Category Archives: Regulations

Lassen County Raptor Poacher Convicted

The largest raptor poaching case in known California history has ended in a conviction in Lassen County, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Richard Parker, 68, of Standish pled guilty to crimes associated with poaching in excess of 150 raptors and other wildlife on his rural Lassen County property. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and given a $75,000 fine and five years of probation. Probation terms include full search authority, prohibitions on possessing firearms, hunting and fishing, and a requirement to obey all laws. The two firearms used during the commission of the crimes were ordered destroyed by the court.

wildlife officers conducting investigation.JPG

In March 2018, wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County received an anonymous tip from someone who reportedly witnessed a man killing a hawk near the town of Standish. The wildlife officer conducted covert surveillance of the suspect, then visited the private property and discovered nine dead raptors. The entire local Lassen/Plumas County Wildlife Officer squad later returned to the property with a search warrant. A search of the home and 80-acre property turned up more than 150 carcasses of protected birds and other wildlife in various states of decay, along with spent rifle casings. Most of the birds were red-tailed hawks, but several other species of hawks, other nongame birds and an owl were found. Four of the birds were migratory ferruginous hawks, which are uncommon in the area. Officers also located two dead bobcats and one taxidermied mountain lion, all of which were suspected to be unlawfully taken.

A CDFW wildlife veterinarian and avian specialist analyzed the first nine carcasses collected. However, investigators sent the majority of the carcasses to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Forensics Laboratory in Ashland, Ore., where wildlife forensic scientists meticulously necropsied 159 samples to determine cause of death. The 400-page necropsy report significantly contributed to the Deputy Attorney General’s ability to effectively prosecute the case.

Dead birds at bottom of roost

 

“We are pleased to work with the California Attorney General’s Office, as well as CDFW’s Office of General Counsel, to put this egregious poacher out of business,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The case came together as a result of collaboration of our local wildlife officers and laboratory and wildlife biology staff from the state and federal governments.”

“Poaching is not a game, it’s a serious crime,” said Attorney General Xavier Becerra. “Richard Parker willfully and egregiously disregarded California law to kill protected wildlife, including hawks. To anyone who breaks our laws for illegal sport, know that we will prosecute and hold you accountable.”

CDFW also expresses appreciation to Lassen County District Attorney Melyssah Rios for her contribution to the monumental effort put forth to bring this case to closure.

The case developed from a tip originating with a member of the public who saw something amiss. Anyone who believes they are witness to unlawful poaching or pollution activity is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258 or send a text with the tip411 app. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with investigations. Callers may remain anonymous, if desired, and a reward can result from successful capture and prosecution.

Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
Lt. Kyle Kroll, CDFW Law Enforcement, (530) 575-5736

 

2019 Recreational Ocean Salmon Fishery to Open Off Much of the California Coast in April

California’s recreational salmon fishery will open in ocean waters on Saturday, April 6 in the Monterey management area, between Pigeon Point (37° 11’ 00” N. latitude) south to the U.S.-Mexico border. In the Fort Bragg and San Francisco management areas, between Horse Mountain (40° 05’ 00” N. latitude) and Pigeon Point, the recreational salmon fishery will open on Saturday, April 13. The Klamath Management Zone (Horse Mountain to the Oregon state line) will remain closed for the month of April. The remaining 2019 season dates will be finalized next month.

At its meeting this week in Vancouver, Wash., the Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) made the decision to open limited sections of the California coast on April 6 and April 13. Returns of Sacramento River fall Chinook and Klamath River fall Chinook in 2018 were insufficient to overcome their “overfished” status this year.

“Continued concerns over the overfished status of Sacramento and Klamath River fall Chinook, as well as protections for threatened and endangered stocks, are expected to limit salmon seasons in certain times and areas this year,” said Kandice Morgenstern, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). “Despite these constraints, we expect California sport anglers to see a greater amount of fishing opportunity overall compared to last year.”

Traditionally, fishing in the Monterey area is better early in the season. Recreational fishing representatives prioritized opening this area ahead of others on the California coast, though it may lead to decisions to close the season earlier in Monterey than in other areas. Delaying the opener in areas to the north should allow for more fishing opportunity there later in the year, when catch rates are typically better.

Final season dates will be decided during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park. The public is invited to comment on the PFMC’s season proposals at that meeting, at a hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26 at the Hampton Inn (1160 Airport Park Blvd.) in Ukiah, or through the PFMC website at www.pcouncil.org.

In April, the minimum size limit in the Fort Bragg management area is 20 inches total length. In the San Francisco and Monterey management areas, the minimum size limit is 24 inches total length.

Anglers are advised to check for updated information when planning a salmon fishing trip. Season dates, bag/possession limit information, and gear restrictions can be found on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon. Public notification of any in-season change to conform state regulations to federal regulations is made through the NMFS ocean salmon hotline at (800) 662-9825.

###

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

 

Public Comment Sought on Statewide Regulation Changes of Trout Season

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will host a series of statewide meetings to inform the public and seek input on the proposed new statewide changes for trout fishing regulations.

“The California Fish and Game Commission directed our department to make the regulations and seasons more simple and easy to understand, while continuing to protect and manage the state’s trout resources,” said Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program Manager. “We look forward to explaining how these new changes came about, and how they could be implemented.”

The meetings will focus on the following key areas:

  • Objectives of the new regulation framework and species management goals
  • Parameters of the regulation standardization and consolidation process
  • Review of specific proposed changes to regulations

CDFW personnel will be available at information stations to answer questions and listen to stakeholder interests, needs and ideas. All stakeholder input will be taken into consideration as a regulation simplification package is developed for formal public review through the California Fish and Game Commission.

Meetings will be held on the following dates:

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Talman Pavilion, Tricounty Fairgrounds, 1234 Fair St., Bishop

Wednesday, March 27, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Redding Library Community Room, 1100 Parkview Ave., Redding

Wednesday, April 3, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Betty Rodriguez Regional Library, 3040 N. Cedar Ave., Fresno

Saturday, April 6, 2019
Noon-2 p.m.
Bass Pro Shops, 7777 Victoria Gardens Lane, Rancho Cucamonga

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Colonial Heights Library Community Room, 4799 Stockton Blvd., Sacramento

Tuesday, April 23, 2019
6-8 p.m.
Truckee-Tahoe Airport Community Room, 10356 Truckee Airport Road, Truckee

More information is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/inland/trout-plan. Meetings are in-person only and no conference line or webcast will be available.

###

Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (916) 445-3777

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8911
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

‘Slightly Improved’ Forecast for California’s 2019 Ocean Salmon Season

California’s 2019 ocean salmon fishing season should be slightly better than last year’s, according to information presented at this week’s annual Salmon Information Meeting held in Santa Rosa by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The ocean abundance projections for Sacramento River fall Chinook (SRFC), a main salmon stock harvested in California waters, is estimated at 379,600 adult salmon, an increase over 2018 forecasts. This may result in increased fishing opportunity in some central coastal areas. The Klamath River fall Chinook (KRFC) abundance forecast of 274,200 adult salmon is lower than 2018 forecast, but still an improvement over low forecast numbers seen in recent years.

“We are cautiously optimistic that the increase in ocean abundance of SRFC will translate into more fishing opportunity this year,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Kandice Morgenstern.

Recreational anglers and commercial salmon trollers at the meeting provided comments and voiced concerns to a panel of fishery managers, scientists and industry representatives. Stakeholder input will be taken into consideration when developing three season alternatives during the March 6-12 Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meeting in Vancouver, Wash. Final ocean salmon seasons will be adopted during the April 9-16 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park.

The PFMC may take a conservative approach when crafting 2019 ocean salmon seasons since both SRFC and KRFC stocks are considered to be overfished under the terms of the federal Salmon Fishery Management Plan due to three years of low spawning escapement. Additionally, persistent concerns over protected Sacramento River winter Chinook and California Coastal Chinook could limit fishing opportunity south of Point Arena and north of Point Sur, respectively.

For more information on the salmon season setting process or general ocean salmon fishing information, please visit the Ocean Salmon Project website or call the ocean salmon hotline at (707) 576-3429.

###

Media Contacts:
Chenchen Shen, CDFW Ocean Salmon Team, (707) 576-2885
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

 

CDFW Seeks Input on 2019 Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Dates

California anglers who are interested in the recreational Pacific Halibut fishery are invited to participate in an online survey. The data gathered through this survey will help inform the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2019 season, and will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The survey can be found online through Friday, Feb. 15, 2019.

The Pacific Halibut fishery takes place off northern California. In 2018, the fishery was open May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15, and Sept. 1-21. The fishery closed Sept. 21 at 11:59 p.m. due to projected attainment of the 30,940 net pound quota. The 2019 quota will be 39,000 net pounds, approximately 8,000 net pounds greater than the 2018 quota.

For more information, please visit the CDFW Pacific Halibut Fishery webpage.

###

Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814

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