Keep Tahoe Bears Wild!

Spring Is Here, and With It Some Very Hungry Bears

LAKE TAHOE, Calif./Nev. – The snow is melting in the Lake Tahoe region and a mild winter has given way to a bustling early spring for wildlife in the area. Bears have emerged from their dens and are on the move and hungry.

In the fall, black bears experienced hyperphagia (pronounced hai·pr·fei·jee·uh), which is an increase in feeding activity (consuming about 25,000 calories a day) driven by their need to fatten up before winter. Over the course of the winter, their bodies utilize those fat stores during hibernation when food is scarce. Come spring, their body mass will have naturally decreased and as a result, bears will be on the lookout for easy food sources to help rebuild those fat reserves.

This time of year, bears seek out fresh grasses that are starting to sprout, which often brings them into human occupied areas with green lawns. Unfortunately, these urban areas have an abundance of garbage for bears to easily access so it is up to visitors and residents to keep bears from finding unnatural human food sources. 

Bears are an important part of the Lake Tahoe ecosystem and allowing them access to human food and garbage is a detriment to natural resources in the region. Bears help spread berry seeds through their scat, transport pollen, eat insects and provide other essential functions of nature. As a result, if they find and access human food and garbage, bird seed, pet food, coolers and other sources of human food, the Tahoe Basin loses the benefits bears offer to its natural processes. Bears need to be wild animals rather than garbage disposals, especially since these unnatural food sources can impact their overall health and damage or rot their teeth. 

In fact, bears will unknowingly eat indigestible items from human trash like foil, paper products, plastics and metal that can damage their internal systems and even lead to death. If these items do make it through their system, they leave it behind in their scat rather than the native seeds and healthy fertilizer needed to grow the next generation of plant life. 

Healthy bears mean healthy ecosystems, and we can all do our part to set both up for success!

“The California Department of Fish and Wildlife would like to remind both visitors and residents that the Lake Tahoe Basin is home to hundreds of black bears. Unfortunately, it only takes a few careless people to help make a bear accustomed to human food sources,” said Jason Holley, supervising wildlife biologist for the department’s North Central Region. “We ask for your help to keep Tahoe’s bears wild. Do not feed or approach wildlife and please store food and garbage appropriately.” 

Follow these tips to help keep Tahoe’s bears wild:

  • Never feed wildlife.
  • Store all garbage in and properly close bear-resistant garbage containers, preferably bear boxes. Inquire with local refuse companies about bear box incentives and payment programs. Visit https://southtahoerefuse.com/bear-info/ and/or www.ndow.org/Nevada_Wildlife/Bear_Logic/ for more information.
  • Never leave leftovers, groceries, animal feed, garbage or anything scented in vehicles, campsites, or tents.
  • Be sure to always lock vehicles and close the windows. Keep in mind eating in the car leaves lingering food odors that attracts bears.
  • Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
  • Keep doors and windows closed and locked when the home is unoccupied.
  • Vegetable gardens, compost piles, orchards and chickens may attract bears. Use electric fences where allowed to keep bears out. Refrain from hanging bird feeders.
  • When camping, always store food (including pet food), drinks, toiletries, coolers, cleaned grills, cleaned dishes, cleaning products, and all other scented items in bear-resistant containers (storage lockers/bear boxes) provided at campsites. Bear resistant coolers that come equipped with padlock devices should always be locked to meet bear resistant requirements.
  • Always place garbage in bear-resistant dumpsters in campgrounds or in bear-resistant containers at campsites (storage lockers/bear boxes), and close and lock after each use.
  • Store food in bear-resistant food storage canisters while recreating in the backcountry.
  • Give wildlife space, especially when they have young with them. 
  • Leave small bears alone, mom might be right around the corner.

To report human-bear conflicts in California, contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife at 916-358-2917 or report online using the Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) system at apps.wildlife.ca.gov/wir. Non-emergency wildlife interactions in California State Parks can be reported to public dispatch at 916-358-1300. To report human-bear conflicts in Nevada, contact Nevada Department of Wildlife at 775-688-BEAR (2327). If the issue is an immediate threat, call the local sheriff’s department or 911.

For more information on peacefully coexisting with bears, visit TahoeBears.org.

If you have any questions or concerns, always reach out to the following agency wildlife experts:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife:  916-358-2917

California State Parks:  530-525-9535

Nevada Department of Wildlife:  775-688-BEAR (2327)

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858

May 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Nature Bowl 2021: Family Challenge Edition. Hosted by CDFW’s North Central Region, the 2021 Nature Bowl has been reformatted into a virtual nature challenge to all California families with school-age students. Spring is here, and it’s time for rejuvenation, emerging from winter hibernation and getting outside for a healthy dose of nature. Your challenge is to work together as a family to compete in five nature-themed activities – and possibly win cool nature-related prizes. Nature Bowl runs through May 14, 2021. For more information and materials, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/nature-bowl or contact Genelle Treaster at genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

Various Days — Nimbus Hatchery Virtual Tot Time, 10 to 10:30 a.m. May 3, 10, 17 and 24. The popular story time program hosted by Nimbus Hatchery is back in a virtual format! Join us for nature-themed stories, songs, dancing and more! These free events are designed for ages 3-5. To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rXPHcz1nTe-h7R1PyeW1ag. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

Various Days — Vernal Pool Virtual Tours, 9 to 10 a.m. May 8 and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 19. Explore these crucial, incredible habitats with Yolo Basin Foundation staff and volunteers through a virtual experience at the vernal pools of Grasslands Regional Park. Discover how vernal pools are naturally created, how they can be restored and how they provide unique habitat. Zoom in more closely to view amazing wildflowers and small creatures that call the vernal pools home. For more information and to register for these free events, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.  

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers for the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas (Oregon-California State Line to Point Arena). Season opens for the following species: rockfish, cabezon, kelp and rock greenlings, lingcod, California scorpionfish (aka sculpin), leopard shark, soupfin shark and spiny dogfish, and other federally managed groundfish. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens (until Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

1 — Virtual Tour of the Davis Wetlands, 10 to 11 a.m. Join Yolo Basin Foundation staff and docents to explore and learn about this managed, native California wetland ecosystem. Observe wildlife up close with our virtual spotting scope view! Registration is required to receive the Zoom event link. To register for this free event, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.

3 — Archery Only Spring Wild Turkey and Additional Junior Spring Turkey Seasons Open (extending through May 16). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds

5 — Deadline for California Invasive Species Action Week Youth Art Contest. Students in grades 2-12 are invited to submit artwork on the theme, “Be an Invasive Species Detective!” All types of media are encouraged! Submit entries electronically by May 5, 2021. Find complete information at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest. Winners will be announced during California Invasive Species Action Week in June. Please send any questions to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

5-9 — World Migratory Bird Week at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Celebrate the diversity of birds migrating through Elkhorn Slough Reserve with an independent avian scavenger hunt, do-it-yourself crafts and an outdoor exhibit of bird artifacts. To find out more, please visit the event calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

7 — International Migratory Bird Day Webinar, 10 to 10:45 a.m. What is the Pacific Flyway, and why is it key to the diversity of birds in California? Learn which migratory birds use the Pacific Flyway and how they move across the world in this free Zoom webinar hosted by Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center naturalists. To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8a2Mx7v4TSmf8J2x68m9vg. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

8 — Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Tour, 8 to 11 a.m., 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis (95618). Yolo Basin Foundation offers monthly tours of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, October to June. These tours are appropriate for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts and birders! Due to current guidelines, tours are limited to 20 people. Every individual must be registered to participate. For more information and to register, please visit yolobasin.org/wetlands-tours. There is a suggested donation of $10 per adult for tours. Donations support our wetlands education programs.

11 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, time to be determined. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov.

11 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov.

11 — Vernal Pool Speaker Series: Plants of the Vernal Pools, 7 p.m. Take a closer look at the beautiful and unique plant species that call vernal pools home! Many of the gorgeous flowers that encircle vernal pools are fully protected and a rare treat to see. Carol Witham, botanist and vernal pool expert, will discuss the biology of these plants, why they grow in vernal pools and how to protect and safely view them. To register for this free event, please visit yolobasin.org/grpspeakerseries.  

14 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program Proposal Solicitation Notice Closes. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

15 — Bat Talk and Walk Tickets On Sale. Did you know that an estimated 250,000 bats live under the Yolo Causeway during the summer? Yolo Basin Foundation hosts popular Bat Talk and Walk events where you can learn all about these amazing and beneficial animals and watch the “flyout” of the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California! This summer, the talk portion will be held via Zoom and the walk portion will be an in-person event to view the flyout. As in past years, there will be a few special nights for CDFW employees and their families. More information and registration links will be available at yolobasin.org/bats2021.

15-16 & 19 — Teachers on the Estuary Workshop, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). This free hands-on estuarine science workshop focuses on developing inquiry-based lessons for middle and high school teachers. The 2021 TOTE Workshop focus will be climate change and blue carbon, and it will be held as two online learning sessions and one in-person field day at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. During the field day, all state COVID protection protocols will be practiced, including mask wearing, physical distancing and a capacity on group size. To learn more and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/teachers-on-the-estuary-workshop-2.  

20 California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 1 p.m., via Zoom or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

21 — Endangered Species Day Webinar, 10 to 10:45 a.m. Find out which endangered species call California home and what their future may look like in this free Zoom webinar presented by Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center naturalists. Learn about our native bees and discover what you can do to help them thrive! To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RvlH50RnQXqfmoQCCyeS4A. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

CDFW Takes Proactive Measures to Increase Salmon Smolt Survival

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is taking the proactive measure of trucking millions of hatchery-raised juvenile Central Valley fall-run chinook salmon this spring to San Pablo Bay, San Francisco Bay and seaside net pens due to projected poor river conditions in the Central Valley. The massive trucking operation is designed to ensure the highest level of survival for the young salmon on their hazardous journey to the Pacific Ocean.

“CDFW is utilizing lessons learned from the past 15 or more years of salmon releases and the last drought to maximize release success,” said Jason Julienne, North Central Region Hatchery Supervisor. “Trucking young salmon to downstream release sites has proven to be one of the  best ways to increase survival to the ocean during dry conditions.”

Millions of young salmon will be transported, bypassing 50 to more than 100 miles of poor river conditions where estimated losses have been significant during dry years.

The massive trucking operation will transport around 20 percent more salmon around the Central Valley rivers and Delta than in typical water years. More than 16.8 million young salmon from four Central Valley hatcheries to sites around the San Pablo and San Francisco bays as well as Half Moon and Monterey bays.  It will take approximately 146 individual truck loads traveling more than 30,000 miles between mid-April to early June to get all the fish out. The salmon will be trucked from the Feather River, Nimbus, Mokelumne and Merced salmon hatcheries.

The adaptive management strategy was triggered by CDFW biologists’ and salmon hatchery managers’ evaluation of current and projected river conditions, anticipating historically low flows and elevated temperatures.  Part of the strategy involves selection of new release sites and rotating between release sites to minimize learned behaviors from predators.  Releases will take place at night and during the day, utilizing both direct release and net pen acclimation techniques, to help maximize survival rates.

Ocean commercially and recreationally caught salmon generate more than $900 million in economic impact annually for California. Economic benefits from ocean caught salmon sold in markets to the purchase of fishing boats, fishing equipment, related travel and transportation by recreational anglers in pursue of these hatchery salmon make a significant contribution to California’s economy.

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Media Contacts:
Jason Julienne, CDFW North Central Region. (916) 496-4985
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

CDFW Photo: Tanker trucks carrying salmon smolts from CDFW’s Central Valley hatcheries line up at Fort Baker near the Golden Gate Bridge in preparation to release the fish, bypassing Central Valley rivers where predation, low water, warm temperatures and other factors can limit survival and their ability to reach the ocean.

Pacific Halibut Fishery Set to Open May 1

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the 2021 recreational Pacific halibut fishery will open Saturday, May 1 and remain open until Nov. 15, or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. The 2021 Pacific halibut quota for the California sport fishery is 39,260 pounds – approximately the same as the 2020 quota.

While the closing date of Nov. 15 is a new extension to the end of the season, the open dates are not guaranteed and the season could close early if it is determined that the quota has been taken. In 2020, the season closed Aug. 11, when a very successful fishery resulted in the early attainment of the state’s limit.

Anglers participating in the Pacific halibut fishery and other recreational fisheries are reminded they may be met at fishing sites by CDFW staff collecting catch and fishing effort information. CDFW appreciates anglers’ cooperation and participation in these survey efforts. In the case of Pacific halibut, staff will also be taking length measurements in a safe and physically distanced manner. CDFW highly encourages all recreational anglers to assist with this length data collection effort, as the information will aid with quota tracking and in-season management.

State regulations for Pacific halibut automatically conform to federal regulations set by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) using the process described in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.95. Federal regulations for Pacific halibut were published in the Federal Register (86 FR 20638) on April 21, 2021 and took effect immediately.

Anglers are always advised to check for updated information when planning a Pacific halibut fishing trip, as a season closure announcement could come at any time. Other regulatory information, including bag/possession limits and gear restrictions, can be found on CDFW’s Pacific halibut page. Public notification of any in-season change to regulations is made through the NMFS Pacific halibut hotline at (800) 662-9825 or CDFW’s Groundfish and Pacific halibut Regulations Hotline at (831) 649-2801.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Parker, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 601-5928
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Offering Hunts of a Lifetime

Drawings for ‘Golden Opportunity,’ Open Zone Deer Tags
to Benefit Wildlife Conservation

For the first-time ever, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will raffle off two “Golden Opportunity” fundraising deer tags to the general hunting public. These rare tags allow hunters to take any legal buck by any legal means anywhere in the state beginning July 10, 2021, through the end of the year.

CDFW’s Golden Opportunity tags typically are sold at auction by partnering, nonprofit wildlife conservation organizations to raise funds for big game management, habitat and scientific research in California. In 2019, Golden Opportunity tags brought an average price of $48,200 each. Two of these once-in-a-lifetime tags are now available to the hunting public through CDFW’s 2021 Big Game Drawing for a $7.05 application fee.

Along with the Golden Opportunity tags, CDFW is also announcing additional chances to win a coveted “Open Zone Deer Tag.” These fundraising tags allow hunters to hunt in any deer zone of their choice during its open season and are likewise mostly sold at auction. Four Open Zone Deer Tags will be available to hunters in CDFW’s 2021 Big Game Drawing for a $7.05 application fee. This is an increase from one Open Zone Deer Tag offered in the drawing in previous years.

“The hunting public truly has some amazing opportunities this year to win a dream hunt for the price of just a few dollars,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Deputy Director for Wildlife and Fisheries. “COVID-19 disrupted the operations of many of the conservation organizations we partner with to help sell these tags and raise critical funds for wildlife. As a result, we have some very special deer hunts to add and offer up through our fundraising tag raffle this year.”

In 2019, the auction of five Golden Opportunity deer tags collectively raised $241,000 for conservation. The auction of five Open Zone deer tags in 2019 generated a combined $50,000.

Applications for both the Golden Opportunity and Open Zone Deer Tags are on sale now through June 2, 2021, and are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website and at retail agents statewide that sell California hunting and fishing licenses.

The tags are available to both California residents and nonresidents. There are no limits on application purchases. Winners are awarded the tags at no additional cost. Preference points do not apply. They are neither lost nor gained as part of the drawing.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s Fundraising Random Drawing Tags web page.

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Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858