Abalone Season Opens April 1; New Report Cards Available through Automated License Data System

Media Contact:
Jerry Kashiwada, DFG Marine Region, (707) 964-5791
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

California’s popular red abalone season will open April 1 in waters north of San Francisco Bay. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) reminds divers and rock pickers that anyone taking abalone must record their catch on an abalone report card, and tag the animal with corresponding tags from the cards.

This year, all licenses and cards will be available through the new Automated License Data System (ALDS), which automatically records purchases in an active database.
“Abalone report cards are a vital source of information needed to manage this resource, and the ALDS will allow us to track whether individuals have returned their report cards as required by law,” said DFG Associate Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada. “In the past, we could not easily determine who had not returned their cards.”

Abalone report cards should be returned to the DFG Fort Bragg office at 32330 North Harbor Drive, Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554. This season’s return deadline is January 31, 2012, although cards may be submitted early. Abalone report cards must be returned even if no abalone is taken.

Because of the nature of the paper used for the ALDS abalone report card and tags, scissors are needed to separate the tags from the card just prior to attaching them to an abalone. In the past, scissors were not needed to separate the pre-perforated tags.
Tags that are separated from the cards ahead of time are invalid. Holes may be punched in the tags immediately after purchase, however. Other slight modifications to the tagging procedure, such as using scissors to cut off tags, may be needed with the ALDS report cards.

The Fish and Game Commission is currently considering proposals for marine protected areas (MPAs) along the north coast, from Point Arena in Mendocino County to the Oregon border. The north coast MPA process will not affect the 2011 abalone season. To find out more about the MPAs currently under consideration, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/mlpa/northcoast.asp.

Currently, the only open abalone fishery in California is in the northern region of the state. This fishery is biologically sustainable and has remained productive for nearly 60 years. In 2009, the most recent year for which figures are available, the recreational catch in northern California was an estimated 295,000 abalone.

Everyone engaging in the take of abalone is responsible for knowing and abiding by all California abalone sport fishing regulations. A complete list of abalone fishing regulations is also available in the 2011 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, available wherever fishing licenses are sold, at DFG offices and online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

Special Wyoming Commissioner’s Hunt Tag Raises $31,500 for Children of DFG Biologists

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937
John Carlson, Jr., California Waterfowl Association, (916) 648-1406, ext. 105

A special Wyoming big game hunt tag auction has raised approximately $31,500 to benefit the children of the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists killed in a January 2010 helicopter crash.

The Wyoming Commissioner’s tag, which is good for the winner’s choice of an elk, deer or antelope hunt during any open 2011 season in Wyoming, initially sold for $9,000 before being donated back to sell again. It sold a second time for $8,500 and was again donated back, before finally going to the winning bidder for $7,000. Telephone bidding for the tag also occurred the night of the March 26 auction, which took place at a fundraising dinner in San Jose for the Mule Deer Foundation, Central Coast Chapter.

In addition to the funds raised directly by the sale of the tag, those in attendance at the dinner donated another $7,000 for the State Biologists’ Memorial Fund and earmarked for the  children of Clu Cotter and Kevin O’Connor, two biologists who were among four men killed in a helicopter crash while conducting a routine deer study in Madera County. 100 percent of the funds raised that night will be deposited into the fund.

“The Department’s partners, constituents and friends are an extension of the DFG family and these generous donations show that this group of hunters and outdoors enthusiasts take care of their own,” DFG Director John McCamman said. “We’re so thankful to Wyoming Game and Fish Commissioner Fred Lindzey, who donated the tag, the California Waterfowl Association and the Mule Deer Foundation, among many other groups who have stepped up to ensure that the children of these men grow up with needed resources. We hope it helps them to connect to California’s amazing outdoors and experience all of the rich beauty of our great state that their fathers knew and loved so well.”

The tag was initially donated by  Commissioner Lindzey to the California Waterfowl Association (CWA), which decided to auction it at the Mule Deer Foundation’s annual fundraising dinner to benefit this specific cause. Other supporters of the auction included the California Fish and Game Commission, Safari Club International’s San Francisco Bay Area and Golden Gate chapters, and the California Wild Sheep Foundation.

“I have never seen anything like this before,” said John Carlson, Jr. former California Fish and Game Commission Executive Director and current President of CWA. “It was a very special night with very generous folks, and I think it’s indicative of the nature of responsible hunters, who believe that the actions of an individual ultimately affect us all, and don’t hesitate to step up and get involved when there is a need.”

Individuals can contribute to the fund any time by sending a check (made out to State Biologists’ Memorial Fund) to the State Biologists’ Memorial Fund, c/o CAPS, Attn: April Beale, 455 Capitol Mall, Suite 500, Sacramento, CA 95814.

Endangered Coho Salmon Return to Russian River

Media Contacts:
Manfred Kittel, DFG Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5522
Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

Coho smolts

Scientists working on the recovery of endangered coho salmon in northern California appreciate success even if it comes in small doses. Field biologists from the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) are reporting the largest number of coho returning to spawn in Sonoma County tributaries of the Russian River in more than a decade.

Most of these fish were released as fingerlings into the river system, as part of a captive broodstock program at Don Clausen Warm Springs Hatchery on Lake Sonoma. The broodstock program began 10 years ago, when wild coho salmon were rapidly vanishing from the region.

Prior to the launch of the recovery program in 2001, the number of returning adult coho salmon averaged less than four per year. These low numbers were the catalyst for the Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program, a recovery effort in which offspring from hatchery-reared adults are released into the river system.

This year, biologists estimate that more than 190 adult coho may have returned to the Russian River system, beginning with early storms in October and peaking in December. Promisingly, a few coho are being sighted in creeks that are not stocked, utilizing habitat beyond those tributaries in which coho are released.

“We are hopeful that coho salmon released through this program will continue to return to the Russian River system in increasing numbers and begin to establish self-sustaining populations,” says Manfred Kittel, Coho Salmon Recovery Coordinator for DFG’s Bay Delta Region. “The program is a cornerstone of coho salmon recovery efforts in central California, but the number of fish observed this year must be seen in perspective. A healthy coho population should number in the tens of thousands in California.”

Coho salmon abundance has declined dramatically statewide in the past few years. Biologists believe that additional captive breeding efforts and other focused recovery measures will likely have to be instituted to prevent widespread extinction of coho salmon in central California.

Coho salmon in central California are listed as an endangered species under both the State and Federal Endangered Species Acts. It is against the law to catch them anywhere in the state.

The Russian River Coho Salmon Captive Broodstock Program is a broad coalition of government agencies, scientists and private landowners dedicated to bringing back productive salmon runs. Its members include DFG, which manages the hatchery component at the Don Clausen Warm Springs Hatchery, University of California Sea Grant Extension, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and Sonoma County Water Agency.

Fish and Game Offers May Pig Hunts Through SHARE Program

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034 
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will conduct a permit-only wild pig hunt on Bobcat Ranch in May. This hunting opportunity – under the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program – will give 56 wild pig hunters access to the private property during two archery periods, two apprentice periods and four general method periods.

 The SHARE Program is a voluntary landowner incentive program. Participating landowners receive liability protection and may receive compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California that would not be available otherwise.

 The Bobcat Ranch is located in Yolo County’s Vaca Mountain foothills, west of Winters. Hunting under the SHARE Program will help achieve the ranch’s long-term conservation management objectives, which include controlling the wild pig population.

 Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on April 5, 2011. More information and applications are available on DFG’s SHARE Program website at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share.

Terra Bella Man Arrested for Impersonating a Game Warden

Media Contacts:
Nathaniel Arnold, DFG Law Enforcement, (559) 284-1264
Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095
A 28-year-old man has been arrested for impersonating a California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) warden in Tulare County. Joshua Adam O’Daniel, a Terra Bella resident, was sought by law enforcement for allegedly claiming to be a game warden making a field contact with a mother and daughter.
On Dec. 30, 2010, the mother and daughter were parked along Blueridge Road in rural Tulare County when O’Daniel stopped his pickup nearby and approached them. The women said that he had dogs on the ground and appeared to be hunting. He first asked them if they had seen any bears, which they denied. He then identified himself as a game warden and asked if either of the women had been drinking or had any drugs or firearms in the vehicle. O’Daniel then told the women he needed to check their vehicle for drugs and firearms.
When O’Daniel realized there were additional occupants in the vehicle (which he had not previously noticed due to tinted windows), he asked the women if there were males in the vehicle. When the women responded that there were “lots of them,” O’Daniel immediately sped off in his pickup, leaving his dogs trailing after him.
A subsequent investigation based on witness information identified O’Daniel as a suspect. Both women independently picked O’Daniel out of a photo lineup. Because O’Daniel had searchable probation terms from a prior criminal conviction on weapons charges, wardens contacted him at his residence and arrested him on March 17. He is now facing additional charges for possession of methamphetamine, drug paraphernalia, a firearm and ammunition, as well as unlawful storage of a firearm.
Impersonating a peace officer is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News