Spanish-Language Hunter Education Course Offered in Santa Clara County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is teaming up with Reed’s Indoor Range in Santa Clara to offer a Spanish-language Hunter Education Course later this month.

To obtain a hunting license in California, new hunters must pass a Hunter Education Course. CDFW’s Hunter Education Program and Reed’s Indoor Range will offer a two-day course in Spanish on the weekend of Feb. 24-25 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day. The cost is $20 per person. All course materials, including the written final exam, will be offered in Spanish. Advance registration is required at Reed’s Indoor Range, 1100 Duane Ave., Santa Clara, 95054.

“A California hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure, good times with friends and family, healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle,” said Lt. Bart Bundesen, CDFW’s Hunter Education Coordinator for the North Coast. “At the same time, a California hunting license carries a lot of responsibility with regard to safety, ethics, values and a commitment to protecting the state’s wildlife and natural resources. The department embraces diversity. That’s why it’s so important to provide this training to our Spanish-speaking constituents.”

For more information, please contact Fred Elizondo at Reed’s Indoor Range at (408) 970-9870 or by e-mail at fred.elizondo@gmail.com.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Lt. Bart Bundesen, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (415) 892-0073

Nutria Discovered in San Joaquin Valley; CDFW Seeks to Prevent Further Spread and Infestation

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has become aware of a population of invasive nutria (Myocastor coypus) reproducing within the San Joaquin Valley. Given the severity of potential impacts and the impacts realized in other infested states, CDFW believes early intervention actions could be successful in eradicating nutria from the area and is asking the public’s help in looking for and reporting nutria sightings in order to determine the extent of the infestation.

To date, nutria have been found in wetlands, rivers, canals and other freshwater habitat in Merced, Fresno and Stanislaus counties. If allowed to establish, nutria will severely impact California’s resources, causing the loss of wetlands, severe soil erosion, damage to agricultural crops and levees and reduced stability of banks, dikes and roadbeds, as they have done in Louisiana, Chesapeake Bay and the Pacific Northwest. Nutria also degrade water quality and contaminate drinking supplies with parasites and diseases transmissible to humans, livestock and pets.

Native to South America, nutria are large, semi-aquatic rodents that reach up to 2.5 feet in body length, 12-inch tail length and 20 pounds in weight. Nutria strongly resemble native beaver and muskrat, but are distinguished by their round, sparsely haired tails and white whiskers (see CDFW’s Nutria Identification Guide). Both nutria and muskrat often have white muzzles, but muskrats have dark whiskers, nearly triangular (laterally compressed) tails and reach a maximum size of five pounds. Beavers have wide, flattened tails and dark whiskers and reach up to 60 pounds.

Female nutria are reproductive by six months of age, breed year-round, and can produce three litters in 13 months. Within approximately one year of reaching reproductive maturity, one female nutria can result in more than 200 offspring, which can disperse as far as 50 miles.

Nutria are destructive, wasteful feeders that destroy up to 10 times the vegetation they consume. Signs of presence typically include cut, emergent vegetation (e.g. cattails and bulrushes), with only the base portions eaten and the stems left floating. Nutria construct burrows with entrances typically below the water line, though changing water levels may reveal openings. Similar to other aquatic mammals, nutria often create runs, or paths in and out of the water or between aquatic sites. Nutria tracks have four visible front toes and, on their hind feet, webbing between four of five toes. Tracks are often accompanied by narrow tail drags.

Since March 30, 2017, more than 20 nutria, including males, pregnant females and juveniles, have been documented within private wetlands near Gustine, duck clubs, the Merced River near Cressey, adjacent to the San Joaquin River near Grayson, south of Dos Palos, the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge, and Salt Slough  on the San Joaquin River. The full extent of the infestation is not yet known.

A multiagency Nutria Response Team, which includes representatives from CDFW, the California Departments of Food and Agriculture, Parks and Recreation, and Water Resources, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and local county agricultural commissioner offices, has convened with the goal of eradicating nutria from the state. The response team is currently preparing an eradication plan, the first stage of which is determining the full extent of the infestation. Assistance from local landowners and the public throughout the Central Valley, Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and beyond is critical to successfully delineating the population.

Suspected observations or potential signs of nutria should be photographed and immediately reported to CDFW’s Invasive Species Program online, by e-mail to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov, or by phone at (866) 440-9530. Observations on state or federal lands should be immediately reported to local agency staff at that land. CDFW has a nutria webpage and a downloadable PDF with photos and detailed descriptions of these rodents, their preferred habitat and the environmental threats they present.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Martha Volkoff, CDFW Invasive Species Program, (916) 651-8658

 

Nutria photo courtesy of Joyce Gross, UC Berkeley.

CDFW Seeks Input on 2018 Recreational Pacific Halibut Season Dates

California anglers interested in the recreational Pacific halibut fishery are invited to provide input to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) via an online survey.

The short survey, which will be open through Feb. 23, will help inform CDFW biologists about angler preferences for open fishing dates during the upcoming 2018 season. Results of the survey will be used to develop recommended season dates that will be provided to the National Marine Fisheries Service.

The survey link is online at www.surveymonkey.com/r/LHHYJXG.

The Pacific halibut fishery takes place off the northern California coast. In 2017, the fishery was open May 1-June 15, July 1-15, Aug. 1-15 and Sept. 1-10. The fishery closed Sept. 11 due to projected attainment of the California quota.

For more information on the Pacific halibut fishery in California, please visit CDFW’s Pacific Halibut webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2814
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

CDFW to Host Public Meeting on Ocean Salmon Fisheries 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites the public to attend its upcoming annual Salmon Information Meeting to learn more about the state of California’s salmon fishery. The meeting will be held Thursday, March 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Sonoma County Water Agency, 404 Aviation Blvd. in Santa Rosa (95403).

A review of last year’s ocean salmon fisheries and spawning escapement will be presented along with the outlook for this year’s sport and commercial ocean salmon fisheries.

Anglers are encouraged to provide input on potential fishing seasons to a panel of California salmon scientists, managers and representatives who will be directly involved in the upcoming Pacific Fishery Management Council (PFMC) meetings in March and April.

Salmon fishing seasons are developed through a collaborative process involving the PFMC, state, federal and tribal agencies, and west coast stakeholders interested in salmon fishery management and conservation. Public input will help California representatives develop a range of recommended season alternatives during the March 8-14 PFMC meeting in Rohnert Park, Calif. Final adoption of ocean salmon season regulations will occur during the April 5-11 PFMC meeting in Portland, Ore.

The 2018 Salmon Information Meeting marks the beginning of a two-month long public process used to establish annual sport and commercial ocean salmon seasons. A list of additional meetings and other opportunities for public comment is available on CDFW’s ocean salmon web page, www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon/preseason.

The meeting agenda and handouts will be posted online as soon as they become available.

Media Contacts:
Kandice Morgenstern, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2879
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Commission Suspends License of Sportfishing Charter Boat Operator for Poaching in Southern California Marine Protected Areas

The California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) today ordered a five-year suspension of the license of Pacific Star Sportfishing, Inc., a recreational sportfishing vessel operator. The decision was made following oral arguments heard at the Commission meeting today in Sacramento.

In an undercover operation and subsequent boarding by officers in 2013, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife officers observed 18 violations including poaching within California’s marine protected area (MPA) network, exceeding the possession limits of several fish species, using illegal methods to take fish and failing to report accurate counts on logbooks. Based on these violations, CDFW filed an accusation with the Commission against Pacific Star requesting that the Commission suspend this commercial passenger fishing vessel license.

“Illegal take of our marine resources, especially in MPAs, undermines the tireless work of law enforcement, scientists, the public and fishermen in California,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “The Commission took ample time to review the department’s accusation and we hope this serves as a message that we do not take lightly these sorts of violations and will ensure those who are responsible receive the appropriate penalty.”

The Commission’s decision today follows a two-day hearing in 2017 conducted by an administrative law judge on behalf of the Commission with CDFW and Pacific Star both participating. The judge ultimately proposed that the Commission suspend the license for two years, with only the first 90 days of the suspension taking effect so long as Pacific Star complied with certain terms of probation. The Commission rejected that proposal as inadequate and gave CDFW and Pacific Star each 15 minutes today to argue their positions, resulting in today’s suspension.

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Media Contacts:
Michael Yaun, Commission Legal Counsel, (916) 653-4899
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News