CDFW Offers Tips to Prevent Backyard Wildlife Conflicts

Media Contact: Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962

Ground squirrel
Ground squirrel

Have you ever woken to the sound of a scampering animal in the ceiling above your bed or been startled by a strange scratching noise in your walls? If so, you understand the frustration of having wildlife take up residence in your home. Skunks, squirrels and raccoons are among the common culprits that end up inside people’s homes and businesses. These unwanted visitors can cause extensive property damage and transmit diseases to people and pets.

“The key to keeping wild animals out of your home and off your property is to make your home an unwelcome place for wildlife,” said Carol Singleton, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Keep Me Wild Coordinator. “Start by walking around your home looking for any holes where wildlife may enter or spaces where they may nest. Even the tiniest holes should be fixed, as bats, mice and other small animals can squeeze through cracks as small as ¼ inch.”

Before you begin boarding up areas around your home, make sure that there are no animals or active nests inside. Other wildlife-proofing steps include:

  • Block any access points around your home and outbuildings where wildlife may enter.
  • Block access under stairways and decks and fill any holes around your foundation.
  • Fix tears in window screens and vents and cover any openings under your eaves.
  • Install a chimney cap.
  • Trim trees a minimum of four feet from your roof to avoid jumping animals.
  • Remove woodpiles, debris and low-growing, dense plants such as ivy that provide potential habitat for wildlife.
  • Never leave pet food or water outside.
  • Clean up fallen fruit and bird seed and tightly cover compost piles.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and never leave food or trash out in the yard.
  • Make sure that garbage cans and recycling bins are secured.

It is unlawful to disturb the nests of songbirds as well as threatened and endangered species, so proceed with caution when you find a nest or burrow. CDFW also discourages the use of poison baits (rodenticide) to control rats, mice and other rodents as this can result in secondary poisoning to pets and other non-target wildlife such as owls, hawks and bobcats. Animals that eat dead or dying rodents that have consumed these baits will also be poisoned.

If you choose to trap nuisance wildlife, it is important to know the rules. You must release the animal immediately or kill it in a humane manner. You may wish to hire a pest control specialist to do this for you. According to the Fish and Game Code, it is illegal to relocate wildlife without a permit to do so.

“People often think the most humane thing to do is to release the animal in a nearby park or woods, but this simply moves the problem to someone else’s backyard,” explained Singleton. “Also, relocating wildlife can lead to the spread of disease, cause conflicts with other wildlife and may result in injury to the person transporting the animal.”

For more information on solving problems with backyard wildlife, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Living-with-Wildlife.

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Saturday, July 4 is Free Fishing Day in California

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kyle Murphy, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 323-5556

Saturday, July 4 is Free Fishing Day in California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to celebrate summer by fishing this Saturday. July 4 is the first of two Free Fishing Days in 2015, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days are also a great opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends and children to fishing and the outdoors.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without a sport fishing license. This year, the Free Fishing Days are set for Independence Day and Labor Day weekend (July 4 and Sept. 5).

Free Fishing Days provide a low-cost way to give fishing a try. Some CDFW regions offer Fishing in the City, a program where children can learn to fish in major metropolitan areas. Fishing in the City and Free Fishing Day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Anglers can even learn how to clean and prepare fish for eating.

Anglers should check the rules and regulations at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations for the waters they plan to fish because wildlife officers will be on duty to enforce them. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

SHARE Program Offers Elk Hunts in Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Siskiyou Counties

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program is offering elk hunting opportunities on six new properties.

The SHARE program is now taking applications for new elk hunting opportunities taking place in September and October. Three bull elk, eight antlerless and two junior-only antlerless elk tags will be available through a random draw process. These hunts are in addition to those issued through the big game drawing and no preference points will be considered or used. Applications will be on sale through August 17.

Sibley Ranch and Magruder Ranch in Mendocino County will offer one bull and one antlerless elk hunt each. Each hunter will coordinate with the landowners for five days of access between September 23 and October 4. Sylva Ranch in Siskiyou County will also offer one bull and one antlerless elk hunt. Each hunter will coordinate with the landowners for five days of access between September 24 and October 4. Successful applicants will need to purchase an elk tag within one week after being drawn.

Three ranches under the Private Lands Management (PLM) program have donated antlerless elk tags to the SHARE program. Hunters drawn for these hunts will not have to purchase the elk tag. Stover Ranch and Wiggins Ranch in Humboldt County will offer one junior-only antlerless elk hunt each. Stover Ranch is 7,000 acres of perennial grassland and oak/pine woodland located approximately 25 miles from Blue Lake. Wiggins Ranch is 17,000 acres of mixed conifer forest located 15 miles south east of Korbel. Each hunter will coordinate with the landowner for two days of access in October.

The Smith River PLM Area is 25,000 acres of mixed conifer forest located one mile east of Smith River in Del Norte County. The property will offer five antlerless elk tags for the week of October 1-7. There will be a mandatory orientation on September 30.

For more information about each SHARE property, please visit http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply through the Automated License Data System through August 17. Successful applicants will be notified on August 19. An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Elk hunters are reminded it is legal to take only one elk in California per year. To apply for these hunts, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales.

These opportunities were 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 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.

July 2015 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

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

DATE — EVENT

Weekends — Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve. Volunteer-led walks are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, at 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 $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older. Groups of five or more need to let staff know they are coming and groups of 10 or more can request a separate tour. For more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html.

Various Days, June to September 2015 — Bat Talk and Walk at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 45211 County Road 32B, Davis (95618). Following a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history and viewing live bats, participants will carpool to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area to watch one of the largest colonies of Mexican free-tailed bats in California as it emerges to hunt insects at sunset. The event lasts about three hours. There is a small amount of walking and those in wheelchairs or unable to walk may view the bats from a vehicle. Reservations are required and private tours are also available. The fee for adults is $12, and youths 16 and under are free. For more information, please visit www.yolobasin.org, email cquirk@yolobasin.org or call (530) 902-1918.

1 — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Applications Go On Sale July 1. For the first time, the SHARE program will provide additional elk hunting opportunities on six properties. Three bull elk, eight antlerless and two junior-only antlerless elk tags will be available. The hunts are in addition to those issued through CDFW’s big game drawing and no preference points will be considered or used. A $10.50 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) will be charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

1 — Northern California Red Abalone Sport Fishery Closes for the Month of July and Reopens Aug. 1. Abalone anglers are required to return their cards to CDFW whether or not they tried to take abalone. Those who have finished angling for the year can return their cards to 32330 N. Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg (95437-5554). Online reporting can be done in place of returning cards and is available for two months after the season closes on Nov. 30. For more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp. 

1 — Phase 1 of Nonlead Ammunition Requirement Begins July 1. Effective July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition will be required when hunting all wildlife on CDFW lands and Nelson bighorn sheep anywhere in the state. For more information on the new nonlead ammunition regulations, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers in California on July 1, 2015. For more information, please call the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at (800) 662-9825 or visit the Pacific Halibut webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp.

11-12 — 45th Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival, DoubleTree Hotel, 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento (95815). CDFW will display the winning art from its 2015 California Duck Stamp Art contest at the event. For more information, please visit www.pacificflyway.org/. 

11 and 25 — Archery Deer Hunting Season Begins. Archery season for hunters holding A zone opens on July 11 and closes on Aug. 2. Archery season in the B4 zone opens on July 25 and closes on Aug. 16. Hunters may use their general season A or B zone tags or an archery-only tag to hunt during archery season as long as they use authorized archery equipment. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

15 — Last Day of Commercial Dungeness Crab Season is July 15 in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. All other counties closed on June 30. For more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/crabs.asp. 

16 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Is Closed For All Boat-based Anglers in California Beginning on July 16, 2015. The fishery is expected to reopen on Aug. 1, 2015. For the latest information on season status, please call the National Marine Fisheries Service hotline at (800) 662-9825 or visit the Pacific Halibut webpage at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pacifichalibut.asp.

30 — Last Day of Sport Dungeness Season is July 30 in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties. All other counties closed on June 30. For more information, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/crabs.asp.

Nonlead Ammunition Requirement is Upon Us, No Lead Ammo on CDFW Lands Starting July 1

Nonlead Ammo PosterStarting July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition will be required when hunting on all California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands and for all Nelson bighorn sheep hunts anywhere in the state.

CDFW reminds hunters who plan to hunt bighorn sheep or at any CDFW wildlife area or ecological reserve where hunting is allowed on or after July 1, 2015 to acquire nonlead ammunition well ahead of their hunt. Hunters are also encouraged to practice shooting nonlead ammunition to make sure firearms are sighted-in properly and shoot accurately with nonlead ammunition. Nonlead ammunition for some firearm calibers may be in short supply so hunters should plan accordingly.

In October 2013, Assembly Bill 711 was signed into law requiring the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. The bill also required an implementation plan designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while adhering to the intent of the law.

In order to determine what was least disruptive to hunters, CDFW coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting organizations and hosted a series of eight public workshops throughout the state. CDFW then presented draft regulations, as modified by public input from these workshops, to the Fish and Game Commission.

In April 2015, the Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposed regulations and implementation plan.

Further phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California will continue on July 1, 2016, when nonlead ammunition will be required when hunting with shotguns for upland game birds (except for dove, quail and snipe), small game mammals, fur-bearing mammals and nongame birds except for when hunting at licensed game bird clubs. Nonlead ammunition will also be required when taking wildlife with shotguns for depredation purposes anywhere in the state.

Starting July 1, 2019, hunters must use nonlead ammunition when taking any animal anywhere in the state for any purpose.

Lead ammunition may still be used for target shooting. Existing restrictions on the use of lead ammunition in the California condor range remain in effect while implementation proceeds.

Hunting is not allowed at all CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For those areas where hunting is allowed, nonlead ammunition will be required starting July 1, 2015. Hunters are reminded to be familiar with all hunting regulations before going into the field.

More information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

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Media Contacts:
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Drought Prompts Fish Evacuation at American River and Nimbus Hatcheries

American River Hatchery tanks
American River Hatchery tanks

With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.

Bureau of Reclamation models suggest water temperatures at the hatcheries could be at lethal levels for cold water fish by August. CDFW has already begun to stock American River Hatchery rainbow and brown trout into state waters earlier than normal. These fish range from small fingerlings to the larger catchable size. The accelerated planting schedule will continue through mid-July when all the fish in the raceways are expected to be evacuated. This includes all the fingerling size rainbow trout that would normally be held in the hatchery to grow to catchable size for next year.

A new, state-of-the-art building at American River Hatchery, completed in early June using emergency drought funds, will enable CDFW to raise Lahontan cutthroat trout through the summer for planting into eastern sierra lakes and streams. The new building will also enable CDFW to hold a small group of rainbow trout fingerlings that are scheduled to be stocked in west side sierra put-and-grow fisheries by airplane in July. The new hatchery building utilizes water filters, ultraviolet sterilization techniques and large water chillers to keep water quality and temperatures at ideal levels for trout rearing. However, the new technology is limited to the hatchery building and not the raceways, which will limit capacity to include only the Lahontan cutthroat trout once the fish start to grow to larger sizes.

Nimbus Hatchery has already begun relocating some 330,000 steelhead to the Feather River Hatchery Annex to be held through the summer. When the water temperature at the Nimbus Hatchery returns to suitable levels in the fall, the steelhead will be brought back to Nimbus to finish growing and imprinting then will be released into the lower American River. The Feather River Hatchery Annex is supplied by a series of groundwater wells that maintain cool water temperatures throughout the year.

The fall run Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery have all been released into state waterways. If necessary, the chilled American River Hatchery building will be used this fall to incubate and hatch Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery.

“Unfortunately, the situation is similar to last year,” said Jay Rowan, Acting Senior Hatchery Supervisor for CDFW’s North Central Region. “We have begun to implement contingency plans to avoid major fish losses in the two hatcheries. We want to do the best job we can to provide California anglers with good fishing experiences and communicate when there will be deviations from normal practices. With that in mind, we want to let anglers in the area know that a lot more fish than normal will be going out into area waters served by American River Hatchery.”

Rowan said that the number of fish planted at various waterbodies will increase as the planting timeframe decreases, so the fishing should be very good through the summer at foothill and mountain elevation put-and-take waters. Early fish plants now mean there won’t be as many fish available to plant in the lower elevation fall and winter fisheries, so the fishing may drop off later in the season if the fish don’t hold over well.

American River Hatchery operations focus on rearing rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon for recreational angling, predominantly in waters within the North Central Region. Nimbus Hatchery takes salmon and steelhead eggs from the American River and rears them to fish for six months to a year, until they are ready to be put back in the system.

To the south, San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno expects to experience high water temperatures this summer. Transferring and stocking fish in advance of high water temperatures is planned. CDFW hopes to maintain some trout at low densities at the hatchery for the winter stocking season.

Annually, CDFW works with the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure its operations provide suitable conditions for fish at hatcheries and in the river. This year, conditions are forecasted to be dire with little flexibility in operations. Similar to last year, low reservoir storage and minimal snow pack will result high water temperatures over summer and very low river flows by fall.

Fall and winter rains, if received in sufficient amounts, will cool water temperatures enough to allow both hatcheries to come back online and resume operations.

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2883

Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Completes 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

Mallards in flightThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed its 2015 waterfowl breeding population survey. The CDFW survey, which uses methodology approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), indicates the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) has declined. Breeding mallards, the most numerous duck species in the state, declined 27 percent from 2014.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 315,580, compared to 448,750 last year. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 173,865, a decrease from 238,670 in 2014. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. Similar declines in breeding duck population estimates have occurred in the past but recovered after habitat conditions improved.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last three 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 2015,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Environmental Scientist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2015. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas (Alaska and Canada) are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which 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 Breeding Population Survey Report is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the 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.

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

Emergency Fishery Closure Evaluation Process Adopted; Careful Angling Can Help Prevent Closures

The California Fish and Game Commission recently adopted emergency regulations that grant the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authority to temporarily close fisheries experiencing degraded environmental conditions that may affect fish populations. CDFW’s temporary authority will commence upon approval of the regulations by the Office of Administrative Law and will remain in effect for 180 days.

As the effects of the current drought on California’s wildlife continue to mount, CDFW will be using a suite of criteria and associated triggers to guide fishing closure and reopening decisions. Criteria used in any evaluation include water temperature, dissolved oxygen levels, fish passage, water levels and fish population size. Although the Commission adopted the regulations, the department’s decision to close or open a fishery is discretionary and will be based on the most current information collected during site-specific monitoring efforts by professional staff. Priority will be given to listed fish species, species of special concern and game fish. Although some waters may exhibit conditions that meet the criteria and sets of triggers established by the Commission, CDFW will focus its discretionary authority for closing waters that provide coldwater refuge and essential habitat for species of greatest conservation need.

Prior to any closure, CDFW will solicit input from local stakeholders and provide information on the approach. CDFW will consider fishing closures as a last resort, and urges all those who fish California’s waters to adopt good preventative practices now.

“Anglers can help keep our wild trout thriving by using good judgment,” said CDFW Fisheries Branch Chief Stafford Lehr. “Fish earlier and stop earlier in the day during these hot summer days ahead.”

Aquatic wildlife is especially vulnerable as stream flows decrease and instream water temperatures increase. These conditions cause added stress and can affect growth and survival. In waters open to angling which may experience elevated daytime water temperatures (greater than 70 degrees Fahrenheit) the best opportunity for anglers to fish would be during the early morning hours after the warm water has cooled overnight and before the heat of the day increases water temperatures.

“Please pay attention to water conditions when you are fishing and when planning your fishing trips,” said CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager Roger Bloom. “Afternoon and evening water temperatures may be too warm to ensure fish being released will survive the added stress cause by warmer water that builds up during hot days in summer and fall.”

Many of California’s anglers have adopted catch-and-release fishing methods. Careful handling of a trout and proper catch-and-release techniques can ensure fish don’t experience serious exhaustion or injury.

However, catch-and-release fishing during afternoon and early evening in streams and lakes with elevated water temperatures may increase stress, hinder survival and increase mortality.

Proper catch-and-release fishing techniques include:

  •  Using a stream thermometer and check water temperatures often
  • Avoiding fishing during periods when water temperatures exceed 70 degrees Fahrenheit (likely afternoon to late evening)
  • Using barbless hooks whenever possible
  • Playing hooked fish quickly and avoiding extensive handling
  • Using a landing net
  • Wetting your hands, your net and other materials that may come in contact with the fish
  • Not touching the gills
  • Keeping fish fully submerged and upright and allowing it to swim away under its own power

Anglers interested in pursuing California’s unique native trout should be especially careful this summer and fall when targeting high elevation streams. Many of the existing native cutthroat, redband and golden trout populations are relegated to small headwater streams which likely will experience low water levels and elevated temperatures.

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

Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

Fisheries Restoration Grants Deadline Extended

The grant application deadline for anadromous salmonid restoration projects that address impacts of the ongoing drought has been extended, due to the recent addition of a consultation requirement.

Prior to submitting an application to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), all applicants must consult with representatives of the California Conservation Corps and California Association of Local Conservation Corps in order to determine the feasibility of Corps participation in the proposed project. Application guidelines and details about this requirement can be found on the Fisheries Restoration Grant webpage (www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Grants/FRGP/Solicitation.asp).

In order to allow time for applicants to comply with this additional requirement, the application deadline has been extended to July 31, 2015. All applications must be received by CDFW by 5 p.m. on this date (postmarks will not be accepted).

Approximately $1.5 million in grant funding has been earmarked for habitat restoration, water conservation, education and drought planning projects located in anadromous waters within coastal watersheds and the Central Valley. Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations.

For information or questions about the solicitation or application process, please contact Patty Forbes, Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842, or Kevin Shaffer, Anadromous Program Manager, at (916) 327-8841.

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Media Contacts:
Patty Forbes, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842
Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Crystal Lake Hatchery to Supply Trout for Waters Normally Stocked by Quarantined Hatcheries

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Crystal Lake Hatchery, operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), is currently stocking thousands of rainbow trout weekly in Hat Creek and surrounding waters in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties. Because the recent discovery of whirling disease at Darrah Springs and Mt. Shasta hatcheries triggered a quarantine of fish at those facilities and raised concern about reduced fishing opportunities, more than 1.5 million healthy rainbow trout from Crystal Lake Hatchery will be allocated to these waters to ensure excellent fishing opportunities at a number of northern California locations.

“Because of the quarantine of nearly 3 million trout at two of our hatcheries, we had to re-evaluate and realign our stocking allotments and schedules,” said Linda Radford, CDFW Regional Hatchery Supervisor. “By sharing trout allocations from Crystal Lake and Mad River hatcheries, we can continue to stock all the waters we would normally stock while we are working to eradicate the disease and get back on schedule at Darrah Springs and Mt. Shasta. This is a very good ‘Plan B’ for anglers who are expecting to fish this summer.”

Statewide, CDFW will stock more than 7 million trout in more than 700 waters in 2015. June and July are two of the busiest angling months of the year in northern and central California. This is when many of California’s nearly 2 million fishing license buyers break out their rods and go fishing. Fishing and stocked trout are integral to many family vacations in northern California.

CDFW hatchery workers stock many of northern California’s waters – including the very popular Hat Creek – by hand. Staff often meet anglers as they are working, and serve as the face of the department to fishermen, campers, local business people and tourists.

CDFW Fish and Wildlife Technician Brett Adams works at Crystal Lake Hatchery and drives a small hatchery truck from stream to stream, stocking trout throughout the region. At each stop along the Hat Creek route, he dips a net into the truck’s fish holding tank, scoops up 30 to 50 trout and hand-carries them to the stream to release. Many of the releases are done near campgrounds and at well-known fishing holes and usually draw crowds.

“Anglers really appreciate us stocking trout and providing them the opportunity to catch one for the grill,” Adams said. “At each stop, the people I meet have lots of questions. Recently whirling disease came up for the first time … people are concerned it might affect the hatcheries and waters they love.”

To Adams, realigning some of the stocking is a common sense approach so anglers are not left out due to the whirling disease quarantine. While it is not a perfect solution, it is a good temporary fix to provide anglers fishing opportunity that would otherwise be lost this summer and fall.

Meanwhile, extensive testing is underway at both whirling disease-affected hatcheries to find out how many of the nearly 3 million trout on site are affected and if and when any can be stocked. Whirling disease does not affect humans and the trout are safe to eat.

Crystal Lake Hatchery is located near the town of Burney in eastern Shasta County. The hatchery was completed in 1955 and modernized in 1976. Today it has seven raceways capable of rearing 1.5 million fish annually. Crystal Lake Hatchery stocks approximately 60 waters in Lassen, Modoc, Shasta, Siskiyou and Trinity counties. It raises a mix of the following fish:

  • Eagle Lake trout. Known for its resistance to highly alkaline waters, the Eagle Lake trout is a native to nearby Eagle Lake and its Pine Creek tributary. Due to diminishing flows into Pine Creek, a program was started in the 1950s to preserve the species. Once found only in its native waters, the Eagle Lake trout can now be found in many waters throughout the state.
  • Brown trout. Also known as German brown trout, this fish is native to Eastern Europe. Brown trout have been stocked in many state waters for recreational fishing. These days, triploid (sterile) brown trout continue to provide anglers a quality fishing experience.
  • Eastern brook trout. Though commonly called a trout, the brook trout is actually a member of the char family. Originating from the eastern United States, brook trout were imported to California via railroad in the late 1800s. As with brown trout, brook trout provided for anglers are now triploid.

 

 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News

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