All posts by ptirawildlife

Coho Salmon Released in Marin County’s Redwood Creek to Boost Spawning of Endangered Fish

In an effort to boost the population of spawning coho salmon in Marin County’s Redwood Creek, biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the National Park Service (NPS) today released nearly 200 adult coho salmon in the creek at Muir Beach.

The released coho salmon were collected as juveniles from Redwood Creek in the summer of 2015 at an age of 6 to 8 months and reared to adulthood at the Warm Springs Fish Hatchery in Geyserville at the base of the Lake Sonoma Dam.

The release of coho salmon this winter is the culmination of the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project. This project, a collaborative effort by CDFW, NPS, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Parks and Recreation, was initiated in 2014 with the goal of preventing the extinction of the coho salmon, which is listed as an endangered species under both the California Endangered Species Act and the federal Endangered Species Act.

Prior to 2014, fewer than 10 adult coho salmon were estimated to have returned to Redwood Creek annually to spawn. The long decline of coho salmon in Redwood Creek has been accelerated by recent periods of poor ocean survival combined with the prolonged California drought. Coho salmon are more sensitive to habitat degradation and poor water quality than other Pacific salmon species since they rear as juveniles in freshwater for a year or more.

Biologists hope that the released fish will migrate upstream and spawn in the creek. NPS monitoring staff will survey the creek in the summer of 2018 and collect tissue samples from juvenile fish. Genetic analysis of the tissue samples will indicate how many of the released adult fish produced viable offspring.

The first major release of adult coho salmon in Redwood Creek occurred in the winter of 2016. A third and final release of adult coho salmon is planned for the winter of 2018-19.

More information about the Redwood Creek Coho Salmon Rescue and Captive Rearing Project can be found on the CDFW website at wildlife.ca.gov/Drought/Projects/Redwood-Creek-Coho. The Redwood Creek coho restoration project is part of a broader effort to sustain and restore coho salmon runs along the central and northern California coast.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Manfred Kittel, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5522

Dana Polk, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 786-8021
Darren Fong, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, National Park Service, (415) 289-1838

CDFW Photo by Peter Tira

CDFW Offering Holiday Apprentice Youth Waterfowl Hunt at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a special apprentice youth waterfowl hunt at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County on Wednesday, Dec. 27 – a rare, midweek hunt for young hunters during their holiday break from school.

The 12 blinds in the Crescent Unit of the wildlife area will be closed and available only to junior hunting license holders (17 and younger) and their adult chaperones. An adult chaperone (18 or older) is required to accompany and supervise junior apprentice hunters. The adult may hunt with the junior hunter and must possess the required 2017-18 California hunting license, the California Duck Validation, Federal Duck Stamp and the free Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. Junior license holders 16 and older must have a Federal Duck Stamp and the free HIP validation to hunt waterfowl.

All available blinds can accommodate two people – the junior license holder and his or her adult chaperone. Nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required for waterfowl hunting. A minimum of 12 duck decoys are required at all blind sites and chest waders are highly recommended.

To receive a reservation, please call the Grizzly Island headquarters at (707) 425-3828. Applicants will need to provide the following information:

  • Junior licensed hunter’s name
  • Junior hunting license number
  • E-mail address
  • Phone number
  • Name of chaperone

Reservations will be issued to applicants who call on a first-come, first-served basis and others will be placed on a waiting list. There will be 12 reservations issued for the Dec. 27 hunt date.

The Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also accept junior hunters on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the hunt to use the free roam areas and to fill any no-shows from the reservations. As a reminder, all chaperones who wish to hunt must have either a Type A One-Day Pass, Type A Two-Day Pass or Type A Season Pass, and these must be purchased prior to arriving at the check station through either a License Agent or online at www.wildlife.ca.gov (allow two weeks’ mailing time if ordering online).

West Family Unit

CDFW would also like to encourage use of the West Family Unit, which is a spaced blind unit open during the waterfowl season reserved exclusively for junior license holders. Hunt days are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the open season. An adult chaperone is required. Five double blinds, including one mobility-impaired blind, and one three-person blind are available. The unit is north of Benicia on Goodyear Road. From Highway 680 take the Marshview Road exit and turn right onto Goodyear Road from the off-ramp and the well-marked hunt area will be on the left.

Post-Season Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

The Grizzly Island Wildlife Area also will be open to junior hunting license holders and their non-hunting adult chaperones on Saturday and Sunday Feb. 3 and 4 during the state’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days. Junior hunting license holders can apply for reservations online through CDFW’s Automated License Data System (ALDS). Grizzly Island will also accept junior hunters on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the hunts.

Media Contacts:
Orlando Rocha, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 425-3828
Larry Wyckoff, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5542
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

Photo: Brothers Charlie and Clay Brooks show off a heavy strap of mallards taken earlier this season at Grizzly Island. Photo courtesy of Chuck Brooks.

 

CDFW Expanding Lands Pass Program to Dozens of Properties in 2017-18

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is expanding its Lands Pass Program to 41 wildlife areas and ecological reserves this fall and winter and will soon require a CDFW lands pass of all visitors 16 or older. Those carrying a current hunting or fishing license are exempt from this new requirement.

CDFW’s Lands Pass Program began in 1988 as a way to broaden the funding base beyond hunters and anglers to pay for conservation and habitat improvement on some of the state’s most popular and frequently visited wildlife areas and ecological reserves. In 2013, the California Legislature directed CDFW to expand the program to more properties as a way for all visitors to contribute to the management of the places they enjoy and appreciate.

A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33. Lands passes can be purchased online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, by phone at (800) 565-1458 or in-person wherever hunting and fishing license are sold (please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing for a list of locations). The passes are good at any CDFW-managed wildlife area or ecological reserve designated as a lands pass area. With the exception of the Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve, lands passes are not sold on site and should be purchased in advance. Though lands passes can be purchased from a smartphone and used immediately, many of CDFW’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves are in remote locations with limited or no cell service or Wi-Fi availability. Signs will be posted notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass.

A lands pass already is required to visit six CDFW properties:

  • Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve in Monterey County
  • Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in Butte County
  • Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County
  • Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County
  • Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County
  • San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County.

Beginning in November, a lands pass will be required to visit the following 11 properties:

  • Ash Creek, Bass Hill, Honey Lake and Willow Creek wildlife areas in Lassen County
  • Battle Creek Wildlife Area in Tehama County
  • Butte Valley, Horseshoe Ranch and Shasta Valley wildlife areas in Siskiyou County
  • Mouth of Cottonwood Creek Wildlife Area in Shasta County
  • Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area (Green Island Unit only) in Napa County
  • Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in San Joaquin County (beginning Nov. 15)

Starting January 2018, a lands pass will be required at the following 23 properties:

  • Batiquitos Lagoon, Boden Canyon, Buena Vista Lagoon and San Elijo Lagoon ecological reserves and Hollenbeck Canyon and San Felipe Valley wildlife areas in San Diego County
  • Upper Newport Bay (Big Canyon Unit only) Ecological Reserve in Orange County
  • Canebrake Ecological Reserve in Kern County
  • Crescent City Marsh, Elk Creek Wetlands and Lake Earl wildlife areas in Del Norte County
  • Eel River, Elk River Wetlands, Fay Slough and Mad River Slough wildlife areas in Humboldt County
  • Hope Valley Wildlife Area in Alpine County
  • Mendota Wildlife Area in Fresno County
  • North Grasslands and Volta wildlife areas in Merced County
  • North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve in Butte County and the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties
  • Tehama Wildlife Area in Tehama County
  • Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County

Starting February 2018, a lands pass will be required at the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County.

For more information on CDFW’s Lands Pass program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass.

Media Contacts:
Julie Horenstein, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 324-3772
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW photo of the Ash Creek Wildlife Area in Lassen County where a CDFW lands pass will be required of visitors 16 or older starting in November

Wild Pheasant Hunting Season Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season.

Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of hunt days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2017 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 11 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 24. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 461 last year.

In an effort to address the decline, CDFW continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to a multiyear collaborative research project with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to better understand factors that limit populations. These field studies of wild pheasant survival and reproduction at locations around northern California will continue into 2018 and result in a report of findings and future management recommendations.

Preliminary results indicate that changing land use practices is one of the major drivers of wild pheasant declines on both public and private lands. An overall decline in annual acres of “unharvested cropland” correlate with pheasant declines as well as decreases in acres of planted barley, sugar beets, winter wheat and sorghum, and increases in acres of nut trees and rice. Pesticide use and increases in avian predator populations also appear to play a role.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and the first Monday (Nov. 13) during the pheasant season.
  • Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will only be open for pheasant hunting the first Monday (Nov. 13) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will only be open on the first Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 11-12) of the pheasant season.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs. For more information please see the CDFW Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the public lands regulations for 2017-18 are available on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional CDFW offices and check the CDFW website.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Available Soon at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Alameda County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward during the 2017-18 season.

The reserve includes former commercial salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity water bird habitat and areas restored to full tidal action. Access to ELER for waterfowl hunting will be open for 100 hunters on a first-come, first-served basis for each hunt only on the dates listed below. There is no fee for these hunts.

2017 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Nov. 18
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28
  • Thursday, Dec. 7
  • Saturday, Dec. 16
  • Thursday, Dec. 21
  • Saturday, Dec. 30

2018 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Jan. 6
  • Thursday, Jan. 11
  • Saturday, Jan. 20
  • Thursday, Jan. 25

All adult hunters must possess a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp, state duck and HIP validations. Junior hunters must have a junior license and, if 16 or older, must also possess a federal duck stamp. Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older (hunter or non-hunter).

Vehicles may only drive on designated levees, must use approved parking areas and are allowed only on the hunt dates specified above. To participate, hunters must check in with CDFW staff and provide the above licenses, stamps and validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Improvements have been made to ELER, including a boat launch on Mount Eden Creek allowing access to tidal areas on specified hunt days. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching and should be aware that extensive mud flats may be exposed and even shallow draft vessels can be subject to hidden underwater hazards during low tides, including rip-rap at the launch.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field. Non-toxic ammunition is required for hunting waterfowl and when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

A small boat, canoe or other floatation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs, and for game retrieval. A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieving birds. Be aware that water depths can be shallow and pond bottoms are soft. Hunters may request additional information, including area rules, regulations and maps, at the time of check-in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

To get to ELER from Interstate-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard, continue west on Alvarado Boulevard, turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (sign for Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Enter at the yellow gate to the check station.

Formal plans for public access opportunities at the reserve in addition to hunting are being developed as part of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. More information is available at www.southbayrestoration.org.

 Media Contacts:
John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region (415) 454-8050
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo courtesy of Stuart Itoga.