April Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery Curtailed on Much of the California Coast

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 7 from Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon fishery will remain closed in all other areas off California during the month of April.

At its meeting this week in Rohnert Park, Calif., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open only a limited section of the California coast on April 7. California’s recent drought combined with poor ocean conditions has resulted in three consecutive years of low abundance for Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook, pushing both into “overfished” status.

“Fishing seasons are being curtailed this year in an effort to increase spawner escapement to the Sacramento and Klamath river basins in 2018,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Where fishing is open in April, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length. Additional season, bag/possession limit information and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

For the first time, state ocean salmon fishing regulations will automatically conform to federal ocean salmon fishing regulations using the new process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.95. In the past, the California Fish and Game Commission needed to adopt the April season recommended by the PFMC. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

Salmon seasons beginning on or after May 1 will be decided during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore. The PFMC is considering alternatives for California’s 2018 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. The public is encouraged to comment at a hearing on Tuesday, March 27 at 7 p.m., at the Laurel Inn and Conference Center, 801 West Laurel Drive in Salinas. Comments can also be submitted through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Anglers Urged to Return Overdue 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding sturgeon anglers to return their 2017 Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards as required by law. Although the deadline to report their catch was Jan. 31, 2018, so far about 13,754 – or 31 percent – of the 44,374 report cards have been returned. Sport fishing regulations require that all sturgeon anglers return their report cards, even those who did not encounter sturgeon and who did not fish for white sturgeon.

“Anglers who return their report cards are providing very good data, helping to protect the white sturgeon fishery, and helping to rebuild the populations of white sturgeon and threatened green sturgeon,” said Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager. “This is especially important given the years of drought that harmed recent sturgeon reproduction.”

California’s white sturgeon and green sturgeon are anadromous, meaning they move from the ocean or brackish water to spawn in freshwater. Because their populations were reduced by commercial fishing in the 19th century, sturgeon fisheries were mostly closed from 1901 through 1953. Since 1954, recreational fishing for white sturgeon has been allowed, and the fishery continues to be restricted in an effort to rebuild it. Green sturgeon is a federally listed threatened species and may not be fished for or harvested.

Anglers can return their overdue report cards by mail to the address printed on the card or – until April 1, 2018 — they can report online at the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing#44521416-harvest-reporting.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Marty Gingras, CDFW Sturgeon Program Manager, (209) 234-3486

Lassen County Man Arrested for Illegal Mass Killing of Raptors

California wildlife officers have uncovered what is likely the largest raptor poaching case in known California history, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County received an anonymous tip from someone who reportedly witnessed a man killing a hawk near the town of Standish. The local wildlife officer conducted surveillance, then visited the private property and discovered nine dead raptors, which was enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. He returned on March 11 with additional officers and a CDFW K-9. A search of the 80-acre property led to the discovery of an extraordinary number of raptor carcasses, other dead birds and wildlife and spent rifle casings indicating more than 140 potential state and/or federal violations.

Processing evidence
Processing evidence: Wildlife officers collected over 140 carcasses of mostly raptors, but other birds and mammals as well.

In addition to the original nine birds, they found 126 dead raptors, all in various states of decay. Most of the birds were red-tailed hawks, but at least one dead owl was found, as well as an uncommon migratory ferruginous hawk. Officers also located two dead bobcats, one taxidermied mountain lion and other nongame birds, all suspected to be unlawfully taken.

Property owner Richard Parker, 67, was booked into Lassen County jail on multiple charges including take of birds of prey, take of migratory nongame birds as designated by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, take of other nongame birds, and possession of wildlife unlawfully taken. Additional charges may be added as the investigation proceeds.

wildlife officers conducting investigation
Wildlife officers conducting investigation: Most of the dead birds were located at the bottom of roosting trees or manmade objects such as telephone poles.

Staff at CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory in Rancho Cordova are working to positively identify the species of all of the birds.

As the top bird predators in the food chain, raptors serve an important role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent and small mammal populations. However, they are also particularly susceptible to environmental stressors such as drought and habitat loss. For these reasons, biologists refer to them as an indicator species.

Standish is located near Honey Lake and the Honey Lake Wildlife Area, with habitat that supports a rich diversity and quantity of wildlife. The sheer number of birds poached on the 80-acre property will undoubtedly affect the raptor population in the immediate area.

“Poaching crimes of this egregious nature against raptors is unprecedented in California,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The local raptor population may take years to recover from these killings.”

Each potential violation is a misdemeanor poaching crime at the state level, with maximum penalties of six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine per each raptor. An unlawfully taken mountain lion could result in up to a $10,000 penalty. Each potential federal crime could result in additional penalties.

Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

Six California Organizations Among 2018 George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund Grantees

Six California non-profit organizations have been awarded funds to provide fishing programs for Hispanic youth and families.

A total of $53,207 in grants was awarded by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) through the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will match the grant funds, effectively bringing the total amount of funding to $106,414.

To be eligible for funding, proposals were required to encourage family participation (both genders and multiple generations), appeal to participants who live in metropolitan communities, be ethnically inclusive (open to families of all races and ethnicities) and provide hands-on experiences and conservation activities.

Latinos are California’s largest ethnic population, with almost 15 million people of Hispanic heritage. Yet only a fraction of California’s anglers are Hispanic. CDFW and RBFF are finding new ways to educate and engage Hispanic communities in fishing and boating activities. These grants were made available for programs that support this cause.

Projects approved for funding include:

Captain Rollo’s Kids at Sea

Friends of Rollo will hold three marine-awareness fishing trips for children who might not otherwise have such opportunities to witness the beauty and splendor of being on the ocean. Youth are provided on-the-water fishing and ocean conservation education where they learn about coastal ecosystems. Friends of Rollo focuses on serving disadvantaged, physically challenged and at-risk youth.

Coastal Watershed Council

The Coastal Watershed Council will partner with community centers and conservation organizations to reintroduce the San Lorenzo River and the fish that call it home to neighboring communities through the sport of fly fishing. The Coastal Watershed Council will engage Latino families who live near the river and invite them to participate in the Día de Pescar, a fly fishing clinic along the river. The council will also teach after school program participants how to fly fish.

Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation

The Daniel Hernandez Youth Foundation will partner with local and state organizations, cities and communities to provide outdoor activities for underserved and minority youth. Kids are paired with volunteers to learn basic fishing skills and marine and conservation sciences in classroom and outdoor settings. The foundation will also coordinate free youth fishing events open to the public at various inner-city lakes throughout the year.

Hispanic Access Foundation

The Hispanic Access Foundation will hold four fishing outings for families in Los Angeles and San Diego during Latino Conservation Week and Hispanic Heritage Month. In each city, fishing events will provide an educational outing to a nearby fishing spot to participate in a hands-on fishing and aquatic stewardship educational experience.

Trout Unlimited South Coast

Trout Unlimited South Coast will provide fishing days and guidance with development of fishing skills on the natural bottom sections of the Los Angeles River. The events will focus on the concepts behind fishing, the equipment necessary for a successful fishing adventure and actual hands-on river fishing experience.

Tuolumne River Trust

The Tuolumne River Trust will coordinate several activities designed to educate, excite and motivate participants by exposing families to a variety of fishing techniques and locations. The trust will also hold a youth fishing activity station at the first annual Modesto Recreation Festival.

Grant funding was made available through the George H.W. Bush Vamos A Pescar Education Fund, which supports RBFF’s Hispanic initiative, Vamos A Pescar™. The Education Fund allows state agencies to provide sub-grants to local 501(c)(3) organizations with project ideas that support efforts to keep future generations educated about the joys of fishing and boating and the importance of conservation. With the help of donations from companies and organizations, the Education Fund has continued to grow and expand nationally.


Media Contact:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824


CDFW Invites Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking talented waterfowl artists to submit their original artwork to the 2018-2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. Submissions will be accepted from May 11 through June 11.

The contest is open to U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of March 5, 2018. Entrants need not reside in California.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2018-2019 California Duck Stamp. The top submissions will also be showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s annual art show in July.

The artwork must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which for the 2018-2019 hunting season is the brant, a species of goose.

The design is to be in full color and in the medium (or combination of mediums) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design. Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible and will be disqualified. The design must be the contestant’s original hand-drawn creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet.

All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement and entry form. These forms and the official rules are available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/duck-stamp/contest.

Entries will be judged at a public event to be held in June. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, and art and printing, will choose first, second and third-place winners, and an honorable mention.

Since 1971, CDFW’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California. In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license. Now California has moved to an automated licensing system and hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field (proof of purchase prints directly onto the license). However, CDFW will still produce the stamps, which can be requested by interested individuals at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News