Category Archives: Endangered Species

California Ivory Ban Now in Effect

Signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. last October, a new law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California is effective as of July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited.

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) continues its active role with our federal partners to end wildlife trafficking, which poses a critical threat to conservation throughout the world,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “This law provides another tool to aid in this effort.”
Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than 5 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.
California has a long history in the legal and illegal trafficking market of ivory within the United States. Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977.
The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.
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Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

June 2016 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

Weekends — Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve. Volunteer-led walks are scheduled every Saturday and Sunday, at 10 a.m. and 1 p.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 fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older. Groups of five or more need to 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 — Guided Wetland Tours, By Reservation, at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley (95948). A wildlife naturalist will lead your group, school or organization on a half-mile route through the diverse wetlands of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. General information includes wildlife identification, behavior patterns and conservation efforts. Your experience can be customized to include requested information. The minimum group size is 18 people. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

Various Days Bat Talk and Walk Events. The Yolo Basin Foundation’s Bat Talk and Walk events run from mid-June through mid-September and begin at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 45211 County Road 32B (Chiles Road), Davis (95617). The cost is $12 for adults, and youths 15 and under are free. For more information and to register, please visit http://yolobasin.org/battalkandwalks2016/.

Various Days Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, turkey, dove, waterfowl and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $10.50 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) will be charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Opens for All Boat-Based Anglers in California on June 1, 2016. For more information please call (800) 662-9825 or visit the Pacific Halibut webpage at http://wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670771-pacific-halibut-regulations.

1 — Environmental Enhancement Fund Request for Proposals Process Begins. Applications for projects are due Aug. 31 by 5 p.m. Details are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/ospr/science/environmental-enhancement-fund/about. Funding will begin no earlier than July 1, 2017 after CDFW reviews, scores and ranks the proposals and they are voted on by the Environmental Enhancement Committee. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/ospr/science/environmental-enhancement-fund or contact Bruce Joab at (916) 322-7561 or bruce.joab@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 — Water Conservation Effort Meeting, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Resource Center for Non Violence, 612 Ocean St., Santa Cruz (95060). CDFW, in collaboration with the Santa Cruz and San Mateo Resource Conservation Districts and the State Water Resources Control Board, is holding a public meeting to address how residents can contribute to water conservation efforts that will help save native fisheries. The streams in this area are home to the last remaining coho salmon populations south of the Golden Gate Bridge. For more information, please contact Andrew Hughan at andrew.hughan@wildlife.ca.gov.

2 — Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., Room 437 of the California State Capitol in Sacramento. For more information, please visit https://wcb.ca.gov/.

2 — Big Game Drawing Deadline. The deadline to submit applications for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep and premium deer tags is June 2. Sales transactions must be completed before midnight. Hunters may apply at a CDFW license agent, CDFW license sales office, online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales or through telephone sales at (800) 565-1458. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/big-game.

2 — Water Conservation Effort Meeting, 6:30 to 8 p.m., Pescadero Native Sons Community Hall, 112 Stage Road, Pescadero (94060). CDFW, in collaboration with the Santa Cruz and San Mateo Resource Conservation Districts and the State Water Resources Control Board, is holding a public meeting to address how residents can contribute to water conservation efforts that will help save native fisheries. The streams in this area are home to the last remaining coho salmon populations south of the Golden Gate Bridge. For more information, please contact Andrew Hughan at andrew.hughan@wildlife.ca.gov.

4-12  —  California Invasive Species Action Week Begins. CDFW) will kick off the third annual California Invasive Species Action Week on  June 4. The goal of Action Week is to promote public awareness of invasive species issues and to encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources. CDFW will be partnering with other departments, agencies, organizations and volunteer programs across California to host more than 45 educational and “action” events including invasive species removals, habitat restoration projects, quagga mussel surveys, field outings, public presentations and youth activities. All events are open to the public, although some require registration. A calendar of events planned for around the state can be found at http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/filehandler.ashx?documentid=123891&inline.

16 — Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from the California-Oregon Border to Horse Mountain. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

16 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Closed for All Boat-based Anglers in California Beginning on June 16. The fishery is expected to reopen on July 1. For the latest information on the season status please call (800) 662-9825 or visit the Pacific Halibut webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut#31670771-pacific-halibut-regulations.

21 — California Fish and Game Commission Tribal Committee Meeting, time to be determined, Bakersfield Elks Lodge #266, 1616 30th St., Bakersfield (93301). For more information, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2016/index.aspx.

22-23 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, time to be determined, Bakersfield Elks Lodge #266, 1616 30th St., Bakersfield (93301). For more information, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2016/index.aspx.

25 — Trout Fest 2016 at the Hot Creek Hatchery, 121 Hot Creek Hatchery Road, Mammoth Lakes (93546). Trout Fest is a free event that introduces youths to the basics of trout fishing. Youths can learn how to tie basic fishing knots, rig a pole, cast, handle trout, and how to clean and cook trout. All equipment is provided and no outside gear is allowed. Fishing is for youths 15 and under. For more information, please e-mail troutfest@wildlife.ca.gov or visit CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

27-29 SHARE Wild Pig Hunts Offered in Southern California. CDFW is accepting applications for semi-guided wild pig hunts on Tejon Ranch in Kern County (93243), which is located 60 miles north of Los Angeles and 30 miles south of Bakersfield. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

30 — Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Closes from the California-Oregon Border to Horse Mountain. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

Media Contact:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

CDFW Rescue Efforts Save Listed Salmon, Steelhead and Sturgeon

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists have rescued hundreds of fish — including dozens of endangered and threatened salmon, steelhead and sturgeon — that were stranded in Sacramento Valley bypasses after recent heavy rains.

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The fish — including endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley spring-run Chinook salmon, threatened Central Valley steelhead and a threatened green sturgeon – were trapped in Fremont and Tisdale Weirs, flood control structures off the Sacramento River, when flood waters receded after mid-March rainstorms.

Rescue efforts began in late March, concluding in mid-April. Seventeen CDFW staff participated in the rescue efforts at the weirs, using beach seines, a sturgeon hoop net, dip nets and crowder racks to capture fish trapped within each weir apron.

The bulk of the rescued fish were salmon, with biologists capturing and tagging 41 adults and 160 juveniles. Based on length-at-date, the young salmon are believed to be a mixture of spring-run and fall-run fish. Staff also rescued one oversized adult green sturgeon, a massive female white sturgeon and hundreds of other fish, including Sacramento sucker, Sacramento pikeminnow, Sacramento splittail, striped bass, smallmouth bass, bluegill and redear sunfish. All of the fish were moved back to the Sacramento River and released.

DNA tests are currently underway on a sampling of the fish rescued. Results will verify biologists’ field assessments that the adult salmon include winter-run and spring-run Chinook.

“We know these areas are prime stranding sites, so we keep them on our radar each year,” said Colin Purdy, CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist. “Rescuing state and federally listed species is a priority — particularly the adult fish, because they contribute to future generations. But all of the fish we pull out of the weir are transported back to the river for release.”

Biologists also used special tracking equipment in an effort to document the behavior and survival of the rescued fish. The green sturgeon, an adult male stranded in the Fremont Weir apron, was tagged with a surgically implanted acoustic tag on March 29 before being released into the Sacramento River. It was subsequently tracked on real-time acoustic receivers heading upstream toward its likely spawning grounds near Red Bluff.  The white sturgeon, a post-spawn female, was rescued from the Tisdale Weir on March 31. It was also given an acoustic tag and was subsequently tracked heading downstream.

Four adult Chinook salmon rescued on April 8 have since been detected moving upstream by real-time acoustic receivers.

All juvenile steelhead rescued were implanted with passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags. Staff from the Pacific States Marine Fisheries oversaw their care and release as part of CDFW’s Central Valley Steelhead Monitoring Program.

CDFW has a team of scientists who monitor locations along the Sacramento River where fish tend to enter the Yolo and Sutter bypasses during high flows and become stranded once flows subside. Initial surveys of the fish stranded in water behind Fremont Weir documented four sturgeon. Only two of these were recovered during rescue efforts. CDFW is seeking information regarding possible illegal harvest or take of these two oversized sturgeon.

If you have information about this or any other fish and wildlife violation, please dial the toll-free CalTIP number, 1 888 334-CALTIP (888 334-2258), 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Anyone with a cell phone may send an anonymous tip to CDFW by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847411 (tip411).

Media Contacts:
Colin Purdy, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 358-2943
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

Salmon Seasons Set for Ocean and Inland Waters

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted recreational ocean and inland salmon season regulations as presented by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) on April 18. Ocean salmon season dates and management measures are set to coincide with the alternatives adopted by the Pacific Fishery Management Council for federal waters off the California coast. Inland river seasons adopted by the Commission are identical to the 2015 seasons with the exception of a reduction in the allowable harvest of Klamath Basin Chinook salmon.

“Reduced fishing opportunity in the ocean and inland areas are a reflection of lower abundance for some California salmon stocks as compared to recent years, likely as a result of extended drought and generally unfavorable ocean conditions for salmon survival,” said Jennifer Simon, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Marine Region Salmon Team. “The 2016 seasons are intended to allow limited fishing opportunity on stocks that can support them while providing increased protection for the most vulnerable of stocks.”

An expected ocean abundance of roughly 300,000 Sacramento River fall Chinook (compared to 650,000 last year) will support recreational and commercial opportunities for ocean salmon fisheries off portions of California and Oregon. A projected return of 151,000 spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest of 24,600 adult Chinook.

The Klamath River fall Chinook ocean abundance forecast of 142,200 adults is substantially lower than recent years and the primary reason for ocean fishery constraints. A projected return of 30,909 natural area spawning adults allows for an inland river recreational harvest quota of 1,110 adult Chinook salmon greater than 22 inches. In 2015 the harvest quota was 14,133.

The resulting bag and possession limits and seasons adopted by the Commission are as follows:

Central Valley Rivers:

Daily limit of two fish per day and a possession limit of four fish. On the American and Feather rivers the general season opener is July 16. On the Sacramento River below Deschutes Road Bridge to the Red Bluff Diversion Dam, the season opens Aug. 1 and closes Dec. 16. From below the Red Bluff Diversion Dam to the Carquinez Bridge, the season opens July 16 and closes Dec. 16. Please see the 2016 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet for openings and closing of specific sections of each river, as well as gear restrictions.

Klamath River:

Daily limit of two fish per day of which only one may be greater than 22 inches, and the possession limit is six fish of which only three may be greater than 22 inches. The Klamath River fall Chinook season opens Aug. 15 and closes Dec. 31, while the Trinity River opens to salmon fishing on Sept. 1 and closes Dec. 31.

Ocean Salmon: 

Ocean salmon recreational fisheries include a daily limit of two adult Chinook salmon with four in possession on land with varying size restrictions depending on the area. Season dates include openings in May, June, July, August and the Labor Day weekend in the Crescent City/Eureka area. Fisheries further south opened on April 2 and will continue through Nov. 13 in the Fort Bragg area, through Oct. 31 in the San Francisco area, through July 15 from Pigeon Point to Point Sur, and through May 31 south of Point Sur. For a more in-depth look at ocean salmon seasons and restrictions, please see  www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon.

Long-running drought conditions, coupled with suboptimal ocean conditions, have raised serious concerns for Sacramento River winter Chinook salmon, which are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act and have experienced very low survival as juveniles in 2014 and 2015. Fisheries south of Point Arena, particularly recreational fisheries in the greater Monterey Bay region, continue to experience late-season reductions in 2016 to minimize interactions with winter Chinook.

Media Contact:
Jennifer Simon, CDFW Salmon Team, (707) 576-2878
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Sacramento River Closure to Go Into Effect April 1

A temporary emergency regulation closing all fishing within 5.5 miles of spawning habitat on the Upper Sacramento River begins on April 1, 2016 and will remain in effect through July 31, 2016. Enhanced protective measures are also proposed in the ocean sport and commercial salmon fisheries regulations for the 2016 season.

The temporary emergency regulation closes all fishing on the 5.5 mile stretch of the Sacramento River from the Highway 44 Bridge where it crosses the Sacramento River upstream to Keswick Dam. The area is currently closed to salmon fishing but was open to trout fishing. The temporary closure will protect critical spawning habitat and eliminate any incidental stress or hooking mortality of winter-run Chinook salmon by anglers.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientists believe the additional protection provided in the emergency river closure and potential ocean fishing restrictions will help avoid a third year of substantial winter-run Chinook salmon loss.

Historically, winter-run Chinook spawned in the upper reaches of Sacramento River tributaries, including the McCloud, Pit, and Little Sacramento rivers. Shasta and Keswick dams now block access to the historic spawning areas. Winter-run Chinook, however, were able to take advantage of cool summer water releases downstream of Keswick Dam. In the 1940s and 1950s, the population recovered, but beginning in 1970, the population experienced a dramatic decline, to a low of approximately 200 spawners by the early 1990s. The run was classified as endangered under the state Endangered Species Act in 1989, and as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act in 1994.

The Fish and Game Commission adopted CDFW’s proposal for the 2016 temporary closure at its regularly scheduled February meeting.

Media Contact:
Jason Roberts, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2131
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944