Category Archives: wolf

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 Confirms Presence of Wolf Pack in Lassen County, Collars Adult Wolf

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California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists have captured and fitted a tracking collar to a female gray wolf in Lassen County, and confirmed that the wolf and her mate have produced at least three pups this year.

During summer and fall 2016, remote trail cameras captured images of two wolves traveling together in Lassen County. There was no evidence they had produced pups at that time. While the female’s origins remain unknown, genetic samples obtained from scat indicated the male wolf originated from Oregon’s Rogue Pack. The famous wolf OR7 is the Rogue Pack’s breeding male.

In early May 2017, partner biologists from the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) found evidence of recent wolf presence in the Lassen National Forest. CDFW biologists began surveying the area and planning a capture operation to collar one of the animals. On June 30, after 12 days of trapping attempts, the 75-pound adult female gray wolf was captured. After a thorough exam by the biologists and a wildlife veterinarian – including the collection of genetic and other biological samples – the wolf was collared and released.

“The anesthesia and collaring process went smoothly and the wolf was in excellent condition,” said CDFW’s Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford. “Furthermore, our physical examination indicated that she had given birth to pups this spring.”

The following day, July 1, CDFW biologists returned to the field for a routine follow-up check on the female. They encountered tracks of what appeared to be wolf pups, and then found that a nearby trail camera operated by USFS had captured photos of the female with three pups. The pups were gray in color and were serendipitously photographed playing in front of the camera.

These wolves, named the Lassen Pack by the USFS employee who first detected their location, are the second pack of gray wolves known in California since their extirpation in the 1920s. The first confirmed breeding pair in California produced five pups in eastern Siskiyou County in 2015, and are known as the Shasta Pack. The current status of the Shasta Pack is unknown, although one of the 2015 pups was detected in northwestern Nevada in November 2016.

The tracking collar affixed to the Lassen Pack female will collect data relative to her activity patterns, survival, reproduction and prey preferences. The Lassen Pack regularly traverses both public and private lands, including industrial timberlands, and the collar may also help to minimize wolf-livestock conflicts by providing information about the pack’s location relative to livestock and ranch lands. While most of the pack’s known activity to date has been in western Lassen County, some tracks have also been confirmed in Plumas County.

Gray wolves are currently both state and federally listed as endangered. Their management in California is guided by endangered species laws as well as CDFW’s Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, finalized in 2016. CDFW’s goals for wolf management in California include conserving wolves and minimizing impacts to livestock producers and native ungulates.

The Conservation Plan, a wolf sighting report form, a guide to help distinguish a gray wolf from a coyote and additional information about wolves in California can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Mammals/Gray-Wolf.

Photos courtesy of USFS.

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

 

CDFW Releases Final Wolf Management Plan for California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today released the Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California (Part 1 and Part 2). CDFW gathered diverse input from a varied group of stakeholders for the past two years before finalizing the plan.

“Wolves returning to the state was inevitable, we always knew that,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Over the past few years we have seen wolves re-establish themselves. It’s an exciting ecological story, and this plan represents the path forward to manage wolves in a state with nearly 40 million people.”

This plan addresses important concerns regarding the presence of wolves, including conflicts with livestock and the maintenance of adequate prey sources for wolves, other predators, and public use. Given the controversy of this iconic species, it was important that the planning process produce a source of clear, objective information, based on a thorough consideration of the available science most relevant for wolves in California. The plan covers key issues and potential actions CDFW believes important to the understanding and future conservation of wolves.

Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California:

Part 1

Part 2

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

Two Gray Wolves Confirmed Present in Lassen County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of two gray wolves in western Lassen County.

After a wolf-like canid was photographed by trail cameras in Lassen County in fall 2015 and spring 2016, CDFW began operating additional trail cameras in the area and regularly searching for wolf scat and tracks. This summer, photographs, tracks and eyewitness sightings suggested the presence of two canids frequently traveling together.

Numerous scat samples were collected by CDFW scientists and submitted to the University of Idaho’s Laboratory for Ecological, Evolutionary and Conservation Genetics. Genetic analysis of the samples confirmed the presence of a male and a female gray wolf.  There is no current evidence — such as trail camera images, tracks, scat or reported observations — suggesting the wolves produced pups this year.

Analysis of scat indicates that the male wolf was born into the Rogue Pack in 2014, and most likely dispersed to Lassen County in late 2015 or 2016. The founder of the Rogue Pack is the well-known gray wolf OR7 (collared in Oregon by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife) who dispersed from northeast Oregon and traveled around northern California in 2011 and 2012 before eventually finding a mate and establishing a territory in southern Oregon in 2013.

The DNA of the female wolf does not match that of any known individual wolves from Oregon, and initial analyses indicates she is not a close relative of current Oregon wolves. Dispersing wolves have commonly been documented to travel great distances, and it is possible that she dispersed from another western state. The collection of higher-quality genetic samples may eventually lead to a better understanding of her origin.

Gray wolves were eliminated from California more than 100 years ago, until the return of OR7 in 2011. In May and July 2015, a trail camera in Siskiyou County captured images of a single adult, black wolf. Additional cameras were placed in the vicinity and in August 2015 images of two separate adult black wolves and five pups were captured. CDFW designated these animals the Shasta Pack. Until confirmation of the pair of wolves in Lassen County, these were the only wolves known to occur in California.

According to strategies identified within CDFW’s draft Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves in California, CDFW will continue to assess and monitor gray wolves in California. If the pair documented in Lassen County continues to stay in the region, monitoring may include capturing at least one of the two and fitting it with a satellite-based GPS transmitter.

“The purpose of collaring gray wolves is to understand some key biological parameters such as habitat use, prey preferences and reproduction, as well as to potentially minimize wolf-livestock conflicts” said Karen Kovacs, a CDFW Wildlife Program Manager who has studied the wolves. “Due to concerns for the welfare of wolves, capturing them is generally not feasible in cold weather. Therefore, we would not attempt to capture and collar the wolves until late spring at the earliest.”

Gray wolves are currently listed as endangered both federally and within the state of California. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and CDFW have no plans to reintroduce gray wolves into California. CDFW’s draft Conservation Plan for Gray Wolves is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/mammals/gray-wolf.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Kovacs, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 225-2312

Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352