Category Archives: waterfowl

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Santa Monica

At its April 2019 meeting in Santa Monica, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.

The Commission assigned commissioners to committees. President Eric Sklar and Commissioner Russell Burns and were assigned to the Wildlife Resources Committee. Newly appointed Commissioner Samantha Murray and Commissioner Peter Silva were assigned to the Marine Resources Committee. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Silva were assigned to the Tribal Committee.

The Commission voted 4-1 to draft a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing the proposal to delist gray wolves from the federal endangered species list. Hostler-Carmesin opposed.

The Commission adopted waterfowl hunting regulations for 2019-20, including extending the duck season closure date to January 31 and reducing the daily bag limit for pintail from two to one. It also received the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) 90-day evaluation report on a petition to list four species of bumble bee as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). CDFW plans to present its petition evaluation report at the Commission’s June meeting in Redding to inform the Commission’s decision about whether listing may be warranted. If, in June, the Commission decides listing is warranted, CDFW will begin a year-long status review.

The Commission heard from CDFW that projections for Chinook salmon fisheries are looking better than last year. In May, the Commission will consider increasing bag and possession limits on the Klamath and Trinity rivers to a three fish bag limit with no more than two adults and nine fish possession limit with no more than six adults. On the American, Feather and Sacramento rivers in the Sacramento River Basin, the Commission is considering a two bag, four possession limit. Last year, due to lower salmon returns, anglers in the Sacramento River Basin were only allowed one bag limit with two in possession. Also in May, the Commission will consider extending fishing in the Feather River an additional two weeks, closing on October 31, and opening 10 additional miles of the Mokelumne River to fishing. The May 16 Commission meeting is via teleconference.

The Commission voted unanimously to open a short-term fishery on spring Chinook Salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Spring Chinook Salmon became a candidate for listing under CESA at the Commission’s February meeting, when emergency regulations were adopted that closed salmon fishing on the Klamath and Trinity rivers until August 15. Since February, CDFW held several meetings with the public, fishing interests, affected counties and CESA petitioners to evaluate whether a fishery could happen that would protect the salmon, allow fishing, and provide some economic relief to citizens and counties in the affected area. The Commission voted to reopen fishing on July 1 in both the lower Klamath and upper Trinity rivers with a one fish bag limit and two fish possession limit.

Commissioners received an update from CDFW staff on whale and sea turtle protections in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, and referred discussion of the recreational fishery to the Commission’s Marine Resources Committee. Marine related items also included an update on CDFW’s transition to electronic commercial fisheries landing receipts (“E-Tix”), an update on the recreational ocean salmon and Pacific halibut seasons, and the publication of the Marine Region Year in Review.

All commissioners were present. This was Murray’s first meeting.

The full Commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

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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 Seeks Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

Artists are invited to submit their original artwork to the 2019-2020 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will accept submissions April 26 through May 27.

The contest is open to U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of Feb. 26, 2019. Entrants need not reside in California.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2019-2020 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 2019-2020 hunting season is the northern pintail.

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 to be entered into the contest 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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/duck-stamp/contest.

Entries will be judged at a public event to be held 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, and an 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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

Media Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

CDFW Magnifies Efforts to Recruit Hunters and Anglers

In an effort to get more Californians involved in fishing, hunting and outdoor recreation, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is partnering with the recreational fishing and hunting communities, state and federal agencies, and others to address barriers and opportunities to hunting and fishing in the state.

“Our goal is to support and encourage people to get outdoors and enjoy California’s wild places,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “The fishing and hunting opportunities in this state are unparalleled, they belong to all Californians and should be utilized by all of us. This effort is to make sure Californians know that.”

CDFW has formed an executive-level task force, hired a full-time coordinator to head-up the effort, hired a research scientist, and finalized a statewide recruitment, retention and reactivation (R3) action plan. A staff-level working group is working to increase hunting and fishing participation by collaborating with diverse stakeholders to transform barriers to participation into opportunities. Some of the barriers CDFW will look at initially are access and opportunity challenges, public perception of fishing and hunting, and license structure and pricing. The effort will also focus on encouraging more adults to take up hunting and fishing for the first time.

Research shows spending time outdoors improves physical, mental and social well-being. Many hunters and anglers say the reason they participate in these activities is to enjoy the quality time with family and friends and to bring home great memories and healthy food.

California is home to some of the nation’s most diverse hunting and fishing opportunities, but participation in these activities has declined significantly since the 1970s and 1980s. Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in wildlife surveys for scientific data collection, and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multi-billion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide the primary funding source for state-level fish and wildlife conservation in California. The decline in participation poses an ever-increasing threat to wildlife conservation, the state’s long-standing hunting and fishing heritage, and Californians’ connection to the outdoors in general.

“The fishing and hunting community has rallied around CDFW, and we are now poised to tackle the challenges before us,” Bonham said.

To get involved or learn more about the state’s R3 efforts, please contact Jennifer.Benedet@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Jen Benedet, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 903-9270
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

CDFW Now Accepting Proposals for California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program. For Fiscal Year 2018-2019, up to $4.25 million will be available for the program.

In response to the recent decline of winter-flooded rice fields in the Central Valley and the ecological importance of this habitat base, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 2348 in September 2018. AB 2348 established the California Winter Rice Habitat Incentive Program (CWRHIP), which is designed to continue and further encourage the winter flooding of harvested rice fields in the Central Valley of California. Harvested rice fields that are flooded during the winter months currently provide 75 percent of the food needs of migratory dabbling ducks, and a significant portion of the food needs of migrating shorebirds using the Sacramento Valley.

CWRHIP provides economic incentives to landowners who agree to manage their properties in accordance with a management plan cooperatively developed by biologists from CDFW’s Comprehensive Wetland Habitat Program and participating landowners. Management plans require landowners to flood harvested rice fields for a minimum of 70 continuous days during the winter months (October-March). Properties that can maintain water during critical months (January through mid-March) are given additional points in the ranking process. The program pays landowners an annual incentive of $10 per acre for the winter flooding of harvested rice fields that were planted at least two of the last three years.

The deadline to apply for this program is Feb. 25, 2019 at 4 p.m. The program solicitation, application instructions and other information are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/cwhp/private-lands-programs.

Media Contacts:
Brian Olson, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3486
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Water Bird Die-off at Salton Sea

Thousands of water birds died of an avian cholera outbreak at the south end of the Salton Sea between Jan. 8-17. Outbreaks like this one occur annually as a result of birds flocking closely together during migration.

On Jan. 8, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) began receiving reports of hundreds of dead birds at the south end of the Salton Sea from local waterfowl hunters and staff at the Sonny Bono National Wildlife Refuge (SBNWR). CDFW investigated the event and discovered over a thousand bird carcasses concentrated around Bruchard Bay west of the New River. Over the next week, staff from CDFW and SBNWR collected more than 1,200 carcasses consisting of mainly Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, Black-necked Stilts and Gulls. Most carcasses were incinerated at SBNWR to reduce the spread of disease; however, several samples were shipped to the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab in Rancho Cordova to determine the cause of death. The samples tested positive for avian cholera.

avian chol 2

Avian cholera is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Pasteurella multocida. Outbreaks occur annually during the winter in California and may result in the deaths of thousands of birds. Waterfowl and coots are the most commonly affected. Pasteurella multocida is released into the environment by dead and dying birds or asymptomatic carriers, and is transmitted through direct bird-to-bird contact or through the ingestion of contaminated food or water. Predatory and scavenging birds may acquire avian cholera by feeding on infected birds. Avian cholera is transmitted easily between birds when they flock together in high densities. Birds are most susceptible to the disease during stressful periods, especially during the winter months when birds congregate at key water sources during migration, and the weather is cold and damp.

Avian cholera can affect rabbits and mice but not other mammals. It is not considered a high risk disease for humans. However, hunters should always cook their game thoroughly. For more information, please refer to the full Field Guide to Wildlife Diseases.

CDFW staff will continue monitoring and collecting carcasses around the Salton Sea over the next few weeks. CDFW’s Bermuda Dunes Field Office, Wildlife Investigations Lab and local game wardens will continue to coordinate with partners, including staff at SBNWR and the Imperial Wildlife Area – Wister Unit to share information and prepare to respond should the die off increase.

CDFW is also asking club owners and habitat managers to make a report if multiple dead birds are found on their property. Reports can be made to CDFW’s Dead Bird Hotline at 1 (877) 968-2473.

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