Category Archives: Youth

2017 Invasive Species Youth Art Contest Kicks Off with “Don’t Let it Loose” Theme

Young artists and future biologists are invited to enter this year’s California Invasive Species Art Contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). This year’s theme is “Don’t Let it Loose!”

Youths in grades 2 through 12 are eligible to enter. Entries should depict invasive species that might be released into California’s waters, parks and wildlands, along with appropriate messaging such as (but not limited to) the following:2017 CISAW Youth Poster Contest Announcement Flier

  • Releasing invasive species into the wild can harm the environment and California’s native plants and animals
  • Description(s) of one or more species that are commonly released into waters, parks or wildlands
  • Explanations or illustrations showing other ways to rehome unwanted pets or plants

All types of media are welcome and encouraged – drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements, etc. Submissions must be received no later than May 5, 2017, and may be submitted by email or regular mail.

Winners will be chosen in three age divisions: grades 2-4, 5-8 and 9-12. Winners from each division will receive awards and have their posters displayed on CDFW’s Invasive Species Action Week webpage. The submission judged to be the best overall will also receive the “Invasive Species Program Choice” Award.

The entry form and a pdf of the contest announcement flyer can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/CISAW.

The contest is sponsored by CDFW’s Invasive Species Program as part of the 2017 California Invasive Species Action Week, June 3-11. The goal of the Action Week is to increase public awareness of invasive species issues and encourage public participation in the fight against California’s invasive species and their impacts on our natural resources.

Many people don’t realize the potential implications of very simple acts. For example, the release of non-native crayfish used as fishing bait has likely resulted in the decline of California’s native crayfish and impacted other species dependent on the habitat. The dumping of aquarium plants can ultimately end up destroying the quality of our waterways and lands. Red-eared sliders, aquarium fish, and Nerodia watersnakes are other examples of released species that can become invasive and negatively impact native species.

California Invasive Species Action Week activities around the state will include presentations on aquatic and terrestrial invasives, guided outings to observe and assess infested areas, invasive species removal efforts, habitat restoration projects and the announcement of the winners of the youth poster contest. Opportunities for youths and adults to participate or volunteer will be available across the state through participating agencies, organizations and volunteer groups, with information and details to be provided on the Action Week webpage.

More information about CDFW’s Invasive Species Program, including examples of invasive species currently affecting California’s wild lands, can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives.

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Media Contacts:
Rachael Klopfenstein, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-3122
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival Draws Record Crowd

A record crowd of over 7,500 enjoyed the Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival earlier this month at Lake Sonoma Visitor Center and Warm Springs-Don Clausen Fish Hatchery east of Healdsburg in the Russian River watershed.

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The event celebrated the return of steelhead to the hatchery operated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and  featured displays, booths and activities put on by more than 60 different state and federal agencies, non-profit conservation groups and vendors.

“More than 2,000 adult steelhead have returned to the hatchery so far,” said CDFW Senior Hatchery Manager Brett Wilson. “We are predicting between 4,000 and 6,000 fish will return this year, which is above average.”

The festival promotes understanding of the critical role natural resource agencies and conservation partners play in the stewardship of the Russian River fisheries in a format which lets children experience trout fishing, see steelhead spawned and meet with a wide variety of conservation professionals from biologists to rangers. This year a new interactive exhibit showcased the major fisheries of the area, history of the dam, and hatchery practices put in place to maintain a broad gene pool and promote genetic diversity of fish stocks.

CDFW facilitated outreach on the steelhead population and life cycle and threats that face water users and facilities like quagga mussels. The CDFW mobile fish exhibit featured live steelhead. A program on joint hatchery partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to raise endangered coho salmon, the Coho Salmon Conservation Program, was also featured. One of the most popular experiences was the kids’ fishing event at the hatchery.  Young anglers were thrilled at the chance to catch one of the steelhead trout raised in the hatchery.

Warm Springs-Don Clausen Fish Hatchery raises and releases 300,000 steelhead each year with 200,000 additional steelhead released from the satellite Coyote Facility, to support a recreational fishery in the Russian River. Adult steelhead spawned in the hatchery are returned to the lower portions of the river to migrate out to sea and return another year.

Warm Springs-Don Clausen Fish Hatchery is a mitigation hatchery mandated to compensate for the impact of the dam on the local steelhead population and conserve the local fishery.

The Lake Sonoma Steelhead Festival is hosted by the Friends of Lake Sonoma, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Sonoma County Water Agency and CDFW. For more information, please visit www.lakesonoma.org.

Media Contacts:
David Moore, CDFW Bay Delta Region (707) 766-8380
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Young Hunters, Mentors Enjoy Successful Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Nearly 1,000 young hunters took to the fields on Feb. 4-5 this year, as Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days opened to clearing skies and the ducks and geese were plentiful. These special two days of waterfowl hunting were open only to junior license holders age 17 or younger, and their non-hunting adult mentors.

Various hunts were conducted on 21 wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) operates waterfowl hunting programs. Private waterfowl clubs and conservation organizations, including the California Waterfowl Association and individual chapters of Ducks Unlimited, hosted twice this number of young hunters statewide.

The main objective of Youth Waterfowl Days is to provide young hunters with a special opportunity to learn more about waterfowl hunting and provide a mentored experience.

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Colby Fritter, 11, earned his hunter education certificate and bought his license on the first of two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days.

“This year CDFW staff worked at opening previously flooded areas like the Little Dry Creek Wildlife Unit, since Grizzly Island and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Areas were closed due to flooding,” said Craig Stowers, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Wildlife Branch Game Management Program. “Not only did the young hunters have some great experiences, but they also did very well, averaging nearly three birds each on Saturday.”

One of the top-producing areas was Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, where young hunters averaged 5.4 birds on Saturday. On many of the other state-managed properties, such as Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, youths averaged approximately three birds each. Numerous private duck clubs and organizations with waterfowl properties throughout the state opened their doors to young hunters as well. Some, like the Cameron Duck Club in East Nicolaus, provided guided hunts for youths.

Eleven-year-old Colby Fritter of Chico completed his Hunter Education Course on Saturday. He secured his license at 3 p.m., just in time to go to a private duck blind for an afternoon shoot. On his first hunt, with his first shot, he took a Canada goose with his Youth Model Remington 870 20-gauge.

“He lit up like a Christmas tree,” said his father, Scott Fritter. “He worked and studied hard to pass the hunter education course and exam and it really paid off. It was an experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”

At the Little Dry Creek Unit in the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, staff cleaned up flood debris to prepare for the 63 youth hunters who hunted the first day.  Each of the young hunters was directed to a blind or free-roam area deemed safe to hunt. Upon completing their hunt, they were invited to dine on hot dogs, chips and bottled water. It was the first time the unit was open since Jan. 7, and provided exceptional opportunities for the young hunters.

Waterfowl hunting results, including results for each state-managed Youth Hunting Days hunt, are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

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Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Youth Waterfowl Days Coming Up February 4-5

Youth hunters have a special opportunity coming up the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Youth Waterfowl Days will provide young licensed hunters an extra weekend to hunt after the regular season ends. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) opens many of their wildlife areas for these special hunt days, as allowed under federal regulations.

Last year an estimated 2,000 youth hunters took to the field to try their luck waterfowl hunting on state, federal and private lands.

Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2016-17 waterfowl season. The regulations can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

This year, some state and federal areas normally open for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days may be closed due to flooding. The main portion of Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is closed, though the Island Slough and Gold Hills units remain open. Some refuges may limit the number of young hunters being admitted for each day of hunting. Many private clubs normally hosting youths on this hunt also face water problems. For updated information on state and federal land closures, please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

“This is a great opportunity for young hunters to have the fields and marshes to themselves, learn skills and techniques from their mentors and share a wonderful experience,” said Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program biologist.

This is only one of the special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days and Junior Waterfowl Hunts held during the 2016-17 season. The Northeastern Zone Federal Youth Waterfowl Hunt days were held Sept. 24-25, and Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges have held special junior hunts where all blinds were reserved for junior hunters. Private organizations like the California Waterfowl Association, chapters of Ducks Unlimited and private clubs provide special youth hunting opportunities throughout the season.

“Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are something California Waterfowl really looks forward to as a chance to pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting to another generation,” said the California Waterfowl Association’s Vice President of Conservation Jake Messerli.

In the Central Valley, Delevan, Colusa and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are scheduled to be open for the youth hunt days while Sutter National Wildlife Refuge will remain closed. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be completely open. Little Dry Creek will have a limited quota if no new flooding occurs. Each of these hunt areas are part of the CDFW reservation system and may fill for the opening Saturday. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is not expected to fill by reservation and will offer walk-on opportunities. Last year at Gray Lodge, 55 young hunters averaged four ducks each.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW Increases Its Booths and Educational Events at Annual Sportsmen’s Show in Sacramento

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has returned with even greater presence to the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) at Cal Expo in Sacramento, which began yesterday and runs through Sunday, Jan. 22. This is the largest hunting, fishing and outdoor recreation show of its kind in northern California and marks the 30th year of the event in Sacramento.

CDFW has increased its presence at the ISE show in Sacramento, as its fisheries and wildlife branches now have their own booths adjacent to the main CDFW booth located in the Pavilion Building (space 3700). There will also be a booth providing information on invasive species.

The main CDFW booth is selling all licenses, tags, report cards and warden stamps. This provides an enhanced opportunity for department staff to respond to angling and hunting constituents by answering their questions, and discussing programs and available fishing and hunting opportunities throughout the state. At its main booth, CDFW is selling its current warden stamp, with proceeds from the $5 stamp supporting wildlife officers and K-9 teams and helping fund the purchase of law enforcement equipment.

For the fourth year, CDFW’s leaders will hold a panel discussion about various topics of interest to California hunters and anglers. The open-forum panel is scheduled in the California Sportsmen’s Theater in the Pavilion Building on Saturday, Jan. 21, at 1 p.m.  Audience members are encouraged to ask questions of the panel.

Additional CDFW booths and highlights will include:

  • CDFW’s First Trout-Planting Truck — This 1925 Dodge pickup was the first truck used for planting trout. The fish back then were transported in big milk cans! It has been refurbished and will be on display near the Youth Fair Expo Center. The vintage truck still runs and looks as if it just rolled off the showroom floor.
  • Wildlife Officer and Recruitment Trailer with Laser Shot. CDFW’s Law Enforcement trailer will be on display outside the Pavilion Building, featuring a taxidermy display and a free, laser-shot hunting simulator game. Wildlife officers, including statewide recruiting Lieutenant Specialist Chris Stoots, will answer questions about employment opportunities. Large-equipment assets used to study, manage and protect California’s wildlife and fisheries, including boats, traps and more, will also be on display.
  • 2017 Hunting Heritage Youth Essay Contest Winner Honored — Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, recently earned the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation, for winning the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest. The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a ceremony Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.
  • A Youth Fair in the Expo Center will feature information on the California Fishing Passport Program, Fishing in the City Program, Hunter Education, Bear Aware Program, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery Interpretive Services Program and feature a Youth Fishing Pond, with trout provided by CDFW.
  • Outdoor California — Free copies of CDFW’s award-winning magazine will be available (as supplies last) at the main booth. Yearly subscriptions may also be purchased for $15.
  • The Cal Expo State Fairgrounds are located at 1600 Exposition Blvd. in Sacramento.  ISE show hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today; 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $17 for adults and youths under age 16 are free. There is a $10 charge to park on the Cal Expo grounds.

For additional information, schedules and to purchase tickets, please visit the ISE webpage at www.sportsexpos.com/attend/sacramento/.