Category Archives: Conservation Education

California Black Bears are Back in Action: Stash Food and Trash

California’s black bears are waking up hungry from their winter downtime. To help minimize unwanted bear foraging behavior, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding those living in or visiting bear country to store food and dispose of garbage properly.

Black bears typically prefer remote mountainous areas. However, as more people frequent or live in natural bear habitat, the abundance of food and garbage associated with human activities is a temptation hungry bears find hard to resist.

“Over the years, we have seen bear behavior change significantly in areas where more people live and recreate in bear habitat,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW’s Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Beginning with spring and into late fall, we receive a steady stream of calls from the public reporting anything from bears breaking into cabins and tents to bears stealing food off picnic tables.”

Black bears, like other bear species, have a highly specialized sense of smell, which can sometimes lead them to towns and recreation areas where they may quickly find an overflowing garbage can or someone’s leftover hamburger and French fries.

The public can help bears stay out of human settlements and stick to their natural diet by properly disposing of leftover food and garbage. Additional suggestions include:

  • Residents and vacationers should remove any food attractants from around their home or rental. Pet food, barbecue grills and bird feeders are also attractants. Store trash in bear-resistant storage sheds until trash pickup day.
  • Use sensory deterrents (such as ammonia), electric mats and bear-resistant fencing to exclude hungry and curious bears from gaining access to attractants.
  • Visitors to towns and tourist areas should not pile trash in a trash can or bin that is already overflowing – take trash to a proper receptacle or another location if necessary.
  • Keep campsites and other recreation areas clean. Use bear-resistant coolers and store all food in bear lockers.
  • Never feed wildlife.

Additional information can be found on CDFW’s website, including tips on how to keep California black bears wild, information about bear proof containers and information about black bear biology.

###

Media Contacts:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933
Victoria Monroe, CDFW Human-Wildlife Conflict Program, (916) 856-8335

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Stream Flow Enhancement Projects

The Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) has approved approximately $13 million in grants to help enhance flows in streams throughout California. A total of 11 stream flow enhancement projects were approved at an April 4 meeting of the Stream Flow Enhancement Program Board. The approved projects will provide or lead to a direct and measurable enhancement of the amount, timing and/or quality of water in streams for anadromous fish; special status, threatened, endangered or at-risk species; or to provide resilience to climate change.

Funding for these projects comes from the Water Quality, Supply and Infrastructure Improvement Act of 2014 (Proposition 1). The Act authorized the Legislature to appropriate funds to address the objectives identified in the California Water Action Plan, including more reliable water supplies, the restoration of important species and habitat, and a more resilient and sustainably managed water infrastructure.

Funded projects include:

      • A $499,955 grant to the University of California, Davis for a cooperative project with the University of California, Berkeley that will apply the newly developing California Environmental Flows Framework to inform decisions regarding instream flow enhancements in the Little Shasta River in Siskiyou County and San Juan Creek in Orange County, by defining target hydrologic regimes that meet ecological and geomorphic objectives.
      • A $1.5 million grant to the Sutter Butte Flood Control Agency for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) in the Oroville Wildlife Area in Butte County. The project will reconnect the Feather River to approximately 400 acres of its historic floodplain, increasing the frequency and duration of floodplain inundation, and enhancing habitat for anadromous salmonids.
      • A $1.98 million grant to the Truckee River Watershed Council for a cooperative project with the CDFW, U.S. Forest Service, Tahoe National Forest and Bella Vista Foundation to enhance hydrologic and ecological function and improve base flows during the low flow period within Lower Perazzo Meadow in Sierra County.
      • A $621,754 grant to the San Mateo County Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with DWR and State Coastal Conservancy to construct an off-channel storage pond on Klingman-Moty Farm. Combined with irrigation efficiency upgrades and a commitment from the landowner to forbear diversions during the low flow period, the project will improve instream flow conditions in San Gregorio Creek in San Mateo County.
      • A $1.78 million grant to the Ventura Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with Ojai Valley Inn, the city of Ojai, the Thacher School, and a diverse array of other partners. They will develop an Integrated Water Management Framework for Instream Flow Enhancement and Water Security and complete planning, permitting and outreach to advance 25 stream flow enhancement projects to an implementation ready stage.

For more information about the WCB please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

####

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Reminds Public to Leave Young Wildlife Alone

Late spring and early summer is the peak time for California’s wildlife to have their young, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is issuing a reminder to well-intentioned people to not interact with young wildlife – even if they find an animal that appears to be abandoned.

It may be hard to resist scooping up a young wild animal that looks vulnerable and alone but human intervention may cause more harm than good. Young animals removed from their natural environment typically do not survive or may not develop the appropriate survival skills needed to be released back into the wild.

“It is a common mistake to believe a young animal has been abandoned when it is found alone, even if the mother has not been observed in the area for a long period of time,” said Nicole Carion, CDFW’s statewide wildlife rehabilitation coordinator. “Chances are the mother is off foraging, or is nearby, waiting for you to leave.”

Adult female deer often stash their fawns in tall grass or brush for many hours while they are out foraging for food. A female mountain lion may spend as much as 50 percent of her time away from her kittens.

After leaving the nest, fledgling birds spend significant time on the ground while learning to fly with their parents somewhere nearby.

If a young animal is in distress, or you are unsure, contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility and speak to personnel to determine the best course of action.

For an injured, orphaned or sick bear, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, wild pig or mountain lion, contact CDFW directly, as most wildlife rehabilitators are only allowed to possess small mammals and birds. Although some wildlife rehabilitators are allowed to accept fawns, injured or sick adult deer should be reported directly to CDFW for public safety reasons.

Anyone who removes a young animal from the wild is required to notify CDFW or take the animal to a state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 48 hours. These animals may need specialized care and feeding that is best done by trained wildlife care specialists.

It is important to note that wild animals – even young ones – can cause serious injury with their sharp claws, hooves and teeth, especially when injured and scared. They may also carry ticks, fleas and lice, and can transmit diseases to humans, including rabies and tularemia.

To learn more about how to live and recreate responsibly where wildlife is near, please visit CDFW’s Keep Me Wild website at www.keepmewild.org.

###

Media Contacts:
Nicole Carion, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (530) 357-3986
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

Shake, Rattle and Roll: Rattlesnake Season is here

With the coming of spring and warmer weather conditions, snakes of many species are through hunkering down, making human encounters with these elusive creatures more likely. Although most native snakes are harmless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommends giving the venomous rattlesnake a wide berth and knowing what to do in the rare event of a bite.

“Snakes really get an unfair bad rap, when they actually play an important role in California’s ecosystems,” said CDFW’s Keep Me Wild program coordinator Lesa Johnston. “Like most wild animals, snakes prefer to keep to themselves and are not naturally aggressive. Taking the time to learn about safety precautions before going outdoors can make all the difference.”

Rattlesnakes are widespread in California and are found in a variety of habitat throughout the state from coastal to desert. They may also turn up around homes and yards in brushy areas and under wood piles. Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room and not provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally brushed against by someone walking or climbing.

On occasion, rattlesnake bites have caused severe injury – even death. However, the potential of encountering a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors. The California Poison Control System notes that the chances of being bitten are small compared to the risk of other environmental injuries. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.

CDFW provides tips for safely living in snake country on its website, as well as tips for keeping snakes out of your yard and what do to do (and not do) in the event of a snake bite.

Additional resources can be found on the CaliforniaHerps.com Living with Rattlesnakes webpage.

###

Media Contact:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

Youth Art Contest Encourages Kids to Learn about Invasive Nutria

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the sixth annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest, which this year challenges students to creatively present messages about nutria (Myocastor coypus), a relatively recent – and destructive – invasive species in California.

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, June 1-9.

There are three age divisions, for youths in grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. All types of media are welcome and encouraged, including (but not limited to) drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. Entries should be in keeping with the 2019 theme, “Say No to Nutria.” Nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents from South America that have been found in California’s Central Valley and southern Delta. Nutria cause extensive damage to wetland habitats, agricultural crops, streambanks and levees. More information about nutria can be found on CDFW’s Nutria Incident page.

The top three winners in each division will receive awards and have their entries displayed on CDFW’s Invasive Species Action Week webpage.

The deadline for art contest entries is May 3. Completed entries and entry forms should be sent to:

CDFW Invasive Species Program
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

The entry form and entries may also be emailed to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

The goal of California Invasive Species Action Week is to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

Action Week activities will include presentations on aquatic and terrestrial invasives, guided outings to observe and assess infested areas, invasive species removal efforts, habitat restoration projects and the announcement of the winners of the youth poster contest. Opportunities for youths and adults to participate or volunteer will be available across the state through participating agencies, organizations and volunteer groups, with information and details to be provided on the Action Week webpage.

Please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest for details about the 2019 contest, to view past winning entries and find more information on how to participate in Action Week.

The mission of CDFW’s Invasive Species Program is to reduce the impacts of invasive species on the wildlands and waterways of California. The program is involved in efforts to prevent the introduction of these species into the state, detect and respond to introductions when they occur and prevent the spread of those species that have established.

###

Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Brusati, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-7866
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988