Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife Urge Drivers to be Alert During Watch Out for Wildlife Week

To help reduce collisions, Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife remind motorists to be on the lookout during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs Sept. 16 – 22.

“With every project we build, we look for innovative ways to protect drivers and wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “That can be as simple as installing flashing warning signs or putting in specialized fencing and crossings to provide wildlife with safe passages. Drivers can make a difference too, just by staying alert.”

Watch Out for Wildlife Week coincides with the season when California’s deer and elk migrate and look for mates, and California’s roadways often cut through these animals’ migration routes. It’s vital that drivers be especially alert now through December to avoid collisions with wildlife. These crashes not only harm wildlife, but collisions with large animals can damage vehicles and cause injury and death to drivers and passengers.

“In the fall, wildlife exhibit natural behaviors that can lead them to more unpredictable movements, and nearer to humans and roadways,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW Statewide Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Deer, bears and other wildlife are most likely to be killed or injured by vehicle collisions between September and December. Bucks fight for mates during breeding season, does travel more with their fawns, and many deer herds migrate to their winter ranges. Black bears travel farther for food as they enter a period of excessive eating and drinking to fatten up for hibernation.”

According to the California Highway Patrol, 12 people died and 383 people were injured in 2,134 collisions with wildlife on state, county, and local roadways throughout California in 2017.

Wildlife experts offer the following tips for motorists:

  • Be extra alert when driving near areas wildlife frequent, such as streams and rivers, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
  • Pay extra attention driving during the morning and evening when wildlife are often most active.
  • If you see an animal on or near the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. Trash odors can attract animals to roadways.
  • Pay attention to road shoulders. Look for movement or reflecting eyes. Slow down and honk your horn if you see an animal on or near the road.

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW, and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve awareness of key issues, and improve ecological sustainability:

Highway 395, Improving Wildlife Connectivity in Lassen County

Caltrans is modifying existing undercrossings that were installed on U.S. Highway 395 in Lassen County near the California-Nevada border more than 25 years ago. To improve the area for wildlife, Caltrans will remove deer gates, install escape ramps for mule deer, and extend fencing to guide animals to existing undercrossings. The project area will be monitored with wildlife cameras.

A dry streambed full of rocks next to a chain link fence alongside a rural southern Calfiornia freeway
New fencing and a former streambed with new vegetation entices wildlife to cross under US-101 in Liberty Canyon in Los Angeles County.

Highway 101, Liberty Canyon Undercrossing in Los Angeles County

The completed environmental document for the famous U.S. Highway 101 Liberty Canyon Project was signed in September 2017. Until a large overpass can be constructed, Caltrans has managed several short-term improvements in the Liberty Canyon area to entice mountain lions to cross safely underneath US-101. New fencing is designed to prevent animals from trying to cross the highway, and a former streambed south of Agoura Road has new vegetation to guide animals safely under the highway.

Highway 101, Wildlife Monitoring Cameras in Sonoma County

Caltrans is monitoring wildlife movement on U.S. Highway 101 north of Santa Rosa. Cameras have been installed on culverts that cross under the highway, and Caltrans regularly downloads images from the cameras to understand more about wildlife in the project area. Mountain lions are just one species that have been observed checking out the culverts along US-101. Camera data will be used to determine potential future improvements that will allow animals to safely cross US-101.

Highway 74, Bighorn Sheep Warning Signs in Riverside County

A yellow, diamond-shaped sign with a black bighorn sheep silhouette, and a small rectangular sign that says "Next 7 miles" in the southern California desert.
Sign warns drivers to watch for bighorn sheep on SR-74.

Efforts are underway to decrease vehicle collisions with Peninsular bighorn sheep, a federally endangered species, on a windy portion of State Route 74 above Palm Desert. In June 2018, Caltrans installed four bighorn sheep warning signs with two flashing beacons to alert drivers that sheep may be in the area. This was a coordinated effort with the Bighorn Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and CDFW.

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Media Contacts:
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420
Tamie McGowen, Caltrans Public Affairs, (916) 657-5060

Lower Klamath River Quota Met

Based upon California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) projections of the recreational fall Chinook salmon catch on the Klamath River, anglers will meet the Lower Klamath River adult fall Chinook salmon quota below the Highway 96 Bridge near Weitchpec for the 2018 season as of 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 12.

This triggers the closure of the adult Chinook salmon fishery on the main stem of the Klamath River from the Highway 96 Bridge to the mouth of the Klamath River at the Pacific Ocean. The fishery at the mouth of the Klamath was closed as of Sept 4, 2018 and will remain closed to all fishing for the rest of the calendar year. The rest of the lower main stem of the Klamath River below the Highway 96 Bridge at Weitchpec will remain open to the harvest of jack (two-year-old) Chinook salmon (22 inches or less). All adult Chinook salmon caught must be immediately released and reported on the angler’s report card.

Anglers may still fish for adult Chinook salmon in other reaches of the Klamath basin, including the main stem of the Klamath River above Weitchpec and the entire Trinity River until the closure of those fisheries.

Anglers may monitor the quota status of open and closed sections of the Klamath and Trinity rivers by calling the information hotline at (800) 564-6479.

For more information regarding Klamath River fishing regulations, please consult the 2018-2019 California Freshwater and Supplemental sport fishing regulations at wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

Media Contacts:
Dan Troxel, CDFW Klamath River Project, (707) 822-0330
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Trinity River Anglers Urged to Return Fish Tags in Timely Manner

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding Trinity River anglers to return Coho salmon, Chinook salmon and steelhead tags in a timely manner.

Tag return information is used each year to calculate harvest and help biologists estimate population size of steelhead and salmon runs. This information feeds into the Klamath basin fall Chinook salmon run-size estimate and informs the Pacific Fishery Management Council’s creation of regulations and quota sizes for the Klamath fishery. The data also allows CDFW to determine if progress is being made toward the goals of the Trinity River Restoration Program. CDFW will no longer be paying rewards for Trinity River tags returned from previous seasons, according to CDFW Trinity River Project Environmental Scientist Mary Claire Kier.

“We rely on anglers returning reward tags to us in the same season that the fish are caught so we can use the information in the season-setting process,” Kier said. “Timely return of reward tags is very important to secure an accurate estimate of the annual harvest. Only tags returned to CDFW in the same season they are obtained can be used in the harvest estimates, yet we often have tags returned to us as many as 10 years late. Unfortunately that catch information has no value to us at that point.”

As a reminder, anglers must immediately release all Coho salmon and wild steelhead (those with an intact adipose fin). Tags may be removed from these species, but the fish must remain in the water during tag removal. Please use scissors or a sharp knife to remove the tag.

Please return all Trinity River fish tags to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
5341 Ericson Way
Arcata, CA 95521

Anglers can obtain a form to accompany the tags at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/inland/fish-tags or send the tags with:

  • Angler’s name and address
  • Date and location fish was caught
  • Whether the fish was kept or released

Anglers should also cut the knot off tags before sending to ensure they will clear the United States Postal Service sorting machine.

Media Contacts:
Mary Claire Kier, CDFW Project Environmental Scientist (707) 822-5876
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

Artists Sought for California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is conducting an art contest to select the design for the state’s 2018-2019 upland game bird stamp.

The California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest is open to all U.S. residents ages 18 and over. Entries will be accepted from Nov. 20 through Dec.7.

This year’s stamp will feature the white-tailed ptarmigan (Lagopus leucuraI). This smallest of North American grouse species exhibits a dramatic change in plumage from a mottled or a barred brown-yellow during breeding in spring to a pure white during the winter months, allowing this chameleon of the bird world excellent camouflage on the ground year-round in its alpine habitat. In California, ptarmigan occupy the highest elevations of the Sierra Nevada from Alpine County south to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park.

Entries must include at least one white-tailed ptarmigan, preferably in a habitat or setting representative of California. Entries will be judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and a print.

The contest will be judged by a panel of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. The winning artist will be selected during a public judging event, with the date and location to be announced later.

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The money generated from stamp sales must be spent on upland game bird-related conservation projects, education, hunting opportunities and outreach. CDFW sells about 175,000 upland game bird validations annually. Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request their free collectable stamp by visiting www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps. For collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation, or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps, an order form is also available on the website.

For contest information and entry forms, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/upland-game-bird-stamp.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6709
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

 

Feather River Hatchery Fish Ladder to Open Sept. 14

The fish ladder at Feather River Hatchery in Oroville will open Friday, Sept. 14, signaling the start of the spawning season on the Feather River.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) hatchery workers will open the gates in the ladder about 8 a.m. and will take more than 3 million spring-run eggs and 12 million fall-run eggs over the next two months in order to produce Chinook salmon for release next spring.

The hatchery is open from sunrise to sunset. Visitors can observe the salmon through the viewing windows and from the observation deck located at the base of the fish barrier dam. At the main side of the hatchery, visitors can observe CDFW technicians performing the spawning process. Thousands of schoolchildren tour the Feather River Hatchery each year. For more information about spawning schedules and educational opportunities at the Feather River Hatchery, please call (530) 538-2222 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries/feather-river. For information about hatchery tours, please call (530) 534-2306.

For more information about California’s fish hatcheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries.

Media Contacts:
Penny Crawshaw, Feather River Hatchery, (530) 538-2222
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News