Gray Wolf in Fresno County

The GPS-collared gray wolf known as OR-93 continues to travel farther south in California than the collared wolves that have preceded him.

OR-93 has traversed a significant distance since the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced he was in Modoc County in early February. Over the past few weeks, he moved from Mono County, through parts of Tuolumne, Mariposa, Merced and Madera counties. The last collar reading showed the wolf in agricultural areas in central Fresno County.

OR-93 is a young male that dispersed from Oregon’s White River pack, southeast of Mt. Hood. He was fitted with a tracking collar by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs within the White River pack’s territory in June 2020. Like many young wolves, he subsequently left his pack in search of a new territory and/or a mate.

Gray wolves are listed as endangered pursuant to California’s Endangered Species Act (CESA). It is unlawful to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap or capture gray wolves. Anyone who believes they have seen a wolf in California can report it to CDFW at wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf/Sighting-Report.

Though gray wolves are generally much bigger than coyotes, they can sometimes be misidentified. We encourage the public to review this identification page that provides tips for differentiating between wolves, coyotes and dogs. OR-93 also has a purple collar around his neck which should make the animal more identifiable.

Gray wolf management in California is guided by CESA as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. More information is available on CDFW’s wolf webpage at: wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.

Gray wolves pose very little safety risk to humans. CDFW is working to monitor and conserve California’s small wolf population and is collaborating with livestock producers and diverse stakeholders to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts.

CDFW will continue to monitor his whereabouts with the cooperation of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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

Photo courtesy of Austin Smith, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs

California Fish and Game Commission Meets

At its Oct. 14, 2020 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from this week’s meeting.

fish and game commission logo

The Commission adopted changes to the statewide sportfishing regulations to make them more user friendly. The regulation is the culmination of years of work by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife including input from stakeholders to overhaul and simplify these regulations. This effort will result in a 52 percent increase in fishing opportunity in special regulated waters and open up significant opportunities for the remaining inland waters across the state. The regulation is expected to take effect March 1, 2021, after final approval by the Office of Administrative Law.

Recreational and commercial groundfish regulations were adopted for consistency with federal regulations.

Three new wild trout waters were designated as Trout Heritage Waters, while the designation was removed for one section of waterway.

The Commission heard from stakeholders about extending the sunset date on the current recreational red abalone closure, amending recreational take of crab regulations to provide additional whale and turtle protections in the trap fishery, and amending regulations to allow for additional recreational take of sea urchins. The items were discussions only and no action was taken today.

In a unanimous vote, the Commission determined that changing the status the Mohave Desert Tortoise from threatened to endangered under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva – was present. President Sklar announced that former Commissioner Russell Burns recently resigned from the Commission and the seat he vacated is now open.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Dec. 9-10, 2020.

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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

Images of a western snowy plover, a California tiger salamander, a Coho salmon, and a San Joaquin kit fox

New Video Series and Website Help Tell the Story of California’s Vulnerable Species

According to a 2019 United Nations report on species extinction, an estimated one million animal and plant species worldwide are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history. Still, there is plenty we can do to address the challenges facing listed species. Several state and federal natural resource agencies recently partnered to produce a video series and educational website highlighting successful conservation efforts to preserve some of California’s threatened and endangered species.

Saving Species Together, a joint project between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)  Fisheries, illustrates how resource agencies, private landowners, non-profits and citizens have come together to help some of California’s vulnerable species. A half-hour program compiled from the videos will be airing on PBS starting in November as well.

The four listed species to be highlighted by Saving Species Together include:

  • Western snowy plover: Resource managers and volunteers help protect and restore habitat for the western snowy plover at Point Reyes National Seashore and the Mike Thompson Wildlife Area, South Spit Humboldt Bay.
  • Coho salmon: Coho specialists from a timber company, a non-profit and NOAA Fisheries help juvenile Coho salmon in the Eel River Watershed.
  • San Joaquin kit fox: Resource managers, non-profits and a solar company find ways to protect the endangered San Joaquin kit fox in urban environments and on a 26,500-acre preserve in the Central Valley.
  • California tiger salamander: Resource managers, private developers and biological consultants work together to protect the California tiger salamander in native habitat in northern California grasslands.

The SavingSpeciesTogether.org website is hosted by CDFW. It includes the videos, information about the featured species, information on what private landowners and the public can do to help listed species, campaign outreach materials and many other resources.

The videos were produced by Full Frame Productions. The program was funded by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation with community service funds paid by the defendant in a securities fraud case captioned as United States of America v. Wildlife Management, LLC (N.D. California).

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Media Contact:
Bridget Kennedy, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 502-7472

Elkhorn Slough

Celebrate California Biodiversity Day 2020 by Exploring Nature, In Person or Online

California is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with more than 30,000 species of insects, 6,500 plants, 650 birds, 220 mammals, 100 reptiles, 75 amphibians, 70 freshwater fish and 100 species of marine fish and mammals. We celebrate the unique diversity of living things found in our state, and encourage actions to protect them, on California Biodiversity Day, held Sept. 7 of each year. In 2020, the celebration coincides with Labor Day.

Although physical distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 precaution have prevented California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ecological reserves and wildlife areas from planning the “open house” style celebrations that were hosted last year, where large groups of people could gather, CDFW staff across the state have created a roster of ways – both virtual and outdoors – for Californians to explore and learn about the biodiversity found on state lands. A master list of California Biodiversity Day events can be found at https://resources.ca.gov/biodiversityday2020.

This year’s virtual events, self-guided tours and outdoor opportunities lend themselves to physical distancing. The events will be held over the course of a week, from September 5-13, 2020.

A sampling of California Biodiversity Day 2020 events, many of which feature the use of the free iNaturalist app, include the following:

  • Take one of the many self-guided tours available at CDFW properties throughout the state. Use the iNaturalist app to learn and document any plants, animals or other organisms you encounter while exploring CDFW ecological reserves and wildlife areas.
  • Challenge yourself with a self-guided bioblitz at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Contribute observations of organisms spotted while exploring the park between September 5 and 13.
  • Play along in the bioblitz competition between Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Support your favorite park in their quest to log the highest number of bioblitz participants.
  • Play California Biodiversity Bingo! Download the California Academy of Science’s bingo card and see if you can find enough common species in your backyard or neighborhood to make a bingo.
  • Challenge your family to with a bioblitz at the greater Mono Lake area, including Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Canyon. Share what you see, from bird nests to scat samples!
  • Get ideas for kid-friendly activities on the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s website. Learn about ways to engage kids at home in exploring and learning about biodiversity.
  • Venture out on a virtual scavenger hunt at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Walk along the Discovery Trail and try to find as many of the species on the list as you can!

Please visit the website for a full list of events and details.

All proposed in-person activities will take place outdoors and involve minimal contact between participants and any staff present, with a minimum physical distance of 6 feet from individuals from different households observed by all.

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Media Contacts:
Kim Tenggardjaja, CDFW Science Institute, (916) 704-3092
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Valley with winding river and creek surrounded by trees.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Aug. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $25.3 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 26 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $5 million grant to the National Wildlife Federation for the Liberty Canyon Wildlife Overpass Crossing in cooperation with the California Department of Transportation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the California State Coastal Conservancy (SCC), the City of Agoura Hills and the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy to construct a wildlife crossing over U.S. Route 101 to facilitate wildlife migration near Agoura Hills in Los Angeles County.
  • A $350,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with CDFW and California State Parks to complete a suite of planning activities to daylight a storm drain and restore multiple habitat types including arroyo, riparian, intermittent wetlands and coastal sage scrub along the Los Angeles River in Los Angeles County.  
  • A $670,000 grant to American Rivers for a cooperative project with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to restore approximately 140 acres of wet meadow habitat in the Pine Creek watershed, located on USFS’s Lassen National Forest approximately 30 miles northwest of Susanville in Lassen County.
  • A $700,000 grant to California State Parks for a cooperative planning project with the California Tahoe Conservancy to complete plans, designs and permits for pier replacement and recreation access improvements at Kings Beach State Recreation Area, located 10 miles northeast of Tahoe City in Placer County.
  • A $700,000 grant to Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District for a cooperative project with SCC and the California Natural Resources Agency to acquire approximately 341 acres of land for the protection of coastal dunes, Sitka spruce and beach pine forest habitats in order to promote the recovery of threatened and endangered species, and provide future wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities in the community of Samoa in Humboldt County.
  • A $4 million grant to the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Agency (SCVHA) and the acceptance of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition grants with the approval to subgrant these federal funds to SCVHA to acquire approximately 1,741 acres of land for the protection and preservation of existing regional wildlife linkages and special status species occurrences, as well as rare serpentine bunchgrass plant communities, grasslands, oak woodlands, and pond and riparian habitat areas within the Santa Clara Valley Habitat Conservation Plan/Natural Community Conservation Plan, located west of U.S. Route 101 in Santa Clara County.
  • A $1.08 million grant to SCC for a cooperative project with the Huntington Beach Wetlands Conservancy to acquire approximately 44 acres of land for the protection of nesting and foraging habitat for state-listed Belding’s Savannah sparrow and foraging habitat for California least tern and other sensitive species located in Huntington Beach in Orange County.
  • A $3.5 million grant to The Nature Conservancy for the acquisition in fee of approximately 3,148 acres for the protection of deer, mountain lion and special status species habitat, and to increase protection of regional wildlife habitat corridors in the Tehachapi Mountain Range located near Bakersfield in Kern County.

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

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, Wildlife Conservation Board, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Photo credit: Confluence Meadow by Dave Lass, Trout Unlimited