All posts by kmacinty

Survey Shows Severe Decline in Mount San Gorgonio Desert Bighorn Sheep Population

Aerial and ground surveys of Southern California’s Mount San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population conducted during early March have confirmed a severe decline in numbers. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and partner agencies counted 60 animals, approximately one-third the number counted in the last helicopter survey conducted in March 2016.

Watch video of biologists preparing for the survey at: https://youtu.be/ecdag5Y6d1g

This reduction appears to be consistent with an outbreak of respiratory disease that CDFW has been investigating since December.

“Die-offs of bighorn sheep of this type and magnitude that have occurred in the past have almost always been triggered by contact with domestic sheep or goats,” CDFW Wildlife Biologist Dr. Jeff Villepique said.

In December 2018, multiple reports of dead or dying bighorn sheep in Whitewater Canyon and the Mission Creek drainages were confirmed by biologists working for CDFW. Tissue samples from carcasses were sent to pathologists at the California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratories. The investigation is ongoing, with 21 bighorn carcasses identified thus far.

Administering medical treatment to sick bighorn is not feasible due to many factors, including the remote location, the difficulty of capturing animals and inability to capture and treat the entire herd.

Southern California is home to approximately 4,800 bighorn sheep in 64 herd units. To date, there have been no reports of sheep in nearby herds being affected by the disease.

CDFW is one of several entities involved in managing bighorn sheep in California, and participates in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group. The Group has declared respiratory disease to be “the biggest impediment to restoring and sustaining bighorn sheep populations.”

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Media Contacts:
Dr. Jeff Villepique, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (909) 584-9012
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

 

2019 Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery to Open Off Much of the California Coast in April

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 6 in the Monterey management area, between Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border. In the Fort Bragg and San Francisco management areas, between Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) and Pigeon Point, the recreational salmon fishery will open on Saturday, April 13. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will remain closed for the month of April. The remaining 2019 season dates will be finalized next month.

At its meeting this week in Vancouver, Wash., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open limited sections of the California coast on April 6 and April 13. Returns of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook in 2018 were insufficient to overcome their “overfished” status this year.

“Continued concerns over the overfished status of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, as well as protections for threatened and endangered stocks, are expected to limit salmon seasons in certain times and areas this year,” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Despite these constraints, we expect California sport anglers to see a greater amount of fishing opportunity overall compared to last year.”

Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season. Recreational fishing representatives prioritized opening this area ahead of others on the California coast, though it may lead to decisions to close the season earlier in Monterey than in other areas. Delaying the opener in areas to the north should allow for more fishing opportunity there later in the year, when catch rates are typically better.

Final season dates will be decided during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting, at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at the Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd.) in Ukiah, or through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

In April, the minimum size limit in the Fort Bragg management area is 20 inches total length. In the San Francisco and Monterey management areas, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.

Anglers are advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information, and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon. 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.

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Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

 

Public Comment Sought on Statewide Regulation Changes of Trout Season

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a series of statewide meetings to inform the public and seek input on the proposed new statewide changes for trout fishing regulations.

“The California Fish and Game Commission directed our department to make the regulations and seasons more simple and easy to understand, while continuing to protect and manage the state’s trout resources,” said Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager. “We look forward to explaining how these new changes came about, and how they could be implemented.”

The meetings will focus on the following key areas:

  • Objectives of the new regulation framework and species management goals
  • Parameters of the regulation standardization and consolidation process
  • Review of specific proposed changes to regulations

CDFW personnel will be available at information stations to answer questions and listen to stakeholder interests, needs and ideas. All stakeholder input will be taken into consideration as a regulation simplification package is developed for formal public review through the California Fish and Game Commission.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Talman Pavilion, Tricounty Fairgrounds, 1234 Fair St., Bishop

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Redding Library Community Room, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno

Saturday, April 6, 2019
Noon-2 p.m.
Bass Pro Shops, 7777 Victoria Gardens Lane, Rancho Cucamonga

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Colonial Heights Library Community Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

More information is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/inland/trout-plan. Meetings are in-person only and no conference line or webcast will be available.

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Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8911
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Now Accepting Fisheries Habitat Restoration Project Proposals

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for projects under its Fiscal Year 2019-20 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN). The PSN and online grant application can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants/frgp/solicitation.

Applications must be submitted online by Friday, April 16, 2019 at 3 p.m.

The PSN invites restoration projects that meet the funding requirements of the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (focusing on recovery of state-listed salmon and steelhead along the coast and in the Central Valley) and the Forest Legacy Program (focusing on the restoration of watersheds affected by historic forest practices). Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations. Funded projects could include habitat restoration, water conservation, education, monitoring and restoration planning.

While the amount of available funding is not known at this time, in FY 2018-19 the program was able to provide more than $15 million in funding for eligible projects. Funding for FY 2019-20 grants is expected to be awarded to approved projects in early 2020.

CDFW will also hold a series of public workshops to assist applicants in understanding the requirements of the PSN. Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop even if they have submitted proposals in the past. Workshops will be held in Fortuna, Sacramento, Petaluma, San Luis Obispo, Los Alamitos, Monterey and Camarillo on various dates in March. For details and meeting contact information, please see PSN Workshop Letter.

For information or questions about the PSN or application process, please contact Tim Chorey, CDFW Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

‘Slightly Improved’ Forecast for California’s 2019 Ocean Salmon Season

California’s 2019 ocean salmon fishing season should be slightly better than last year’s, according to information presented at this week’s annual Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The ocean abundance projections for Sacramento River fall Chinook (SRFC), a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 379,600 adult salmon, an increase over 2018 forecasts. This may result in increased fishing opportunity in some central coastal areas. The Klamath River fall Chinook (KRFC) abundance forecast of 274,200 adult salmon is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the increase in ocean abundance of SRFC will translate into more fishing opportunity this year,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three season alternatives during the March 6-12 Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final ocean salmon seasons will be adopted during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park.

The PFMC may take a conservative approach when crafting 2019 ocean salmon seasons since both SRFC and KRFC stocks are considered to be overfished under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan due to three years of low spawning escapement. Additionally, persistent concerns over protected Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook could limit fishing opportunity south of Point Arena and north of Point Sur, respectively.

For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website or call the ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429.

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Media Contacts:
Chenchen Shen, CDFW Ocean Salmon Team, (707) 576-2885
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958