turkey vulture receiving veterinary treatment for poisoning

CDFW Reminds Veterinarians and Pet Owners to Properly Dispose of Animal Remains

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reaching out to veterinarians and owners of pets and livestock to remind them of the importance of properly disposing of the remains of chemically euthanized animals. CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory has recently confirmed the fourth known incident of secondary pentobarbital poisoning in a turkey vulture from Marin County.

The other three Marin County incidents, dating back to 2014, also involved turkey vultures that were suffering from secondary poisoning after consuming the remains of animals that were euthanized with sodium pentobarbital. CDFW has confirmed similar cases of poisoning in Ventura County in 2017 and Shasta County in 2018, also involving turkey vultures. In 2017, a bald eagle was also poisoned by pentobarbital in Fresno County.

Sodium pentobarbital is commonly used to humanely euthanize domestic animals such as dogs and cats, horses, goats, cattle, poultry and other livestock. The drug is quickly distributed throughout the animals’ body. Secondary poisoning of wildlife occurs when the animal remains are disposed of improperly and scavengers feed on the animal exposing them to the euthanasia drug.

Pentobarbital poisoning of wildlife is entirely preventable. Law requires that animals chemically euthanized with pentobarbital be cremated or buried at least 3 to 4 feet deep to prevent exposing scavenging wildlife to the euthanasia drug. Leaving a euthanized animal unburied in a field or landfill will put wildlife scavengers at risk of poisoning. Proper disposal of animal remains is the responsibility of the animal owner and veterinarian administering the drug.

Wildlife that have ingested pentobarbital-contaminated animal remains may appear dead. They often have no reflex response and breathing may be barely detectible. If treated promptly, turkey vultures have a fair chance of survival. The most recent turkey vulture was successfully treated and released by wildlife rehabilitation staff at WildCare in San Rafael. Unfortunately, given that several turkey vultures may feed on the same animal remains, it is possible additional vultures and other scavengers may have been similarly affected but not recovered.

Incidents and information about possible sources of poisoning may be reported to the CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory by phone at (916) 358-2790, by email at WILab@wildlife.ca.gov or online via the CDFW website.

If grounded birds are observed, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center.

For more information, please see the USFWS Fact Sheet “Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning of Wildlife.”

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Media Contacts:
Krysta Rogers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 531-7647
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714
Alison Hermance, WildCare, (415) 453-1000, ext. 24

 

CDFW fish hatchery planting trucks

CDFW’s Salmon Evacuation Decision Pays Exceptional Dividends

In February 2017, damage to the Oroville Dam’s spillways prompted the evacuation of more than 180,000 people living downstream along the Feather River. The raging muddy waters also triggered an emergency decision to relocate millions of young salmon from the Feather River Hatchery to the Thermalito Annex Hatchery to be raised and held until river water conditions improved. Most, if not all, of the young salmon would have otherwise died when mud from the raging river overwhelmed the hatchery waters.

About 2 million spring run Chinook and 5 million fall run Chinook were evacuated during the two-day flood event. Those fish survived and were later released to the wild – helping fuel a record class salmon harvest in the ocean two years later.

Last year, most of the rescued salmon had matured in the ocean and were ready for their migration home to the Feather River. Their survival helped power strong ocean fisheries with one of the largest commercial catches in decades. According to data collected by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), approximately 272,000 salmon were harvested in the commercial fishery along with a catch of nearly 88,500 in the recreational ocean fishery, while returns to the Feather River basin exceeded 70,000 in 2019.

Ocean fishing activities were an economic stimulus for local communities and industries along the coast and inland. Commercial trollers landed 2.6 million pounds of salmon valued at more than $17.2 million, which was the highest level of harvest since 2013. The Feather River Hatchery was estimated to have contributed one quarter of all commercially harvested salmon and one third of the recreational ocean harvest.

“The return of the salmon released from Feather River Hatchery after the flood event was exceptional,” said Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Acting Chief of the Wildlife Branch. “At several points in the crisis, the majority (if not all) of the young salmon could have been lost. If not for the hard work, ingenuity and dedication of the hatchery employees and staff we could have ended up with nothing.”

The effort to save the young salmon began on Feb. 9 and 10, 2017. More than 60 people from CDFW, the California Department of Water Resources, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries and other agencies worked night and day to successfully transfer more than 5 million Chinook salmon to the Thermalito Annex hatchery facility nine miles away. Fisheries and engineering staff also constructed an emergency filtration system for the remaining salmon and steelhead at the Oroville facility, saving an estimated 1.5 million fall Chinook salmon fry that were too small to move and 1.6 million steelhead eggs which lead to a returning year class of 1,874 steelhead in 2018-19.

On March 20, 2017, the first salmon to be released after the evacuation were 1 million state and federally listed threatened spring-run Chinook salmon. They were released successfully into the Feather River. In all, a total of 2 million spring-run Chinook and 5 million fall-run Chinook were released.

Their work did not go unnoticed. Team members received a letter of appreciation from then-Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, and were later presented with the CDFW Director’s “Team Award” for their ingenuity and dedicated work to save the salmon and steelhead eggs.

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Media Contacts:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169
Jay Rowan, CDFW North Coast Region, (916) 358-2883

 

CDFW Closes License Sales Counters, Visitors Centers to Help Slow Spread of COVID-19

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily closing areas of high public use including visitor centers and license counters to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

While many business functions will continue during this time, some may be temporarily modified. Before heading to a CDFW facility, please contact the regional headquarters office to determine if that facility is open.

Information on purchasing licenses, permits, tags and other entitlements, can be found on the CDFW website.

Outdoor areas will remain open and available for the public to enjoy. CDFW is responsible for over one million acres of public lands that will remain open. These lands include Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves that provide an opportunity to recreate and explore the rich diversity of fish, wildlife and habitats that California has to offer. CDFW recommends that all visitors follow guidance for social distancing (of at least 6 feet) when visiting our public lands. To explore the outdoor opportunities on CDFW public lands, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/Lands.

As the situation continues to change, please check with your local public health agency and adhere to guidance they provide. Please stay healthy and safe.

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

 

Youth Art Contest Celebrates Habitat Heroes

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the seventh annual California Invasive Species Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme, “Be a Habitat Hero,” encourages students to think about what they can do in their own communities to protect against the spread of invasive species.

“Everyone can be a habitat hero by taking small steps to stop invasive species. Helpful steps include choosing native plants for landscaping, not releasing unwanted pets into the wild, reporting invasive species findings and taking precautions to clean, drain and dry gear after recreating in waterbodies,” said Elizabeth Brusati, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Invasive Species Program.

The contest is offered by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of California Invasive Species Action Week, June 6-14.

There are three age divisions for youths in grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. All types of media are welcome and encouraged, including (but not limited to) drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos and public service announcements. Entries should reflect the 2020 theme: “Be a Habitat Hero.”

The top three winners in each division will receive awards and have their entries displayed on CDFW’s Invasive Species Action Week web page.

The deadline for art contest entries is May 1. Completed entries and entry forms should be sent to:

CDFW Invasive Species Program
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090

The entry form and entries may also be emailed to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

The goal of California Invasive Species Action Week is to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

Action Week activities will include presentations on aquatic and terrestrial invasives, guided outings to observe and assess infested areas, invasive species removal efforts, habitat restoration projects and the announcement of the winners of the youth contest. Opportunities for youths and adults to participate or volunteer will be available across the state through participating agencies, organizations and volunteer groups, with information and details to be provided on the Action Week web page.

Visit CDFW online for details about the 2020 contest and information on how to participate in Action Week.

The mission of CDFW’s Invasive Species Program is to reduce the impacts of invasive species on the wildlands and waterways of California. The program is involved in efforts to prevent the introduction of these species into the state, detect and respond to introductions when they occur and prevent the spread of those species that have established.

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Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Brusati, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 376-8657
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

2019 Duck Stamp Art Contest Winners

CDFW Seeks Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites artists to submit their original artwork to the 2020-2021 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. Submissions will be accepted April 27 through May 29.

The contest is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older as of Feb. 27, 2020. Entrants need not reside in California.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2020-2021 California Duck Stamp. The top submissions will also be showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s art show in July.

The artwork must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which for the 2020-2021 hunting season is the canvasback. These fast-flying, diving ducks are the largest of their genus, Aythya, and are characterized by a white back with a reddish-brown neck and head that slopes gently into a long black beak. In California, the canvasback migrates along the Pacific Flyway to wintering grounds on lakes, estuaries and protected bays.

The design is to be in full color and in the medium (or combination of mediums) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design. Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible for entry and will be disqualified. The design must be the contestant’s original hand-drawn creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet.

All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement and entry form. These forms and the official rules are available online at wildlife.ca.gov/duck-stamp/contest.

Entries will be judged in June. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, and art and printing, will choose first, second and third-place winners, as well as honorable mention.

Since 1971, CDFW’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California. In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license. Now California has moved to an automated licensing system and hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field (proof of purchase prints directly onto the license). However, CDFW will still produce the stamps, which can be requested by interested individuals at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 373-8828