Category Archives: Wildlife

Fall is the Season for Heightened Bear Activity in the High Country and Foothills

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the U.S. Forest Service remind citizens visiting or living in the high country and foothills that fall is the time of year for increased bear foraging activity and more human and bear encounters are possible.

California black bears are typically active and foraging between April and mid-fall, but in autumn, black bears experience changes in metabolism that drives the need to consume as many rich calories as possible. This metabolic spike is an important signal to the bear to bulk up and gain the fat that will sustain the animal through hibernation and periods of lean food sources. Scientists estimate that black bears may forage as many as 20 hours a day at this time.FS-OfficialColor5inch Resized

During this transition, residents in bear country are asked to diligently manage food, garbage and other attractants around the home and yard in order to avoid attracting bears. Residents leaving cabins for the season should remove all attractants from the cabins, and seal and lock all doors and windows. Crawl spaces under houses or porches should be sealed in order to prevent them from becoming denning sites.

Here are things to know:

  • Bears have a sense of smell seven times stronger than a bloodhound and eyesight as good as a human’s
  • Any scent, especially one of odorous foods like fish or other meats, may attract a bear to your home and yard
  • Remove bird feeders completely until later in the year
  • Remove fallen fruit off the ground promptly
  • Use bear-resistant garbage cans and wait to set trash out until the day of pick up
  • Store pet food inside
  • Do not leave food or other scented items in your car
  • Bears fed intentionally or unintentionally by people may become bold and aggressive—they may be killed if they become a threat to public safety or cause property damage

In the rare event a bear breaks into your home, move to a safe location and contact local authorities. Wildlife experts caution against directly confronting the bear or blocking the bear’s escape route.

Visitors to bear country should act responsibly and be mindful of their safety while in bear habitat. Camping season is ending in many areas, but with the cooler temperatures, fall hiking is very popular in the mountains and foothills and visitors often flock to salmon spawning sites in hopes of getting a glimpse of a bear. Wildlife experts offer these important tips:

  • Be alert on trails (avoid wearing headphones)
  • Keep a respectful and safe distance from bears at all times
  • Do not attempt to take “selfies” with bears or other wildlife
  • Never feed a bear – it is unlawful and dangerous to people and may result in the needless death of a bear.

For an expanded list of living and recreating in bear country, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/keep-me-wild/bear.

For information about being, bear aware while visiting national forests, please visit http://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go/bears .

To learn more about black bear ecology, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/black-bear/biology.

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Media Contacts:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933
Paul Wade, U.S. Forest Service Public Affairs, (707) 562-9010

 

Sonoma County Couple Named Hunter Education Instructors of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) named Sonoma County husband and wife Tom and Sharon Henderson as 2017 Hunter Education Instructors of the Year. This is the first time the honor has been awarded to two instructors.

“The Hendersons are an amazing team who have dedicated so much to the Hunter Education Program. It would have been impossible not to recognize them both,” said Lt. Bart Bundesen, who coordinates California’s Hunter Education Program on the North Coast.

The Hendersons teach an average of 25 classes a year at the Rancho Adobe Fire Department in Cotati. In 2016 alone, they taught 633 students. Those students and their parents offer frequent accolades about the instructors.

“I get a regular stream of compliments about the job that the Hendersons do,” Bundesen said. “Their ability to help younger students understand the important lessons of the course is one of their greatest assets.”

CDFW Wildlife Officer Tiffany Wolvek said, “Without them, many would likely not make it out to the field as they would struggle to find a class. More importantly, I have confidence in the students who have taken their class to become ethical, conscientious hunters.”

The Hendersons have mentored many new instructors and they take the time to ensure those instructors leave confident in their ability to teach a class. They are an incredible asset to new hunters and CDFW.

CDFW is always recruiting new instructors. If you have a passion for California’s outdoors and passing on the hunting tradition, please visit CDFW’s Become A Hunter Education Instructor webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Become-an-Instructor and check out the hunter education instructor recruiting video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ezEs7jT5g.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by Getting Outdoors

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are joining to celebrate California’s long-standing outdoor heritage and the contributions made to wildlife conservation by hunters and anglers on National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Saturday, Sept. 23 is National Hunting and Fishing Day and California hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing. Currently deer, bear, grouse, early mountain quail, rabbit, and tree squirrel seasons are underway across the state. The high country streams, rivers and lakes are in peak form. This is prime time.

Together, CDFW and BLM are proud to promote the excellent hunting and fishing opportunities available on public lands. BLM-managed public lands in California offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating and backcountry exploring. Millions of acres of public land are available for hunting and thousands of miles of rivers and streams are available for fishing in California. CDFW is responsible for over 1 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat, managed through 749 properties throughout the state. These properties provide habitat for a rich diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species.

Hunters and anglers are advised to check area closures and local restrictions before heading out. Fire season is here and several large wildfires are burning currently, which may close some areas to hunting and fishing. Additionally, the severe winter damaged roads, which may account for other closures or restricted access. Information on area closures is available at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

While current target shooting restrictions are in place on some BLM-managed public lands, hunting in those areas is open with a valid hunting license. For updates on BLM restrictions visit: blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/california/fire-restrictions.

For the 2016 season, a record 84 percent of deer tag holders complied with California’s new mandatory deer tag reporting requirement. CDFW thanks all those who reported and hopes for increased participation following the 2017 season. The reports are vital to estimating deer populations and setting tag quotas for the coming hunting season.

California is phasing-in the use of non-lead ammunition for hunting. Lead ammunition is permitted in 2017 for hunting deer in California outside of the California condor range, state wildlife areas or ecological reserves where non-lead ammunition is required. Learn more about California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting by visiting wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Hunters and anglers are often referred to as the original conservationists. CDFW and BLM value the many contributions they make to fish and wildlife conservation efforts in the Golden State.

For more information about California’s hunting and fishing seasons, licenses and tags, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov.

For more information about BLM lands and outdoor activities, please visit www.blm.gov/california.

Media Contacts:
Samantha Storms, BLM Communications, (916) 978-4615
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

Registration Is Open for Sandhill Crane Tours: New Requirement in Late Fall

The online registration period is now open for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) popular Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi in San Joaquin County.

Online registration is required to participate in these late-afternoon guided tours, which start in October and run through February. The tours take place the first through third Saturdays and Sundays of each month for five months during the cranes’ fall and winter stay in California’s Central Valley. Online registration is available up to eight weeks in advance. Registration opened in mid-August for October tour dates and in mid-September for November dates. More information about the tours is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regions/3/Crane-Tour.

After Nov. 13, 2017, those 16 and older attending the tours will be required to purchase and possess a CDFW lands pass in order to participate. Visitors carrying a valid hunting or fishing license will be exempt from this new requirement. Signs will be posted at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve notifying visitors of the need for a lands pass, and tour docents will be checking for lands passes or licenses at the start of each tour.  A daily lands pass costs $4.32 and an annual lands pass costs $24.33.  Lands passes may be purchased online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/, by phone at (800) 565-1458, and in-person wherever hunting and fishing licenses are sold (locations at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing). Lands pass fees will be used for the management of this and other CDFW lands. For more information about lands passes, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/Lands-Pass.

The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, northeast of Lodi, is a popular spot for viewing the Pacific Flyway’s greater and lesser sandhill cranes returning to California’s Central Valley. The reserve is also known as the Isenberg Crane Reserve, named after former Congressman Phil Isenberg, who was instrumental in conserving the land.

The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve is also accessible to the public at any time for self-guided tours. A series of informative interpretive panels at the reserve’s south unit at 11154 W. Woodbridge Road in Lodi offers good visitor support. Staying until sundown is recommended for witnessing the sights and sounds associated with “fly-over” and the cranes’ return to their evening roosting spots.

CDFW is also proud to co-sponsor the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival scheduled for Nov. 3-5. Information about festival tours and activities is available at www.cranefestival.com/index.php.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communication, (916) 322-8908
David Moore, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 766-8380

CDFW Offering Free Tundra Swan Tours This Fall and Winter

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will offer free swan tours near Marysville on Saturdays beginning in November and extending through mid-January.

Co-hosted by local rice farmers, the naturalist-led tours will focus on tundra swans in one of the premier locations for viewing swans in California. Ducks, geese, shorebirds, herons, egrets and raptors are commonly seen in this area, which contains 23,000 acres of rice fields.

Tours will be held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m. The driving tours will also involve walking a short distance.

Pre-registration is required at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours. Up to 30 people can register for each tour. The tours are part of CDFW’s wildlife viewing services program, which includes similar outdoors opportunities at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, and Isenberg Crane Reserve.

For more information, please call (916) 358-2869 or email interpretiveservices@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Bruce Forman, CDFW Interpretive Services, (916) 358-2353
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958