Dispersing Gray Wolf Travels from Oregon to the Central Sierra Nevada

Another GPS-collared gray wolf has dispersed from Oregon into California. The wolf, known as OR-93, has traveled farther south in California than the collared wolves that have preceded him.

OR-93 is a young male that dispersed from Oregon’s White River pack, southeast of Mt. Hood. He was fitted with a tracking collar by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs within the White River pack’s territory in June 2020. Like many young wolves, he subsequently left his pack in search of a new territory and/or a mate.

After arriving in Modoc County in early February 2021, he quickly passed through portions of numerous California counties before arriving this week in Alpine County, between the trans-Sierra State Highways 4 and 108. He then moved just into Mono County, putting him hundreds of miles from the Oregon state line and his natal territory. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will continue to monitor his whereabouts with the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

OR-93 is the 16th gray wolf documented to have dispersed into California, and most of those animals have traveled from Oregon. One of those dispersing wolves, OR-54, traveled as far south as the Lake Tahoe Basin before returning north. The others have primarily traveled, and sometimes settled, in the California’s northernmost counties.

The first wolf known in California since the 1920s, OR-7, first visited in late 2011. Since then, the state has seen the formation of two packs. The Shasta Pack in Siskiyou County had five pups in 2015 before disappearing late that year. The Lassen Pack, which occupies parts of Lassen and Plumas counties, has produced pups each year from 2017 to 2020. Additionally, a new pair of wolves has recently been documented in Siskiyou County and CDFW biologists believe it is likely they will produce pups this spring.

CDFW is working to monitor and conserve California’s small wolf population and is collaborating with livestock producers and diverse stakeholders to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts. Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered pursuant to California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA). Their management in California is guided by CESA as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. More information is available on CDFW’s wolf webpage at: wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.

CDFW encourages those who see wolves to detail their sightings on its online reporting site: wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Photo of OR-93 by Austin Smith Jr., Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs.

Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Offered Excellent Opportunities

Lauryn Ash, 2nd lieutenant with the California Air National Guard, participated in her first duck hunt during the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days weekend. An 18-year U.S. Air Force Veteran who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Ash was hosted on her hunt by the Frog Pond Duck Club in Los Banos

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) conducted its first Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days recently, providing more than 650 veterans and active duty military the opportunity to hunt on state and federal managed public hunting areas. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley and the Wister Unit of the Imperial Valley Wildlife Area near the Salton Sea hosted the most hunters over the two days. Gray Lodge hunters averaged 5.1 waterfowl on Saturday while the Wister Unit hunters averaged 3.5. Hunting results for all CDFW managed hunting areas are posted at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

“Each of us at CDFW express our appreciation for the work and sacrifice many of our veterans made and continue to make,” said Stafford Lehr, Deputy Director of CDFW’s Wildlife and Fisheries Division. “Opening our wildlife areas and providing veterans and active duty personnel a special waterfowl hunting opportunity was not only a pleasure, but a chance to give something back for their exceptional service to our country.” 

Once the Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days dates were set, a coordinated effort took place among state and federal agencies, private organizations and duck clubs to provide veterans and military personnel with hunting opportunity. CDFW opened more than a dozen of its most popular waterfowl areas for these special hunt days. California Waterfowl (CWA) opened its Grizzly Island Ranch, Butte Creek Ranch and other properties. CWA reached out to members and cooperating partners to provide places for 60 veterans to hunt.

Duck clubs like The Members Duck Club near the Salton Sea and Mound Farms in the Yolo Bypass welcomed veterans for the Veterans and Active Military Personnel  Waterfowl Hunting Days. Club members accompanied veterans out to the blinds, helped them find their blind in the dark and set out decoys. CWA Volunteer Veterans Hunt Coordinator Mike Peeters said, “There is tremendous community outreach among landowners to connect with veterans, to give back and provide hunting opportunity.”

Only veterans and active military personnel could apply for a hunt reservation through the CDFW waterfowl reservation drawing system for the weekend. This made it possible for many to draw their first reservation of the 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season. A reservation is extremely important to hunters since it guarantees a place to hunt. Drawing a reservation is hard. In 2020-21, a record 1.23 million hunt reservation applications were submitted. At Little Dry Creek Unit within the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, one of the most sought-after hunting areas, a record 141,160 applications were submitted. Overall, the odds of drawing a reservation for the 2020-21 season on a CDFW managed waterfowl hunting area averaged 4.05 percent.

Veterans and active duty personnel experiencing the hunt came away with several positives. First and foremost, they enjoyed a special weekend of waterfowl hunting. Those new to waterfowl hunting got a chance to experience a hunt with minimal hunter competition. Many also were able to share the experience with friends and family.

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Media Contact: 
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

At its February meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission acted on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from yesterday’s meeting.

The Commission elected Peter Silva to succeed Eric Sklar as Commission President, a position Sklar has held for five years. The Commission also re-elected Samantha Murray as Commission Vice President.

FGC logo

“It has been one of the great honors of my public career to serve as president of the California Fish and Game Commission these last five years,” said Commissioner Sklar. “I am extremely proud of all the work we have done as a team and I look forward to the exceptional and progressive things we will achieve under President Silva and Vice President Murray.”

Under President Sklar’s leadership, the Commission worked with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on numerous significant achievements, including:

  • Collaborated with the agricultural community to protect tricolored blackbird under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) while also supporting agricultural activities.
  • Simplified the state’s inland trout fishing regulations to make it easier for anglers to understand and to increase angling opportunities.
  • Helped ensure sustainable, long-term management of Pacific herring and spiny lobster by adopting fishery management plans for both species.
  • Created an opportunity for recreational fishermen to contribute to potential kelp recovery in California’s north and central coast ocean waters by participating in and evaluating urchin control activities.
  • Streamlined fisheries resource management through automatic conformance to federal salmon and Pacific halibut regulations, as well as moving commercial fishing landing receipts from paper submissions to allow near-real-time online reporting of fishing information.

About his new position, President Silva said, “I appreciate the trust my fellow commissioners have placed in me to lead the Commission at this time of anticipated change. Over the coming year we have several important tasks ahead of us, most significantly advancing a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion plan that will contribute to creating a more just and inclusive society.”

Late last year, the Commission began developing a justice, equity, diversity and inclusion (JEDI) plan in collaboration with CDFW, to enhance the important work of both organizations in conserving and sustaining California’s fish and wildlife for their ecological values and for their use and enjoyment by the public.

“It is a pleasure to continue in my role as vice president of the Commission, where we have critical responsibilities related to conserving the state’s natural resources and preserving our wildlife heritage,” said Commission Vice President Murray. “I look forward to also advancing meaningful efforts to confront the history and impacts of structural discrimination and to take action to ensure equitable practices.”

“The Commission has made great strides under President Sklar,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “He has brought professionalism, intelligence and integrity to the dais, and I thank him for his passion for this work and for his friendship. I also look forward to the leadership of Commissioners Silva and Murray. If their efforts to elevate the JEDI plan are an indicator, the strength that Eric has brought to this Commission is certain to continue and the future is bright.”

The Commission assigned chairs for its three committees: Vice President Murray for the Marine Resources Committee, Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin for the Tribal Committee and Commissioner Sklar for the Wildlife Resources Committee.

The Commission unanimously voted to approve changes to mammal hunting regulations including changes to quotas and seasons for deer and antelope, and allow CDFW to provide refunds and reinstate preference points for specified elk, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn antelope hunts for hunters who endured a significant loss of opportunity due to forest closures and/or fire in specified hunt zones in 2020.

CDFW provided an overview of its five-year status review report of Milo Baker’s lupine and recommended that the Commission change its status under CESA from threatened to endangered. The Commission voted unanimously that listing the Milo Baker’s lupine as endangered may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, Milo Baker’s lupine is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

The Commission unanimously voted to adopt an emergency regulation to prohibit the use of hydraulic pump gear for recreational take of clams, sand crab and shrimp. The emergency regulation is in response to dramatic increases in recreational clamming effort and harvest rates using hydraulic hand pumps, necessitating immediate additional protections while a standard regulation is under development.

The full commission – President Peter Silva, Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Eric Sklar – was present. There is one vacancy on the Commission.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for April 14-15, 2021.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Chinook Salmon

CDFW to Host Virtual Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting. The meeting will feature the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries, in addition to a review of last year’s salmon fisheries and spawning escapement.

The meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 25 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. via webinar.

Stakeholders are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and fishery representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

The 2021 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to develop annual sport and commercial ocean salmon fishing regulations. The process involves collaborative negotiations with west coast states, federal agencies, tribal comanagers, and stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 2-5 and 8-11, 2021 PFMC meeting. The PFMC will finalize the recommended season dates at its April 6-9 and 12-15, 2021 meeting.

Salmon Information Meeting details and instructions for attendance are available on CDFW’s Ocean Salmon web page, along with a calendar of events and other opportunities for public engagement in the 2021 preseason process. A summary of key information and meeting outcomes will be posted on the Marine Management News blogsite after the meeting.

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Media Contacts
Ian Pritchard, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2891
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Special Post-Season Waterfowl Hunt Weekend Reserved for Veterans and Active Military Personnel Feb. 13-14

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will reopen and staff nearly two dozen of the state’s most popular waterfowl hunting areas to welcome veterans and active military personnel for a special hunt weekend Feb. 13 and 14.

The first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days take place the second weekend in February throughout the Balance of the State, Southern San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California waterfowl zones on both private property and public land for eligible hunters.

Species and daily bag limits are the same as the regular season with the following exceptions: Brant are not open to take and geese are not allowed to be taken in the Balance of State Zone on these days.

In addition to a valid California hunting license, California duck validation, federal duck stamp and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation, any person participating in these hunts must possess and present upon demand verification of eligibility. Acceptable verification includes: a Veteran ID Card, military ID card for active duty personnel, or a state-issued driver license or ID card with veteran designation. Qualifying veterans are those defined in Section 101, Title 38, of the United States Code. Absence of verification may subject the hunter to citation.

Among those public areas reopening for Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days: The Little Dry Creek Unit of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, Merced National Wildlife Refuge, San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, San Jacinto Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area, Wister Unit of the Imperial Wildlife Area and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area.

A wildlife area pass is required to hunt on Type A and Type B state-operated wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges during the hunt weekend. These items are not available for sale at hunter check stations and must be purchased ahead of time. All 2020 Type A and Type B Wildlife Area Season Passes and Type A One and Two-Day Wildlife Area Passes will be accepted during the hunt weekend. A Type A or Type B Season Pass is required to hunt on Type B Wildlife Areas.

As of Feb. 1, overnight camping is once again allowed on state-operated wildlife areas and federal refuges reopening for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 6-7 and the Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days Feb. 13-14. Please check with the individual property for entry procedures, specific details and other regulations.

Waterfowl hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19 webpage prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area or refuge in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Waterfowl hunters are further advised to check with the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.

Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time. 
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.

Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

Photo:
Bill Self of Dublin is an Air Force veteran, retired educator, and lifelong California sportsman. He and his fellow veterans along with active military personnel will enjoy an extra weekend of duck hunting Feb. 13 and 14 during California’s first Veterans and Active Military Waterfowl Hunting Days. Photo courtesy of Edward Lee.