Category Archives: bears

CDFW Magnifies Efforts to Recruit Hunters and Anglers

In an effort to get more Californians involved in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with the recreational fishing and hunting communities, state and federal agencies, and others to address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.

“Our goal is to support and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us. This effort is to make sure Californians know that.”

CDFW has formed an executive-level task force, hired a full-time coordinator to head-up the effort, hired a research scientist, and finalized a statewide recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) action plan. A staff-level working group is working to increase hunting and fishing participation by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to transform barriers to participation into opportunities. Some of the barriers CDFW will look at initially are access and opportunity challenges, public perception of fishing and hunting, and license structure and pricing. The effort will also focus on encouraging more adults to take up hunting and fishing for the first time.

Research shows spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being. Many hunters and anglers say the reason they participate in these activities is to enjoy the quality time with family and friends and to bring home great memories and healthy food.

California is home to some of the nation’s most diverse hunting and fishing opportunities, but participation in these activities has declined significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in wildlife surveys for scientific data collection, and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide the primary funding source for state-level fish and wildlife conservation in California. The decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation, the state’s long-standing hunting and fishing heritage, and Californians’ connection to the outdoors in general.

“The fishing and hunting community has rallied around CDFW, and we are now poised to tackle the challenges before us,” Bonham said.

To get involved or learn more about the state’s R3 efforts, please contact Jennifer.Benedet@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Jen Benedet, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 903-9270
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

SHARE Program to Offer Wild Pig, Bear, Turkey, Quail and Dove Hunts this Fall

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for wild pig, bear, turkey, quail and dove hunts on a property in Tulare County this fall and spring.

This is the first year that SHARE has offered opportunities at Hart Ranch, which includes 975 acres of rolling oak woodland 15 miles northeast of Porterville. The hunts will take place October 2018 through April 2019.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System. An $11.62 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Application deadlines are 17 days before each hunt.

To apply for these hunts, visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, log in to your account and select “Purchase Licenses.” Then select “2018 – Hunting, 2018 – SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application” and select specific hunt periods.

The SHARE program offers private landowners liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034

Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

General Hunting Seasons for Bear, Elk and Bighorn Opening Soon

Big game hunters throughout California are eagerly anticipating the 2018 general hunting seasons. While deer are by far the most frequently hunted big game species in California, many hunters also enjoy fair chase of bear, elk and bighorn. Some of the seasons for these species are already underway, but the majority will open over the next month. The upcoming general season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.

Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round. Most seasons for pronghorn, another California big game species, concluded in August.

Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. While California has its fair share of privately owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW administers public hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program. Other opportunities for access to private lands are available through the Private Lands Management Program.

A valid California hunting license and appropriate tag(s) for each zone and/or species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. There are still many deer tags available for purchase. Hunting license and tags can be purchased online or through a CDFW office or license sales agent.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course.

Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. All regulations can be found online.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.

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Media Contacts:
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Fortuna

At its August 2018 meeting in Fortuna, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.FGC logo

Commission President Eric Sklar, Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioner Peter Silva were present. Commission Vice President Anthony Williams and Commissioner Russell Burns were absent.

In response to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) findings of declining density and poor ocean conditions, in December 2017, the Commission adopted regulations to close the recreational abalone fishery for the 2018 season. Unfortunately, ocean conditions are not improving for California’s red abalone, and populations continue to decline due to severe starvation conditions. Consequently, on Aug. 22, the Commission voted unanimously to authorize publication of notice of intent to amend regulations to extend the fishery closure sunset date for the recreational red abalone fishery another two years (through April 2021). They will take action on whether or not to extend the closure the season at their December meeting.

On Aug. 23, The Commission voted unanimously to list the Humboldt marten as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act.

The Commission also received an update from CDFW regarding cutting-edge rehabilitation techniques being utilized on wildlife severely burned in wildfires. Typically wildlife finds ways to flee from wildfire and CDFW does not anticipate large scale population declines associated with the fires. However, some animals have been deemed suitable for rehabilitation and have been taken in for treatment. Thus far, three bears and one mountain lion have been treated for burns with sterilized tilapia skin. CDFW released a time-lapse video of one of the bears undergoing the treatment.

The full Commission summary and supporting information can be found at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will soon be available.

The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between CDFW and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

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

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