Category Archives: Conservation Education

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

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.

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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.

 

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

CDFW Completes Conservation Strategy for Threatened Mohave Ground Squirrel

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its Conservation Strategy for the Mohave Ground Squirrel, a species listed as threatened under the California Endangered Species Act. The 129-page document, which is available on CDFW’s website, summarizes the available scientific information on the species and lays the foundation for its conservation and recovery in California.

The Mohave ground squirrel, Xerospermophilus mohavensis, is a small day-active rodent endemic to the western Mojave Desert of California. It has one of the smallest geographic ranges of any North American ground squirrel and spends much of the year in underground burrows to avoid the harsh conditions of its desert environment. It is threatened by climate change, habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, and small population size, among other stressors.

CDFW has been engaged in conservation planning for the Mohave ground squirrel since it was listed as Rare in 1971; however, with recent emphasis on development of large-scale renewable energy facilities in California’s desert came recognition that such development could pose additional risks to the species. CDFW finalized the Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy to help guide renewable energy and other development projects to ensure they are consistent with the conservation needs of the squirrel.

The document consists of three main parts: a comprehensive list of conservation goals, objectives and measures; background information on the squirrel’s ecology and conservation status; and a summary of actions for the species by the various wildlife and land management agencies with jurisdiction in the species’ geographic range. The document can be considered CDFW’s policy for conservation of the Mohave ground squirrel and may be referenced in making decisions in the environmental review process, funding for habitat protection and restoration activities and prioritizing research and information needs.

The Mohave Ground Squirrel Conservation Strategy may also be used as the foundation for recovery planning for the species. Under newly enacted state law, CDFW may prepare recovery plans for listed species if funding is available.

According to Scott Osborn, CDFW wildlife ecologist and co-author of the document, such planning is an essential next step to help the species persist. “The Strategy provides good guidance, but real recovery of the Mohave ground squirrel requires implementation of specific actions for its conservation. Such actions need to be planned using a comprehensive and scientific process.”

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Seeks Information Related to Listing of Bumble Bees

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the Crotch bumble bee, Franklin’s bumble bee, Western bumble bee and Suckley cuckoo bumble bee as endangered species.

In October 2018, the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, Defenders of Wildlife and the Center for Food Safety submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to formally list the four species as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation described several threats to the survival of the four bumble bee species in California, including direct and indirect impacts associated with habitat loss and alteration, disease, pesticides, competition and small population sizes.

CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on June 12, 2019. The Commission published findings of this decision on June 28, 2019, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct status reviews to inform the Commission’s ultimate decision whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the bumble bees’ ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management and recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: David Wright
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “Bumble Bees” in the subject heading.

All comments received by Aug. 16, 2019, will be evaluated prior to the submittal of CDFW’s final status review reports to the Commission. Once CDFW submits the final status review reports to the Commission, they will be placed on the agenda for discussion at the next available Commission meeting. Comments also will be made available to the public at that time.

Following receipt of CDFW’s status review reports, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendations.

The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the four species are available at https://fgc.ca.gov/CESA#bb.

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Media Contacts:
Erin Chappell, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3685
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

August 2019 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

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 cquirk@yolobasin.org.

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 lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

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 ariel.hunter@wildlife.ca.gov.

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 sean.allen@wildlife.ca.gov 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 ariel.hunter@wildlife.ca.gov.

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.

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Media Contacts:
Sarah Guerere, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8974
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Landowners Invited to Participate in California Waterfowl Habitat Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications from landowners for the California Waterfowl Habitat Program (CWHP). The CWHP provides technical guidance and economic incentives to private landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a wetland management plan developed cooperatively by CDFW biologists and participating landowners.

In response to the loss of wetland habitat in California, the Legislature passed the California Waterfowl Habitat Preservation Act in 1987. This Act established the CWHP, a multi-faceted wetland incentive program designed to improve habitat conditions for waterfowl on private lands. Consistent with its primary waterfowl habitat objectives, the program also endeavors to enhance habitat for shorebirds, wading birds and other wetland-dependent species. The program has remained very popular with existing enrollees, but lack of adequate funding has limited CDFW’s ability to enroll new properties since the mid-2000s. The passing of Proposition 68 in 2018 approved $10 million in new funding for the program.

The program is designed to contribute to large-scale conservation objectives by helping private landowners overcome many of the challenges associated with wetland management in California. Approximately two-thirds of the managed wetlands in the Central Valley are privately owned, and many of these landowners are not trained in the science, policy or regulation of wetland management. In addition to guidance offered by CDFW biologists, landowners also receive an incentive payment following the successful implementation of work plans. The program offers $30 per acre for the management of seasonal wetlands ($60/acre in the Tulare basin) and $60 per acre for the management of semi-permanent wetlands statewide.

“Partnerships with private landowners, such as those developed through the California Waterfowl Habitat Program, are critical to ensuring our waterfowl and other wetland dependent species habitat objectives are met,” said CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program Coordinator, Brian Olson. “We truly value the relationships developed with private landowners, and appreciate their efforts in helping provide for the needs of California’s fish and wildlife.”

Landowners have until Aug. 30 to apply. For more information on the program, or to submit an application, please visitwww.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs/waterfowl-habitat.

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Media Contacts: 
Brian Olson, CDFW Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program, (916) 445-3486 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988