California Fish and Game Commission Meets in San Diego

At its October 9-10, 2019 meeting in San Diego County, the California Fish and Game Commission discussed and took action on several items that relate to California’s natural resources.

The Commissioners unanimously adopted regulations to issue experimental fishing permits to support sustainable fisheries and promote innovation in California. The new regulations allow experimental fishing permits to be issued to those fishermen who participated in the 2018 box crab experimental gear permit program. Next year, the Commission will consider adopting regulations to establish an experimental fishing permit program.

The Herring Fishery Management Plan (FMP), and accompanying Pacific Herring regulations, were also unanimously adopted. The FMP formalizes Pacific Herring management strategies that are responsive to environmental and socioeconomic changes while also preserving the sustainability of the fishery within the context of the entire ecosystem. Among other changes, the regulations establish a recreational bag limit for Herring and allow for the regulation of the commercial Herring fishery under the Herring FMP.

The Commission also evaluated and discussed a state water bottom lease application from the Malibu Oyster Company, which is proposing to locate a shellfish aquaculture operation in Santa Monica Bay, approximately a mile offshore in Malibu. Preliminary considerations for the Commission included previous leases or uses of the site granted by State Lands Commission (of which there were none) and whether there were any known water quality issues (there were none at this time). Additional assessment of environmental impacts and public concerns still lie ahead. The Commission unanimously voted to allow the proposal to move forward for environmental review, tribal notification and public noticing. The proposal is still in the early stages of review and must gain many additional levels of approval, including from the Coastal Commission, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other agencies, before the project comes to fruition.

All members of the Commission were present at the meeting, including President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioners Russell Burns, Samantha Murray and Peter Silva.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

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

October 2019 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

Various Days — Guided Wetland Tours, By Reservation, at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley (95948). A wildlife naturalist will lead any 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. The 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 — Ecological Reserve Tours at Elkhorn Slough, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Naturalists lead walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 11 a.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 permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased onsite). Groups of five or more should please 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 — General Bear Season Opening in Select Deer Zones. General bear season opens concurrently with general deer season in the A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 zones. Current bear hunting regulations, in-season updates and general black bear information can be viewed at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadlines for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, deer, bear, turkey, dove and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. An $11.88 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

First through Third Saturdays and Sundays of the Month — Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, 7730 W. Woodbridge Road, Lodi (95242). Online registration has begun for those wishing to participate in these guided tours, which run October through February. Registration is available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour. A one-day Lands Pass must be purchased to attend and instructions are available on the same website. Tours fill fast and registration may be done as much as six weeks in advance. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour.

Weekends Beginning Oct. 19 — Guided Wildlife Tours at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 12:30 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Rd., Gridley (95948). The 90-minute walking tour covers slightly more than a half mile through this premier birding spot that highlights migratory waterfowl and other wetland wildlife. Tours are canceled in heavy rain. This land is part of the CDFW Lands Pass Program and associated fee-for-use requirement. For more information on the Lands Pass Program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands-pass. There is no additional cost for the tour. Tour tickets online: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/wildlife-viewing-on-the-gray-lodge-wildlife-area-butte-co-tickets-72324329015?aff=erelexpmlt. Walk-ons welcome. For tours/general information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

2 — California Spiny Lobster Commercial Fishing Season Opens Statewide. For more information regarding lobster and lobster management, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.

5 — Wetland Wildlife Identification Workshop at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Rd, Gridley (95948). Wetland birds and plants will be the focus of this walking tour, though a variety of wildlife will be present. Information will include identification, behavior, habitat requirements and viewing equipment use. Reservations are required. This land is part of the CDFW Lands Pass Program and associated fee-for-use requirement. For more information on the Lands Pass Program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands-pass. For more information on the tour, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

5 — Native Plant Sale, 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve, 14715 State Highway 94, Jamul (91935). Join the Earth Discovery Institute (EDI) for the annual Native Plant Sale. This is an opportunity to learn about native plant gardening and to purchase trees, drought tolerant shrubs, and fragrant and flowering pollinator attracting plants. A wide array of plants that are native to Southern California and water wise will be available, and a consortium of gardeners and horticulturists will be on hand to answer questions and help you pick the perfect plants for your property. You can find a plant list on EDI’s website: http://earthdiscovery.org.

5 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Northeastern Waterfowl Zone. For more information about regulations, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

5 — General Deer Season Opens in Zones D19, X1, X2, X3a, X3b, X4, X5a, X5b, X6a, X6b, X7a and X7b. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

5-6 — Early Season Junior Hunt for Quail in the Mojave National Preserve. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit Upland Game Bird Hunting Regulations.

5-6 — Fall Fish Festival, Taylor Creek Visitor Center, 35 Visitor Center Road, South Lake Tahoe (96150), 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., both days. The festival encourages participation by youths and their parents in a variety of educational and entertaining activities. For more information, please visit https://tahoesouth.com/events/fall-fish-fest-kokanee-salmon-festival-at-taylor-creek-visitor-center.

8 — California Fish and Game Commission Tribal Committee Meeting, start time to be determined, Rincon Government Center, One Government Center Lane, Valley Center (92082). For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.

8 — Conservation and Mitigation Banking Program Stakeholder Meeting for Northern California, 1 to 4 p.m., Stanford Room, 650 Capitol Mall, Sacramento (95814). A public meeting to provide an opportunity for attendees to discuss their experience using the current Bank Enabling Instrument (BEI) and Conservation Easement (CE) templates, and to discuss other bank topics in a forum with the agencies’ banking staff and decision-makers. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov or contact mitbank@wildlife.ca.gov.

9-10 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, begins at 9 a.m. both days, Rincon Government Center, One Government Center Lane, Valley Center (92082). For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2019.

9 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1 to 3 p.m., “The ecology and conservation of ungulate migrations in the American West,” presented by Arthur Middleton, Ph.D. In recent years, wildlife ecologists have made major strides in understanding how ungulate migrations evolve, why they are important, and what causes them to decline. At the same time, storytellers have been using advances in digital photography and videography to increase interest in wildlife migrations amongst the general public and policymakers. This talk will review major science and policy developments with insights and case studies from the diverse migratory ungulates of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, where Arthur Middleton and his group at UC Berkeley have done much of their work on the topic. Attendance is free. To register or learn more, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.

12 — Elkhorn Slough Reserve Teachers on the Reserve Workshop, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The workshop introduces teachers to the reserve and the education field trip program. The workshop is free and continuing Education Units will be available. To register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development and for more information, please contact Virginia Guhin at virginia.guhin@wildlife.ca.gov.

12 — General Bear Season Opens in the Remaining X Zones. General bear season opens for the remaining deer hunting X zones. The general bear season will remain open until Dec. 29, or until CDFW determines that 1,700 bears have been taken. CDFW reminds successful hunters to have their tag validated and a tooth extracted from the skull of their bear. Current bear hunting regulations, in-season updates and general black bear information can be viewed at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear.

12 — General Deer Season Opens in Zones D11, D13, D14, D15 and D17. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

12 — Archery-only Pheasant Season Opens and Extends Through Nov. 3. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit Upland Game Bird Hunting Regulations.

13 — Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve Canyoneer Hike, Grasslands Loop. 3 to 7 p.m., 14715 State Highway 94, Jamul (91935). Canyoneers have special permission to hike this 5600-acre CDFW ecological reserve. View sage scrub and riparian environments and hear about efforts to convert grasslands to native habitat. The ruins of a historic brick-making kiln will also be visited. This is an intermediate 5-mile hike with an elevation gain/loss of up to 1,000 feet. For more information, please call (619) 468-9125 or email tracie.nelson@wildlife.ca.gov.

15 — Tour Leader Workshop at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Rd, Gridley (95948). The free workshop will focus on developing leaders in nature study for the Tuesday morning, “Wildlife Ramble” and “Exploring the Wetlands” youth education programs. Reservations are required. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

18 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Colorado River Waterfowl Zone. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

19 — General Season for All Quail Opens in Zone Q1 and Zone Q3 (extending through Jan. 26, 2020). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

19 — General Snipe Season Opens Statewide (extending through Feb. 2, 2020). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

19 — General Chukar Season Opens Statewide (extending through Jan. 26, 2020). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

19 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California Waterfowl Zones. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

19 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone X9c. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

23 — California Northern Spotted Owl Stakeholder Forum, 8:45 a.m. to 5 p.m., 5550 Skylane Blvd., Suite A, Santa Rosa (95403). The California Northern Spotted Owl Stakeholder Forum is a meeting that allows agencies, nongovernmental organizations, researchers, landowners, timber companies and other interested parties to share information surrounding northern spotted owl management and conservation efforts in California. Participants may attend in-person or via webinar and reservations are not required. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/timber/nso-forum.  

26 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone D16. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

31  Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. Recreational ocean salmon fishing closes statewide. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

 

Recreational Spiny Lobster Season to Open Sept. 28

Thousands of lobster divers and hoop netters are eagerly awaiting the start of the sport season for California’s spiny lobster, which opens at 6 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 28 and continues through March 18, 2020.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jenny Hofmeister, last season was an exceptionally plentiful year. “There was a 16 percent increase in reported recreational catch compared to the previous season,” Hofmeister said. “You might think this is due to more fishing effort, but the average number of lobsters caught per trip increased, too.”

A lobster report card is required for all persons fishing for lobster. Individuals who are 16 years or older must also possess a valid sport fishing license and ocean enhancement stamp in order to take lobster south of Point Arguello. Any person using hoop nets from a public pier and children who are under 16 and fishing for lobster do not need a license but must possess a valid lobster report card.

A typical legal-size spiny lobster will average about one pound in weight. Occasionally divers and hoop netters will find lobsters over five pounds (considered trophy size) in California waters. Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3 1/4 inches in length and are measured in a straight line on the midline of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. The daily bag and possession limit is seven lobsters.

Lobster can be taken with hoop nets and by hand only when skin or SCUBA diving. No appliance (such as fish spears or poles) may be used to assist. No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by a person when taking spiny lobster or crab (or two hoop nets on piers, jetties and other shore-based structures), and no more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed aboard a vessel, regardless of how many fishers are onboard.

CDFW marine biologists suggest using an oily or aromatic bait to dispense a scent trail that nearby lobsters will follow back to the net. Squid, Pacific mackerel, bonito, anchovies and sardines may serve as good bait. A bait container will help prevent the loss of bait to fish or other large predators such as seals and sea lions.

Because lobsters are strong and have hair-trigger responses when they sense predators, the best strategy for divers is usually to grab or pin them to the bottom by their body, rather than grabbing it by a leg or antennae which will likely tear off. Although lobsters can regenerate lost limbs, marine biologists have found that these lobsters ultimately produce fewer offspring because of the energy requirements for limb regeneration.

All individuals must have a Spiny Lobster Report Card in possession while fishing or taking lobster. When finished fishing or changing locations, fishers must immediately record the number of lobster taken from that location. Lobster report cards must be returned or submitted online to CDFW at the end of each season by April 30, regardless of whether the card was used or any lobster were caught. Fishers who fill up a report card can turn in their card and purchase another. Failure to submit an accurate report card by the deadline will result in a nonreporting fee that is charged when you purchase a report card next season.

“Each year we only get about 50 percent of lobster report card holders reporting their catch. Our goal is to get as close to 100 percent as possible,” Hofmeister said. “Data from these report cards allow us to determine if catch is increasing or decreasing, the number of lobsters caught per fishing trip, and which gear type is the most efficient. All these pieces of information help managers monitor the population. Everyone benefits from reporting your catch on time. Lobster divers and hoop netters avoid paying the non-return fee, and, more importantly, CDFW scientists can ensure the fishery remains sustainable.”

Lobster fishers should consult the Marine Protected Area maps for the California coastline to ensure they are not fishing in prohibited waters.

The complete spiny lobster regulations are contained in the 2019-2020 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, found on CDFW’s website and wherever fishing licenses are sold. A lobster fishing FAQ and other biological information specific to California’s spiny lobster can also be found on the CDFW website.

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Media Contacts:
Jenny Hofmeister, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Paiute Cutthroat Trout Reintroduced to Native Habitat in High Sierra Wilderness

California’s native Paiute cutthroat trout, the rarest trout in North America, swims once again in its high Sierra home waters for the first time in more than 100 years.

California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham and representatives from the USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Golden Gate Chapter of Trout Unlimited and Little Antelope Pack Station joined biologists to release 30 Paiute cutthroat trout of varying sizes into Silver King Creek in Alpine County, Calif., Sept. 18, 2019.

“You’ve got to celebrate good times. That’s what we’re doing here today,” said CDFW’s Bonham from the banks of Silver King Creek within the remote Carson-Iceberg Wilderness area of the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. “If you forget to celebrate, you’re overlooking a remarkable success story – bringing these fish back home and celebrating a better California.”

Not since the early 1900s have genetically pure Paiute cutthroat trout occupied the 11-mile stretch of Silver King Creek between Llewellyn Falls and Snodgrass Creek that represents almost the entirety of the fish’s historic range.

“This is a lifetime achievement for those working to recover the rarest trout in North America,” said Lee Ann Carranza, acting field supervisor for the USFWS Reno office. “This remarkable partnership has allowed Paiute cutthroat trout to be returned to their entire native range without threat from non-natives.”

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The Paiute cutthroat trout was one of the first animals in the nation listed as endangered in 1967 under the federal Endangered Species Preservation Act of 1966, now known as the Endangered Species Act. In 1975, the species was downlisted to federally threatened to allow for a special rule that would facilitate management of the species by the State of California.

A small native range, habitat degraded by historic sheep and cattle grazing, and competition from and hybridization with non-native trout introduced into Silver King Creek threatened the species with extinction.

Only a fortuitous turn of events saved the species from disappearing altogether. In the early 1900s, Basque sheepherders moved some of the fish outside of their native range, upstream of Llewellyn Falls. The waterfalls served as a barrier to the non-native trout below and safeguarded a genetically pure population of Paiute cutthroat trout above the falls, providing government agencies and advocates the chance to recover the species in the future.

Efforts to save and restore the species have spanned several decades and involved removing non-native fish and restocking Paiute cutthroat trout from source populations.  Recreational fishing was closed within the Silver King Creek drainage in 1934. Later, grazing allotments were administratively closed so habitat could be restored.

At one time, only two small tributaries above Llewellyn Falls held genetically pure Paiute cutthroat trout. CDFW, the Forest Service and USFWS transferred some of these fish to other fishless, protected streams within the Silver King Creek watershed as well as four watersheds outside of the basin to create additional refuge populations to stave off extinction.

The effort to reintroduce Paiute cutthroat trout back into their historic home – the 11-mile main reach of Silver King Creek – began in 1994 when CDFW biologists explored Silver King Canyon and identified a series of waterfalls that served as historic barriers to upstream fish migration, isolating the Paiute cutthroat trout. The barriers could once again insulate Paiute cutthroat trout from encroachment from non-native trout if the non-native trout in Silver King Creek could be removed.

Wildlife officials prevailed over a decade of legal challenges to treat Silver King Creek and its tributaries with rotenone, a natural fish poison, to eliminate non-native trout and prepare Silver King Creek for the eventual return of Paiute cutthroats.

Silver King Creek and its tributaries were chemically treated from 2013 to 2015. State and federal partners monitored the creek for three years following the treatment to make sure all non-native fish were removed. Wildfires, floods and drought over the decades further complicated recovery efforts.

“The commitment of Forest Service, CDFW, USFWS, Lahontan Regional Water Quality Control Board, Trout Unlimited Golden Gate Chapter and Little Antelope Pack Station to move this project forward in the face of numerous challenges has been incredible,” said Bill Dunkelberger, Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest supervisor. “A project of this magnitude that took over several decades could not have been completed without state, federal and other partners working tirelessly together.”

The fish reintroduced into Silver King Creek on the afternoon of Sept. 18 were collected that morning from a source population in Coyote Valley Creek about 2 miles away and transported by mules to the banks of Silver King Creek. The fish were deposited into buckets filled with water from Silver King Creek to acclimate for several minutes before being released among cheers and applause – and a few tears – by biologists and others, some of whom have spent decades working toward the historic homecoming.

Restoring Paiute cutthroat trout to their native Silver King Creek nearly doubles the amount of habitat available to the fish and is considered key to their long-term survival and potential delisting.

Monitoring of the reintroduced fish and additional restocking of Paiute cutthroat trout into Silver King Creek from other refuge populations is planned in future years to aid genetic diversity and introduce different age classes into the creek to help natural reproduction.

Photos and video of the Sept. 18 reintroduction are available here: ftp://ftp.wildlife.ca.gov/OCEO/Paiute%20Cutthroat%20Trout/

sturgeon tag

Angling for a Big Sturgeon? Keep an Eye Out for a Reward Tag!

Tags, Report Cards are Important Data Collection Tools for Biologists

Every year, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) scientists rely on help from California anglers in order to monitor and manage our White Sturgeon population. White sturgeon anglers who are already familiar with the requirement to purchase an annual Sturgeon Report Card know that by Jan. 31 of the following year, they must return their card (by mail) or report their card information (online). Anglers must report even if no sturgeon were caught or if the angler did not go sturgeon fishing. Card data are extremely valuable, providing fisheries scientists with information about seasonal and geographic catch and harvest along with a measure of fishing effort.

But anglers should also be on the lookout for White Sturgeon carrying a disc tag. Every year between August and October, CDFW fisheries biologists conduct a survey of White Sturgeon. Fish are captured by net, counted and measured. A small plastic disc tag is affixed to White Sturgeon that are between approximately 3-6 feet in length. The tag is placed at the base of the dorsal fin (see photo), and the sturgeon is then released. Information collected from returned disc tags allows CDFW fisheries staff to produce more accurate population metrics.

CDFW currently offers rewards of $50, $100 or $150 per disc tag, although older fish with a $20 tag are sometimes caught. Tags must be physically returned to CDFW to be counted and the reward claimed; photographs cannot be accepted. However, the tags will be returned to the angler upon request. Anglers will also receive a commendation card with information about the fish, along with the specified reward amount.

Anglers can submit reward disc tags by filling out CDFW’s fish tag recovery form and mailing it to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Sportfish Unit
2109 Arch-Airport Road, Suite 100
Stockton, CA 95206

Please make a note on the form if you would like the tag returned to you.

Anglers can also report Sturgeon Report Card information online or return the cards by mail to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Sturgeon Fishing Report Card
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento CA 94244-2090

CDFW reminds all anglers that no White Sturgeon larger than 68 inches, and no Green Sturgeon of any size, should be removed from the water. CDFW appreciates anglers’ assistance in managing California’s White Sturgeon population.

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Media Contacts:
Jason DuBois, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (209) 234-3668

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988