After Coordination with Local Government, CDFW Lifts Fishing Delay in Alpine County

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham lifted the delay of the trout opener in Alpine County. Beginning May 15, trout season will be open in the county.

The trout season was originally scheduled to open in Alpine County on April 25, 2020. In April, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to the area. Local officials were concerned about the transmission of COVID-19 and its potential to put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses including lodging, dining and camping options were closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders. Thus, CDFW, in consultation with Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar, delayed the opener through May 31, 2020.

However, in a letter last week, Alpine County officials requested that CDFW shorten the delay from May 31 to May 15, indicating that the county was doing a soft opening of restaurants and other facilities and wished for the delay to lift sooner.

This decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

CDFW reminds anglers to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily.

Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

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

May 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers for the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas (Oregon-California State Line to Point Arena). Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Groundfish webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish.

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens. The fishery will be open May 1 to Oct. 31 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

1  Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from Horse Mountain to U.S./Mexico border. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon web page at 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.

1 — Deadline for California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. Youths in grades 2 to 12 can submit entries for the California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme is “Be a Habitat Hero.” Create an original piece showing the actions a “Habitat Hero” can take to protect your community by stopping the spread of invasive species. Examples include: a poster encouraging pet owners not to release pets; a public service announcement on a particular species; a video or brochure with instructions for cleaning your boats, boots or gear. Be creative! All types of media are welcome and encouraged: drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements or campaign posters. Entries must include a completed entry form and be received by May 1. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cisaw.

4 — Archery Only Spring Wild Turkey and Additional Junior Spring Turkey Seasons Open (extending through May 17). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

4 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Wildlife Corridor and Fish Passage, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) Opens. PSN priorities include projects to construct, repair, modify, or remove transportation infrastructure or water resources infrastructure to improve passage for wildlife or fish. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/habitat-enhancement.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Final Agenda for May 20 Board Meeting Released.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Forest Conservation Program, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) closes. PSN priorities include meadow restoration, post-fire habitat recovery and aspen stand restoration as well as acquisitions that protect meadows, migration corridors or habitat connectivity. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/forest.

9 — World Migratory Bird Day Virtual Celebration with Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Celebrate the diversity of birds migrating through Elkhorn Slough Reserve with a naturalist-led exploration, live from the Reserve Visitor Center. Explore avian-themed crafts, games and hands-on activities free to download. To find out more, visit the event calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

11 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the May 15 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

13 — Refugio Beach Oil Spill Virtual Open House to Discuss Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. This online event will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with state and federal representatives from the Refugio Beach Oil Spill Trustee Council to learn more about the restoration projects and provide feedback. The draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan was released on April 22, and can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/ospr/nrda/refugio. If you are interested in attending one of the virtual open houses, please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5071390037067886094.  

13 — Lower American River Conservancy Program Advisory Committee Meeting, 1 p.m., via Skype or teleconference. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Teleconference, time to be determined. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined, teleconference/webinar only. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

15 Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Close South of the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line. All commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line by 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2020. Additional information is available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

15 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program Regulations Anticipated Public Comment Period. CDFW anticipates releasing proposed regulations to assess and respond to risk of marine life entanglement in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on or around May 15, 2020. Rulemaking documents, including information about how to submit public comments and the public hearing date, will be available at wildlife.ca.gov/notices/regulations.

20 California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Skype or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

26 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the June 1 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 817-0434

After Coordination with Local Government, California Department of Fish and Wildlife Delays Trout Season Openers in Three Counties

As requested by county officials, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham delayed the start of the trout opener in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties. The director made this decision in consultation with California Fish and Game Commission President Eric Sklar.

The trout season was scheduled to open in these three counties this Saturday, April 25. The delay to the opener in these counties expires May 31, 2020.

“After talking with the county representatives, we agreed this was a necessary step toward being responsive to local needs in this public health emergency,” said CDFW Director Bonham. “These counties asked for our help, and we responded.”

Specifically this means all waters in these three counties not currently open to fishing will remain closed to fishing until May 31. After local government coordination in Alpine, Inyo and Mono counties, CDFW is also making minor adjustments to bag and possession limits in waters that are currently open for fishing to protect and conserve the existing fisheries that may be affected by increased angling pressure or harvest. These modifications will also expire May 31. Pursuant to the emergency regulation approved by the Commission, CDFW will provide accurate information for the angling public online or by phone at (916) 445-7600.

Today’s decision does not affect the trout season in any other county.

Early this week, CDFW had discussions with county leadership regarding trout fishing, which typically draws a high tourism influx to these counties. Local officials are concerned that people traveling to these areas to fish would exacerbate the transmission of COVID-19 and put a strain on their healthcare systems. Further, all non-essential businesses in these counties including lodging, dining and camping options are closed in compliance with state and local public health officers’ orders.

On April 15, the California Fish and Game Commission authorized CDFW to temporarily delay, suspend or restrict recreational fishing if the director of CDFW, in consultation with the president of the Commission, finds that such action is necessary to protect against the threat from COVID-19 based on state, federal, local, and tribal public health guidance and public safety needs.

At the request of counties or tribes, CDFW will consider action to address needs regarding fishing seasons amongst the COVID-19 pandemic. If you are a county or tribal representative with questions or would like to provide input on potential angling related delays or restrictions, please contact Roger Bloom, Acting Branch Chief, Fisheries Branch, by email at Roger.Bloom@wildlife.ca.gov.

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

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

On the second day of its April remote 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 today’s part of the meeting (see information from yesterday).

The Commission acknowledged robust public participation using remote technology.FGC Logo

“While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

The Commission approved the mammal hunting regulations and increased the number of elk tags in the northwest management unit. This increased hunting opportunity for the state’s hunting public, based on the best-available scientific data, is due to robust elk populations in this part of the state. The recovery of these elk is a great success story in California wildlife conservation.

The Commission approved the waterfowl daily and seasonal limits for ducks and geese for the 2020-21 hunting season. The northern pintail limit will remain at one pintail per day due to the current status of the population. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the models to address the public’s concerns that pintail limits are too low.

The Commission adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of the Shasta snow-wreath may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by CDFW.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW.

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

The full Commission 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 a teleconference scheduled for May 14, 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.

2020-21 Hunting Licenses and Big Game Drawing Applications Now Available

California hunters can now purchase hunting licenses for the 2020-21 season, as well as apply for the Big Game Drawing online. Californians have many options to harvest wild protein, and at this time, the current COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to lead to the closure or delay of any hunting seasons. 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest cover

The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is June 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest, which includes information about hunts, tag quotas, season dates and the Big Game Drawing, can be downloaded online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=178428&inline. Printed copies will be mailed to all those who applied to last year’s Big Game Drawing. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website is the most reliable source for the Big Game Digest.

New this year, per Fish and Game Code, section 3031, a resident or nonresident must be under 16 years of age on July 1, 2020 in order to be eligible for a 2020-21 Junior Hunting License. The previous law, which allowed youth up to 18 years old to purchase a Junior Hunting License, has sunset.

“Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to practice physical distancing,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This means avoiding crowded trails, parking lots and campgrounds. If you find that your favorite hunting spot is crowded, do not risk your health and the health of others. Please remember all seasons, limits, license, private property restrictions, and other laws and regulations still apply. Be smart and stay safe.”

CDFW also wants to remind hunters of the change that went into effect on July 1, 2019 requiring nonlead ammunition when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Nonlead ammunition is now required for all hunting in California.

Due to changes in the penal code regarding the purchase or transfer of ammunition, CDFW recommends purchasing ammunition well in advance of hunting and practicing with it in order to ensure firearms are sighted-in appropriately before heading into the field.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714