Category Archives: big game

Elk Captures to be Conducted in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning to capture numerous elk in northern California in late January and early February.

From Jan. 31 through Feb. 4, CDFW will capture as many as 43 adult Rocky Mountain elk (nine bulls and 34 cows) in Lassen, Modoc and Siskiyou counties in northeastern California. From Feb. 6 through Feb. 8, CDFW will capture up to 16 Roosevelt elk cows in Humboldt County in northwestern California.

The elk will be captured on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as well as on private properties with permission from landowners. CDFW is grateful to the USFS, timberland owners and other private landowners that are providing access to their lands for the captures.

Under the direction of CDFW veterinary staff, CDFW wildlife biologists will lead the captures. Capture crews will locate elk via helicopter, capture them with net guns and restrain the captured animals for tagging.

Each elk will be ear tagged and fitted with a GPS collar. Pregnant female elk from specific herds will receive an additional transmitter that will monitor their pregnancies and aid biologists in finding their calves in the spring. The collars will provide detailed information about elk for approximately two years. This information will enhance CDFW’s knowledge of current elk distribution, abundance, calf recruitment, survival and habitat use.

For additional information regarding captures in Lassen, Modoc or Siskiyou counties, please contact CDFW Wildlife Biologist Reid Plumb at (530) 598-6011. For information regarding captures in Humboldt County, please contact CDFW Environmental Scientist Carrington Hilson at (707) 445-6493.

Media Contacts:
Reid Plumb, CDFW Northern Region, (419) 349-2040
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Applications Now Available for 2018 Joice Island Pig Hunts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering wild pig hunting opportunities in March and April at the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County.

CDFW will be holding the limited-entry, permit-only hunts to control a small population of wild pigs on the Joice Island Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area. Joice Island is a 2,150-acre wetland area consisting of thick cattails, tules, brush and standing water.

Three hunters will be drawn for eight consecutive weekends for a total of 24 hunters. The first hunt weekend, March 3-4, will be reserved for apprentice hunters holding junior licenses, ages 12 to 17. The following seven weekends – March 10-11, March 17-18, March 24-25, March 31-April 1, April 7-8, April 14-15 and April 21-22 – will be open to both adult license holders and junior license holders. There is no charge to apply.

To apply for both the apprentice and general hunts, please visit CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage and either log in or create a new account. Once you navigate the drop-down menus, apply for the weekend of your choice. Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 14. Permits with maps and additional information will be emailed to successful applicants.

Permit holders may bring one non-hunting partner. Junior license holders receiving a permit must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older. Hunters may only use shotguns with nonlead slugs or archery equipment. Dogs and bicycles will not be allowed.

CDFW reserves the right to cancel any of these hunts and close the area to the public without prior notification in the event of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.

For more information, please contact CDFW at (707) 425-3828.

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

Massive Poached Sacramento County Deer Leads to Trophy Penalty Enhancement

A Sacramento County man entered a no contest plea Tuesday to charges of poaching a huge blacktail deer in Sacramento County. John Frederick Kautz, 51, of Lodi, was charged with possession of an illegally poached deer and falsification of deer tag reporting information, both misdemeanors, following a three-month investigation.

Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.
Poached deer with trophy-sized antlers. December 2017.

Kautz illegally killed the trophy-sized buck on private property in Wilton in December 2016, two months after the deer season closed in the area. The deer had an antler spread of 31 inches with four antler points on one side and five on the other, which is an unusually large size for this part of California.

Kautz transported the illegally killed deer across state lines to Nevada to have the deer head mounted by a taxidermist. Kautz was also working through the process of scoring the trophy class buck to have it entered into the Safari Club International hunting record book. The deer’s trophy-sized antlers would have been surely accepted if the animal had been legally taken. However, the poaching conviction for the buck makes it ineligible for that recognition.

Working on a tip provided in September 2017, Wildlife Officers Sean Pirtle and Anthony Marrone spent an exhaustive three months on the investigation, collecting evidence that would prove the year-old incident was an act of poaching. Through extensive interviews, multiple search warrants and forensic analysis of computer records, and with the help of the California Highway Patrol (CHP) Computer Crimes Unit, they slowly pieced together the puzzle. Then, collaborating with Nevada game wardens who conducted multiple follow-up interviews outside of California, they worked together in an attempt to track down the actual deer that had been mounted by the Nevada taxidermist.

All California wildlife officers are federally deputized to investigate fish and wildlife crimes anywhere in the United States. The wildlife officers submitted the case to the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for prosecution.

On Dec. 19, Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney David Brown announced a plea bargain resulting in a conviction of two poaching related misdemeanors. Kautz was sentenced to two days in county jail, placed on three years probation with a search and seizure clause, ordered to surrender the mounted deer head and was prohibited by the court from hunting or accompanying anyone else who is hunting during his probation. The fine was set at $5,000 pursuant to a new legislation and regulation package which took effect on July 1, 2017, increasing penalties associated with poaching “trophy class” or very large wild game animals.

The vast majority of hunters are ethical and abide by hunting laws and regulations, including the individual who provided this tip that helped lead to Kautz’s conviction.

“We would like to thank our wildlife law enforcement partners in Nevada and the CHP, and the Sacramento County District Attorney’s office for their assistance in this investigation and the subsequent prosecution, and the hunter who gave us the original tip,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Law Enforcement Division Chief.

“We are also pleased how the newly effective legislation and regulations package helped increase the penalties in this case to hopefully deter others from the same poaching behavior. A case like this is exactly why this package was enacted.”

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692 

California Elk Plan Draft Now Available for Public Comment

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a draft of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan for public review and comment. The plan provides guidance and direction to help set priorities for elk management efforts statewide.

“This draft plan is an important milestone for many of our wildlife program staff, and we’re pleased to be one step closer to completion,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis. “Public feedback is a critical part of shaping this effort, which emphasizes the sharing of resources and collaboration with all parties interested in elk and elk management. These are essential for effective management of California’s elk populations.”

The overarching plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and tule elk in California. The plan also includes subsections that are specific to each of the 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) in California. These areas collectively comprise the currently known distribution of elk in California. Each subsection includes a description of the EMU and information about elk distribution and abundance, management goals, objectives and actions, herd viability and a summary of annual harvests in that unit.

The plan also outlines management actions that emphasize maintenance and improvement of habitat conditions on both public and private land.

All public comments should be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. Comments may be submitted online at ElkManagementPlan@wildlife.ca.gov, or can be mailed to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Branch, Attn: Joe Hobbs
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA  95811

Comments received by the deadline will be reviewed by CDFW, and appropriate changes will be incorporated into the final document prior to its anticipated release in early 2018.

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Media Contacts:
Joe Hobbs, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-9992
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352

 

New Laws Enhance Poaching Penalties to Better Protect Wildlife

As many big game hunting seasons progress into the fall, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers have a new tool to deter poaching and punish violators for serious poaching crimes.

Legislation sponsored by the wildlife conservation community approved enhancements of penalties for the illegal take of trophy-class animals. Under Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 12013.3 penalties are significantly enhanced for any person convicted of poaching deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and wild turkey with certain characteristics that would define them as trophy game animal.

In addition to the legislation that enhanced poaching penalties, the California Fish and Game Commission developed regulations to define those trophy characteristics. Commissioners worked with the CDFW and several outdoors, conservation and hunting organizations to define the characteristics in California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 748.6. The legislation and regulation package went into full effect on July 1, 2017.

In summary, “…the punishment for a person who knowingly violated and has been convicted of [take out of season, spotlighting, baiting, waste of meat, or take without a tag]… where the violation involved a trophy… deer, elk, antelope, or bighorn sheep shall be a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) nor more than forty thousand dollars ($40,000), and where the violation involved a wild turkey, a fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or both that fine and imprisonment.”

“The first case adjudicated after the trophy law took effect exemplifies the potential benefits this enhancement law could have on wildlife protection,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

On July 5, 2017, Garrett Thomas Peacock, 22, of Yuba City, was sentenced to two years’ probation with a restriction from hunting during that time and ordered to pay $5,150 in fines and penalties. The case began months prior when wildlife officers, acting upon an anonymous CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poacher and Polluters), contacted Peacock during a follow-up investigation. The investigation revealed that Peacock unlawfully killed a trophy class “buck” deer without permission in an orchard on private property in Maxwell in Colusa County. Peacock did not possess the required deer tag at the time of the killing. Officers recovered photographic evidence, deer antlers, numerous packages of meat and a deer tag purchased after the fact from Peacock.

“Unlawfully targeting animals for their trophy qualities is an egregious violation,” said Chief Bess.  “Under the enhanced penalties of this law, the punishment will more closely match the severity of these types of poaching crimes.”

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to 847411 (tip411). Text messages allow for a two-way conversation with wildlife officers, while preserving the anonymity of the tipster. Texts should begin with the word “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message. There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

Media Contact:
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692