Wildlife Officers Shut Down Illegal Cannabis Grows on CDFW Property

Trash, poached deer and numerous environmental violations discovered

In October, wildlife officers at the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) shut down several illegal cannabis grows in Kern and Tehama counties. The properties are owned by CDFW and set aside as protected wildlife habitat.

Support for the different missions was provided by several entities, including the California Department of Justice, the National Guard, the Kern County Sheriff’s Office and the Tehama County Sheriff’s Office.

In Kern County, wildlife officers eradicated nearly 10,000 illegal cannabis plants. One grow was discovered on the Allensworth Ecological Reserve with approximately 509 plants. Four subjects were arrested for felony cultivation, conspiracy, possession of methamphetamine, possession of a stolen firearm and numerous environmental violations. During the course of that investigation, officers located and eradicated another two plots adjacent to the ecological reserve with another 6,799 plants.

A third illegal grow site was discovered on CDFW land in western Kern County. Approximately 2,270 plants were eradicated and six search warrants were served all within a quarter mile of each other. There were no suspects at the locations.

“Sadly, discovering thousands of illegal plants on CDFW property demonstrates the extent those involved in illegal cultivation will go to grow their product,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Those individuals engaged in this egregious behavior have no respect for the unique species of plants and wildlife that depend on these protected areas to live and thrive.”

In Tehama County, an illegal grow was discovered along Antelope Creek in the Tehama Wildlife Area. Approximately 2,500 fully budded plants were eradicated and nearly 250 lbs. of processed cannabis was seized. Evidence of a poached deer was also discovered. No suspects were onsite or arrested. Each property contained numerous environmental violations including litter, pollution, habitat destruction, illegal water diversions, alteration of a streambed, sediment discharge and other serious environmental crimes.

All these illegal cannabis grows were located in counties with sensitive wildlife habitat which are home to several important species of plants, birds, mammals and fish found nowhere else in the world.

CDFW encourages the public to report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or texting information to “TIP411” (847411).


Media Contact:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891



CDFW Director Issues Preliminary Determination to Delay Commercial Dungeness Crab Season South of Mendocino/Sonoma County Line

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has issued a preliminary determination that the Nov. 15, 2019 start date for the California Dungeness crab fishery south of the Mendocino/Sonoma county line poses a significant risk of marine life entanglement. The anticipated management response is a delay of the opening of the commercial Dungeness crab fishery in that area from Nov. 15 to Nov. 23, 2019.

Under the authority of section 8276.1(c)(1) of the Fish and Game Code, the Director may restrict take of commercial Dungeness crab if there is a significant risk of marine life entanglement due to fishing gear. As required in Fish and Game Code, section 8276.1(c)(4), the Director is providing 48 hours’ notice to the California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group and other stakeholders.

“In making this determination, we considered the input of the Working Group and its advisors through a structured decision-making process in which diverse interests were represented including fishing, environmental and management agencies,” said Director Bonham.

Before enacting the proposed management measure, Director Bonham will consider any recommendations or new information provided by 5 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 4, 2019. Anyone with recommendations and information related to this preliminary determination should submit it to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov by that deadline.

In addition to this preliminary determination of delay due to a significant risk of whale entanglements, additional delays are possible due to human health risks or poor crab quality. Through the course of the crab season, CDFW will engage regularly with the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group to review scientific information and monitor and adapt to the risk of whale entanglements. Based on that process, CDFW could take future management actions. For more information related to the preliminary determination of delay please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.


Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2877

November 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 catered 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). Volunteers lead walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.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 — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, waterfowl, turkey, dove and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. An $11.88 non-refundable application fee is 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 guided tours, which run October through February. 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. To register or for more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour.

Weekends — Guided Wildlife Tours at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 12:30 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Road, 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. No reservations are necessary for groups of less than 20 people. This land is part of the CDFW Lands Pass Program and associated fee-for-use requirement. There is no additional cost for the tour. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 — Last Day of Recreational Crab Trap Ban in Ocean Waters, Statewide. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/marine/calendar.

1 — First Day of No Depth Limit for Recreational Boat-Based Groundfish Fishing, California-Oregon Stateline to Point Arena. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/marine/calendar.

2 — First Day of Recreational Dungeness Crab Season, Statewide. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/marine/calendar.

2 — Scaup Season Opens in the Colorado River Zone (extends through Jan. 26). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

2 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone D12. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

3 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D3–D7, D17, D19. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

4Nimbus Hatchery Fish Ladder Opens, 10:30 a.m., Nimbus Hatchery, 2001 Nimbus Road, Rancho Cordova (95670). The opening of the fish ladder signals the start of the spawning season for Chinook salmon on the American River.  Throughout the fall, the public can view the ladder and the spawning operations at the Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center. The hatchery is open daily, 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. on weekends, free of charge. For more information, please contact Laura Drath at (916) 358-2884 or laura.drath@wildlife.ca.gov or visit www.facebook.com/NimbusHatchery.

4 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1 to 3 p.m., “CNDDB Looks at 40: The Past, Present, and Future of the California Natural Diversity Database Program,” presented by Misty Nelson, CDFW. CNDDB Lead Scientist Misty Nelson will present an overview of the rich history of the California Natural Diversity Database program, highlighting milestones and accomplishments from the past 40 years. She will also examine some of the challenges associated with managing data for the most biodiverse state in the U.S. and will discuss upcoming changes and opportunities to keep the program relevant and regarded for decades to come. Attendance is free. To register or learn more, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.

5 — California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined, Natural Resources Building, 12th Floor Conference Room, Room 1206, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). For more information, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.

6Humboldt County Office of Education (HCOE) Classroom Aquarium Education Program (CAEP) Teacher Training, 4 to 8 p.m., Humboldt County Office of Education ANNEX Boardroom, 901 Myrtle Ave., Eureka (95501). Any teacher who wants to participate in CAEP and/or is co-teaching with another and will be sharing the CAEP experience must attend this training. If you have participated before, but it has been more than three years, and/or you did not participate in the training held in 2017, you will need to attend this training. A light dinner will be served. For more information, please contact Beth Chaton at (707) 445-7179 or at bchaton@HCOE.org. Register at https://my.hcoe.net/event/classroom-aquarium-education-program

6 — Canada Goose Season Opens in the North Coast Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — Scaup Season Opens in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and Balance of State Zones (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — White Goose Season Opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

8 — Brant Season Opens in the Northern Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 14). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

9 — Elkhorn Slough Reserve Aquatic Wild workshop, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). A one-day workshop for K-6th grade teachers which dives into the Aquatic Wild curriculum through hands-on activities. Aquatic Wild Curriculum supports the State Science Standards, emphasizes outdoor learning and connects to other academic disciplines. To register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/new-aquatic-wild-teacher-workshop.

9 — Stanislaus River Salmon Festival, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Knights Ferry Recreation Area, 17968 Covered Bridge Rd., Knights Ferry (95361). Free, family-friendly festival with hands on activities for kids. Come out and see the Stanislaus River Salmon and meet people working to make the river a better place for fish. For more information, please visit www.facebook.com/srsfest or call (209) 403-1046.

9 — Brant Season Opens in the Balance of State Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 15). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

9 — Pheasant, Fall Wild Turkey and Late Season Dove OpenersGeneral Pheasant Season Opens Statewide and Extends through Dec. 22; Fall Wild Turkey Season Opens Statewide and Extends Through Dec. 8; and Late Season Dove Hunting Opens Statewide and Extends Through Dec. 23.  For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

10 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D11, D13–D15, X9c. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

12Free Online Cannabis Permitting Workshop, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. CDFW, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Water Resources Control Board are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop. The workshop is ideal for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivation. The online workshop is limited to 200 participants, so early registration is recommended. For registration details, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/cannabis/events.

15 — First Day of Commercial Dungeness Crab Season, South of Sonoma-Mendocino County Line (scheduled). For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/marine/calendar.

15 — 2020 Sport Fishing Licenses Available. The 2020 sport fishing licenses become available at various sites. For more information or to purchase a license online, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing.

19 — Conservation and Mitigation Banking Program Stakeholder Meeting for Southern California, 1 to 4 p.m., USFWS Conference Room, 2177 Salk Ave., Carlsbad (92008). A public meeting providing an opportunity for attendees to discuss their experience using the current Bank Enabling Instrument and Conservation Easement templates, and to discuss other bank topics in a forum with the agencies’ banking staff and decision makers. For more information contact mitbank@wildlife.ca.gov, or visit www.spd.usace.army.mil/missions/regulatory/public-notices-and-references/article/1955249/public-meetings-to-discuss-mitigation-banking-templates.

21 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., Natural Resources Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). The public is welcome. For more information, please visit www.wcb.ca.gov.

24 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D12, D16. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.


Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Free Online Cannabis Permitting Workshop Nov. 12

Virtual Forum Answers Common Questions About Commercial Cannabis Licensing

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop.

“This online workshop allows cultivators to learn more about the regulatory requirements of commercial cannabis cultivation from a location of their choice,” said Jennifer Nguyen, CDFW’s Acting Cannabis Program Director. “There is no better time to understand more about state compliance, reducing environmental impacts and setting up your grow for success.”

The free workshop is ideal for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators. Those interested in attending can follow the link below and register. The online workshop is limited to 200 participants so early registration is recommended.

Workshop Details: Tuesday, Nov. 12 from 11 a.m. to 12:30p.m.
Registration link: www.wildlife.ca.gov/cannabispermitting

CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division will provide an overview of the licensing process for commercial cannabis farmers, including the required application attachments. SWRCB will review the cultivation policy, water rights and water quality relative regulations, and other important information. CDFW will cover Lake and Streambed Alteration Agreements and how to limit environmental impacts.

Other participating cannabis regulatory agencies include the Department of Pesticide Regulation, the Franchise Tax Board and the Employment Development Department.

Questions can be submitted at the end of the final presentation.

All commercial size cannabis cultivators are encouraged to obtain required state licenses and county permits, as well as implement best management practices to reduce environmental impacts. Doing so can help cultivators avoid common pitfalls that may lead to enforcement actions.

To learn more about CDFW’s role in cannabis cultivation, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cannabis or email AskCannabis@wildlife.ca.gov.

To learn more about the SWRCB’s Division of Water Quality’s (DWQ) role in cannabis cultivation, please email dwq.cannabis@waterboards.ca.gov or call the DWQ Cannabis General Order hotline at (916) 341-5580.

For more information about becoming a licensed cannabis farmer and for an overview of the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace System, please visit CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing’s website at CalCannabis.cdfa.ca.gov or call 1-833-CALGROW.

To report illegal cannabis cultivation and environmental crimes such as pollution, water diversions and poaching, please call the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or text information to “TIP411” (847411).


Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 207-7891
Rebecca Forée, CDFA’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division (email only)



No Practical Joke Here: Snipe Season Gets Underway in October

California’s statewide snipe season opens Oct. 19, 2019, and runs through Feb. 2, 2020, offering California hunters both an exceptionally challenging upland game bird hunt and some exceptional table fare. The daily bag limit is eight and the possession limit is triple the bag limit.

“They’re real. They’re not just a practical joke,” said Scott Gardner, the senior environmental scientist who leads CDFW’s Upland/Small Game Program, referencing the countless children who have been duped into mythical snipe hunts.

“Snipe are well-distributed throughout the state, but they’re a very challenging bird to harvest. Not only are they a difficult target to hit, but they often hang out with other shorebirds that you can’t take. So you really have to know your stuff when hunting snipe.”

A California hunting license, Harvest Information Program (HIP) Validation and Upland Game Bird Validation are required to hunt snipe. Junior Hunting License holders do not need an Upland Game Bird Validation.

Wilson’s snipe are a plump brown-and-buff migratory shorebird with short, stocky legs and a long bill. They are the only shorebird legal to hunt in California. While they can be found throughout the state during California’s long snipe season, they are elusive and hard to spot on the ground, which means hunters need to be able to identify the birds quickly on the wing.

Snipe typically flush from the ground and fly away in a fast, twisting, zig-zag pattern. The word “sniper,” in fact, originally meant a hunter who was skilled at shooting the notoriously wily bird.

Snipe are frequently found probing muddy ground for earthworms and invertebrates. They prefer the muddy edges of ponds, damp fields and other wet, open habitats. Areas with low vegetation provide adequate camouflage and cover for snipe, but they can often be spotted by glassing the water’s edge with binoculars.

Because of their habitat and a hunting season that runs almost concurrently with California’s Balance of the State Zone waterfowl season, waterfowl hunters are most likely to encounter snipe in the field. Snipe, however, are best pursued with a light upland gun, an open choke and light loads such as #7 steel shot. Waterfowl hunters who take a poke at a fleeing snipe with their heavy guns, big loads and tighter chokes often find themselves punching holes in the air and risk damaging a snipe’s delicate, delicious meat with a shot that connects.

While snipe have a wide wingspan, they are smaller than quail and it may take several birds to make a single meal. They are often roasted or pan-fried whole or breasted out and cooked with butter or bacon. Hunters who enjoy eating dove or duck will likely love the taste of snipe.

Snipe have a small but devoted following among some California hunters. The following tips and suggestions should inspire hunters to give snipe a try this season:

*Snipe hunting can be really good when the duck hunting is poor. Those warm, bluebird days in November make for a great opportunity to go snipe hunting.

* Snipe hunting is great for getting away from the crowds and enjoying some quiet time outdoors. So few people hunt snipe that snipe hunters often have all the boggy, upland fields to themselves.

*Snipe make for an exciting hunt. Snipe flush like a wild pheasant but can provide an abundance of shots and opportunities. A good snipe field can provide hunters with dozens of flushes.

*It helps to go on your first snipe hunt with someone who has hunted snipe before. You’ll be a lot more confident about your identification.

*If you miss a snipe you can often go after it again. A flushed bird will sometimes land again after a short flight.

*Snipe can be difficult and painstaking to pluck whole but it’s often worth the effort. The legs are especially delicious.

*You will almost never see a snipe on the ground before it flushes. Once you learn to identify snipe on the wing, however, it’s easy to distinguish snipe from other shorebirds. Snipe rarely fly in flocks. The vast majority of snipe flushes are single birds. Snipe often make a high-pitched call when they flush, sometimes described as a scaipe.

*Many snipe hunters don’t use hunting dogs. The low, erratic flight typical of a flushed snipe means a lot of low shots that can put a hunting dog in danger.

*Snipe are migratory birds and move. Snipe can be in one day in big numbers and gone the next. A good snipe field one day can be vacant of snipe the next.

*Snipe hunting regulations are available online at CDFW’s website within the 2019-20 bird hunting and public lands regulations booklet.

Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.