Category Archives: Wildlife

CDFW Seeks Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

Artists are invited to submit their original artwork to the 2017-2018 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will accept submissions May 12 through June 12.

The contest is open to U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of March 7, 2017. Entrants need not reside in California.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2017-2018 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 2017-2018 hunting season is the ruddy duck.

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 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

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

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


Recent Urban Coyote Death Linked to Restricted Rodenticides

The carcass of a young and otherwise healthy coyote found in a San Francisco park has tested positive for four different types of rat poison – all of which are illegal for non-professional use in California.

The body of the female coyote was found in Douglass Park in February. Lab test results, recently received by WildCare, prove that the coyote’s death was caused by the consumption of rats that had in turn been poisoned by rodenticide.

Most urban coyote deaths are caused by cars, but radiographs (x-rays) and a postmortem exam at WildCare showed that this coyote had no external injuries.

“If an animal the size of a coyote can ingest enough poisoned rats to kill her, there is no arguing about the prevalence of rodenticides in our environment, and the extreme danger of using these poisons,” said Kelle Kacmarcik, Director of Advocacy at WildCare.

Regulations enacted in 2014 restrict the usage of the most toxic anticoagulant rodenticides to only licensed pest control operators. Homeowners and residents facing pest problems should properly dispose of any previously purchased pesticides containing the active ingredients brodifacoum, bromadiolone, difethialone or difenacoum. A list of statewide facilities that are authorized to dispose of household hazardous waste can be found here. 

In addition to the state regulations, the city of San Francisco maintains a strong anti-rodenticide stance. City and county entities are required to use less toxic alternatives to manage rodents and only use poison as a last resort. Rodenticides are not used in city parks, including Glen Canyon, Douglass and Christopher parks.

The coyote’s necropsy report showed the cause of death to be massive internal bleeding due to rat poisoning. Four different types of rat poisons were detected in her liver. Since each brand of commercially available rat poison only carries one of the available rodenticide compounds, the coyote must have eaten rats poisoned from at least four different sources.

It is impossible to determine the exact sources of the poisons. This otherwise healthy coyote died as a result either of residents and local businesses hiring pest control operators or illegal use of rodenticides by consumers.

“These poisons are everywhere, and ironically, they are killing the very animals nature provides to control rodent populations,” Kacmarcik said.

WildCare has been actively testing rodent predators since 2006. Over the last 11 years, 76 percent of predatory animals tested have been found to carry one or more rat poisons in their blood.

For more information about alternative methods of controlling pests, please see and


Media Contacts:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Alison Hermance, WildCare, (415) 453-1000, ext. 24
WildCare logo



Legislature Honors Sebastopol Photographer for Wildlife Photo of the Year

The California Legislature yesterday honored wildlife photographer Joshua Asel of Sebastopol with a resolution declaring his image of the life-or-death battle involving three species as the California Wildlife Photo of the Year. The photograph, presented on the Senate floor, captures the death-grip of a great blue heron as it clenches a garter snake, and the snake’s last-ditch diversion of releasing a shrew that it had just taken moments before.

The fascinating image took the grand prize of the annual contest, presented by Outdoor California magazine and California Watchable Wildlife, and sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Conservancy. Senator Mike McGuire (Second Senatorial District), chairman of the joint committee on fisheries and aquaculture, and Assemblyman Marc Levine (10th Assembly District) jointly authored the resolution. The announcement on the floor of the Senate marked a high point in the week as seven photographs from the contest hung in the Capitol outside the Governor’s Office.

The resolution commends Asel for founding and serving as director for Wild Expectations, a wildlife conservation group that strives to “ensure a positive future for California’s ecosystems by sharing its wildlife through multimedia driven resources for public education.” In addition to Outdoor California, magazines such as Defenders of Wildlife, National Geographic Education and National Geographic have published his works.

“The photography of Joshua Asel illustrates the beauty and vital importance of California’s wildlife and natural environments, and he serves as a worthy model for all aspiring environmental stewards,” the resolution states.

This month marks the sixth anniversary of the competition, but Asel said 2016 was the first time he’d entered. He learned of the competition after seeing a copy of Outdoor California at a local wildlife area. On the day he took his photograph, Asel had no particular subject in mind. He was strolling along a beach near Bodega Head at Bodega Bay when he turned and found the scene unfolding before him.

“I’d spotted the garter snake in the field a couple minutes earlier so when I focused on the great blue heron I knew exactly what was going to happen,” Asel said. He took a series of shots that has the heron whipping the snake around before the snake pitched the shrew away. He believes the snake tried to confuse the bird, to offer it something else and perhaps to get the heron to release it. “I didn’t know I had the exact shot with the shrew in the snake’s mouth until I was home where I could take a closer look.”


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Media Contact:
Troy Swauger, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8932


Volunteers Needed for Bighorn Sheep Survey

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) are seeking volunteers to assist biologists on Feb. 25 and 26, 2017 (Saturday evening and all day Sunday).

No survey experience is necessary to participate but volunteers must attend an orientation on Saturday, Feb. 25, at 6 p.m. at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Arcadia.

Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites in the San Gabriel Mountains early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. Volunteer groups will be led by a representative from CDFW, USFS or SCBS. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking one mile in rugged terrain, although most survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails and accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes and/or bush-whacking through chaparral.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking and additional time making observations in cold and windy weather. Volunteers will need to start hiking early Sunday morning.

Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of desert bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined more than 80 percent through the 1980s but appears to be on the increase, with recent estimates yielding approximately 400 animals.

Volunteers can sign up online at or call (909) 584-9012 to request a volunteer packet.

Redding Artist Repeats as Winner of California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

A painting of a pair of California quail has been chosen by a panel of judges as the winning entry in the 2016-2017 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest. The painting was created by Roberta “Roby” Baer of Redding, a wildlife artist who also won the 2015-2016 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest.

A painting by Roberta “Roby” Baer won first place in the 2016-2017 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest.

Sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), the annual contest is held to determine the official design for the upcoming year’s California Upland Game Bird Stamp.

A painting by Mark Thone placed second in the 2016-2017 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest.

Artists submitted their own original depiction of a California quail. The setting and details were determined by the individual artists, but entries had to include at least one adult California quail and be representative of the species’ natural habitat in California if a background was included.

A painting by Don Miller placed third in the 2016-2017 California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest.

The entries were judged Thursday by a panel of experts selected for their knowledge in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. Designs were judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and print.

The judges cited the anatomical accuracy and the proper habitat represented in the winning painting, and one judge pronounced it a “well-colored image that accurately represents a California quail and will lend itself well to being a stamp image.”

“I thought that it would be interesting to place the habitat in the forefront of the painting by adding oak leafs and empty acorn shells,” said Baer, who researched her painting by observing quail cavorting beside her residence, which adjoins a greenbelt. “Quails are such a cute bird — there is nothing more adorable than their bobbing topknots when they work their way up a hill.”

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The validation replaces the stamp through CDFW’s Automated License Data System, but the stamp is still produced and available to hunters upon request. Money generated from upland game bird validation sales are dedicated solely to upland game bird-related conservation projects, hunting opportunities and outreach and education. CDFW annually sells about 175,000 upland game bird validations and distributes approximately 17,000 stamps.

Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request a free collectable stamp by visiting An order form is also available on the website for collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps.

Mark Thone of Shakopee, Minn., placed second in this year’s contest. Don Miller of Fortuna placed third.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6719
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958