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.

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

 

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

No-Fee Public Hunting Opportunities Abound During Youth Waterfowl Weekend

Many of California’s most popular and productive public waterfowl hunting areas will reopen the Feb. 8-9 weekend to welcome hunters 17 and younger during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days – a special, post-season waterfowl hunt reserved just for kids.

“We encourage folks to come out even if they don’t have a reservation or are not able to get into our lottery the night before the hunt,” said Sean Allen, area manager for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Los Banos Wildlife Area in Merced County. “We always have plenty of room in all these public areas up and down the Grasslands. All the national wildlife refuges and all the state areas here in the Grasslands will be open.”

The Los Banos Wildlife Area, in partnership with CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division, will host a youth waterfowl festival Saturday, Feb. 8 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. for all the hunters, their families and mentors who turn out, offering food, prizes, waterfowl education and a bird cleaning station, among other activities.

There is no fee to hunt at any Type A wildlife area during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days as hunters 17 and younger are exempt from the Type A wildlife area passes required of adult hunters during the regular season. Accompanying adults are likewise exempt from any fees and passes.

Even the Sacramento Valley’s high-demand public waterfowl hunting destinations rarely fill to capacity during the youth waterfowl weekend, offering a high-quality hunting experience without the wait, crowds and competition typical during the regular season. Unlike prior years, the Sunday, Feb. 9 hunt day does not fall on Super Bowl Sunday. Hunter turnout the second day of the weekend is expected to improve as a result.

Those interested in hunting a state or federal waterfowl area during the youth weekend should call ahead about any changes in entry procedures or hunt areas.

At the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area in Butte and Glenn counties, for example, only the Little Dry Creek Unit will be open during the youth waterfowl weekend. Howard Slough and Llano Seco will remain closed. The lottery for Little Dry Creek will take place at 4 a.m. the morning of each hunt day – as opposed to the evening before as occurred during the regular waterfowl season.

At the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area in Yolo County, no lottery will take place the evenings before the Saturday and Sunday hunt days. Once reservations have been processed in the morning, hunters will be admitted on a first-come, first-served basis.

The Sutter National Wildlife Refuge in Sutter County will be open only for a one-day, post-season youth hunt on Sunday, Feb. 9.

California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days are available to those 17 and younger possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. To participate in these Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days, hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or e-stamp is required of hunters 16 years of age and older. Daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. The regulations are available at CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting webpage.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

February 2020 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. 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 through Feb. 9 — Guided Wildlife Tours at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley (95948), 12:30 p.m. 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 cancelled in the event of heavy rain. No reservations are necessary for groups of fewer than 20 people. This land is part of the CDFW Lands Pass Program and its associated fee-for-use requirement. For more information on the Lands Pass Program, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass. For more information on the tours, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 — Deadline to Report on Bear Tag. All bear tag holders are required to report on their tag regardless of whether or not they hunted for bear. The deadline for reporting on a bear hunt tag is Feb. 1. After the Feb. 1 deadline, the online reporting system will lock hunters out from reporting. Hunters who miss the online reporting window can and should still mail in their tags to the address on the tag. All bear tags postmarked after Feb. 1 will be considered late. Tags can be reported online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/Internetsales/customersearch/begin.

1 — 2020 Commercial Fishing Licenses and Permits Available for Purchase. The 2020 commercial fishing licenses and permits are valid from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/commercial.

1-2 — Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in the Colorado River Zone. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are intended to provide a safe learning environment for youth who are interested in hunting and to encourage youths and adults to experience the outdoors together. Each year, many wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges open for youth hunt days. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older to participate. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — White and White-fronted Goose Late Season Opens in the Northeastern Zone. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — 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 February 2019 assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including new information related to the risk assessment factors and any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding management measures. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, but feedback can be shared directly with CDFW by email at 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.

7 — Duck Days Student Wildlife Art Exhibit – Opening Reception, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., Davis Arts Center, 1919 F St., Davis (95616). California Duck Days officially begins with a welcome reception featuring an exhibit of outstanding wildlife art created by high school students of Yolo County and a display of the California Junior Duck Stamp contest. The reception is free and open to the public. California Duck Days tickets and t-shirts will be on sale. Drop by, see some beautiful art, try your luck in the raffle and pick up information about the Festival. For more information on California Duck Days, please visit http://yolobasin.org/californiaduckdays.

8 — White and White-fronted Goose Late Season Opens in the Balance of State Zone. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

8 — White Goose Late Season Opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

8-9 — Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California and Balance of State Zones. Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are intended to provide a safe learning environment for youth who are interested in hunting and to encourage youths and adults to experience the outdoors together. Each year, many wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges open for youth hunt days. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older to participate. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

11 — CDFW-OSPR California Oil Spill Study and Evaluation Program (COSSEP) Monthly Seminar Series, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., “Improving SCAT Reconnaissance Using a Portable, UAS-based, Multi-Camera Remote Sensing System.”  CDFW-OSPR’s Judd Muskat will present some of his research using drones and sophisticated cameras to improve shoreline cleanup and assessment of oil during a spill event. Online attendance is free. To join via Skype, go to meet.wildlife.ca.gov/bryand.duke/csgweop8. To join via phone, dial (916) 210-1965 and enter code 94138#. For more information, please email Bryand Duke at bryand.duke@wildlife.ca.gov.

11 — Free Cannabis Permitting Workshop, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Harwood Hall, 44400 Willis Ave., Laytonville (95454). Join CDFW, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Water Board for a cannabis permitting workshop. No registration is required. Doors open at 10 a.m. with presentations starting at 10:30 a.m. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/cannabis/events.

12 — Free Cannabis Permitting Workshops, 9 a.m. to noon and 3 to 7 p.m., River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Dr., Fortuna (95540). Join CDFW, the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the State Water Board for a cannabis permitting workshop. No registration is required. Presentations for each block of time will start 30 minutes after the doors open. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/cannabis/events.

13 — Evenings at the Estuary Lecture: A Love Letter to the Slough, 5:30 p.m.,1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Celebrate your love for estuaries at this unique lecture. A lineup of speakers including department heads and watershed neighbors will share short stories of success from 40 years of conservation work around Elkhorn Slough. Participants will have the chance to contribute their own “love letter” to a temporary display in the Visitor Center for February. There is no admission cost. No reservations are necessary and seating is first come, first served. For more information, please visit the online calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

21 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, 8 a.m., Natural Resources Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). For more information, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2020/index.aspx.

22 — California Duck Days, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 45211 County Road 32B (Chiles Road), Davis (95618). CDFW, the Yolo Basin Foundation, the California Waterfowl Association, Yolo Audubon and the City of Davis are hosting this family-oriented, community-based outdoor festival with activities that include field trips led by experienced birders and naturalists. Onsite activities include interactive exhibits, wetland-themed arts and crafts, and trout fishing. For more information, please visit http://yolobasin.org/californiaduckdays.

22 — Small Canada Goose Late Season Opens in the North Coast Special Management Area. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

24 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1:30 to 3 p.m., “Mapping California’s Important Plant Areas.” The California Native Plant Society’s Important Plant Areas (IPA) Program Manager, Sam Young, will describe how the IPA Program engages regional experts and conservation stakeholders to create a map of California’s IPAs, which can be applied as a tool for preserving the state’s botanical diversity. Attendance is free. To register or learn more, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.

26 — 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.

27 — CDFW’s Annual Salmon Information Meeting, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa (95403). The public is invited to attend CDFW’s annual meeting on the status of California Chinook salmon populations and the outlook for 2020 ocean salmon fisheries. A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries. The meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason. For more information, please contact Grace Ghrist at (707) 576-2375 or grace.ghrist@wildlife.ca.gov.

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