Wildlife Harmed by Exposure to Anticoagulant Rodenticides

In late April, a dead owl was found on a nature preserve in San Luis Obispo County. CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Lab (WIL) performed the necropsy and found excessive bleeding on the owl’s leg and abdomen. With no associated wound or apparent trauma, additional toxicology testing was performed. Cause of death: fatal poisoning by anticoagulant rodenticides, chemical agents used for rodent control. For the WIL, it was the thirteenth raptor death by anticoagulant rodenticides since August 2019.

In a four-year study conducted by WIL biologists investigating the causes of mortality for hundreds of raptors – and 15 raptor species – across the state, more than 80 percent had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides. Roughly one-quarter of those raptor deaths were fatal poisonings directly attributed to anticoagulants.

In a two-year statewide study, the WIL found that 96 percent of necropsied mountain lions showed non-fatal exposure to anticoagulant rodenticides. Almost one-third of those lions had been exposed to at least four different types of anticoagulants.

Throughout California, chemical baits used to control rodents have injured and killed non-target wild animals and pets. Anticoagulant rodenticides work by preventing blood clotting in the animals that consume it resulting in fatal bleeding. Predatory and scavenging birds along with mammals like raccoons, bobcats, foxes, skunks and coyotes that have eaten rodents which have consumed the bait can also be fatally poisoned.

“It’s troubling seeing an otherwise healthy animal die from anticoagulant rodenticides. In many cases these deaths may be preventable.” said Krysta Rogers, an environmental scientist and the WIL’s lead avian mortality investigator.

In 2014, California restricted the use of second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides with several chemicals known to be harmful to wildlife, pets, children and the environment. Additionally, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has implemented a national ban on consumer use of rodenticide products that do not meet revised safety requirements. However, products containing second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides can still be used by licensed exterminators.

Despite the restrictions, the WIL says that wildlife is still being exposed to both first-generation and second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides. CDFW would like to remind the public of the measures that can be taken to help reduce anticoagulant rodenticide exposure in non-target wildlife.

The best way to protect wildlife is to use non-chemical means of rodent control. Habitat modification is an effective means of preventing rodents from inhabiting property. For example, many rodents like tall grass for cover. Mowing grass to no more than two inches makes it less appealing. Like most animals, rodents go where they feel safe and where food is available. The easiest way to discourage rodents from inhabiting property is to remove food sources and remove or modify anything that provides cover.

These simple actions can help:

  • Keep your home and yard neat and clean.
  • Keep tree branches and vegetation at least a foot away from home and roof.
  • Seal any holes on your home and roof where rodents can gain entry.
  • Be aware that pet food, chicken feed and bird feeders will attract rodents.
  • 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 may attract unwelcome animals.

For more information, visit the rodenticides page on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

Fourth of July Is Free Fishing Day in California

The first of two 2020 Free Fishing Days in California occurs Saturday, July 4 and what better way to celebrate Independence Day than being outdoors, on the water and fishing – with no fishing license needed. To fish the rest of the year, a license is required and available for purchase online through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website.

“In these challenging times, many Californians have discovered that fishing is a great outlet for physical and mental health,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Free Fishing Day is a wonderful opportunity for Californians to give fishing a try and perhaps discover a new passion that offers a lifetime of learning, adventure and memorable experiences in the outdoors.”

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – typically around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends – when it’s legal to fish without any license. The July 4 Free Fishing Day arrives as California’s fishing seasons are in full swing statewide following some COVID-19 related delays to the start of ocean salmon seasons and the general trout opener. The second Free Fishing Day will take place Saturday, Sept. 5.

All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect on Free Fishing Days. 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.

Anglers can review the sport fishing regulations online (wildlife.ca.gov/regulations) or use CDFW’s mobile website to view freshwater limits and regulations specific to a body of water (https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs).

CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers also are advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as site closures and access restrictions may exist and may change daily.

A basic annual resident sport fishing license in California currently costs $51.02, while a one-day fishing license costs $16.46. California has issued more fishing licenses in 2020 than the state issued through this same time last year. Annual resident sport fishing license sales are up 13 percent. Overall, California sport fishing licenses – which include resident, nonresident, annual, short-term and lifetime licenses among others – are up 7 percent in 2020 compared to last year.

Mojave River Hatchery raceway

Bacterial Outbreak at CDFW Hatcheries Temporarily Halts Fish Stocking in Southern California

Several California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish hatchery facilities in the eastern Sierra and Southern California are battling a bacterial outbreak that has the potential to cause significant losses to both hatchery and wild fish populations. The outbreak of Lactococcus garvieae, which is similar to streptococcus, has sickened fish at the Mojave River Hatchery and has been detected at both the Black Rock and Fish Springs hatcheries. A fourth CDFW hatchery, Hot Creek Hatchery, was originally quarantined out of caution but after testing that quarantine has been lifted.

The L. garvieae bacteria has never before been detected in fish in California, and CDFW must take a cautious and careful approach to ensure the protection of the state’s aquatic resources – fish, hatchery facilities and public waterways. Infected fish can show symptoms including bulging eyes, lethargic or erratic swimming and increased mortality, or be asymptomatic and show no signs of infection depending on a several factors including water temperature and stress. Fish-to-human transmission of this bacteria is rare and unlikely.

Fish stocking has temporarily been halted from the facilities under quarantine while hatchery staff treats the affected fish populations and takes measures to prevent the spread of the bacteria. Planting will resume when fish have recovered from the infections and fisheries pathologists have determined that they no longer present a threat to the environment.

“This is a challenge for our hatcheries because the bacteria is previously unknown in California, and we don’t have tried-and-true strategies on hand to combat it,” said Jay Rowan, environmental program manager for CDFW’s Hatchery Production and Fish Health Laboratory. “A successful approach will have three components: Treating the affected fish at the hatcheries, finding the origin of the outbreak, and planning ahead to contain and prevent the spread of the bacteria. Unfortunately, we may be in for a long battle here, which means there will not be a lot of fish plants in the near future in the eastern Sierra and Southern California. I wish we could give anglers a target date for when we think we can start planting again, but it’s all up to how fast and how well the fish respond to the treatments.”

Current treatment measures at the hatcheries include keeping water temperatures low, reducing stress due to crowding and other factors, introducing antibiotic medication and special diet in order to assist the fish in fighting off the infection. CDFW is currently investigating the source of the outbreak. For additional information, please see CDFW’s frequently asked questions about the L. garvieae outbreak.

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Media Contacts:
Jay Rowan, CDFW Hatchery Program, (916) 212-3164
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

July 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

Various Days — Sign Up for Environmental Response to Oil Spills (EROS) Course. This free three-day course will be held October 13-15, 2020 at the Granite Bay Activity Center in Granite Bay. It is provided to new oil spill responders and consists of demonstrations, lectures by experienced response personnel, case studies and interactive field trips. Applications are due Aug. 1. For more information and to register, please contact Lea Gibson at (916) 215-5581 or lea.gibson@wildlife.ca.gov. Please include your name, contact information and oil spill response role.

1 — Recreational Chinook Salmon Season to Open on Portions of Klamath and Trinity Rivers. Emergency fishing regulations for the spring Chinook salmon fishery in the Klamath River Basin have been extended. The spring Chinook salmon fishery on the lower Klamath River (downstream of the Highway 96 bridge at Weitchpec) and Trinity River (upstream of the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River) will open July 1 and run through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. The daily bag limit has been set to one Chinook salmon (no size restrictions), and the possession limit set at two Chinook salmon. Please see the 2020-2021 California Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations and 2020-2021 California Supplement Sport Fishing Regulations for more information.

1 — General Season for Rabbits and Varying Hare Opens Statewide (Extending through Jan. 31, 2021). For more information on small game seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/small-game.

1 — Dungeness Crab Sport Fishing Season Closed in the San Francisco and Central Management Areas (South of Mendocino County). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crabs.

4 — Free Fishing Day. One of two Free Fishing Days being offered by CDFW in 2020 is scheduled July 4 (the other is Sept. 5). While all fishing regulations – such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures – remain in effect, anyone can fish without purchasing a fishing license on Free Fishing Days. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

4 — Weaving Yesterday’s History Series Virtual Event, 1 to 1:30 p.m. Reserve naturalists and historians will host a Facebook Live series exploring the cultural heritage of Elkhorn Slough. Held on the first Saturday of every month, each event features the backstory on a different location around the slough. Please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/weaving-yesterdays-a-live-history-series to view the series’ schedule and find recordings of previous installments.

9 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Stream Flow Enhancement Program Proposal Solicitation Notice Opens. Program priorities include enhancing flow in streams that support anadromous fish, supporting special status species and providing resilience to climate change. Please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/stream-flow-enhancement for more information.

16 — Recreational Chinook Salmon Season to Open in Central Valley. The season will open on portions of the American, Feather, Mokelumne and Sacramento rivers. For full information on open waters and limits, please see the 2020-2021 California Freshwater Sportfishing Regulations and 2020-2021 California Supplement Sport Fishing Regulations. The season will open on the Sacramento River from the Deschutes Road bridge to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam on Aug. 1.

24 — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Elk Hunting Opportunities. An $11.50 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

29 — California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined. This meeting was originally planned to take place in San Clemente but is expected to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov.

30 — Last Day of Dungeness Crab Sport Fishing Season in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte Counties. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crabs.

31 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program 2020 Proposal Solicitation Notice Closes, 5 p.m. Please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river for more information.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 817-0434

Numerous Environmental Crimes Discovered at Illegal Cannabis Grow in Tehama County

Evidence of Poached Wildlife Also Uncovered

On May 21, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) served a search warrant in Tehama County for illegal commercial cannabis cultivation on a remote parcel approximately 30 miles west of Red Bluff.

Commercial cannabis cultivation is banned in Tehama County. The suspects had allegedly brandished firearms at nearby residents, which forced CDFW and local authorities to take immediate action.

Support was provided by CDFW Environmental Scientists, Tehama County Sheriff’s Department, State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) and Investigators from the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA).

Approximately 28,733 illegal cannabis plants were eradicated, 165 lbs. of processed cannabis destroyed and three firearms seized. Onsite officers found evidence of at least 10 poached wildlife species including deer, pig, ducks and fish. CDFW is conducting further investigations before it is decided how to proceed with the additional charges.

“Wildlife officers continue to work with our allied agency partners to combat and shut down illegal cannabis cultivation sites,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Too often illegal growers move into vacant private lands, take up residency and setup unlicensed large-scale operations, which can severely impact California’s native fish and wildlife.”

Officers arrested four suspects for felony cannabis cultivation, conspiracy, possession of a firearm while committing a felony along with an additional 20 counts of various environmental crimes. Violations included unlawful stream diversions, use of restricted pesticides, sediment and petroleum product pollution, and depositing litter where it can enter waters of the state. The State Water Board and CDFA also documented numerous crimes.

CDFW encourages the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).

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Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891