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Earth Day Reminder: Everything We Do Affects Wildlife

Saturday, April 22 is Earth Day, a good time to remember what John Muir said so eloquently: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” That fact influences nearly everything the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does to manage and protect the state’s native plants, invertebrates, fish, wildlife and habitats.

Twenty million people in the U.S. participated in the first Earth Day in 1970, to increase public awareness of the damage humans were doing to the environment. People used the day to educate themselves and others about the relationship we have with the world’s natural resources. That year, California was one of the first states to enact statutes protecting rare and endangered animal species, and it remains a world leader in environmental protection. Now, Earth Day is celebrated every year by more than a billion people in 192 nations.

CDFW sees the effects of human behavior on wildlife and ecosystems every day. As the public steward for California’s wildlife and habitat, CDFW practices conservation and restoration statewide with considerable success. California tule elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes) provide a good example.

By 1870 very few individual tule elk were known to exist; they were closely related and on the verge of extinction. When the state Legislature banned elk hunting in 1873, it was unclear if any even remained. One pair was discovered by a local game warden near Buttonwillow, and nurtured to save the species. In 1977, seven elk were reintroduced to their former native habitat at Grizzly Island in Solano County. Since then, this herd has not only flourished, but provided seed stock for CDFW to establish new herds. Statewide, tule elk populations have expanded to 5,100 animals in 21 herds.

Two charismatic birds that were once endangered have recovered well enough to be de-listed under the U.S. Endangered Species Act: the Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus anatum) and California brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis californicus). By 1969 both species’ breeding populations had plummeted, primarily because of organochlorine pesticides like DDT. The chemicals made the birds’ eggshells too thin and fragile to withstand the parents’ weight in the nest, so multiple generations were crushed during incubation. Recovery began when the state and federal governments and Canada banned the use of those pesticides. Reducing human disturbance of nesting and roosting sites aided the pelicans’ recovery, and a captive breeding program supported recovery of the falcon population. Along with landowners and other scientists, CDFW scientists’ research and monitoring provided the facts needed to list both species, make their recovery possible, and determine when it was time to de-list them. CDFW continues to work with many partners to monitor de-listed species to ensure their populations remain healthy.

The endangered Light-footed Ridgway’s Rail (Rallus longirostris levipes, formerly known as light-footed clapper rail) is slowly recovering, thanks to CDFW and other scientists and partners, and because of habitat acquisition by the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB), which purchased land for the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. There, and in other coastal marshes of Southern California, these secretive birds are protected, and a captive breeding program is underway to supplement the wild population. A population decrease in 2008 is believed to have been weather-related, and could be a harbinger of what’s in store if climate change predictions come to pass. The consistent management and captive breeding program have brought the population back up to more than 600 pairs.

Eighty years ago people thought Southern sea otters (Enhydra lutris nereis) were extinct. A small colony was discovered at Big Sur in 1938 and given legal protection. The combined efforts of local, state and federal governments, nonprofit organizations and individuals have nurtured the population to around 3,000. That’s only a fraction of historic numbers, but a step in the right direction.

In 1994 CDFW’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response and UC Davis created the Oiled Wildlife Care Network (OWCN) to rescue, rehabilitate and release wildlife injured in oil spills. OWCN quickly became the world’s premier oiled wildlife rescue organization and pioneered research in the subject to develop the best achievable care using the best available technology. Since 1995, the OWCN has responded to more than 75 oil spills throughout California and has cared for nearly 8,000 oiled birds and mammals.

“Working in the oil spill response field for over 25 years, I have seen how our community quickly responds to a detrimental environmental incident,” CDFW Environmental Program Manager Randy Imai said. “So, I know we can all do this at a much smaller scale in our everyday lives. Every one of us can make a difference.”

The WCB supports projects that benefit wildlife with bond money approved by California voters for environment-related projects. In 2016 alone, the WCB allocated approximately $93 million to more than 100 projects. That money bought more than 8,000 acres of wildlife habitat, conservation easements on more than 33,000 acres of habitat, restoration and enhancement of more than 17,000 acres, public access rights, stream flow enhancement studies and infrastructure improvements, and it helped develop Natural Community Conservation Plans that protect multiple species.

You don’t have to be a scientist, wildlife officer or legislator to protect California’s wildlife and ecosystems. There are many things most anyone can do, including:

  • Pick up litter. Wildlife often mistake trash for food and die because of it, and wild birds can become entangled and die in abandoned fishing line.
  • Don’t use rat poison. Let rodents’ natural predators—coyotes, foxes, bobcats, raptors (owls, hawks) and snakes—control their population. See our Rodenticides webpage for details.
  • Replace your lawn with native plants to help conserve water and our native pollinators. Locally native plants can thrive in both dry and wet years.
  • Conserve water.  Conservation is the way of life in California. Use as little water as possible to prevent shortages and assure sufficient water for food crops and for ecosystem protection.
  • Reduce, reuse, recycle. Most California cities and counties have recycling programs for both residents and businesses. Visit CalRecycle Earth Day.
  • Buy in bulk and use recyclable materials. Compost veggie scraps and yard clippings in gardens. Landfills destroy valuable wildlife habitat, so think about that each time you make a trip to your garbage containers. The cumulative impacts are enormous.
  • Use biodegradable soaps. They pollute less than other soaps.
  • Drive less. Plan your errands to reduce the number of car trips. Walk, bike, carpool or take public transit. Spare the Air! If you can, make your next car electric or hybrid to help slow climate change.
  • Never dump oil, chemicals, or any other waste into a storm drain or gutter.
  • Take children out for nature walks and teach them about the local plants and animals. They can’t be stewards of the future without understanding and caring for nature. We’re all in it together on this one planet Earth.
  • Volunteer at nature centers, ecological reserves, or for a government-led program like the Natural Resources Volunteer Program. Volunteer at schools or recreation centers, and create nature and ecology programs.
  • Go Birding! Share bird identification books and binoculars with others who may not have them. Visit California Audubon for information.
  • Keep dogs on a leash in wild places, even on beaches. Don’t let dogs flush birds! Birds need undisturbed time to nest successfully, to forage, and then to rest and preen and conserve energy.
  • Keep cats indoors. Cats kill millions of birds each year, not out of malice, but because they’re wired to kill and eat them. A clean litter box is not difficult to maintain. Just be sure to bag the waste in biodegradable material and dispose of it in your garbage can.
  • Go Solar! Utilities offer rebates, and if you can afford a solar energy system, you’ll help reduce the rate of climate change. If you can’t, let the sun warm your home through windows on sunny days.
  • Conserve electricity, use natural light as much as possible, and turn off all lights when not in use. It takes natural resources to create energy and wildlife habitat is compromised or destroyed in the process. Energy production pollutes the air and produces greenhouse gases, contributing to the climate change problem and respiratory ailments. Use thermal drapes and energy-efficient windows to keep your home warm or cool as needed, and dress for the temperature, so you use the heat or air conditioner less. Use a clothes line outdoors or hang clothes to dry indoors. You’ll save money as well as energy!

There are many entertaining and informative Earth Day events planned throughout California. Here’s a small sample:

Earth Day Festival at Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, April 22, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3842 Warner Ave., Huntington Beach (92647). The free event will include educational activity booths and guided tours of the reserve. Exhibitors include CDFW, Bolsa Chica State Beach, Wetland and Wildlife Care Center, Native People of SoCal, Orange County Coastkeeper, Shipley Nature Center, Air Quality Management District, Wyland Foundation, Shed Your Skin, and co-host Amigos de Bolsa Chica. Enjoy the Windows to Our Wetlands bus, interactive booths, native plant stations, a craft booth, food for sale, and more. The event is handicap accessible, held in the north parking lot. For more information, call (714) 846-1114.

CDFW will be at the U.S. Forest Service’s Kern River Valley Bioregions Festival at Circle Park in Kernville April 22, to explain the Kern River Hatchery renovation project and the new Kern River Rainbow program with the Friends of the Kern River Hatchery. The CDFW Natural Resource Volunteer Program will provide a booth with information on volunteer opportunities.

CDFW will host booths at three Sacramento area events: the Roseville Celebrate the Earth Festival and Sacramento Zoo Earth Day on April 22, and the ECOS Sacramento Earth Day on April 23. Ask staff about California wildlife, Watchable Wildlife locations in the greater Sacramento area and Nimbus Fish Hatchery, which is open to visitors year-round. Enjoy a variety of hands-on activities, including the Salmon Survival Wheel, where players learn about the obstacles that salmon must overcome in order to spawn.

Volunteer Work Day at Friant Interactive Nature Site, April 21 and 22, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., 17443 N. Friant Rd, Friant (93626). Spend a fun day outdoors, doing trail maintenance (pulling weeds, raking, pruning) in a lovely setting for outdoors education. For more information, please call (559) 696-8092.

Gray Lodge Clean-up and Field Day and Public Meeting, April 22, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley (95948). The event is in partnership with California Waterfowl Association (CWA), and will include habitat and maintenance projects, followed by a lunch sponsored by CWA. The day will be informative and will help improve the quality of wildlife habitat. At 1:30 p.m., CDFW will hold an annual public outreach meeting regarding the Gray Lodge and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Areas at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area’s main office building. For more information, please call (530) 846-7500 or email GLWLA@wildlife.ca.gov.

Los Banos Wildlife Area will have a hands-on activity booth at the Modesto Earth Day Festival in Graceda Park.

Many more events are listed at CalRecycle and EarthDay.org.

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

November 2012 Department of Fish and Game Calendar

Media Contact:  DFG Office of Communications, (916) 322-2420

Two sandhill cranes facing each other in wetland, one with wings spread
Sandhill cranes begin courtship dance at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve. Photo by Bill & Brigitte Clough/DFG

DATE — EVENT

Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours, the first three weekends of each fall/winter month through February at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve near Lodi. The docent-led tours start approximately 90 minutes before sundown and run to about 30 minutes after sunset. Pre-tour registration is required online at www.dfg.ca.gov/delta/cranetour and may be made up to six weeks in advance. Suggested donation is $10 per adult. The South unit of Woodbridge ER is accessible to the public at any time. It features informative interpretive panels, and viewing of sandhill crane ‘fly-over’ at sundown is common. The Woodbridge North unit (accessible only by tour) includes a bird-viewing blind and typically receives the ‘fly-in’ where the cranes come to roost for the night.For more information please visit the website or call (209) 948-7708.

Guided Swan Tours in rice fields near Marysville, Saturdays in November, from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and 1 to 3 p.m. Driving tours along a short route with very little walking required. See tundra swans, ducks, geese, cranes, shorebirds, white pelicans, herons, egrets and raptors. Pre-registration is required on the DFG website, www.dfg.ca.gov/regions/2/SwanTours. Tours are free, but registrants are encouraged to make a donation online to the California Wildlife Foundation to support this program. For more information please call (916) 358-2852.

Weekends — Guided Wetland Tours of Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 12:30 to 2 p.m. at 3207 Rutherford Rd, Gridley (95948). On the Pacific Flyway at the base of the Sutter Buttes, Gray Lodge WA is one of the premier birding spots in northern California. This public land provides appealing habitat for waterfowl, shorebirds and other wildlife. Migrating ducks arrive through fall and winter populations grow to hundreds of thousands. Local experts lead a 0.3-mile stroll on a paved trail to an elevated viewing deck and discuss wildlife adaptations, natural history, conservation efforts and how to identify wildlife. Tours are included in the $4 entrance fee and self-guided visitors are also welcome. Tours are cancelled in heavy rain. Please make reservations for groups of twelve or more. Contact the Gray Lodge WA Naturalist Office for information or scheduling at (530) 846-7505 or ldieter@dfg.ca.gov, and visit www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/region2/graylodge/index.html.

Weekends — Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve docent-led walks, every Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Binoculars and bird books available to borrow at no cost. Visitor Center and main overlook are fully accessible. Day use fee is $4.32 per person, ages 16 and older. Groups of 10 or more should schedule a separate tour. Directions and more information at www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html.

Every Monday — Volunteer Stewardship Field Crew Mondays at Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Rd., Royal Oaks (95076), 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Help preserve natural habitat by doing seed collection, planting, trail maintenance and weeding introduced species. Details at www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/er/region4/elkhorn.html or www.elkhornslough.org.

Upland Game Season openings — There are several in November. General and archery pheasant season, fall turkey season and the late dove season open Nov. 10. The fall turkey season has been increased from 16 to 30 days and the possession limit has been increased to two birds. For a summary of upland game seasons, bag limits and possession limits, please visit
www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/upland-summary-12-13.html. The complete regulation booklet is posted at
https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=54748&inline=1.

1 — Port of Hueneme Harbor Safety Committee Meeting, 1 p.m. at the Joint Operations and Security Center, 105 E. Hueneme Road, Port Hueneme (93041). For more information please contact Reuben Macaspac at (916) 324-0144 or rmacaspa@ospr.dfg.ca.gov or Robin Campos at (805) 488-3677, rcampos@portofhueneme.

1 — First day of commercial coonstripe shrimp trapping season. Details at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/regulations.asp#commercial.

2-6 — Nimbus Fish Hatchery will turn on the water in the fish ladder on Friday, Nov. 2. On Monday, Nov. 5 they’ll open the trap to allow some fish up the ladder, and sort the fish they’ve trapped on Tuesday, Nov. 6. The public is welcome to come watch. More information is at www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Hatcheries/Nimbus.

2-16 — Deadlines to apply for Bobcat Ranch Wild Pig Hunt permits (for hunts Nov. 19 to Dec. 4) in Yolo County. For information about these SHARE hunts please see www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share/index.html. Permit application instructions are at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/share/docs/ALDSInstructions.pdf.

3 — Stanislaus River Salmon Festival, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Knights Ferry Recreation Area, 12 miles east of Oakdale, off Hwy. 120. Free family event to celebrate the return of the salmon. Meet local DFG staff and learn to identify local fish species and the invertebrates they eat, and how they determine a fish’s age and monitor fish populations. Enjoy live river critters, music, fly casting, interactive exhibits, DFG videos, fish-print T-shirts and a salmon barbecue. More information at www.facebook.com/pages/Stanislaus-River-Salmon-Festival/210542636004.

3 — Fishing in the City: Bell Gardens Family Fishing Derby, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. at John Anson Ford Park Lake, 8000 Park Lane, Bell Gardens (90202). DFG will provide rods and reels for children 15 and under to borrow. Please bring a valid form of ID if you wish to borrow a rod for your child. There will also be a raffle. For more information please see www.dfg.ca.gov/fishinginthecity/la/.

3 — First day of recreational Dungeness crab season, statewide. For details please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/crabs.asp.

3 — Sage grouse falconry season opens. Please see the regulations booklet at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=54748&inline=1.

3 — White goose regular season opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area for 86 days. Please see migratory game bird hunting regulations at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/waterfowlregs.aspx#502.

5 — DFG Climate College lecture: What’s happening? Projected climate change impacts to California and the San Francisco Bay region: 2C or not 2C, that is the Challenge.1 to 2 p.m. at Sacramento State University, Modoc Hall, in the Willow Room. The speaker is Dr. Tom Suchanek, Research Manager, Lead Scientist and Climate Change Coordinator for the USGS Western Ecological Research Center. The lecture will kick off a day of presentations on climate change projects in California supported by the California Landscape Conservation Cooperative (LCC). It will also be broadcast live via WebEx. Lectures are designed for DFG employees but open to our partners and the public. Please e-mail Registrar@dfg.ca.gov to sign up if not already registered for the course, and indicate whether you intend to participate in person or via WebEx. Please register at least two days prior to the lecture. More information is at www.dfg.ca.gov/Climate_and_Energy/Climate_Change/Climate_College.aspx.

7 — Fish and Game Commission meeting at the Radisson Hotel at Los Angeles Airport, 6225 West Century Blvd., Los Angeles (90045). Please visit http://www.fgc.ca.gov for more information. View or listen to California Fish and Game Commission meetings in real time via Internet webcasting.

7 — Black brant season opens in the Northern Brant Special Management area for 30 days. Please see waterfowl hunting regulations at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/waterfowlregs.aspx#502.

8 — Teacher Workshop: Waves, Wetlands and Watersheds, 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Back Bay Science Center, 600 Shellmaker Rd., Newport Beach (92660). For both formal and informal educators, space is limited and registration deadline is Oct. 29. Participants will receive a free copy of the California Coastal Commission’s science activity guide for teachers, Waves, Wetlands, and Watersheds. Learn how to use the guide, get an overview of the Coastal Commission’s other free educational resources and programs, and learn about environmental education programs and volunteer opportunities at the Upper Newport Bay Ecological Reserve. Professional growth credit offered through the University of the Pacific (when additional work is performed). For details and registration, please e-mail Annie Frankel at Annie.Frankel@coastal.ca.gov. More information is also at www.coastforyou.org.

8 — San Francisco Bay Harbor Safety Committee meeting, 10 a.m. to noon at the Pier 1 Conference Center, The Embarcadero, San Francisco (94111). For more information please see www.sfmx.org/support/hsc or call Jeff Cowan at (916) 324-6450.

10 — Public Tour of Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 9 a.m. to noon on the second Saturday of each month. Tour the 16,000-acre Yolo Wildlife Area with an experienced field trip leader the second Saturday of the month from September through June. View flooded seasonal and permanent wetlands, native grasslands and young riparian forests. Depending on the season, look for migrating and resident waterfowl, shorebirds, songbirds, raptors, and wading birds. A $5 donation is suggested. Please call (530) 757-4828 the morning of the trip for a recorded message for trip cancellations. More information is at www.yolobasin.org.

10 — Black brant season opens in the Balance of State Brant Special Management Area for 30 days. Please see waterfowl hunting regulations at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/waterfowlregs.aspx#502.

10 — General and archery pheasant season, fall turkey season and the late dove season open. Please see complete regulations at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

11 – Last day of recreational ocean salmon season from Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. For more information please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/oceansalmon.asp or call the ocean salmon regulations hotline (707) 576-3429.

12 — State offices closed for Veterans Day holiday.

12 — Flyway Nights Lecture Series: The Fall and Rise of the Wetlands of California’s Great Central Valley. 7 p.m. at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area headquarters building. Enjoy a night of nature-related enrichment and inspiration. A $5 donation per person or $10 per family is suggested at the door. For more information please see www.yolobasin.org.

14 — Port of San Diego Harbor Safety Committee Meeting, 10 a.m. to noon at the Port Administration Building, 3165 Pacific Highway, San Diego (92101). For more information, please contact Jack Prescott at the DFG Office of Spill Prevention and Response, jprescot@ospr.dfg.ca.gov or (858) 637-5570.

15 — Humboldt Bay Harbor Safety Committee meeting, 9 to 11 a.m. in the Woodley Island Marina conference room, Eureka (95501). Area Committee meeting follows at 1 p.m. Details at http://humboldtharborsafety.org or call Al Storm at (916) 324-6259.

15 — First day (scheduled) of commercial Dungeness crab season south of Mendocino County. Details at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/management_com.asp#crab.

17 — Fishing in the City kids’ fishing event, 8 a.m. to noon at El Dorado Park, 7550 E. Spring Street, Long Beach (90815). DFG will provide rods and reels to borrow for children 15 and under. Please bring a valid form of ID if you wish to borrow a rod for your child. A raffle will also take place. For more information please see www.dfg.ca.gov/fishinginthecity/la.

22, 23 — State offices closed for Thanksgiving Day holidays

27 — DFG Office of Spill Prevention and Response (OSPR) Technical Advisory Committee meeting, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 1700 K Street, Sacramento (95811). Please phone (916) 445-9338 for more information.

28 — Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee meeting at the Harbor Classroom, 125 Harbor Way, Santa Barbara (93101). Agenda will be available at www.fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2012/2012submtgs.aspx . For more information please contact Craig Shuman, Marine Advisor, at cshuman@fgc.ca.gov or (916) 653-5040.

29 — Wildlife Conservation Board meeting, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the State Capitol, Room 112, Sacramento (95814). Room is subject to change. Please check the WCB website at www.wcb.ca.gov for updates and agenda.

30 — Last day of recreational red abalone season. For details please see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp.

More outdoors and nature-oriented events that are not sponsored by DFG are on the online calendar at www.dfg.ca.gov/events/.