Category Archives: Wildlife

Lassen County Man Arrested for Illegal Mass Killing of Raptors

California wildlife officers have uncovered what is likely the largest raptor poaching case in known California history, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Wildlife officers assigned to Lassen County received an anonymous tip from someone who reportedly witnessed a man killing a hawk near the town of Standish. The local wildlife officer conducted surveillance, then visited the private property and discovered nine dead raptors, which was enough evidence to obtain a search warrant. He returned on March 11 with additional officers and a CDFW K-9. A search of the 80-acre property led to the discovery of an extraordinary number of raptor carcasses, other dead birds and wildlife and spent rifle casings indicating more than 140 potential state and/or federal violations.

Processing evidence
Processing evidence: Wildlife officers collected over 140 carcasses of mostly raptors, but other birds and mammals as well.

In addition to the original nine birds, they found 126 dead raptors, all in various states of decay. Most of the birds were red-tailed hawks, but at least one dead owl was found, as well as an uncommon migratory ferruginous hawk. Officers also located two dead bobcats, one taxidermied mountain lion and other nongame birds, all suspected to be unlawfully taken.

Property owner Richard Parker, 67, was booked into Lassen County jail on multiple charges including take of birds of prey, take of migratory nongame birds as designated by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act, take of other nongame birds, and possession of wildlife unlawfully taken. Additional charges may be added as the investigation proceeds.

wildlife officers conducting investigation
Wildlife officers conducting investigation: Most of the dead birds were located at the bottom of roosting trees or manmade objects such as telephone poles.

Staff at CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory in Rancho Cordova are working to positively identify the species of all of the birds.

As the top bird predators in the food chain, raptors serve an important role in the ecosystem by controlling rodent and small mammal populations. However, they are also particularly susceptible to environmental stressors such as drought and habitat loss. For these reasons, biologists refer to them as an indicator species.

Standish is located near Honey Lake and the Honey Lake Wildlife Area, with habitat that supports a rich diversity and quantity of wildlife. The sheer number of birds poached on the 80-acre property will undoubtedly affect the raptor population in the immediate area.

“Poaching crimes of this egregious nature against raptors is unprecedented in California,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The local raptor population may take years to recover from these killings.”

Each potential violation is a misdemeanor poaching crime at the state level, with maximum penalties of six months in jail and up to a $5,000 fine per each raptor. An unlawfully taken mountain lion could result in up to a $10,000 penalty. Each potential federal crime could result in additional penalties.

Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW Invites Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking talented waterfowl artists to submit their original artwork to the 2018-2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. Submissions will be accepted from May 11 through June 11.

The contest is open to U.S. residents who are 18 years of age or older as of March 5, 2018. Entrants need not reside in California.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2018-2019 California Duck Stamp. The top submissions will also be showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s annual art show in July.

The artwork must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which for the 2018-2019 hunting season is the brant, a species of goose.

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

Elusive Sierra Nevada Red Fox Captured in Tehama County

A Sierra Nevada red fox was captured in Tehama County last month by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists researching this rare sub-species of red fox.

The 10-pound male fox was captured on national forest land just outside of Lassen Volcanic National Park, near the town of Mineral. The fox was collared and released at the capture location, and CDFW biologists have been impressed by the distances it has regularly been covering despite rough terrain and high elevation.

“The data gathered during the capture and from the tracking collar will provide significant insights into the ecology of these foxes,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Jennifer Carlson. “We have already been surprised by the large area the fox has been using and the distance it has traveled — it has averaged over seven straight-line miles per day in very rugged terrain.”

While Sierra Nevada red fox historically ranged widely in the upper montane subalpine zones of the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges in California, in the past century its abundance and distribution has declined dramatically.

A state-listed threatened species since 1980, the Sierra Nevada red fox has been the subject of intensified study by CDFW over the past decade. The primary objective is to capture and affix GPS tracking collars to foxes to better understand the size and characteristics of the elusive red fox’s home range and habitat use, its denning sites and reproductive rates, and its health and disease ecology.

In 2008, CDFW used scat-detector dogs to survey portions of Lassen Volcanic National Park and the adjacent Caribou Wilderness. From 2009 to 2011, CDFW used trail cameras and hair-snaring devices to survey high-elevation habitats in the Cascade Range from Mount Shasta to Lassen Peak. At that point, foxes were detected solely in the Lassen Peak area, and the population is believed to consist of only about 20 individuals. Efforts to capture and collar them from 2013-2016 were unsuccessful, yet CDFW continued to document red foxes on trail cameras and to collect genetic samples from their scats and hair. CDFW hopes to capture and collar as many as four more red foxes this year.

The Sierra Nevada red fox is a distinct subspecies of red fox that occupies high-elevation habitats in California and Oregon. Other red foxes in California include the Sacramento Valley red fox, which occupies portions of the Sacramento Valley, and non-native red foxes that are widespread in low-elevation habitats.

For more information on the Sierra Nevada red fox, please visit

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Carlson, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2754
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

CDFW Now Accepting Fisheries Habitat Restoration Project Proposals

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting proposals for projects under its Fiscal Year 2018-19 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN). The PSN and online grant application are online at Applications must be submitted online by Friday, March 30, 2018 at 5 p.m.

CDFW will also hold a series of public workshops to assist applicants in understanding the requirements of the PSN. Applicants are encouraged to attend a workshop even if they have submitted proposals in the past. Workshops will be held in Yreka, Fortuna, Fort Bragg, Sacramento, Petaluma, San Luis Obispo, Los Alamitos, Monterey and Camarillo on various dates in February. For details and meeting contact information, please see the PSN Workshop Letter.

The PSN invites restoration projects that meet the funding requirements of the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (focusing on recovery of state-listed salmon and steelhead along the coast and in the Central Valley), the Forest Legacy Program (focusing on the restoration of watersheds affected by historic forest practices), the Commercial Salmon Stamp Program (focusing on projects enhancing the salmon fishery) and the Steelhead Restoration and Report Card Program (focusing on projects enhancing the recreational steelhead fishery). Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations. Funded projects could include habitat restoration, water conservation, education, monitoring and restoration planning.

While the amount of available funding is not known at this time, in FY 2017-18 the program was able to provide more than $15 million in funding for eligible projects. Funding for FY 2018-19 grants is expected to be awarded to approved projects in early 2019.

For information or questions about the PSN or application process, please contact Tim Chorey, CDFW Fisheries Restoration Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842.

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Media Contacts:|
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988


Elk Captures to be Conducted in Northern California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning to capture numerous elk in northern California in late January and early February.

From Jan. 31 through Feb. 4, CDFW will capture as many as 43 adult Rocky Mountain elk (nine bulls and 34 cows) in Lassen, Modoc and Siskiyou counties in northeastern California. From Feb. 6 through Feb. 8, CDFW will capture up to 16 Roosevelt elk cows in Humboldt County in northwestern California.

The elk will be captured on lands managed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) as well as on private properties with permission from landowners. CDFW is grateful to the USFS, timberland owners and other private landowners that are providing access to their lands for the captures.

Under the direction of CDFW veterinary staff, CDFW wildlife biologists will lead the captures. Capture crews will locate elk via helicopter, capture them with net guns and restrain the captured animals for tagging.

Each elk will be ear tagged and fitted with a GPS collar. Pregnant female elk from specific herds will receive an additional transmitter that will monitor their pregnancies and aid biologists in finding their calves in the spring. The collars will provide detailed information about elk for approximately two years. This information will enhance CDFW’s knowledge of current elk distribution, abundance, calf recruitment, survival and habitat use.

For additional information regarding captures in Lassen, Modoc or Siskiyou counties, please contact CDFW Wildlife Biologist Reid Plumb at (530) 598-6011. For information regarding captures in Humboldt County, please contact CDFW Environmental Scientist Carrington Hilson at (707) 445-6493.

Media Contacts:
Reid Plumb, CDFW Northern Region, (419) 349-2040
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958