All posts by kmacinty

California Black Bears are on the Move

California’s black bears are active and hungry after a period of hunkering down through the winter. As a reminder, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) encourages people to help reduce unwanted encounters with this large mammal by being “bear aware.” People who visit or live in bear country can take actions that promote responsible behavior and safe co-existence with bears.

Black bears are the only bear species in California. They generally prefer mountainous areas and natural habitat. However, as more people visit parks and wilderness areas and choose to live in or near bear habitat, some bears may become used to the presence of people and as a result display less shy and avoidant behavior.

“Over the years, reported human-bear conflicts have increased significantly,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW’s Wildlife Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Each spring and summer we receive numerous calls from the public reporting anything from black bears eating food off campground picnic tables to bears taking dips in residential swimming pools.”

Black bears have a diverse diet and can eat nearly anything, from berries and insects to pet food, human trash and road kill. They also have a highly specialized sense of smell, which can sometimes lead them to enter homes, cabins and tents while following their nose (and stomach) to a food source. Local communities and areas of human activity in or around bear habitat can provide a tempting food supply for a hungry bear. However, unwanted and/or destructive bear activity may be significantly reduced or even eliminated, when people are mindful and remember to remove attractants and access to food.

Tips for Bear-proofing your Home, Rental or Timeshare

Bears may venture into areas of human activity close to bear habitat, in search of food. The best defense against bear break-ins and bears in your yard is to eliminate attractants to your property by following these tips:

  • Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
  • Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
  • Do not leave trash, groceries or pet food in your car.
  • Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
  • It is advised to not hang bird feeders in bear country. If you must, only do so during November through March and make them inaccessible to bears. Keep in mind bears are excellent climbers.
  • Do not leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked when unoccupied.
  • Consider installing motion-detector alarms and/or electric fencing.
  • Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.
  • Bring pets in at night. Provide safe and secure quarters for livestock at night.
  • Consider composting bins as opposed to open composting.
  • Securely block access to potential hibernation sites such as crawl spaces under decks and buildings.
  • Do not spray bear spray around property – when it dries, it can serve as an attractant.
  • Do not feed deer or other wildlife – this will attract bears to your property.

Tips for Bear Proofing your Campsite

Maintaining a clean campsite is the responsible and safe thing to do when visiting bear country. Here are a few tips for bear proofing your campsite:

  • Haul garbage out of camp regularly – check with camp host or other camp personnel about safe garbage storage. Use bear lockers if available.
  • Store food (including pet food) and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle if bear lockers are not available. In some areas, food storage in the trunk is not advisable. Check with camp or park personnel.
  • Clean dishes and store food and garbage immediately after meals.
  • Clean your grill after each use.
  • Never keep food or toiletries in your tent.
  • Change out of clothes you cooked in before going to bed.
  • Do not clean fish in camp.
  • Do not leave pets unattended in camp or sleeping outside.
  • If in the backcountry, store food in a bear-resistant food canister.
  • Use bear resistant ice chests (some jurisdictions will only allow ice chests that are approved as bear resistant)

Tips for Hiking in Bear Country

  • Bears may react defensively if your presence is not known – make noise while hiking. Talk loudly or whistle.
  • If possible, travel with a group of people.
  • Avoid thick brush and walk with the wind at your back so your scent is ahead of you.
  • Watch for bear sign along trails – scat, tracks and stripped bark off trees.
  • Avoid sites where dead animal carcasses are observed.
  • If you see a bear, avoid it and give it the opportunity to avoid you.
  • Leash dogs while hiking in bear country – dogs can surprise and aggravate bears – bringing the bear back to you when the dog flees from the bear.

Black Bear Safety Reminders

  • Black bear behavior is not always predictable. Human-bear attacks are rare in California; however, they do occur. There is no single safety strategy applicable to every bear encounter.
  • Individual bears can display varying levels of tolerance and temperament.
  • Prevention is better than confrontation.
  • Keep as much distance as possible between you and the bear.
  • Share this information with your children. Make sure they know to tell you if they see a bear in the area. Be Bear Aware.

Black Bear Encounters

These are general guidelines based on research by wildlife managers and scientists, intended to help keep you safe in the event of a black bear encounter. Keep in mind that safety tips for grizzly bears are not the same as for black bear. California does not have grizzly bears.

  • If a bear breaks into your home, do not confront the bear. Most bears will quickly look for an escape route. Move away to a safe place. Do not block exit points. If the bear does not leave, call 911.
  • If you encounter a bear in your yard, chances are it will move on if there is nothing for the bear to forage. If there is enough distance between you and the bear, you can encourage the bear to leave by using noisemakers or blowing a whistle.
  • If you encounter a bear while hiking and it does not see you. Back away and increase your distance. Clap hands or make noise so the bear knows you are there and will move on.
  • If you encounter a bear on the trail and it sees you. Do not make eye contact. Back away, do not run. Let the bear know you are not a threat. Give it a chance to leave.
  • If a bear approaches you, make yourself look bigger by lifting and waving arms. Use noisemakers, or yell at the bear. If small children are present, keep them close to you.Carry and know how to use bear spray as a deterrent. In the event of a black bear attack, it is usually recommended to fight back. However, each situation is different. Prevention is the key.

Black Bear Facts

  • Black bears are the only bear species found in California. They range in color from blonde to black, with cinnamon brown being the most common.
  • There are an estimated 35,000 bears in California.
  • Males are much larger than females and can weigh up to 500 pounds, although average weight is about 300 pounds.
  • Black bears can sprint up to 35 mph and they are strong swimmers and great tree climbers.
  • Bears are omnivorous eating foods ranging from berries, plants, nuts, roots, and honey, honeycomb, insects, larvae, carrion and small mammals.
  • Bears typically mate in June and July.
  • Bear cubs are born in winter dens in January and February and are hairless, deaf and blind.
  • Black bear attacks are rare in California and typically are defensive in nature because the bear is surprised or defending cubs; however, bears accustomed to people may become too bold and act aggressively.
  • Female black bears will often send cubs up a tree and leave the area in response to a perceived threat. Do not remain in the area – when you leave, she will come back for her cubs.

For more information about black bear biology please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Black-Bear/Biology.

For information about bear proof containers and where to buy them, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Keep-Me-Wild/Products.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Monroe, CDFW Wildlife Conflict Program, (916) 856-8335
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

 

Reservations Now Available for 2018 Bat Night Tours

The bats have returned! The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area is welcoming back the largest colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California. The bats return each summer to give birth to their young and soar over the floodplain in a nightly bug-eating bonanza.

The public is invited to experience this amazing event as thousands of bats emerge each evening to hunt for insects over the rice fields of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, located just east of the city of Davis. Each year during bat “pupping” season, from June through September, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tour begins with a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, after which attendees are shuttled to the outdoor viewing area to witness firsthand the spectacular aerial performance.

An estimated 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats migrate to the area every summer to give birth under the shelter of the Yolo Causeway. The bats roost in the cement expansion joints and stream into the sky at dusk to feed, flying as high as two miles into the air.

“It is pretty incredible to see a quarter-million bats fly out each evening,” explains Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Manager Joe Hobbs. “Sometimes drivers on the Causeway don’t even notice it, or don’t know what they’re seeing. It’s amazing to think such a cool wildlife experience is right here in Sacramento.”

This family-friendly event lasts for about three hours. Advance reservations must be made online at http://yolobasin.org/battalkandwalks. Adult admission is $14 and children 15 and under are free. Private tours are also available upon request. Those unable to walk may view the bats by car.

Bat Talk and Walk Summer 2018 Schedule:

June

Friday, June 8, 6:45 p.m.
Tuesday, June 12, 6:45 p.m.
Thursday, June 21, 6:45 p.m.
Saturday, June 23, 6:45 p.m.
Sunday, June 24, 6:45 p.m.
Thursday, June 28, 6:45 p.m.

July

Monday, July 2, 6:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 7, 6:30 p.m
Tuesday, July 10, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 13, 6:30 p.m.
Monday, July 16, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 22, 6:30 p.m.
Friday, July 27, 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, July 29, 6:30 p.m.

August

Friday, Aug. 3, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday Aug. 5, 6:15 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11, 6:15 p.m.
Sunday, Aug. 12, 6:15 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 16, 6 p.m.
Tuesday, Aug. 21, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 25, 6 p.m.
Wednesday, Aug. 29, 6 p.m.
Thursday, Aug. 30, 6 p.m.
Friday, Aug. 31, 6 p.m.

September

Tuesday, Sept. 4, 5:45 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 7, 5:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 8, 5:45 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 10, 5:45 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 11, 5:45 p.m.

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Media Contacts:
Joe Hobbs, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, (530) 757-2431
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Spiny Lobster Report Cards Due by April 30

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holders to submit online or return their cards by April 30, 2018, as required by law. The cards must be reported even if no lobsters were taken or no attempts were made to take lobsters.

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

Any 2017-2018 Spiny Lobster Report Card holder who fails to submit online or return his or her card(s) by April 30, 2018 will be charged a non-return fee of $21.60 upon purchase of a 2018-2019 Spiny Lobster Report Card. Otherwise, he or she may choose to skip the 2018-2019 fishing season to be able to purchase a spiny lobster report card a following season at no extra cost. If multiple spiny lobster report cards were purchased, all cards, including lost cards, should be reported to avoid the non-return fee when purchasing a spiny lobster report card next lobster fishing season.

Spiny Lobster Report Card data can be submitted online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/FishingHarvest or by mail to:

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

For additional information and a list of frequently asked questions about this program, please visit CDFW’s California Spiny Lobster webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Marina Som
, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4229

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

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Set for 2018-19 Season

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the 2018-19 waterfowl hunting regulations at their regularly scheduled meeting on April 19. The pintail daily bag limit has returned to two, and there have been some changes to accommodate a longer late season for white-fronted geese in the Northeastern Zone. The Commission also created a Special Management Area in the Klamath Basin, which is exempt from this change.

The following is a summary of the regulations:

Duck Seasons

  • Northeastern Zone will be open for ducks from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 6, 2018 through Dec. 2, 2019, and from Dec. 22, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019.
  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 20, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 19, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.

Bag Limits

  • Seven ducks per day, which includes no more than two hen mallards (or Mexican-like ducks in the Colorado River Zone), two pintail, two canvasback, two redheads and three scaup (which may only be taken during the 86-day scaup season).
  • The possession limit for ducks is triple the daily bag limit.

Goose Seasons

  • In the Northeastern Zone, the season will be open for white geese and white-fronted geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Dec. 2, 2018, and Jan. 5-18, 2019 (except in the new Klamath Basin Special Management Area). The season will be open for large Canada geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019. In the Klamath Basin Special Management Area, the season will be open for white geese and white-fronted geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019.
  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 20, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for early large Canada geese from Sept. 29, 2018 through Oct. 3, 2018 (except in the North Coast Special Management Area).
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for late season white-fronted and white geese from Feb. 9-13, 2019.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 19, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.

Bag Limits

  • Northeastern Zone, 30 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and 10 dark geese, of which only two may be large Canada geese.
  • Balance of State and Southern San Joaquin Valley zones, 30 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and 10 dark geese.
  • Southern California Zone, 23 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and three dark geese.
  • Colorado River Zone, 24 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and four dark geese.
  • The possession limit for geese is triple the daily bag limit.

 

 

 The complete regulations will be posted at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717

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

 

 

Commercial Rock Crab Fishery Continues to be Extended Northward to near the Mendocino/ Humboldt County Line

Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that it will be extending the area open to commercial rock crab fishing from the Sonoma/Mendocino County line to near the Mendocino/Humboldt County line at 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. This will open all commercial rock crab fishing from 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. south to the California/Mexico border.

On Nov. 8, 2016, upon the recommendation of the state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham submitted to the Office of Administrative Law an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point, San Mateo County. Since that time, new authority established in the Fish and Game Code, section 5523, allowed the Director to open portions of the fishery upon the recommendation from the Director of OEHHA. The fishery was last modified in March 2018, when it was opened between Salt Point, Sonoma County and the Sonoma/Mendocino County line. State and federal laws prohibit the commercial distribution of seafood products that contain domoic acid levels above the federal action level of 30 parts per million in the viscera. The recreational fishery for rock crab remains open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught north of the Mendocino/Humboldt County line to the California/Oregon border.

Closure of the commercial rock crab fishery north of 40° 00.00 ‘ N. Lat. near the Mendocino/Humboldt County line to the California/Oregon border shall remain in effect until the Director of OEHHA, in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be opened. CDFW will continue to coordinate with fishermen, CDPH, and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in rock crab within the closure area of the coast. Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin that can accumulate in shellfish, other invertebrates and sometimes fish. It causes illness and sometimes death in a variety of birds and marine mammals that consume affected organisms. At low levels, domoic acid exposure can cause nausea, diarrhea and dizziness in humans. At higher levels, it can cause persistent short-term memory loss, seizures and can in some cases be fatal.

For more information:

Memo from Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (4/20/2018)

CDFW Declaration (4/20/2018)

www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Health-Advisories

www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937