the most popular opening day destinations for anglers from around the state. In past years, an estimated 10,000 anglers have turned out for the opener, and approximately 50,000 trout are caught during the first week of the season. Typically Crowley is planted with hundreds of thousands of small and medium sized trout, and because of excellent food sources in the 5,280-acre reservoir, these trout grow to catchable sizes and weigh at least three-quarters of a pound by the opener. About 10 percent of the trout caught at Crowley during opening weekend weigh over a pound and a half. These fish are from stocks planted in previous years or are wild fish produced in Crowley’s tributary waters.

Anglers are asked to be particularly vigilant when cleaning fish and fishing gear at Crowley Lake and in the upper and lower Owens River Drainage. The New Zealand Mudsnail was discovered several years ago in the Owens River Drainage, and CDFW would like to prevent the Mudsnail from spreading into other waters. To avoid spreading New Zealand Mudsnails and other aquatic invasive species to other waters, anglers are advised to dispose of their fish guts in bear-proof trash cans, rather than throw them back into the water. Wading gear should be properly cleaned before using in new waters.

All persons age 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state lines. Freshwater fishing licenses can be purchased online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales or at regional CDFW offices or other license agents. Anglers no longer have to display their license visibly above the waist but they must have it in their possession while fishing.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
James Erdman, CDFW Environmental Scientist, (760) 873-6071

Commission Meeting Location and Protocols for Emergency Winter-run Salmon Proposal

The public is invited to provide comment to the Fish and Game Commission on the proposed emergency regulation to close all fishing on the 5.5-mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding upstream to Keswick Dam to protect endangered winter-run Chinook salmon. The California Department Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently submitted the proposal to the commission.

The Fish and Game Commission is holding a teleconference meeting on April 17, 2015 at 10 a.m. to take action on the proposal. Members of the public may participate in the teleconference at several locations statewide. Locations and the proposal (item 2) are available on the agenda.

In Redding, the public is invited to participate at the following location:

California Department of Transportation
1st Floor Conference Room
1031 Butte Street
Redding, CA 96001

Members of the public will be able to voice comments on the proposed emergency temporary closure directly to the Fish and Game commissioners per established protocols and procedures. Submit written comments by one of the following methods: E-mail to fgc@fgc.ca.gov; fax to (916) 653-5040; delivery to Fish and Game Commission, 1416 Ninth Street, Room 1320, Sacramento, CA 95814; or hand-deliver to a Commission meeting. Comments received by noon on April 13 will be made available to Commissioners at the teleconference; written comments submitted by the public at the teleconference locations will not be seen by all commissioners. All materials provided to the Commission may be made available to the general public.

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Media Contacts:
Jason Roberts, Fishery Biologist, (530) 225-2131
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW Announces 2015 California Invasive Species Action Week Youth Art Contest

Media Contacts:
Valerie Cook Fletcher, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 654-4267
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will sponsor a youth art contest to promote awareness of plant and animal invaders that threaten our state’s native species, as part of the 2015 California Invasive Species Action Week (CISAW), June 6-14. Now in its second year, the CISAW aims to promote public participation in the fight against invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

CDFW partners with federal agencies, state departments, and numerous local organizations and volunteer groups to host and promote public participation in locally organized events held across the state. The 2015 schedule of events will include invasive species removal efforts, native habitat restoration projects, youth educational activities, citizen science monitoring efforts and the second annual youth art contest, with the theme “Don’t be a vector! Be a protector!”

The contest encourages youths to learn about invasive species vectors, which are the physical means by which invasive species are moved from one place to another. Youths are asked to think of a situation in which invasive species could be spread, identify the vector that can move it and illustrate what they can do to prevent the spread and protect California’s resources.

Please visit the Action Week webpage (www.wildlife.ca.gov/cisaw) to learn about vectors and for contest details and entry forms. All types of media are accepted, including drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. The contest is open to youths in grades 2-12. Entries must include a completed entry form and be received by May 27. The contest is sponsored by the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.

For more information on Action Week, including hosting an event, how to get involved, or the youth art contest, please contact CDFW Environmental Scientist Valerie Cook Fletcher at (916) 654-4267 or at valerie.cook-fletcher@wildlife.ca.gov.

CDFW Accepting Applications for Deer and Pig Hunt Permits in Merced County

Media Contacts:
Roger Wilbur, CDFW Los Banos Wildlife Area, (209) 826-0463
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited number of deer and pig hunt access permits on opening weekend, Aug. 8-9, in Zone A for the general season. The locations for this hunt include Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek and the San Luis Reservoir wildlife areas in western Merced County.

Reservations are required for access to the wildlife areas and only 30 permits will be issued for each day.

Interested hunters can obtain an application by calling CDFW’s Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The application is also online at  www.wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/Places-to-Visit/Cottonwood-Creek-WA. Only official applications will be accepted.

Applicants can apply for a one-day hunt on one area only (not for both days or for multiple areas). Junior license holders must apply with an adult hunter. Up to three persons may apply as one party by including all required information on the 2015 Zone A application form.

Completed applications should be submitted via email to roger.wilbur@wildlife.ca.gov or mailed to CDFW’s Los Banos office at 18110 W. Henry Miller Ave., Los Banos, CA 93635. Applications must be received before 4:30 p.m. on July 3.
Reservations will be selected by a computerized drawing on July 6 at 11 a.m. at the Los Banos office. The drawing will be open to the public and successful applicants will be notified by mail within five business days.

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Proposed Emergency Fishing Closure of Part of Sacramento River

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is holding a public meeting to solicit comments on a proposed closure of 5.5 miles of the Sacramento River above the Highway 44 Bridge in Redding to Keswick Dam. CDFW has determined this closure is necessary to protect endangered winter-run chinook salmon. The anticipated dates of closure are April 27-July 31.

“At the department, it pains us to propose this action for the state,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief. “But we are in unchartered territory here, and we believe this is the right thing to do if we want to help winter run and be able to fish for big rainbows in the long-run.”

The meeting will be held Tuesday, April 7, from 4:30-6:30 p.m. at the Redding Public Library,1100 Parkview Ave. in Redding (96001).

CDFW is proposing a complete fishing closure in this critical holding and spawning area to ensure added protection for the federal and state endangered winter-run chinook, which face high risk of extinction. Given the gravity of the current situation, it is imperative that each and every adult fish be given maximum protection. Current regulations do not allow fishing for chinook salmon, but incidental catch by anglers targeting trout could occur.

An estimated 98 percent of the in-river spawning is occurring in the 5.5 mile stretch under consideration for closure. This reach is the principle spawning area in these extraordinary drought year conditions. This section represents only 10 percent of the waters currently open to fishing upstream of the Red Bluff Diversion Dam.

In 2014, approximately 95 percent of eggs and young winter-run chinook were lost due to elevated river temperatures. Given current drought conditions, it is likely the 2015-year eggs and young salmon will again be subject to extremely trying conditions.

CDFW is tasked by the Governor to work with the California Fish and Game Commission to determine whether fishing restrictions in certain areas are necessary and prudent as drought conditions persist. The proposed closure is also in accordance with the state and federal Endangered Species Acts.

Governor Brown has called on all Californians to reduce their water use by 25 percent. Visit  saveourwater.com to find out how everyone can do their part, and visit drought.ca.gov to learn more about how California is dealing with the effects of the drought.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478 or (208) 220-1169

CDFW Schedules Additional Public Meetings on Lands Pass Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has scheduled two additional public meetings regarding possible changes to its Lands Pass Program. The meetings will be held in Butte and San Diego counties on the following dates:

Monday, April 13
Butte County Library, Gridley Branch
299 Spruce St.
Gridley (95948)
directions

Wednesday, April 15
City of Carlsbad, Faraday Center
1635 Faraday Ave.
Carlsbad (92008)
directions

Both meetings will be in an “open house” format; doors will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. and participants may arrive at any time during that window. CDFW staff will provide information about the current Lands Pass Program and discuss possible changes to the program that are under evaluation by CDFW. Staff will also explain the process for amending regulations and how the public can participate in the review process. Posters and written materials will be available and CDFW staff will answer questions.

Currently, visitors to CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves in this program must purchase a day or annual pass prior to visiting the properties. Purchases are made online, from license vendors or from CDFW offices in advance (no passes are sold on-site at the properties). Exemptions from this requirement include visitors who bring a valid hunting or fishing license, children under the age of 16 and participants in organized school or youth group field trips.

The first public meeting on this subject was held in March in Yolo County. If additional meetings are scheduled, they will be posted on the CDFW Public Meetings and Notices webpage (www.wildlife.ca.gov/notices).

For more information about the current Lands Pass Program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass.

Questions about these meetings may be directed to CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Julie Horenstein at julie.horenstein@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 324-3772.

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Media Contacts:
Julie Horenstein, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 324-3772
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

2015 Big Game Digest Now Available Online

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has posted the 2015 Big Game Digest to its website. The 64-page document can be downloaded online for free at www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/.

2015 California Big Game Hunting DigestThe popular guide includes season, quota and harvest information for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, as well as tag drawing information, bear and wild pig hunting information and big game hunting regulations for the 2015-16 seasons.

Printed copies of the Big Game Digest will automatically be mailed in late April to hunters who purchased a big game tag or applied for the Big Game Drawing in California in 2014.

“As printing costs continue to rise, more funding for big game conservation will be available if the department reduces printing and mailing costs,” said Dan Yparraguirre, CDFW’s Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Making the Big Game Digest available online also means that hunters can access this information sooner.”

Hunting licenses, tags and drawing applications will be available on April 15. Purchases may be made through the Online License Service, at any CDFW License Sales Office or License Agent, or by telephone at (800) 565-1458. The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is midnight on June 2.

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Media Contact:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3642
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News

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