Tag Archives: California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Free Fishing Day is Saturday, Sept. 5

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites all Californians to celebrate the end of summer by going fishing. Sept. 5 is the second of two Free Fishing Days in 2015, when people can try their hand at fishing without having to buy a sport fishing license. Free Fishing Days are also a great opportunity for licensed anglers to introduce non-angling friends and children to fishing and the outdoors.

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All fishing regulations, such as bag and size limits, gear restrictions, report card requirements, fishing hours and stream closures remain in effect. Every angler must have an appropriate report card if they are fishing for abalone, steelhead or sturgeon anywhere in the state, or salmon in the Smith and Klamath-Trinity river systems.

CDFW offers two Free Fishing Days each year – usually around the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekend – when it’s legal to fish without a sport fishing license. This year, the Free Fishing Days were set for the Saturdays near Independence Day and Labor Day (this year, July 4 and Sept. 5).

Free Fishing Days provide a low-cost way to give fishing a try. Some CDFW regions offer Fishing in the City, a program where children can learn to fish in major metropolitan areas. Fishing in the City and Free Fishing Day clinics are designed to educate novice anglers about fishing ethics, fish habits, effective methods for catching fish and fishing tackle. Anglers can even learn how to clean and prepare fish for eating.

Anglers should check the rules and regulations for the waters they plan to fish because wildlife officers will be on duty to enforce them. For more information on Free Fishing Days, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/free-fishing-days.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Kyle Murphy, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 323-5556

Elkhorn Slough OtterCam Goes High Definition

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been upgraded from standard to high-definition, and there is now a second HD video camera focused on sea otters, thanks to the generous support of the Acacia Foundation and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Now anyone can watch California’s adorable sea otters in HD by going to www.elkhornslough.org/ottercam.

Located in areas of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s salt marshes where sea otters often congregate, the two new cameras offer great image clarity and fine detail for viewing this iconic Monterey Bay marine mammal and a teeming cast of other Elkhorn Slough wildlife. Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam HD video streams will be featured as part of the PBS/BBC Big Blue Live television and online event, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 (at www.pbs.org/big-blue-live/live-cams/elkhorn-slough-otter-cam). Anchored from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the three-day, live televised event will highlight the amazing marine life that converges off California’s central coast. The Big Blue Live website links to live cameras, including the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam.

Elkhorn Slough is home to the largest concentration of endangered southern sea otters (enhydra lutris nereis) on the California coast, and the first webcam dedicated to streaming live video of wild southern sea otters in their natural habitat. The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been streaming live video online from the tidal salt marshes of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve since 2012. The upgrade to high-definition enhances the OtterCam for both researchers and visitors.

For almost two years, researchers have used the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam to observe sea otter behavior such as foraging, grooming and raising pups. Stationed on the edge of the slough, the camera looks across pickleweed marsh and tidal channels of the slough. These channels are frequented largely by female otters and appear to be used as a nursery, as sea otters with pups are regularly seen in the meandering channels. During the past three years, the camera has provided video and still photographs documenting the growth of otter pups, interactions with harbor seals and other wildlife, and the movement of otters throughout the slough.

“The OtterCam has opened a unique window on the lives of sea otters. There are times we are seeing 25 or more otters in the protected channels of the slough’s marsh,” Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) Executive Director Mark Silberstein said. “This suggests there may be more otters residing in the slough than previously thought. We’ve witnessed some unique behaviors, such as hauling out of the water, resting and grooming in the pickleweed marshes.”

Research is underway to better understand how sea otters are using the estuary, with the hope of helping southern sea otters recover in other parts of their historic range. In turn, recent evidence suggests that sea otters may yield important ecological benefits to the estuaries they inhabit. A study published by reserve researcher Brent Hughes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that sea otters enhance the health of subtidal seagrass beds, as they do in kelp forests.

“We are pleased to present these remarkable images from the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, and shine a light on sea otter use of the estuary,” Reserve Manager Dave Feliz said. “The behavior of these animals in a salt marsh is little understood, yet the story is unfolding before the eyes of the world on ElkhornSlough.org. CDFW is happy to be a part of this new chapter in sea otter life history.”

Elkhorn Slough, in the central Monterey Bay area, encompasses a wide variety of habitats – oak woodlands, maritime chaparral, coastal prairie and the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California south of San Francisco Bay – that support an incredible abundance and diversity of life. Elkhorn Slough hosts 550 species of marine invertebrates and 100 species of fish, as well as resident sea lions, harbor seals and the highest concentration of southern sea otters on the West Coast. On the Pacific flyway, Elkhorn Slough bird numbers can soar during migration seasons, nearly doubling the resident bird counts. The slough is designated a Globally Important Bird area, with more than 340 species identified in and around the slough.

ESF is a community-supported non-profit land trust whose mission is to conserve and restore the Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. ESF protects 4,000 acres of rare habitat including oak woodlands, maritime chaparral and wetlands. Since 1982, ESF has been the non-profit partner of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (ESNERR).

ESNERR is managed by CDFW with administrative assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESNERR is one of 28 reserves established nationwide to support long-term research, water-quality monitoring, environmental education and coastal stewardship.

For information about ESF and ESNERR, and to support the conservation of Elkhorn Slough, please visit ElkhornSlough.org and CDFW Elkhorn Slough.

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Media Contacts:
Dave Feliz, CDFW Elkhorn Slough Reserve, (831) 728-2822
Scott Nichols, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, (831) 728-5939
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Seeks Information Related to Flat-tailed Horned Lizard

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the flat-tailed horned lizard as an endangered species.

The flat-tailed horned lizard (Phrynosoma mcallii) inhabits desert habitats in southeastern California, the extreme southwestern portion of Arizona and the adjacent portions of northeastern Baja California Norte and northwestern Sonora, Mexico. This species has the smallest range of any horned lizard in the United States. Approximately one-quarter of the flat-tailed horned lizard’s range is in California, where it is confined to lower elevations throughout much of the Salton Trough, sections of eastern San Diego County, central Riverside County and western and south-central Imperial County.

In June 2014, the Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) to formally list the flat-tailed horned lizard as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition described a variety of threats to the survival of flat-tailed horned lizards in California. These include direct and indirect impacts associated with agricultural, urban and renewable energy development, on- and off-road vehicles, habitat fragmentation, barriers to movement, military training and border activities, nonnative plants and climate change. CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on February 12, 2015. The Commission published findings of this decision on February 24, 2015, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct a status review to inform the Commission’s decision on whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the species’ ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management and recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Nongame Wildlife Program
Attn: Laura Patterson
1812 9th Street
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “flat-tailed horned lizard” in the subject heading.

All comments received by September 14, 2015 will be evaluated prior to submission of the CDFW report to the Commission. Receipt of the report will be placed on the agenda for the next available meeting of the Commission after delivery and the report will be made available to the public at that time. Following the receipt of the CDFW report, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendation.

CBD’s listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the flat-tailed horned lizard are available at fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2014/index.aspx#fthl.

Media Contacts:
Laura Patterson, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 341-6981
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Merced River Closure

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public meeting on Monday, Aug. 17 to inform the public about the proposed emergency closure of the Merced River to fishing.

The meeting will be held from 7-9 p.m. in the theater at El Capitan High School, 100 West Farmland Ave., Merced (95348).

Last year the California Fish and Game Commission adopted a proposal to implement early restrictions on angling in the Merced River, closing the river from Aug. 29 to Dec. 31, 2014. Earlier this year, the Commission granted CDFW authority to close fisheries when certain criteria are met, such as low water levels and high water temperatures.

This proposed early closure affects only the Merced River from Crocker-Huffman Dam downstream to the Snelling Road Bridge, a distance of approximately 5.5 miles. Angling in the river below Snelling Road bridge is subject to normal fishing regulations and closures..

The lower Merced River is typically only closed to angling from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. The purpose of the annual closure is to increase survival of juvenile and adult wild rainbow trout and steelhead by reducing fish mortality associated with hook-and-line fishing.

The move to close the river ahead of schedule is intended to protect drought-stressed waters and their salmonid populations during the fall spawning.

The river will re-open to anglers on Jan. 1, 2016.

Media Contacts:
Dean Marston, CDFW Central Region, (559) 243-4005, ext. 122
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Knoxville Wildlife Area Reopened

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that Knoxville Wildlife Area will reopen for public use Sunday, Aug. 9 at 5:00 a.m. Because of successful efforts by fire personnel from multiple agencies on the Rocky Fire, CDFW considers conditions to be safe for public access. The public is reminded that campfires are not allowed on the wildlife area at any time.

Because of the Rocky Fire in neighboring Lake County, Knoxville Wildlife Area was closed to all public use on Aug. 3. The general deer season opener began today, and Knoxville is a popular hunting area.

The public can monitor the status of the Rocky Fire at www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php.

Media Contacts:
Conrad Jones, Knoxville Wildlife Area, (707) 944-5544
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Another Turkey Vulture Poisoned by Euthanasia Drug

Rehabilitated Raptor Will Return to the Wild

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently confirmed another turkey vulture was poisoned by the euthanasia drug pentobarbital. It was found near Inverness, in Marin County, and taken to the wildlife hospital operated by the nonprofit WildCare in San Rafael.

The massive bird with a six-foot wingspan has since recovered and will be released on Tuesday, August 11 at 2 p.m. Reporters wishing to cover the vulture’s return to the wild should call (415) 806-8637 on Tuesday for directions to the release location.

In 2014, CDFW confirmed pentobarbital exposure in six turkey vultures in San Rafael. The source of the exposure remains unknown. Those birds were also taken to WildCare, a CDFW-approved wildlife rehabilitator.

Wildlife officials are concerned the recent admission of another pentobarbital-poisoned vulture to WildCare indicates that more animals are at risk. Anyone with information about possible sources of pentobarbital-contaminated animals should contact CDFW at (916) 358-2954.

Pentobarbital is a drug used by veterinarians to euthanize companion animals, livestock and horses. If animals are euthanized with pentobarbital and the remains are not properly disposed of, scavenging wildlife – such as turkey vultures and eagles – can be poisoned. Veterinarians and animal owners are responsible for disposing of animal remains properly by legal methods such as cremation or deep burial.

Turkey vultures are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act and California Fish and Game Code. Improperly disposed-of euthanized remains are a danger to all scavenging wildlife.

CDFW asks members of the veterinary and livestock communities to share this information with colleagues, to prevent additional poisoning. WildCare also asks the public to pay attention to grounded turkey vultures and other raptors and scavengers.

Pentobarbital-poisoned birds appear to be dead. They have no reflex response and breathing can barely be detected. The birds appear intact, without wounds or obvious trauma. Anyone finding a comatose vulture should call WildCare’s 24-hour Hotline at (415) 456-SAVE (7283) immediately.

Read more about one pentobarbital-poisoned turkey vulture patient and the astonishing medical intervention required to save its life at www.wildcarebayarea.org/vulture.

Media Contacts:
Alison Hermance, WildCare, (415) 453-1000, ext. 24, alisonhermance@wildcarebayarea.org
Stella McMillin, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2954
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Fisheries Restoration Grants Deadline Extended

The grant application deadline for anadromous salmonid restoration projects that address impacts of the ongoing drought has been extended, due to the recent addition of a consultation requirement.

Prior to submitting an application to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), all applicants must consult with representatives of the California Conservation Corps and California Association of Local Conservation Corps in order to determine the feasibility of Corps participation in the proposed project. Application guidelines and details about this requirement can be found on the Fisheries Restoration Grant webpage (www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Grants/FRGP/Solicitation.asp).

In order to allow time for applicants to comply with this additional requirement, the application deadline has been extended to July 31, 2015. All applications must be received by CDFW by 5 p.m. on this date (postmarks will not be accepted).

Approximately $1.5 million in grant funding has been earmarked for habitat restoration, water conservation, education and drought planning projects located in anadromous waters within coastal watersheds and the Central Valley. Eligible applicants include public agencies, recognized tribes and qualified nonprofit organizations.

For information or questions about the solicitation or application process, please contact Patty Forbes, Grant Program Coordinator, at (916) 327-8842, or Kevin Shaffer, Anadromous Program Manager, at (916) 327-8841.

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Media Contacts:
Patty Forbes, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8842
Kevin Shaffer, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 327-8841
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Law Enforcement Now Recruiting Current Peace Officers

Warden with binocularsThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is recruiting current peace officers who are interested in a career as a wildlife officer. Applications are open only to those who have:

  1. Successfully completed a California POST accredited Law Enforcement Academy,  possess a valid California POST basic peace officer certificate, and are currently employed as a peace officer within the State of California at time of application; or,
  2. Successfully completed (within the last 12 months) the CDFW Law Enforcement Academy, and possess a valid California POST basic academy certificate.

Applications must be postmarked by June 26.

“We are particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a passion for conservation of California’s fish and wildlife resources,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division Chief David Bess.

The CDFW Law Enforcement Division expects an overwhelming number of inquiries and asks prospective candidates to extensively review materials on the website before contacting CDFW with questions. To read more about law enforcement careers with CDFW, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/career/.

To view the official job bulletin and detailed information on how to apply, please visit https://jobs.ca.gov/jobsgen/5fg07.pdf.

Those who are not currently working as a peace officer but are interested in a career as a wildlife officer may apply to attend the full 31-week Wildlife Officer Academy as a Wildlife Officer Cadet. The application period for the Academy is expected to open in the September or October.

California wildlife officers are charged with ensuring public safety, enforcing fish and wildlife laws, investigating illegal sales of wildlife, protecting the state from pollution, enforcing habitat protection laws, fighting illegal drug trafficking, keeping the homeland secure and responding during natural disasters. As peace officers, they have the authority to enforce all California laws, such as the Vehicle Code and Penal Code, and are federally deputized to enforce federal fish and wildlife laws.

A typical day for a California wildlife officer is as diverse as the state’s fish and wildlife. Wildlife officers patrol ocean, desert, mountain and valley environments, as well as urban areas. They frequently work independently and conduct full-scale law enforcement investigations. Wildlife officers employ everything from all-terrain vehicles to jet skis and snowmobiles while on patrol and spend much of their typical day making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. CDFW has a dive team and utilizes K-9 partners as well. Environmental crimes and pollution incidents also fall under the purview of wildlife officers. Annually, wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (530) 523-6720

As White Sturgeon Decline, Anglers’ Failure to Return Sturgeon Fishing Report Cards Could Lead to Restrictions

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working to keep the state’s white sturgeon population from declining precipitously. Much of that work is estimating the number of fish harvested (kept), the harvest rate and population size. Because many sturgeon anglers fail to submit their sturgeon fishing report cards and data from report cards is very important, new harvest restrictions or restrictions on the sale of the report cards may be required to address uncertainty attributable to uncooperative sturgeon anglers.

For the prehistoric-looking fish in California, it is as though 2015 is the ninth straight year of drought. White sturgeon only reproduce well here when the Sacramento River is nearing flood stage for many weeks during both winter and spring. That hasn’t happened since 2006, triggering a period of decline that will last at least another nine years.

During this period of white sturgeon decline, conservation of the population and its fishery depends on CDFW’s ability to adaptively manage harvest numbers. Good data is necessary for successful adaptive management. Data is gathered from research trawls, a tagging study, fishing guides, party boats, creel surveys and report cards.

California Code of Regulations, section 1.74(d)(1), requires sturgeon anglers, abalone and lobster divers, certain salmon anglers and steelhead anglers to send CDFW their report cards each year. Unfortunately, many sturgeon anglers – even those who are otherwise responsible – do not submit their catch data. Sturgeon anglers are second in enthusiasm only to abalone divers, but those avid sturgeon anglers are far less likely to submit their report cards than avid participants in other fisheries.

The white sturgeon population also declined because of the severe 1987-92 drought. The Fish and Game Commission helped jump-start recovery of the population by protecting more adult sturgeon in 2006 than it had previously. The length of legally harvestable white sturgeon – the so-called ‘slot limit’ – was temporarily narrowed for the spring of 2006.

“The stars aligned in 2006,” said CDFW sturgeon biologist Marty Gingras. “Flows were the best since 1998 and there was relatively little harvest on the spawning grounds because the slot limit was so narrow.”

Sturgeon anglers should see a brief period of improved catch rates in the next few years as white sturgeon spawned in 2006 reach legally harvestable size, then a decline for at least nine years. The rate and magnitude of decline can be managed through restrictions on harvest and can be better understood if sturgeon anglers submit catch data on sturgeon fishing report cards as required by regulation.

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Media Contacts:

Marty Gingras, CDFW Bay-Delta Fisheries, (209) 234-3486
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

CDFW Takes Three Golds at Excellence in Communications Competition

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Alexia Retallack received a Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in public affairs from the State Information Officers Council (SIOC). Additionally, CDFW staff from the Office of Communications, Education and Outreach took top honors in three categories of the 2014 SIOC statewide competition for excellence in state government communications.

The SIOC awards ceremony held recently recognized the frontline of professionals in media relations within state government and showcased their importance in effectively delivering agency or department messages to the public. Honors were awarded in nine different categories ranging from writing to graphic design and audio/visual productions. The annual event encompassed 15 agencies and 120 individual entries.

“I’m so proud of the way CDFW delivers our message to our constituent groups and the general public,” CDFW Deputy Director of Communications Jordan Traverso said. “Whether the message comes through a spokesperson in the field or on a DVD produced to showcase a program, our goal is to present the truest, clearest message as quickly as possible. The SIOC awards this team earned indicates they remain at the top of their game.

Highlighting the ceremony was the presentation to Retallack of the Lifetime Achievement Award. The award recognized her dedication to the field of public information for nearly two decades. Starting in 1997, Retallack has served as an information officer, an associate editor and a marketing specialist. In 2009, she took over the public affairs unit at the Office of Spill Prevention and Response under CDFW.

In addition to the three Gold Awards, CDFW earned two Silver awards and two Honorable Mentions by the panel of judges.

Gold Awards
Outdoor California, January-February Issue (publication, magazine)
California Sea Otter Fund 2014 Campaign (media campaign)
Red-Legged Frog Named State Amphibian (writing, news release)

Silver Awards
Inside California’s Emerald Triangle (writing, feature)
California Outdoors Q&As (“Best Bang for Your Buck”)

Honorable Mentions
Nightingale’s Call (writing, feature)
Special Centennial Volume of California Fish and Game (special publication)

Individual CDFW communications professionals honored included Marketing Specialists Dana Michaels, Harry Morse and Troy Swauger, Environmental Scientist Carrie Wilson, Audio-Video Specialist Debra Hamilton, Editor Vern Bleich and Communications Manager Kirsten Macintyre.

SIOC is a nonprofit organization offering professional development and networking opportunities for public information officers throughout California. Its annual competition for excellence in state government communications honor media-related professionals.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937