Category Archives: Enforcement

Low Salmon Projections Lead to Fisheries Restrictions, Some Closures in 2017

Historically low numbers of fall-run and winter-run Chinook salmon have prompted the California Fish and Game Commission (FGC) to drastically limit the state’s salmon fishery for the remainder of 2017.

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In the Klamath Management Zone, which is the area between the Oregon/California border and Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude), the entire ocean salmon fishery will be closed, as will the fall-run Chinook fishery on both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

Returning stock projections for fall-run Chinook in the Klamath River Basin are the lowest on record. By limiting, and in some cases closing, the fisheries for the remainder of 2017, the FGC hopes to maximize fall- and winter-run Chinook survival and reproduction and support efforts to rebuild the fisheries.

“Closing an entire fishing season is not something that I take lightly, but the survival of the fall-run Chinook in the Klamath and Trinity rivers is at stake,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham. “CDFW and other fisheries management partners agree that these restrictions are necessary to help recover this vital species.”

Inland, spring-run Chinook fishing will still be allowed through Aug. 14 on the Klamath River and through Aug. 31 on the Trinity River. After these dates, both fisheries will close for the remainder of the calendar year. However, the nearby Smith River will remain open for fall-run Chinook, and there are additional opportunities in southern Oregon rivers. During the salmon season closure, steelhead angling will still be allowed in both the Klamath and Trinity rivers.

The ocean salmon season north of Horse Mountain will be completely closed in 2017. All areas south of Horse Mountain opened on April 1 and will remain open, with some restrictions, as follows.

  • In the Fort Bragg area, which extends from Horse Mountain to Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the season will continue through May 31, reopening Aug. 15 and extending through Nov. 12 with a 20-inch minimum size limit for the season. The summer closure in this area is also related to the limited numbers of Klamath River fall-run Chinook.
  • In the San Francisco area, which extends from Point Arena to Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude), the season will close on April 30 under a 24-inch minimum size limit, and reopen on May 15 through Oct. 31 with a 20-inch minimum size limit.
  • In the Monterey area between Pigeon Point and Point Sur (36° 18’ 00” N. latitude), the season will continue through July 15, while areas south of Point Sur will continue through May 31. The minimum size limit south of Pigeon Point will remain 24-inches total length.

Other restrictions for these areas are as follows:

  • The daily bag limit is two salmon per day of any species except coho salmon and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho (also known as silver salmon) is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.
  • For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod may be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling between Horse Mountain and Point Conception.

Shortened ocean salmon seasons in northern California were necessary partly because data show that Klamath River fall-run Chinook are most likely to be caught in ocean areas near the Klamath River mouth, with impacts on this stock decreasing the further south fishing opportunity occurs.

Concerns are also high for endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook, contributing to the decision to shorten ocean fishing seasons in areas south of Pigeon Point. Three consecutive years of low juvenile numbers, coupled with unusually warm and unproductive ocean conditions, led fishery managers and industry representatives to implement protections beyond those required by the Endangered Species Act biological opinion and the federal salmon Fishery Management Plan’s harvest control rule. Fishery data suggest that winter-run Chinook are concentrated south of Pigeon Point, especially south of Point Sur, during the summer and early fall. Ocean fishery closures and size limit restrictions implemented in the Monterey management areas are intended to minimize contact with winter-run Chinook.

Klamath fall-run Chinook are currently classified under the federal plan as “approaching an overfished condition.” Given the poor return of adults to the river the past two years, coupled with returns this fall that are expected to be just as poor or even worse, the stock is expected to be classified as “overfished” in 2018. As a result, CDFW will be working with federal and tribal partners to develop a Rebuilding Plan for Klamath River fall-run Chinook next year.

CDFW and the FGC are tasked with managing the state’s fishery resources to ensure sustainability. Given the stock status, extra precaution is warranted. Every fish counts this year – especially every fish returning to the river to spawn.

Media Contacts:
Karen Mitchell (Klamath and Trinity), CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-0826
Kandice Morgenstern (Ocean Salmon), CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery to Open South of Horse Mountain on April 1

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 1, 2017, from Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S./Mexico border. The recreational salmon fishery north of Horse Mountain will remain closed for all of 2017 due to historically low numbers of Klamath River fall Chinook salmon.

The April 1 opening was set to provide angling opportunity until the remainder of the 2017 salmon seasons are decided next month by the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) during its April 6-11 meeting in Sacramento, and by the Fish and Game Commission at its April 13 teleconference.

The daily bag limit is two Chinook per day and no more than two daily bag limits may be possessed when on land. On a vessel in ocean waters, no person shall possess or bring ashore more than one daily bag limit. For complete ocean salmon regulations in effect during the month of April, please visit the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429.

“Salmon abundance estimates are down this year, which is likely due to California’s recent drought and ocean conditions that were poor for salmon survival. Low forecasts for Klamath River fall run and continued concern over Sacramento River winter run are expected to limit fishing opportunity for the 2017 season,” said CDFW environmental scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

For anglers fishing north of Point Conception (34° 27’ 00” N. latitude), no more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used, and no more than one rod shall be used per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. In addition, barbless circle hooks are required when fishing with bait by any means other than trolling.

Between Horse Mountain and Point Arena (38° 57’ 30” N. latitude), the minimum size limit is 20 inches total length. For areas south of Point Arena, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.

As seasons may close early or be subject to closure periods in 2017, anglers are advised to visit CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage or call the Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline for the latest information on open fishing dates and locations. Many areas are likely to see reduced fishing opportunities this year compared with 2016 due to lower estimates of salmon stocks.

The PFMC is currently considering three alternatives for California’s 2017 commercial and recreational ocean salmon regulations, including season dates and size limits. The public is encouraged to comment on any of the proposed alternatives that can be found on the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

Final sport regulations will be published in the 2017-2018 Supplemental Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, which will be posted online in May at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

CDFW reminds anglers that retention of coho salmon is prohibited in all ocean fisheries.

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

CDFW to Sell Hunting and Fishing Licenses, Answer Questions and More at Fred Hall Shows

Top leaders from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will participate in a discussion panel followed by a question and answer session at the Fred Hall Show underway at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach. The 71st annual show opened today and continues through Sunday.

CDFW will also have a strong presence at two additional Fred Hall Shows scheduled this month — March 10-12 at the Kern County Fairgrounds in Bakersfield and March 23-26 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in San Diego.

At the Long Beach show, CDFW’s Director Charlton H. Bonham, Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries Stafford Lehr, Deputy Director of Law Enforcement Chief David Bess, Marine Region Manager Craig Shuman, Chief of Wildlife Timothy (T.O.) Smith and Chief of Fisheries Kevin Shaffer will provide an overview of current natural resource and conservation topics and take questions from the public on a variety of issues. The panel discussion is scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in the Mammoth Lakes Seminar Theater. Pete Gray, host of “Let’s Talk Hook Up,” will be the moderator.

CDFW will staff booths and answer questions from the public at all three shows. Licenses, tags and report cards will be available for purchase. The new 2017 CDFW Warden Stamp ($5) will also be available. Stamp sales help fund the CDFW’s K-9 program and support purchases of enforcement equipment.

Attendees can learn how to become a wildlife officer by speaking directly with CDFW officers, including statewide recruiting officer Lt. Chris Stoots, at the law enforcement trailer. The trailer features fish and wildlife mounts and a free laser shot game. Attendees can also learn about historic fish-stocking procedures as a restored 1925 Dodge truck used by CDFW for transporting hatchery fish will be on display, along with a modern fish-transporting truck.

Also featured will be information on CDFW’s Fishing in the City and hatchery programs, and a youth fishing pond stocked with rainbow trout provided by the CDFW Mojave River Hatchery. Those who fish for free at the pond will receive a fishing passport book and official fishing passport stamps. CDFW Fishing in the City staff will teach casting skills to young anglers at a stocked bass tank, and bass-fishing professionals will provide tips and demonstrate their fishing skills.

Admission is $17 for adults, $15 for seniors 62 years and older, or $12 for military with ID (available only at the ticket window). Children under age 15 are free.

For more information on all three shows, please visit www.fredhall.com.

Media Contacts:
Carrie Wilson, CDFW Communications, (831) 238-2044
Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

CDFW Officers Recognized for Outstanding Acts and Achievements

Several wildlife officers from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division were recently recognized for exceptional performances. Awards were presented in front of their peers during a CDFW luncheon held in January 2017, in conjunction with CDFW’s annual Advanced Officer Training. Many of the awards are issued directly by CDFW, while others are issued through non-government organizations that support the mission and efforts of CDFW and its officers. At the core of each award are the exemplary efforts and commitment these officers have demonstrated, above and beyond the normal course of their duties.

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The honored officers represent Alameda, Contra Costa, Fresno, Inyo, Kings, Los Angeles, Merced, Modoc, Nevada, Placer, Shasta and Siskiyou counties.

Awards included the following:

CDFW Exemplary Service Award: Medal of Valor – Warden Michael Dilts (Patrol Vessel Coho, Los Angeles County)

In July 2016, Warden Dilts was patrolling in the Seal Beach area near the San Gabriel River, when he was flagged down by two pedestrians who told him that a vehicle was in the river and the female driver still inside. In the front seat of the partially submerged van, Warden Dilts found a woman who was making no attempt to escape. He immediately radioed for additional officer assistance, removed and secured his heavy duty belt and entered the water. Warden Dilts swam to the sinking van, extricated the driver and pulled her back to shore. Thanks to the quick actions and dedication of Warden Dilts, the driver was rescued and the fully submerged van was recovered from the river.

CDFW Regional Wildlife Officer(s) of the Year

The following officers were selected and awarded recognition for exceptional performances within the six CDFW geographical enforcement districts throughout California, with one being elevated to the status of Statewide Wildlife Officer of the Year:  Headquarters, Warden Lyle Chan (Merced); Office of Spill Prevention and Response, Warden Mike Conely (Fresno); Southern Enforcement District, Warden Michele Budish (Los Angeles); Central Enforcement District, Warden Art Golden (Kings); Northern Enforcement District, Warden Jerry Karnow, Jr. (Nevada County and recently retired);  North Coast Enforcement District and Statewide Wildlife Officer of the Year, who was acknowledged in a separate news release, Warden Nicole Kozicki (Contra Costa County).

CDFW Exemplary Service Award: Lifesaving – Warden Chad Edwards (Siskiyou)

In September 2014, an arsonist ignited a brush fire on the outskirts of the town of Weed. The fire spread into town where it burned more than 150 homes and numerous commercial structures in a matter of hours. Warden Edwards heard the radio traffic regarding the fire and immediately responded to the area. He evacuated homes by transporting people in his patrol truck and flagged down other evacuees with empty seats in their cars to shuttle people out. Working through the chaos of the actively burning areas and aerial retardant dump, Warden Edwards made trip after trip into the burning neighborhoods to rescue stranded families, senior citizens and pets. Warden Edwards acted with bravery above and beyond the call of duty. Amazingly, no lives were lost in this fire, due in part to the actions of Warden Edwards.

CDFW Exemplary Service Award: Lifesaving – Warden Aaron Galwey (Shasta)

In July 2016, Warden Galwey was off-duty, fishing from a boat on the Sacramento River with friends, when he saw a woman struggling in the current and calling for help. The woman was holding onto a branch while trying to keep her head above water, and there was an empty raft mangled in the bushes nearby. As he motored towards the woman and the raft, there was an additional capsized vessel with two men clinging to it who had just attempted a rescue, and another man floating upstream. Warden Galwey maneuvered his vessel alongside the panicked woman and pulled her into the boat, while the man upstream made it to the river’s edge and pulled himself from the water. Warden Galwey attached a line to the capsized boat, pulled the two men and their vessel to safety, then went back to pick up the man from the river’s edge and bring him back to his female companion. All four subjects escaped serious injury, thanks to the decisive and rapid actions of Warden Galwey.

Shikar-Safari Club International (SSCI) Wildlife Officer of the Year – Lt. Bill Dailey (Inyo)

Lt. Dailey exhibits the inherent qualities of a leader by modeling professionalism, developing innovative programs, contributing fresh ideas, maintaining a positive attitude, and demonstrating and encouraging commitment. In 2016, Lt. Dailey worked with his squad to develop innovative, proactive public outreach strategies to better connect with the community they serve, increase his squad’s productivity combatting poaching in their districts and to introduce CDFW’s Hunter Education Program into local public schools.

National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) Wildlife Officer of the Year and CDFW Trainer of the Year Award – Warden Adam Kraft (Placer)

Warden Kraft is energetic, enthusiastic and passionate about apprehending poachers. He is known for working extended hours, drafting complex operations and backpacking miles into remote areas to catch violators. In 2016, Warden Kraft led numerous operations resulting in arrests and citations for take out of season, shooting from  vehicles, spotlighting, having a loaded long gun in a vehicle, no license or tag, unlawful possession of wildlife, overlimits of species and delaying an officer/evading arrest. Warden Kraft is dedicated to the Hunter Education Program and regularly participates in training courses. He is a seasoned Field Training Officer, an active instructor at the CDFW law enforcement academy, a firearms and range master and a defensive tactics instructor. He is also an avid outdoorsman and promoter of conservation and the CDFW mission.

Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF), Wildlife Officer of the Year – Warden Brian Gallaher (Modoc)

Warden Gallaher takes a very active role in his community of Alturas. He is skilled at both general public outreach and relationship building, as well as promoting Hunter Education courses. He developed and teaches an archery-focused course for adults and children, which provides a positive learning opportunity and promotes respect for and enjoyment of the outdoors. Warden Gallaher’s notable contribution in 2016 was his successful completion of a significant elk poaching case. Working off of a CalTIP report involving a suspect who allegedly took two bull elk under one legal tag, Warden Gallaher began an investigation which led to a search warrant. Under the warrant, officers discovered electronic and physical evidence including photos, meat and antlers. Warden Gallaher analyzed and compared the evidence to build a strong case. The suspect pled guilty to six poaching charges and was ultimately placed on probation for three years, paid a fine of $4,800, had his hunting license suspended for one year and his gear and elk forfeited.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

CDFW Increases Its Booths and Educational Events at Annual Sportsmen’s Show in Sacramento

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has returned with even greater presence to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento, which began yesterday and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California and marks the 30th year of the event in Sacramento.

CDFW has increased its presence at the ISE show in Sacramento, as its fisheries and wildlife branches now have their own booths adjacent to the main CDFW booth located in the Pavilion Building (space 3700). There will also be a booth providing information on invasive species.

The main CDFW booth is selling all licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps. This provides an enhanced opportunity for department staff to respond to angling and hunting constituents by answering their questions, and discussing programs and available fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. At its main booth, CDFW is selling its current warden stamp, with proceeds from the $5 stamp supporting wildlife officers and K-9 teams and helping fund the purchase of law enforcement equipment.

For the fourth year, CDFW’s leaders will hold a panel discussion about various topics of interest to California hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel is scheduled in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m.  Audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the panel.

Additional CDFW booths and highlights will include:

  • CDFW’s First Trout-Planting Truck — This 1925 Dodge pickup was the first truck used for planting trout. The fish back then were transported in big milk cans! It has been refurbished and will be on display near the Youth Fair Expo Center. The vintage truck still runs and looks as if it just rolled off the showroom floor.
  • Wildlife Officer and Recruitment Trailer with Laser Shot. CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside the Pavilion Building, featuring a taxidermy display and a free, laser-shot hunting simulator game. Wildlife officers, including statewide recruiting Lieutenant Specialist Chris Stoots, will answer questions about employment opportunities. Large-equipment assets used to study, manage and protect California’s wildlife and fisheries, including boats, traps and more, will also be on display.
  • 2017 Hunting Heritage Youth Essay Contest Winner Honored — Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, recently earned the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation, for winning the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest. The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a ceremony Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.
  • A Youth Fair in the Expo Center will feature information on the California Fishing Passport Program, Fishing in the City Program, Hunter Education, Bear Aware Program, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery Interpretive Services Program and feature a Youth Fishing Pond, with trout provided by CDFW.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth. Yearly subscriptions may also be purchased for $15.
  • The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento.  ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $17 for adults and youths under age 16 are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the Cal Expo grounds.

For additional information, schedules and to purchase tickets, please visit the ISE webpage at www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento/.