Deadline Approaching for Late Season Aleutian Goose Hunts

Public Contact:
Victoria Barr, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034

Media Contact:
Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is offering north coast Aleutian goose hunts in Humboldt and Del Norte counties in February and March. These hunts are organized by the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program, in partnership with the California Waterfowl Association (CWA).

“This time of year tens of thousands of Aleutian geese start staging on the north coast for their migration back to their breeding grounds,” explained Victoria Barr, SHARE Program Coordinator. “During staging, geese primarily use agriculture pastures to gain energy for their long migration. These hunts will discourage the use of private land by geese, and will benefit farmers as well as create hunter opportunities.”

A total of 1,720 acres on five properties will be available to hunters on designated days in late February and early March. Applications must be received by Feb. 10, 2011.  More information and applications are available on CWA’s website at www.signup4.net/public/ap.aspx?EID=20102171E&OID=147, or by calling Barr at (916) 445-4034.

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.

Artists Sought to Enter 2011 California State Duck Stamp Contest

Contact: Shannon Roberts, DFG Communications, (916) 799-8417

Artists from around the country are invited to submit their original work to the 2011 California Duck Stamp contest. The California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will be accepting submissions from March 1 through April 30 at 4 p.m. The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2011 California Duck Stamp, which all waterfowl hunters much purchase, and will be available as collectible limited edition prints. The top contest submissions will also be showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s art show in July.

The contest is open to any artist who is 18 years of age or older as of March 1, 2011. The picture must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which this year is the Barrow’s Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica).

Entries need to be original, “hand drawn” and in the medium (or combination) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design. Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible to be entered into the contest and will be disqualified. All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement, entry form and a non-refundable $50 entry fee. These forms and the official rules are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/duckstamp.

Entries will be judged at a public event to be held in Sacramento in May. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing, will choose first-, second- and third-place winners, along with an honorable mention.

Since 1971 the California Duck Stamp Program’s yearly contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California. In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license prior to hunting for waterfowl. This year, California has moved to an automated licensing system, and the hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field (proof of purchase prints directly onto the license). However, DFG will still produce the stamps, which will be mailed to hunters at the end of the season.

DFG to Hold Public Workshops on Regulations for State Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves

Media Contact: Julie Horenstein,
DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 324-3772

Kirsten Macintyre, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8988

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) will hold a series of public workshops regarding efforts to update regulations that govern state-managed lands. Workshop participants will learn about the various public uses of California’s wildlife areas and ecological reserves, the regulations currently in place (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 550, 551, 552 and 630), the regulation change process and DFG’s phased plan for updating, beginning with consolidating and clarifying the current regulations.

Please note that these workshops regard only the regulations that govern DFG wildlife areas and ecological reserves, not State Game Refuges. The wildlife areas and ecological reserves are properties owned and/or managed by DFG, whereas lands formally designated as State Game Refuges are not owned or administered by DFG (they are lands of various ownerships that have been designated as “no-hunting” areas by the California Fish and Game Commission). The regulations being discussed at the February workshops do not affect State Game Refuges.

The free workshops will be held on the following dates:

February 3, 2011 from 6 to 9 p.m.
The Faraday Center
1635 Faraday Ave.
Carlsbad, CA 92008

February 15, 2011 from 2 to 5 p.m.
Redding Library
1100 Parkview Ave.
Redding, CA 96001

February 24, 2011 from 6 to 9 p.m.
UC Cooperative Extension Auditorium
4145 Branch Center Rd.
Sacramento, CA 95827

Each workshop will include a question-and-answer period and participants will be invited to share their ideas for future regulatory changes.

Questions about these workshops may be directed to Julie Horenstein (jhorenstein@dfg.ca.gov, (916) 324-3772) or Brad Burkholder (bburkholder@dfg.ca.gov, (916) 445-1829).

Sea Otter Program Reports Troubling Numbers

Contact: Carol Singleton, Department of Fish and Game, (916) 539-6124

Southern sea otters recently passed two grim milestones, report wildlife officials, demonstrating that the threatened marine mammal is not faring well in California waters.

According to a preliminary summary, 2010 broke the record for the number of southern sea otter carcasses recovered in one year, with a total of 304. In addition, officials recently collected the 6,000th deceased sea otter as part of the 40-year collaborative program between California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

“The tireless work of the Southern Sea Otter Stranding Network has helped to bring awareness to the dire situation of the sea otter,” said Melissa Miller, wildlife veterinarian for DFG. “By conducting surveys, collecting carcasses and performing necropsies on a consistent and ongoing basis, we can better understand what is imperiling this important species and find solutions to help.”

Based on this year’s otter survey, the three-year running average count dropped to 2,711 animals. This year’s data represents a 3.6 percent decline from last year’s number of 2,813. This is the second year in a row that the three-year average has dropped, indicating that the southern sea otter population is in a period of decline.

Experts believe there are a variety of factors causing this decline including infectious disease, pollution, habitat degradation and shark attacks. Over the past decade the number of sea otters dying from fatal shark bites has greatly increased, with 2010 seeing a large spike. In addition, recent research found that sea otters are being poisoned by eating shellfish contaminated with toxins that flow into the ocean from freshwater algal blooms.

The Southern Sea Otter Stranding Network was implemented by DFG in 1968 and is currently overseen by the USGS with support from DFG. The purpose of this network is to verify all reports of stranded sea otters in California, and recover the carcasses whenever possible to determine the cause of death. The network is comprised of personnel from the USGS, DFG, Monterey Bay Aquarium, the Marine Mammal Center, California Academy of Sciences and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

You can support vital research and conservation programs for sea otters by contributing to the California Sea Otter Fund when you file your California Income Tax return.  The Sea Otter Fund is on Line 410 of Form 540.

For more information on the USGS sea otter survey results, visit http://www.werc.usgs.gov/outreach.aspx?RecordID=38.

Remember Wildlife at Tax Time

Contact: Dana Michaels, DFG Communications, (916) 322-2420

Californians can receive state income tax credit from the Franchise Tax Board for helping wildlife. More than 300 species of California wildlife are currently listed as endangered or threatened, and hundreds more are at risk. California taxpayers can support the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Rare and Endangered Species Preservation program by donating a few dollars to this dedicated fund on Line 403 of the state tax Form 540.

“The generous donations we receive from taxpayers are critical to our endangered species research and recovery efforts,” said Dale Steele, DFG Nongame Wildlife Program Manager. “These funds have provided critical support for many state-listed endangered species such as the Bank swallow, kit fox, California condor, Bakersfield cactus, California tiger salamander and many more. The recently de-listed California Brown pelican and American peregrine have also benefited from the availability of these important funds. ”

California is one of 41 states that allow taxpayers to make a voluntary, tax-deductible contribution to one or more worthwhile causes in on their state return. Since 1983, the tax check-off fund for Rare and Endangered Species has raised more than $18 million and supported numerous projects, including the establishment of an interagency-controlled breeding program of the riparian brush rabbit with a newly discovered population of rabbits in the south Delta. These efforts have resulted in releases of captive bred rabbits and establishment of new populations on public lands. These efforts have been very successful and have allowed wildlife biologists to accomplish important recovery tasks while helping to conserve the species.

More information on the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation tax check-off program is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/taxcheck.

In 2007, a new tax check-off fund was created to specifically benefit the California sea otter, which is on both the state and federal threatened species lists. Saved from the brink of extinction in recent decades, sea otters are extremely vulnerable to boat strikes, and urban and agricultural runoff. A recent decline in their population has been linked to two parasites carried in possum and cat feces, as well as domoic acid, bacteria carried in polluted runoff and other toxins.

According to DFG Wildlife Veterinarian and lead sea otter researcher Melissa Miller, “The California Sea Otter Fund provides crucial funding to help scientists to better understand causes of sea otter mortality, to identify factors limiting population growth and to work collaboratively with stakeholders to prevent pollution of California’s nearshore marine ecosystem. This fund is made possible entirely through voluntary contributions by citizens of the state of California. There are no other dedicated state funding sources available to continue this important work.

You can support this research by making a contribution on Line 410 of your state tax form 540, the California Sea Otter Fund. DFG works with Defenders of Wildlife to help promote the Sea Otter Fund. An excellent video about the sea otters’ current plight is on their website, www.defenders.org (keywords “tax check-off”).

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News