Endangered Delta Smelt Population Improves

Media Contacts:
Marty Gingras, DFG Supervising Biologist, (209) 948-3702
Jordan Traverso, DFG Communications, (916) 654-9937

Young Delta smelt abundance this year roughly doubled when compared to last year but is a small fraction of their historical abundance, state biologists say. The improvement is likely due in large part to higher than usual flows from the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers this year which resulted in better habitat conditions and water quality.

Because it is exceptionally difficult to determine the actual number of Delta smelt, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) biologists use survey data to develop “indices” of the species’ abundance. An index is a number that is likely to vary in direct proportion to abundance. For example, if a hypothetical index were to double from 4 to 8 then abundance would also have doubled (e.g., from 200,000 to 400,000).

The 20-Millimeter Survey index of young Delta smelt abundance – which has been developed yearly since 1995 and is named after the approximate size of fish it collects – was 8.0 this year while the index in 2010 was 3.8 and its record high was 39.7 in 1999. The Summer Tow Net Survey index of slightly-older Delta smelt abundance – which has been developed yearly since 1959 and is named after the type of net used to collect fish – was 2.2 this year while the index in 2010 was 0.8 and the record high was 62.5 in 1978.

The increased number of young Delta smelt is encouraging, but because it is still early in their one-year life cycle, the abundance of adults may or may not increase similarly. DFG will continue to monitor the population and at the conclusion of the Fall Midwater Trawl Survey in December will calculate and then release an index of sub-adult Delta smelt abundance.

Delta smelt occur only in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The finger-sized fish was historically one of the most abundant in the Delta, but the species declined substantially and was listed as threatened under the California and Federal Endangered Species acts (ESA) in 1993. After a further decline, the species was designated as endangered in 2010 under the California ESA. Ongoing efforts to protect and recover the population include research on threats to the species, active management to minimize loss at water diversions under federal ESA biological opinions and a state ESA authorization, development of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, improved water quality, habitat restoration and conservation of genetic diversity through special hatchery-rearing techniques.

To see how the indices of Delta smelt abundance have varied over the years, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/data/townet/indices.asp?species=3and http://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=34731.

DFG Online Licensing Increases Big Game Draw Applications

Media Contacts:
Joe Hobbs, DFG Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-9992
Andrew Hughan, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8944

California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) licensing automation made it easier for big game hunters to apply for prized tags this year. The new Automated License Data System (ALDS) is credited for a surge in the number of applicants for the highly anticipated Big Game Draw. Total applications were up 10 percent on average for antelope, deer and sheep, with elk applications up 13 percent over last year.

Only a limited number of tags are issued annually for each species. In previous years, hunters had to drop off their applications at DFG offices, sometimes having to brave long lines of last-minute applicants. This year, walk-in traffic was light as most hunters purchased their applications on the Internet or at a license agent.

New this year was the opportunity for hunters to purchase as many chances as they liked (at $5.40 each) to win a rare Owens Valley elk tag and an open zone deer tag.

The Owens Valley elk tag raised $60,120 and the open zone deer tag raised $77,585. The money raised by these tags goes into the newly implemented Big Game Management Account (BGMA).

Senate Bill 1058 (Harman) made specific and important changes to existing law regarding revenues from the sale of antelope, elk, deer, wild pig, bear and sheep tags, including any fund-raising tags. Revenue from these sales must be deposited into the BGMA to provide separate accountability for the receipt and expenditure of these funds. The law stipulates the permitted uses for these funds, including acquiring land, completing projects, implementing programs to benefit antelope, elk, deer, wild pigs, bear and sheep, and expanding public hunting opportunities and related public outreach.

 Typically these two tags would be auctioned off by nonprofit organizations, which generate approximately $25,000.

 Applications for the 2011 Big Game Draw closed June 2, 2011.

Department of Fish and Game Seeks Reserve Peace Officer Applicants

Media contacts:
Captain Rob Roberts, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 653-7575
Warden Patrick Foy, DFG Law Enforcement, (916) 651-2084

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is now accepting applications for the new Reserve Peace Officer Program. Applicants must be California peace officers who are currently POST-certified for Level 1 Reserve Training. The position is unpaid, but offers current California peace officers the opportunity to work as reserve game wardens on a regular basis and assist current game wardens with their law enforcement-related activities.

Candidates for the program will have to pass a background investigation, medical evaluation, psychological evaluation and pre-employment physical that includes a basic swim test. Reserve officers may also have to complete a minimum 40-hour field training program regarding natural resource management and fish and game laws.

Reserve officers will work in the field or on vessels and will typically be assigned to work alongside full-time, paid wardens. They will be required to work a minimum of 16 hours per month to remain active.

Interested candidates should submit a standard state application form (also known as a Standard 678, available at http://spb.ca.gov/jobs/stateapp.htm) to the Law Enforcement Division Reserve Peace Officer Program.

DFG is charged with protecting California’s diverse natural resources, including wildlife and fish and their native habitats. Fish and Game wardens work on land and water, deserts and mountains, in urban and remote areas, and encounter wildlife poachers and polluters of every sort.

The DFG Law Enforcement Division receives regular requests from well-qualified peace officers to participate in a Reserve Peace Officer Program. The original program was phased out in the late 1990s as the volunteers were not POST-certified. The new program will include recently retired game wardens and other retired or full-time California peace officers.

For more information about the Reserve Peace Officer Program in Southern California, please contact Lt. Kent Smirl at (714) 638-8488 or ksmirl@dfg.ca.gov. In northern California, questions can be directed to Lt. Josh Nicholas, (415) 883-6160 or jnicholas@dfg.ca.gov.

DFG 2011 Game Bird Heritage Dove Hunts Offered in San Diego County

Media Contacts:
Nicholas Bechtel, DFG Game Bird Heritage Program, (805) 965-3059
Kyle Orr, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8958

The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Game Bird Heritage program is offering five dove hunting opportunities at Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve in 2011. Rancho Jamul Ecological Reserve is located in San Diego County.

On Sept. 3, two hunts are scheduled, one at 6 a.m. and the other at 3 p.m. On Sept. 4, there is a single hunt at 6 a.m. On Nov. 20, there is one hunt scheduled at 6 a.m.and another hunt at 3 p.m.These hunts can accommodate 20 hunters apiece. For additional information, please contact Nicholas Bechtel at (805) 965-3059.

Applications are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting/. The deadline to apply is Aug. 2, 2011 at 5 p. m. If you have questions regarding the application process, please call the DFG Upland Game Bird Program at (916) 445-3418.


DFG to Offer a One-day Wild Pig Hunting Clinic in July

Media Contacts:
Dan Lehman, DFG Hunter Education Program, (916) 358-4356

Kyle Orr, DFG Communications, (916) 322-8958

The California Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) Advanced Hunter Education Program is hosting a wild pig hunting clinic in July in KernCounty.  Co-sponsored by the Pacific Coast Hunter Education Association and Tejon Ranch, the clinic will be held July 30 at Tejon Ranch.

The clinic will cover pig biology, hunting gear, techniques, methods for locating wild pigs, field dressing, game care demonstration and public lands available for hunting pigs. The clinic is scheduled from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.The cost is $45 and space is limited. Youths 16 years and younger are free but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

DFG’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment. Meals are not included but a $10 barbecue lunch can be purchased from the Pacific Coast Hunter Education Association on the day of the clinic.

Registration forms are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced/index.aspx. After registering, participants will receive an e-mail with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring.

Tejon Ranch is located approximately 30 miles south of Bakersfield and 60 miles north of Los Angeles. Camping accommodations are available on the property.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife News