CDFW Investigating Die-Off of Desert Bighorn Sheep

Wildlife biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are investigating what appears to be a significant mortality event associated with respiratory disease among the San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population in Riverside County. CDFW has confirmed that at least 20 animals have died but suspects that total mortality may be greater.

“The significance of this outbreak to the San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population is being investigated,” explained Heidi Calvert, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Inland Deserts Region. “Our top priority right now is to determine the source and nature of the disease so that we can identify the right management actions to mitigate future risk.”

CDFW staff began receiving reports of sick desert bighorn sheep in December 2018 and immediately began collecting samples for lab analysis. CDFW is continuing to survey and monitor the population to gather more information on the extent and magnitude of this loss to the population. Private landowners and partner agencies are assisting with this effort.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group considers respiratory disease to be “the biggest impediment to restoring and sustaining bighorn sheep populations.” Respiratory disease in bighorn sheep is most commonly attributed to contact and/or proximity with domestic sheep and, to a lesser extent, domestic goats. Diseases that originate with domestic animals can pose a significant risk to bighorn sheep populations.

The affected desert bighorn population is located within Desert Bighorn Sheep Hunt Zone 5. The recent die-off will likely result in reducing the two hunting tags to zero in this zone for 2019.

###

Media Contacts:
Heidi Calvert, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (760) 872-0751 

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Recreational and Commercial Dungeness Crab Fisheries to Open in Humboldt County

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham issued a declaration to open the recreational and commercial Dungeness crab fisheries from Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County north to the California/Oregon state line.

The area from the Patrick’s Point, Humboldt County (41° 8.00’ N. Latitude) north to the California/Oregon state line was closed due to elevated levels of domoic acid. Public health agencies have determined that domoic acid no longer poses a significant risk to public health in this area.

The recreational Dungeness crab fishery is now open in this area.

Under recent amendments to Section 5523 of the Fish and Game Code, the CDFW Director may provide a minimum of 72-hours’ notice before a gear setting period. Therefore, the Director has declared the commercial fishery to open at 12:01 a.m. on Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2019.

For more information, please see the Frequently Asked Questions regarding the 2018-19 Dungeness crab commercial season.

###

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (1/18/19)

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit: https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

More information on Dungeness crab, please visit: www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

 

CDFW to Sell Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Answer Questions from the Public and More at Annual Sportsmen’s Show

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is returning to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento Jan. 17-20. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California.

Wildlife officers, fisheries and wildlife scientists, hunter education instructors, license agents and other CDFW staff will be available during the show to answer questions and provide information regarding fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. CDFW’s license sales booth will be located in the Pavilion Building (adjoining spaces 3700 and 3822) and licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps will be available for purchase. Customers may pay by credit card or check.

For the sixth year, CDFW’s top leadership – including Fisheries and Wildlife Division Deputy Director Stafford Lehr, Fisheries Branch Chief Kevin Shaffer, Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis and Deputy Director/Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess – will hold a panel discussion about topics of interest to California’s hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel will be held at noon on Saturday, Jan. 19 in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building. Audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the panel. Immediately following will be the Youth Essay Contest award presentation (see below for additional information).

“We look forward to speaking directly to our constituents about department operations as we have for the past five years,” said Bess. “We welcome direct conversation both at the panel discussion and with our many staff at our other booths in the venue.”

Additional CDFW booths and highlights include:

  • Hunter Education Program — Located in the Youth Fair Expo Center, wildlife officers and hunter education instructors will be available to answer questions and provide information about basic, advanced and bowhunter education. Interactive training materials, including a free laser-shot hunting simulator, will also be available.
  • K-9 Teams — CDFW K-9 wardens and their wildlife officer handlers will be available for questions and interactions. Look for them at CDFW booths.
  • Wildlife Officer Recruitment — CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside of the Pavilion Building, featuring a display of taxidermy and a free enclosed laser-shot hunting simulator. Wildlife officers will be on hand to answer questions about employment opportunities.
  • CDFW Youth Fair Exhibit — Explore the salmon life cycle and try your luck on the Salmon Survival Spin. Play a round of salmon bingo, learn to cast or view the new Mobile Fish Exhibit.
  • Keep Me Wild Booth — Information about black bears will be available at the Youth Fair. Youths can make a bear track and help a black bear find the way to its cave. CDFW also has information about how to vacation safely in bear country.
  • 2019 Warden Stamps — At the main booth, CDFW will be offering and promoting this year’s stamp. Proceeds from the $5 stamp support wildlife officers and K-9 teams, and help fund the purchase of necessary law enforcement equipment.
  • Online Harvest Reporting — Tag holders can view their online profile and complete all tags that require reporting. The tag holder will receive a report confirmation number that should be written in the space provided on the report card. The harvest report card will not have to be mailed in physically. CDFW encourages all tag holders to use this online service to meet their harvest reporting requirements.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth.
  • Youth Essay Contest — CDFW and the California Wildlife Officer Foundation will be awarding this year’s contest winner, 16-year-old Noah Lo of Stockton, a lifetime hunting license for his outstanding essay emphasizing the theme, “The Positive Impact of Hunting on Your Life.” Lo and the second- and third-place contest winners will be honored on Saturday, Jan. 19 at approximately 12:45 p.m. at the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building. Stop by to congratulate them and get information on how to become the next youth contest winner.

The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento. ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $16 for adults (tickets may be purchased in advance online). Youths age 15 and under are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the grounds.

For additional information and schedules, and to purchase tickets, please visit www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento.

###

Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

 

CDFW Releases Guidance Document for Delta Conservation Planning

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050.

The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape. It incorporates feedback from a series of public workshops initiated in 2016, prior planning efforts and the best available science on Delta ecosystem processes.

“The history, culture, politics and ecosystems of the Delta are complex. The Delta is also connected in many ways to the lands, watersheds and communities that surround it,” said CDFW Delta Policy Advisor Carl Wilcox. “If the Delta Conservation Framework is used as a guide toward future conservation project planning and implementation, it is possible to achieve the vision of a Delta composed of resilient natural and managed ecosystems situated within a mosaic of towns and agricultural landscapes, where people prosper and healthy wildlife communities thrive.”

The Delta Conservation Framework includes broad goals that acknowledge the importance of effective communication, community engagement and education, making decisions based on science, and working collectively on conservation permitting and funding. The framework suggests multiple strategies that could be used by all Delta stakeholders to move conservation forward.

CDFW initiated the process to develop the Delta Conservation Framework to maintain and increase conservation momentum in the Delta.

 More information about the process used to develop the framework, materials presented in the public workshop series, and electronic copies of the Delta Conservation Framework, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/DCF

Media Contacts:
Carl Wilcox, CDFW Delta Policy Advisor, (707) 944-5584
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

CDFW and Partners Clean-Up Black Market Marijuana Grow in Orange County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Orange County Parks (OC Parks) completed a clean-up of a black market marijuana grow at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

The team clean-up effort was conducted in two phases (Dec. and Jan.) and removed approximately 3,120 pounds of trash, 1,500 feet of plastic irrigation piping, 24 ounces of pesticides as well as other forms of garbage that can be detrimental to the environment.

For the clean-up, OC Parks worked with a specialized hazmat contractor, Clean Harbors, to ensure the pesticide was removed and disposed of correctly. Through testing, the pesticide was confirmed to be carbofuran, a highly toxic and banned substance. Just a teaspoon can kill a 300-pound black bear.

“Protecting California’s natural resources takes commitment from federal, state, county and city entities. I commend all those that were involved in this effort to identify the black market grow, eradicate it and clean it up,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Working together, we can protect the environment and help the permitted cannabis market thrive.”

During routine flights over Orange County with the National Guard’s Counter Drug Unit, CDFW spotted a black market marijuana grow. On Sept. 27, CDFW and Newport Beach Police Department conducted an eradication mission at the site. Attempts to apprehend the suspects were unsuccessful.

Officers eradicated 500 plants and confiscated 75 pounds of processed marijuana. The grow, when in full production, contained almost 1,500 plants. During the eradication, CDFW documented numerous environmental violations including streambed alterations, haphazard pesticides left on the property, trash within 150 feet of a waterway and a poached deer.

Between 2013 and 2018, CDFW has removed more than 2.4 million feet of irrigation pipe, 50 tons of fertilizer and 65 gallons of chemicals (many illegal in the U.S.) on black market grows. CDFW has also removed 709 dams and water diversions resulting in restoration of 800 million gallons of water back into local watersheds.

CDFW would like to remind the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and whatever the desired message, to 847411 (tip411).

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

 

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News