|The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the addition of 31 Wildlife Officer Academy graduates to the Law Enforcement Division.
The Wildlife Officer Academy Class 62 graduation ceremony took place Friday, Aug. 9, at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise, Butte County. The 31 newly graduated wildlife officers will begin the CDFW Field Training Program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced Field Training Officers (FTOs). Three additional cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of applying for a wildlife officer position with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division or a different law enforcement agency.
CDFW’s Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California. Field training with experienced FTOs is also mandated by POST to be sure new wildlife officers can apply the skills they learned during the academy to real life circumstances. The Field Training Program is the final stage of formal training. Upon successful completion, these officers will begin patrolling California to protect the natural resources of this great state.
The Academy has been located at Butte College since 2008 and provides peace officer academy training to California’s prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state-of-the-art POST-certified academy facility with nearly 50 years of police training history.
CDFW recognizes the citizens of Butte County, and Paradise in particular, for their steadfast resolve to overcome the devastating Camp Fire. Some of those affected by the disaster are instructors, caretakers of Butte College, nearby business owners and employees, and others who keep the Academy and Butte College moving forward. “We acknowledge the efforts of those who trained our cadets while at the same time recovering from devastating losses,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Congratulations to the staff and graduating wildlife officers of Academy 62 for your accomplishments during trying times.”
Wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations annually. These officers primarily work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who almost always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wildlife officers have large patrol districts and great responsibilities, and frequently a sole officer will cover an entire county. The average California wildlife officer’s patrol district exceeds 500 square miles.
For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife Law Enforcement Division has selected Warden Anastasia Norris as the 2019 Wildlife Officer of the Year.
“Warden Norris has spent plenty of time doing traditional wildlife law enforcement work, but her expertise in oil spill investigations and response is where she has shined over the course of her career,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Investigations involving habitat damage from oil and hazardous materials spills are integral to the Law Enforcement Division’s mission. Warden Norris is one of the finest in this regard.”
Warden Norris received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Animal Sciences from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 1998 and a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma in 2001. She graduated as part of Academy Class 53 at Butte College in 2009 and began her career as a wildlife officer in Long Beach, where she gained expertise in marine enforcement and commercial fishing.
She soon transferred to the CDFW Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR), where she has excelled as the State On-Scene Coordinator and/or lead investigator for 20 complicated oil and hazardous materials spills. In 2015, Norris was designated the lead investigator on the Plains All-American/Refugio spill in Santa Barbara County, one of the largest and most detrimental oil spills to hit California’s coast in the last 50 years.
The Refugio oil spill began on May 19, 2015. Norris managed and coordinated the evidence and documentation efforts throughout the investigation, including embarking upon a cross-country drive to ensure chain-of-custody and security of a seized section of pipeline in Ohio. She interviewed dozens of witnesses during the investigation. The final 118-page report included support documentation that was an additional 13 inches thick. Norris also provided support for the prosecution and was in court every day of the almost four-month duration of the trial. On Sept. 7, 2018, guilty verdicts were reached on nine counts, including eight misdemeanors and one felony. Even while the Refugio investigation was dominating her workload, Norris continued to respond to numerous other petroleum spills.
“Warden Norris is the force behind major investigations involving water pollution and numerous environmental statutes and regulations affecting our great state’s waterways and ocean environment,” said Brett Morris, Supervising Deputy Attorney General of the California Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the Refugio case. “While away from her assigned beat and her family for over three months, Warden Norris successfully guided to conviction the largest criminal prosecution of corporate water polluters in Santa Barbara County’s history.”
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692
At its August 2019 meeting in Sacramento, 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 two-day meeting.
The Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division David Bess presented an award to Jessica Brown, who earned the title of 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown is Supervising City Attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit. As she accepted the award, Brown acknowledged her team of superb prosecutors, all of whom are highly dedicated to the successful prosecution of fish and wildlife cases. Brown, along with her team, has shown steadfast dedication to CDFW’s cases and to protecting and conserving California’s natural resources.
At the Commission meeting Chief Bess also presented the Wildlife Officer of the Year Award to Warden Anastasia Norris for her exceptional efforts to investigate highly technical petroleum pollution cases and guide them to conviction. She took the initiative to become a pipeline and corrosion expert and this has benefitted CDFW in many oil spill cases. Her work on the May 2015 Refugio oil spill in Santa Barbara kept her stationed away from her family for three months. Norris accepted the award with her family present.
The Commission honored Valerie Termini for her service as Executive Director from 2016-2018. Termini was the first ever female Executive Director of the Commission and brought integrity and professionalism to the position. President Eric Sklar presented Termini with a Commission resolution and gift from the commissioners. Termini served as Executive Director until CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham requested she serve in an acting role as CDFW Chief Deputy Director in November, a position to which she was officially appointed by Governor Gavin Newsom in June.
The Commission began the regulatory process to ban possession of live nutria, a large, brown, fur-bearing, aquatic rodent native to South America. CDFW is seeking a regulatory change from the Commission in order to prevent further spread of this persistent invasive species. In California, nutria pose a significant threat as an agricultural pest, a destroyer of critical wetlands needed by native wildlife, and a public safety risk as their destructive burrowing jeopardizes the state’s water delivery and flood control infrastructure. CDFW has a robust detection and eradication effort underway in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to limit the invasive rodents’ spread and impact on California’s most important water resource and the heart of the state’s water delivery and infrastructure.
The Commission also determined that listing San Bernardino kangaroo rat as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act 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, the San Bernardino kangaroo rat is protected under CESA as a candidate species.
The Commission also directed staff to continue working with CDFW and stakeholders to revise a draft Delta fisheries management policy, including potential revisions to the existing striped bass policy.
President Sklar and Commissioners Russell Burns, Samantha Murray and Peter Silva were present. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent.
The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.
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 the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (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.
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Various Days — Bat Talk and Walk at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Various times, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis (95618). Each year, from June through September, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tour begins with a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, after which attendees are shuttled to the outdoor viewing area to witness firsthand the spectacular aerial performance of the Mexican free-tailed bats. Pre-registration is required at http://yolobasin.org. For more information, please contact Corky Quirk at email@example.com.
Various Days — Ecological Reserve Tours at Elkhorn Slough. Volunteers lead walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. The day use permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased on-site). Groups of five or more should please notify staff that they are coming and groups of 10 or more can request a separate tour. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/elkhorn-slough-er.
Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadlines for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, deer, bear, turkey, dove and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $11.00 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.
Various Days — Guided Wetland Tours, By Reservation, at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Rd., Gridley (95948). A wildlife naturalist will lead your group, school or organization through the diverse wetlands of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. General information includes wildlife identification, behavior patterns and conservation efforts. Your experience can be catered to include requested information, along a half-mile, walking route. Minimum group size is 18 people. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
3 — Archery-Only and Falconry-Only Tree Squirrel Season Opens (extending through Sept. 13). For archery-only and falconry-only tree squirrel season and zone descriptions, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx#307. To view a map of tree squirrel hunting zones, please visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/filehandler.ashx?documentid=109005&inline.
7-8 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Natural Resources Building, Auditorium, First Floor, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814. For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.
10 — General Deer Hunting Season Opens. California’s 2019 general deer season will open in zone A on Saturday, Aug. 10, and in zone B-4 on Saturday, Aug. 24. The opener for zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6 and D7 is Saturday, Sept. 21. General deer season opener dates for other zones, season end dates and information about additional hunts are available on the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer. Please remember to report your deer tags! All deer tags you purchase, whether you hunt or not, must be reported. Successful hunters must report their tags within 30 days of their successful hunt or by Jan. 31, 2020, whichever is first. Hunters who are unsuccessful or who do not hunt are required to report by Jan. 31, 2020. Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife for any purpose in California.
10 — The First General Season for Black Bears Opens in Deer Hunting Zone A. General black bear season will open concurrently with the general deer hunting season in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 and extend through Dec. 29. Deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 have different deer season opening dates depending upon the deer zone. General season for black bears opens in deer hunting zones X-1 through X-7b on Oct. 12, and extends through Dec. 29. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear or call toll-free (888) 277-6398. Please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx for a description of the current mammal hunting regulations.
15 — Evenings at the Estuary Lecture: Stories of the Southern Sea Otter, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The Elkhorn Slough Reserve will host a panel discussion on Sea Otters in the Monterey Bay. Panelists Michelle Staedler (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Melissa Miller (CDFW) and Ron Eby (Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve) will share highlights from their research and conservation efforts. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period. This is a free community event and preregistration is not required.For more information, please contact Ariel Hunter at email@example.com.
17 — Falconry-Only Pheasant, Quail, Chukar, Ptarmigtan and Sooty (Blue) Grouse/Ruffed Grouse Seasons Open (extending through Feb. 29). For zone maps and other upland game season information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.
17 — Hunting with Air Guns – Advanced Hunter Education Clinic, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Hungry Valley State Recreation Area. This hands-on clinic will cover hunting with air gun related regulations, species, history, equipment, maintenance, sighting in and more. For more information about Advanced Hunter Education classes and to register for this clinic, please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.
17 — Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area Annual Clean-up Day, 7 a.m. to noon, 9256 Highway 162, Butte City (95920). People will participate in cleanup activities on all three units of the wildlife area (the Llano Seco, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough units) in preparation for the upcoming waterfowl season. Activities typically involve cleaning and brushing up hunting blinds, and improving area signage and field markers. Volunteers should bring gloves, work boots and sunscreen. Water and insect repellent will be provided. Barbecue lunch to follow. For more information or to register, please contact the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area office at (530) 982-2169.
17 — Archery Season for Black Bears Opens in each of the five American black bear hunt zones, Northern California, Central California, Southeastern Sierra, Southern Sierra and Southern California, extending through Sept. 8, 2019. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear or call toll-free (888) 277-6398. Please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx for a description of the current mammal hunting regulations and American black bear hunt zone boundary descriptions. The bag and possession limit for either archery or general season is one adult bear per hunting license year. Cubs and females accompanied by cubs may not be taken.
17 — Grasslands Wildlife Areas-Refuges Outreach Meeting, 9 a.m. to noon at the Grassland Environmental Education Center, 18110 W. Henry Miller Road in Los Banos (93635). CDFW staff and federal wildlife refuge managers will take comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on Type A wildlife areas that include Mendota, Los Banos, Volta, North Grasslands, the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. The Grassland Water District also will make a short presentation on refuge water supply. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you are planning to attend so enough seating and refreshments can be arranged.
21 — Archery-Only Quail, Chukar and Sooty (Blue)/Ruffed Grouse Seasons Open (extending through Sept. 10). For zone maps and other upland game season information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.
24 — Sunset Saturday, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Participants can enjoy a sunset on the Slough, with the reserve open to the public until 8 p.m. All visitors must check in at the Visitor Center before entering the trails. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. The day use permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased on-site). For more information, please contact Ariel Hunter at email@example.com.
24-25 — Volunteer Training for School and Youth Program Guides, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076), from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Elkhorn Reserve will offer training for individuals interested in volunteering with school and youth groups at the reserve. The workshop will prepare volunteers to lead K-12 students in lab and field activities. Interested participants can find more information and register online at www.elkhornslough.org/events/reserve-education-volunteer-training.
27 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1 to 3 p.m., “Drought Stressor Monitoring: Summary of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Drought Response,” presented by Kristine Atkinson. To understand the status of California’s at-risk aquatic species and habitat conditions during the historic 2012-2016 drought, CDFW responded by collecting information on stream temperature and dissolved oxygen, the status and extent of habitat fragmentation, and impacts on aquatic species. Collection of this information was critical as a baseline understanding for management actions taken during and post-drought. Attendance is free. To register or learn more, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.
28 — Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m. Natural Resources
Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). The
public is invited to attend. For more information, please visit https://wcb.ca.gov.
28 — Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico Border. All recreational ocean salmon fishing south of Pigeon Point will be closed through the remainder of the year. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call either the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area has scheduled a cleanup and hunting blind maintenance day on Saturday, Aug. 17 from 7 a.m. to noon. The wildlife area consists of Little Dry Creek and Llano Seco in Butte County and Howard Slough in Glenn County.
At last year’s event, wildlife area staff and approximately 20 volunteers cleaned out and brushed up hunting blinds and posted field markers in preparation for the upcoming waterfowl season. Activities this year will include cleaning out and brushing up hunting blinds, installing and painting area signage, and improving mobility-impaired hunting blinds. Volunteers should bring gloves, work boots and sunscreen. Water and insect repellent will be provided, as will a barbecue lunch hosted by the California Waterfowl Association.
Volunteers will meet at 7 a.m. at the wildlife area headquarters located at Howard Slough Wildlife Area, 9256 Highway 162, Butte City (95920). For more information, please call (530) 982-2169.