Category Archives: Wildlife

CDFW Investigating Die-Off of Desert Bighorn Sheep

Wildlife biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) are investigating what appears to be a significant mortality event associated with respiratory disease among the San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population in Riverside County. CDFW has confirmed that at least 20 animals have died but suspects that total mortality may be greater.

“The significance of this outbreak to the San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population is being investigated,” explained Heidi Calvert, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Inland Deserts Region. “Our top priority right now is to determine the source and nature of the disease so that we can identify the right management actions to mitigate future risk.”

CDFW staff began receiving reports of sick desert bighorn sheep in December 2018 and immediately began collecting samples for lab analysis. CDFW is continuing to survey and monitor the population to gather more information on the extent and magnitude of this loss to the population. Private landowners and partner agencies are assisting with this effort.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group considers respiratory disease to be “the biggest impediment to restoring and sustaining bighorn sheep populations.” Respiratory disease in bighorn sheep is most commonly attributed to contact and/or proximity with domestic sheep and, to a lesser extent, domestic goats. Diseases that originate with domestic animals can pose a significant risk to bighorn sheep populations.

The affected desert bighorn population is located within Desert Bighorn Sheep Hunt Zone 5. The recent die-off will likely result in reducing the two hunting tags to zero in this zone for 2019.

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Media Contacts:
Heidi Calvert, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (760) 872-0751 

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

CDFW Releases Guidance Document for Delta Conservation Planning

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Delta Conservation Framework as a comprehensive resource and guide for conservation planning in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta through 2050.

The framework provides a template for regional and stakeholder-led approaches to restoring ecosystem functions to the Delta landscape. It incorporates feedback from a series of public workshops initiated in 2016, prior planning efforts and the best available science on Delta ecosystem processes.

“The history, culture, politics and ecosystems of the Delta are complex. The Delta is also connected in many ways to the lands, watersheds and communities that surround it,” said CDFW Delta Policy Advisor Carl Wilcox. “If the Delta Conservation Framework is used as a guide toward future conservation project planning and implementation, it is possible to achieve the vision of a Delta composed of resilient natural and managed ecosystems situated within a mosaic of towns and agricultural landscapes, where people prosper and healthy wildlife communities thrive.”

The Delta Conservation Framework includes broad goals that acknowledge the importance of effective communication, community engagement and education, making decisions based on science, and working collectively on conservation permitting and funding. The framework suggests multiple strategies that could be used by all Delta stakeholders to move conservation forward.

CDFW initiated the process to develop the Delta Conservation Framework to maintain and increase conservation momentum in the Delta.

 More information about the process used to develop the framework, materials presented in the public workshop series, and electronic copies of the Delta Conservation Framework, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Watersheds/DCF

Media Contacts:
Carl Wilcox, CDFW Delta Policy Advisor, (707) 944-5584
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

CDFW and Partners Clean-Up Black Market Marijuana Grow in Orange County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and Orange County Parks (OC Parks) completed a clean-up of a black market marijuana grow at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.

The team clean-up effort was conducted in two phases (Dec. and Jan.) and removed approximately 3,120 pounds of trash, 1,500 feet of plastic irrigation piping, 24 ounces of pesticides as well as other forms of garbage that can be detrimental to the environment.

For the clean-up, OC Parks worked with a specialized hazmat contractor, Clean Harbors, to ensure the pesticide was removed and disposed of correctly. Through testing, the pesticide was confirmed to be carbofuran, a highly toxic and banned substance. Just a teaspoon can kill a 300-pound black bear.

“Protecting California’s natural resources takes commitment from federal, state, county and city entities. I commend all those that were involved in this effort to identify the black market grow, eradicate it and clean it up,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division. “Working together, we can protect the environment and help the permitted cannabis market thrive.”

During routine flights over Orange County with the National Guard’s Counter Drug Unit, CDFW spotted a black market marijuana grow. On Sept. 27, CDFW and Newport Beach Police Department conducted an eradication mission at the site. Attempts to apprehend the suspects were unsuccessful.

Officers eradicated 500 plants and confiscated 75 pounds of processed marijuana. The grow, when in full production, contained almost 1,500 plants. During the eradication, CDFW documented numerous environmental violations including streambed alterations, haphazard pesticides left on the property, trash within 150 feet of a waterway and a poached deer.

Between 2013 and 2018, CDFW has removed more than 2.4 million feet of irrigation pipe, 50 tons of fertilizer and 65 gallons of chemicals (many illegal in the U.S.) on black market grows. CDFW has also removed 709 dams and water diversions resulting in restoration of 800 million gallons of water back into local watersheds.

CDFW would like to remind the public to report environmental crimes such as water pollution, water diversions and poaching to the CalTIP hotline by calling (888) 334-2258 or by texting “CALTIP” followed by a space and whatever the desired message, to 847411 (tip411).

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

 

CDFW Seeks Public Help for Humboldt County Elk Poaching Investigation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information about an elk poaching case currently under investigation in Humboldt County.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, CDFW wildlife officers responded to a poaching report in the Maple Creek area, southeast of Blue Lake. During the investigation, officers discovered four dead Roosevelt cow (female) elk. An examination showed the animals were recently killed with a firearm, and one of the elk was pregnant.

CDFW closely manages the state’s Roosevelt elk herds. A limited number of hunting permits are available for this species in Humboldt County, and some hunters wait more than a decade to be successful in the drawing. Elk hunting season was not open at the time these animals were shot.

Officers are continuing their investigation, including processing evidence left at the crime scene. CDFW asks that anyone who has any information regarding this poaching crime to contact the statewide tip hotline, CalTIP, at 1 (888) 334-2258. Tips can also be sent via text to CALTIP, followed by a space and the message to tip411 (847411). CalTIP (Californians Turn In Poachers and Polluters) is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters.

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Media Contacts:
Warden John Fraley, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (707) 445-6493

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

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Oceanside

At its December 2018 meeting in Oceanside, 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 voted unanimously to extend the closure of the recreational red abalone fishery until April 1, 2021. In December 2017, the Commission closed the recreational abalone fishery season due to the declining abalone population because of starvation conditions. The commercial red abalone fishery closed in 1997.

The Commission voted unanimously to approve 15 Experimental Gear Permits to be issued by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for the purpose of targeting brown box crabs with the goal of authorizing new methods of using existing commercial fishing gear to research potential new fishing opportunities. The Commission also approved a list of terms and conditions to be associated with the permits. A drawing took place following Wednesday’s meeting to identify the order of the fishermen who would receive one of the approved experimental gear permits.

The Commission took action to conform state groundfish regulations with recently adopted federal regulations that largely expanded groundfish opportunity for California recreational groundfish anglers.

CDFW staff gave a presentation on living with coyotes and the Wildlife Watch program, as well as announced the release of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Commission Vice President Anthony Williams and Commissioner Russell Burns were present. Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva were absent. This was Commission Vice President Anthony Williams’ last meeting. Beginning Jan. 7, 2019, he will begin serving as Legislative Secretary for incoming Governor Gavin Newsom.

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

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.

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