Sacramento River Closure Into Effect Monday

The recommendation by the state Fish and Game Commission to close more than five miles of the Sacramento River to fishing was approved by the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) on Friday April 24.

An emergency regulation closing 5.5 miles of spawning habitat above the city of Redding on the Upper Sacramento River went into effect April 27. Enhanced protective measures were also included in the ocean sport and commercial fisheries regulations for the 2015 season.

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.

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.

Media Contact:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Due Date Rapidly Approaching for 2014-2015 Spiny Lobster Report Card

California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)
California spiny lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)
Media Contacts:
Tom Mason, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7107
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 649-7191

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds 2014-2015 Spiny Lobster Report Card holders to return their cards by April 30, 2015, as required by law.

Please Note: Any 2014-2015 Spiny Lobster Report Card holder who fails to return their card by April 30, 2015 will be charged a non-return fee of $20 upon issuance of a Spiny Lobster Report Card in the subsequent fishing season, or they may choose to skip one fishing season to be able to purchase a lobster card the following season at no extra cost.

The Automated License Data System (ALDS) has greatly increased the ability of CDFW to remind card purchasers of the need to return report cards by sending out reminder notices through the mail. A reminder notice was mailed to all cardholders to return their report cards to CDFW or submit their harvest data online. If you receive a reminder notice but have already submitted your card or reported online, CDFW thanks you!

Cardholders should review their cards carefully and check that information recorded is complete and accurate. Information collected from the cards provides CDFW with data necessary to monitor and manage California’s spiny lobster fishery.

The cards need to be returned, even if no lobsters were taken or no attempts were made to take lobsters. Spiny Lobster Report Card data can be submitted online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting. Report cards also can be submitted by mail to:

CDFW – Lobster Report Card
3883 Ruffin Road
San Diego, CA 92123

Additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program can be found on CDFW’s Ocean Sport Fishing webpage, http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/lobster.asp.

Six Wildlife Officers Receive Medal of Valor, California’s Highest Honor

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Six wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) were awarded the California Medal of Valor, the state’s highest honor, at a ceremony today. The six are among 52 state employees receiving the medal for demonstrating extraordinary acts of bravery and heroism in order to save the life of another.

Governor Brown’s Executive Secretary Nancy McFadden presented the awards.

“All of our officers are trained and ready to take on any challenge while working in a remote county, on a river or the ocean or patrolling in an aircraft,” said CDFW Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “The officers whose actions are being recognized represent the integrity of the entire CDFW force and we are very proud of them.”

There are more than 400 wildlife officers responsible for protecting California’s natural resources, often working alone on nights, weekends and holidays. They face many challenges as they enforce the laws relating to fish, wildlife and habitat within the state and its offshore waters.

The following officers are being recognized:

Crew of the Patrol Boat Bluefin
On Feb. 10, 1996, while patrolling waters off the Santa Cruz coastline aboard the department’s 65-foot patrol boat Bluefin, Lt. Doug Huckins (now retired), Wildlife Officers Gary Combes and John Ewald and U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer First Class Richard King, overheard a radio call about a capsized boat in the area.

After a 15-minute dash to the scene, they found the white hull of an overturned boat in the surf line and several people in 50 degree water, including two surfers who had paddled out to assist the victims. The crew could see the surfers taking turns holding up four of the five victims. Both surfers and victims were nearing exhaustion and waving frantically for help in the 12-foot waves.

With no real training on how to affect a rescue of that nature within the surf zone, the entire crew risked themselves to save lives.

Huckins backed the Bluefin just off the surf line, while Combes and Ewald launched a rigid-hull-inflatable skiff. They maneuvered into the surf zone riding the backs of the swells, and managed to pluck three of the victims from the water. They rushed them back to the Bluefin before returning to locate the other victims, but none were found. Huckins and King recognized that all three victims were in advanced stages of hypothermia after having struggled in the frigid waters for almost 45 minutes, and got the men into the crew’s survival suits for added warmth. The men were then airlifted by helicopter to a nearby hospital.

The two surfers had managed to get one victim to shore, but sadly a fifth victim drowned.

The rescued victims later visited Huckins. One of them told of becoming so exhausted he could no longer stay afloat – he sank once, then fought his way to the surface for what he knew would be his last breath, and as he began to sink for the last time, a wildlife officer’s hand came “out of nowhere” and pulled him to safety.

Wildlife Officer Kyle Kroll
On June 17, 2011, Wildlife Officer Kyle Kroll was patrolling the North Fork of the Feather River when he heard a 911 call over the county fire department radio. A vehicle had gone over a ledge and into the Feather River. Kroll was only five miles away and the nearest other rescue personnel were 45 minutes away.

Kroll arrived on scene and saw the vehicle was off a steep embankment and resting precariously on a rock in a section of the river with dangerous rapids. A severely injured husband and wife occupied the vehicle. Kroll determined he could not risk moving either passenger as the weight shift would have caused the vehicle to slip into the river. Kroll provided first aid and relayed pertinent information to emergency responders who were still many critical minutes away.

Kroll then secured the damaged vehicle with a tow strap and chain from his truck. He carefully waded into the swiftly moving river and attached them to the front and rear axles of the car. Assisted by a PG&E worker, Kroll tied the strap and chain to a tree and a rock in order to stabilize the vehicle and prevent it from falling into the river.

Rescue personnel and California Highway Patrol officers then arrived on scene. Because of the continued risk of the vehicle falling into the river, they provided Kroll with another chain, and he again went under the car and attached it to the axle, then to a tree. Only after securing additional straps and cables could the team work to extract the victims from the car and get them to safety.

Lt. Tony Spada
On July 24, 2013, Lt. Tony Spada was off-duty, riding his mountain bike on the south side of Ash Slough in Madera County. A woman ran from the bushes alongside the slough shouting, “My baby was swept away, help me!” Despite the fact he had no rescue equipment available, not even a life jacket, Spada dropped his bike, surveyed the scene and dove into the slough. He swam with the current approximately 50 to 70 yards downstream where he found two small girls hanging onto a branch to keep from being swept under a section of the slough with dense vegetation. Spada swam to their location and found it too difficult to rescue both children at the same time.

He located a safe exit point on the opposite side of the slough. Taking the smallest girl first, he placed her arms around his neck and proceeded to swim her across the slough to safety. He exited the waters, ran up stream and dove back into the water to rescue the second child in the same way.

Spada escorted the children over to officers of the Chowchilla Police Department who were waiting nearby. Both girls were treated for a mild case of hypothermia and shock.

Without Spada’s heroic actions, there is no doubt these two young girls would have lost their lives.

Wildlife Officer Arthur Golden
On Oct. 12, 2012, Wildlife Officer Arthur Golden was driving home from training when he came upon a vehicle accident near Corcoran. A small pickup truck had gone off the road and down a steep embankment.

A bystander reported that the victim was pinned in the vehicle and not breathing. Golden quickly checked on the driver, then radioed for help at his vehicle and went back down the hill to the heavily damaged vehicle. Inside, the driver was unconscious and bleeding. The truck was perched precariously on a slope and ready to slide down, potentially rolling over.

Putting himself in great jeopardy, Golden reached through the smashed driver’s side window to assess the victim’s injuries and provide immediate medical care. While Golden was half-inside the truck, it slid several inches down the hillside. Golden pulled the driver toward him to relieve the pressure on the downside truck door and stabilize the vehicle from rolling over onto both of them.

Shortly after, local fire and rescue arrived and fully extracted the man from the vehicle and got him to safety.

Video and high resolution photos of the wardens are available at ftp://ftp.dfg.ca.gov/oceo.

CDFW’s San Diego Office Temporarily Reduces License Counter Hours

Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily reducing license counter hours at its regional office located at 3883 Ruffin Road in San Diego.

This location will only be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and closed on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

CDFW regrets this temporary inconvenience and wants to ensure the public is aware of the closure so they can make plans to visit this office when it is open.

“Even with reduced hours, our facility will offer the same services, including responses to public inquiries and the ability to purchase licenses and tags,” said CDFW South Coast Regional Manager Ed Pert.

The reduced hours are a result of administrative staff vacancies. There is no confirmed date when regular weekly hours will be restored, but CDFW is working diligently to re-open the license counter full-time as quickly as possible.

Customers may also make purchases online at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing or from local license agents. A database of local agents is available on the CDFW website.

The new schedule will go into effect on Tuesday, April 28.

Fish and Game Commission Adopts Central Valley and Klamath River In-river Sport Fishing Regulations

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted changes to the Central Valley and Klamath River basin salmon sport fishing regulations for the 2015 season on Friday, April 17. The changes include fall-run Chinook quotas, bag and possession limits, and restrictions at the mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) and in the main stem Klamath River in the vicinity of Blue Creek. The only change to the Central Valley regulations is an increase in the possession limit from two to four salmon. All other Central Valley regulations remain unchanged from last year.

The Klamath basin sport fishing quota for adult fall-run Chinook salmon is 14,133 fish. This represents a 250 percent increase over last year’s salmon quota and allowed for an increase in daily bag limit. The daily bag limit for fall-run Chinook salmon is three fish, no more than two adults (greater than 22 inches) and the possession limit is nine fall-run Chinook salmon, no more than six adults. The 2015 sport fishing season for fall-run Chinook salmon will run from Aug. 15 through Dec. 31 on the Klamath River and Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 on the Trinity River.

The Commission adopted two new restrictions for Klamath anglers, one recommended by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in regard to the spit area and one in the main stem Klamath near Blue Creek recommended by the Yurok Tribe. The new spit area restriction limits anglers to “catch and keep” for all legally caught Chinook salmon. Additionally, once anglers have retained two adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches or their total daily bag limit they must cease fishing in the spit area.

The Commission reviewed two key proposals for Blue Creek. CDFW’s, which requested a joint focused study to determine hook and release mortality in the Blue Creek area and the Yurok Tribe proposal to implement a conservation closure. The Commission selected the Yurok Tribe proposal to close all non-tribal sports fishing in the Blue Creek area from June 15 through Sept. 14 from ½ mile below to 500 feet above the confluence of Blue Creek and the Klamath River. From Sept. 15 through Dec. 31 the closure is 500 feet above and below Blue Creek. The Commission adopted the proposal as a conservation measure.

The Klamath fall-run Chinook quota is subdivided into sub quota areas within the basin.   The lower Klamath River (mouth to Weitchpec) will receive 50 percent (7,067 fish) of the quota, the upper Klamath River (upstream of Weitchpec) will receive 17 percent (2,403 fish) of the quota and the remaining 33 percent (4,663 fish) is allocated to the Trinity River, split between the lower (Trinity confluence to Cedar Flat) and upper Trinity (upstream of Cedar Flat). The mouth of the Klamath River (spit area) will receive an allocation of 2,120 adult fall-run Chinook which is inclusive of the lower Klamath River sub area quota.

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

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

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News

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