All posts by DanaMichaels2013

California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife Marketing Specialist

Californians Can Help Save Wildlife at Tax Time

You don’t have to own hiking boots or a fishing pole, or have a degree in environmental science to help wildlife. A click of your mouse or a stroke of your pen can help the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) protect—or even save—California’s native sea otters and other rare, threatened and endangered animal and plant species.

When you prepare your California individual income tax return, make a voluntary contribution to California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation on line 403. Enter any dollar amount you wish. Money donated by California taxpayers supports state programs that benefit these at-risk species.

Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) once lived in the nearshore waters all along California’s coast and in estuaries such as San Francisco, Tomales and Morro bays. Reliable sources estimate there were as many as 16,000 individual otters in California at one time. Their extremely thick fur pelts were coveted for coats, and fur traders hunted them until they were believed extinct in the late 1800s.

A few sea otters survived and were discovered in the 1930s. Legal protection gave the species a chance to survive. The 2017 sea otter survey counted fewer than 3,000 individuals, and was a slight decrease from the 2016 count.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. CDFW’s half supports scientific research on the causes of mortality in Southern sea otters. Through a better understanding of the causes of death, it may be possible to work more effectively to recover the sea otter population here. The Southern sea otter is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and fully protected by the State of California.

“These donations provide important funding that helps us to recover the Southern sea otter population,” said CDFW sea otter program lead Laird Henkel. “Through this program, we have learned an incredible amount about sea otter health and the health of the ecosystems upon which they depend.”

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program has supported work benefiting California’s native at-risk fish, wildlife and plants since 1983, thanks to the generosity of California taxpayers. Donations to this fund have enabled CDFW to obtain matching funds from the federal government and collaborate with numerous stakeholders and organizations—including other government agencies—to conserve native wildlife.

For example, with such partners we are currently:

  • conducting surveys and helping to restore giant garter snake habitat at Cosumnes River Preserve near Lodi, a population that suffered significant declines during the recent drought.
  • developing conservation strategies that lay the groundwork to help conserve and recover imperiled species such as Mohave ground squirrels, willow flycatchers, great gray owls, western pond turtles and mountain yellow-legged frogs.
  • studying the dietary preferences of endangered marbled murrelets—forest-nesting seabirds of the north coast—to better understand factors that affect their survival and reproduction, and how changes in the climate may affect them.

The Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program also recently helped biologists learn about survey methods for the beautiful western yellow-billed cuckoo, and helped CDFW biologists monitor populations of invasive pennyroyal that are encroaching on the tiny and unique many-flowered navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. plieantha) at Loch Lomond Ecological Reserve in Lake County.

CDFW biologists have achieved important recovery milestones and protected vulnerable species, thanks to California taxpayers. There is no upper limit to voluntary contributions and any dollar amount is appreciated. More information about how CDFW uses funds in the Rare and Endangered Species and Sea Otter programs is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Tax-Donation and at www.facebook.com/SeaOtterFundCDFW.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403. If you use TurboTax, step-by-step instructions to help you find the California Contribution Funds are posted in the CDFW Document Library.

California has 219 species of plants and 83 species of animals listed as rare, threatened or endangered. Money raised through the tax donation program helps pay for essential CDFW research and recovery efforts for these plants and animals, and critical efforts to restore and conserve their habitat. Habitat conservation and restoration for the most vulnerable species also protects many other plants and animals, helps recover ecosystem function and enhances the outdoor experience for all Californians.

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Media Contacts:
Jeb Bjerke, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 651-6594
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Proper Handling of Euthanized Animals Critical to Protect Wildlife

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed three recent incidents of pentobarbital poisoning in raptors and would like to remind veterinarians and the public about proper handling of euthanized companion animals, horses, livestock and poultry to prevent further incidents. Any animal that has been chemically euthanized must be cremated or buried at least three to four feet deep to prevent exposing scavenging wildlife to euthanasia drugs.

Since 2015, several turkey vultures in Marin and Ventura counties, and a bald eagle in Fresno County have been brought to wildlife rehabilitation centers after being exposed to the veterinary euthanasia drug pentobarbital. The source of the pentobarbital remains unknown for all three incidents but it is very likely due to improper handling of the remains of euthanized companion animals, horses, livestock or poultry. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial. Clear communication between the veterinarian and client is essential to ensure that euthanized remains are handled properly.

Bald eagles are federally protected by the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and both bald eagles and turkey vultures are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and California Fish and Game Code. Members of the veterinary and livestock communities are asked to share this information with colleagues and the public in an effort to prevent further incidents.

CDFW also asks the public to promptly report any wildlife scavenger suspected of being exposed to euthanasia drugs. Rehabilitation of pentobarbital-poisoned wildlife has been successful with prompt treatment. Pentobarbital-poisoned wildlife may appear dead. They often have no reflex response and breathing may be barely detectable but will otherwise appear intact, without wounds or obvious trauma. Incidents and information about possible sources of poisoning may be reported to the CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory by phone at (916) 358-2790, by email at WILab@wildlife.ca.gov or online via the CDFW website.

If grounded birds are observed, please contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center.

For more information, please see the USFWS Fact Sheet “Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning of Wildlife.”

Photos courtesy of Louise Culver, Critter Creek Wildlife Station

An adult bald eagle is taken from a large pet carrier, to be released.
Recovered bald eagle about to be released.
An adult bald eagle lies, comatose, in a narrow, padded, plastic container.
Bald eagle, comatose from pentobarbital poisoning.

 

 

 

 

Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Nov. 30 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $2.6 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 12 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife—including some endangered species—while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community. The state funds for all these projects come from bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Funded projects include:

  • A $310,000 grant to the California Waterfowl Association for a cooperative project with the North American Wetlands Conservation Council to construct water conveyance infrastructure and restore wetlands and upland habitats on 507 acres of privately owned property, approximately seven miles south of Oroville in Butte County.
  • A $385,000 grant to the U.S. Forest Service for a cooperative project with the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to restore five meadows, stabilize head-cuts and fill sections of incised stream channels. This project will restore channel form, floodplain connectivity, stream bank stability and meadow vegetation on Stanislaus National Forest lands, seven miles northeast of Pinecrest in Tuolumne County.
  • $340,000 for in-fee acquisition of approximately 12 acres of land by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and a Transfer of Jurisdiction of the land by CDFW to the San Joaquin River Conservancy (SJRC), to protect riparian habitat and provide future wildlife-oriented public use opportunities within the San Joaquin River Parkway, near the City of Fresno in Madera County.
  • A $400,000 augmentation to an existing grant to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for a cooperative project with CDFW, California State Coastal Conservancy, DWR, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Cruz County Public Works. This project will restore 46 acres of tidal marsh and five acres of perennial grasses on CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve, two miles east of Moss Landing in Monterey County.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Endangered Foxes Poisoned By Rodenticides

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is investigating the poisoning of two San Joaquin kit foxes found dead in Bakersfield last month. Although the foxes were found ten miles apart, the cause of death was the same: exposure to high levels of the second-generation anticoagulant rodenticide, brodifacoum, which resulted in severe internal bleeding and hemorrhaging. The carcasses were discovered by residents of Kern City and north Bakersfield who reported them to the Endangered Species Recovery Program (ESRP), a local conservation group that monitors kit foxes in the city and greater Central Valley. ESRP has been working closely with residents in both areas, as this urban kit fox population has declined in recent years due to a fatal outbreak of sarcoptic mange.

San Joaquin kit foxes are only found in California and are listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Despite the many obstacles kit foxes face in the wild, most notably due to habitat loss, they seem to be thriving in the Bakersfield area and have become beloved city residents. This urban population is increasingly more important to the survival of the species as natural habitats disappear. However, city living is risky. Urban kit foxes are more likely to die from vehicle strikes, dog attacks, entombment, diseases transmitted by domestic pets or invasive wildlife, and poisoning from anticoagulant rodenticides. Rodents are kit foxes’ primary food item, which makes them terribly vulnerable to poisons ingested by rodents. When they eat rodents that have been poisoned with these baits, they’re exposed to those rodenticides.

Due to their harmful impacts on non-target wildlife — including hawks, owls, bobcats and mountain lions — second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides are now restricted in California. Since July 2014, four of these chemicals can only be legally sold to and used by professional exterminators. CDFW urges residents to help protect kit foxes by using alternate means of rodent control such as exclusion, sanitation and trapping, and to ask any pest control professionals they employ to do the same.

To learn more, please visit our webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Living-with-Wildlife/Rodenticides. For more information, please call or email the CDFW Wildlife Investigation Laboratory at (916) 358-2954 or Stella.McMillin@wildlife.ca.gov.

If you find a San Joaquin kit fox that appears to be impaired, please contact the CDFW or ESRP at (661) 835-7810.

 

Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin, Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Turkey Vultures Poisoned by Euthanasia Drugs

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed that several turkey vultures have been poisoned from the veterinary euthanasia drug pentobarbital in the Simi Valley area of Ventura County.

Seven turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were found dead or impaired in Simi Valley in October. Two of these were successfully rehabilitated by the Ojai Raptor Center, but the other five died. Pentobarbital exposure was confirmed in the digestive system of one of the dead turkey vultures. The source of the exposure remains unknown.

Pentobarbital is a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize companion animals, livestock and horses. If the remains of animals euthanized with pentobarbital are not properly disposed of after death, scavenging wildlife – such as turkey vultures and eagles – can be poisoned. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial.

Turkey vultures are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and California Fish and Game Code. Improperly disposed-of euthanized remains are a danger to all scavenging wildlife.

Members of the veterinary and livestock communities are asked to share this information with colleagues in an effort to prevent further incidents.

CDFW also asks the public to pay attention to and report grounded turkey vultures and other raptors and scavengers.

Pentobarbital-poisoned birds appear to be dead. They have no reflex response and breathing can barely be detected. The birds appear intact, without wounds or obvious trauma. Anyone finding a comatose vulture should report the finding to CDFW at 916-358-2954.

Brown and black turkey vulture with pinkish-red face on the stub of a tree limb, seen from the back
Turkey vulture on the stub of a tree limb. USFWS photos

Media Contacts:
Stella McMillin,  CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420