Tag Archives: California wildlife

CDFW Biologists on High Alert for Signs of White-Nose Syndrome in Bats

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is monitoring developments following the recent detection of white-nose syndrome (WNS) in a bat in Washington state. The disease has been responsible for killing millions of America’s bats, and CDFW scientists are enlisting the public to help prevent its spread.

Part of CDFW’s effort to educate the public is the launch of a new WNS webpage (www.wildlife.ca.gov/wns). News of the first WNS case in Washington State, announced in March, prompted CDFW to make this information available as quickly as possible, since many species of bats in California could be affected if the disease spreads south.

Senior Environmental Scientist Scott Osborn is CDFW’s Statewide Coordinator for Small Mammal Conservation. “White-nose syndrome has killed more than six million bats in the eastern U.S. and Canada, in some cases wiping out entire colonies of hibernating bats,” he said. “It had spread gradually over ten years from New York into northeastern states and Canada, south to Mississippi and Arkansas, and as far west as Nebraska and Minnesota.”

Osborn said we don’t know yet how the disease moved more than 1,300 miles to Washington. It may have spread undetected by bat-to-bat contact across the Great Plains and Rocky Mountains. But it is also possible that the fungus was inadvertently carried by a person whose clothing or gear was contaminated, perhaps while exploring caves in eastern states.

The fungus Pseudogymnoascus destructans grows on and in the skin of bats during winter hibernation, in some cases giving them a white, fuzzy appearance on the muzzle, wings and ears. The fungus invades deep skin tissues and causes extensive damage. Affected bats awaken more often than normal during hibernation, causing them to burn up fat reserves needed to sustain them through winter, which leads to starvation and death. Wing damage may also cause problems with physiological processes such as blood circulation and the bat’s ability to regulate its body temperature. Impairment of any of these processes may also lead to death.

“Bats provide tremendous pest control services, eating as much as their own body weight in insects every night,” Osborn said. “The national value of pest control by bats has been conservatively estimated at more than $3 billion per year. No doubt California agriculture benefits greatly from healthy bat populations. Some bat species pollinate plants such as agaves and large cacti. And all bats are important to the ecosystems in which they occur and play a large role in controlling insect populations and converting insects into fertilizer used by plants. Of the 25 bat species in California, two are known to have been killed in other states by WNS and another 12 are likely to be at risk due to their similarity to affected species.”

CDFW asks that the public take several simple precautions to help avoid the potential spread of WNS:

  • Please report any bats you see showing signs consistent with WNS, or if you see bats flying outside during very cold or freezing temperatures. Please refer to the online reporting form for information if you have found a sick or dead bat with signs indicating possible infection with WNS.
  • Avoid entering caves, mines or other areas used by bats, unless absolutely necessary, to avoid disturbing bats and potentially spreading the disease to unaffected areas.
  • If you must enter a cave, mine or bat roost, decontaminate all equipment and clothing immediately after visiting. Do not allow dogs or other pets in caves, as they may act as carriers of the fungus to new sites.
  • Do not handle live bats; they can carry rabies.

For more information on bats and White Nose Syndrome, please see wildlife.ca.gov/WNS, www.whitenosesyndrome.org or Bat Conservation International‘s website.

Signs of WNS include:

  • White or gray powdery fungus seen around the muzzle, ears, wings, limbs or tail of bats;
  • Unusual winter behavior, such as bats on the ground (either inside or outside a hibernation roost), roosting near the entrance to or increased bat activity outside a hibernation roost, or premature return to a summer roost during freezing weather;
  • Thin body condition or dehydrated appearance (wrinkled and flaky appearance of furless areas);
  • Moderate to severe wing damage, including membrane thinning, depigmentation, stickiness, holes, tears or flaky appearance on bats found outside of a hibernation roost or at a summer roost;
  • Bats exhibiting yellow-orange fluorescence on hairless skin under long-wave UV light; and
  • Excessive or unexplained mortality or population decline at a winter hibernation roost.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564
Deana Clifford, Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2378
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Southern California Turkey Hunting Clinic Coming Soon

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program and the Hunter Education Instructor Association of Southern California are jointly sponsoring a turkey-hunting clinic on March 15 at Hungry Valley Recreation Area in Los Angeles County.

Space is limited so hunters are encouraged to apply early. The deadline for registration is 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 28.

An experienced instructor, Alex Van will instruct this exciting clinic and cover topics of decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, equipment, game care and cleaning, cooking tips and safety.

The clinic is Saturday, March 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and costs $45. Youths 16 years and younger are free but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment.

Registration forms are available online at http://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.

Hungry Valley is located along Interstate 5 near Gorman, approximately 30 miles south of Bakersfield and 60 miles north of Los Angeles.

Media Contact:       
Lt. Dan Lehman, Advanced Hunter Education Program Coordinator, (916) 358-4356
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Wild Turkey

Deadline Quickly Approaching for March Turkey Hunting Clinic

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program is offering a turkey hunting clinic on March 1 at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area near Gridley.

Prospective hunters must register by 5 p.m. Friday, February 14.

Experienced instructors will instruct this exciting clinic on how to successfully hunt wild turkey. Topics to be covered are concepts of decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, equipment, game care and cleaning, cooking tips and safety.

The clinic is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 1 and costs $45. Space is limited and registration is required so hunters are encouraged to apply early. Youths 16 years and younger are free but must be accompanied by a parent or guardian.

CDFW’s Advanced Hunter Education Program will provide all necessary class equipment.

Registration forms are available online at http://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.

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is located, approximately 60 miles north of Sacramento.

Media Contact:
Lt. Dan Lehman, Advanced Hunter Education Program Coordinator, (916) 358-4356
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Wild Turkey

Recent Bear Encounters Prompt Reminder For Residents To Be Bear Aware

Media Contacts:
Janice Mackey, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding residents across the state to be bear aware. California Black Bear

Over the last few months, several bears have been observed in and near residential areas, including areas where they have not been present for many decades.

While bear activity is common this time of year, wildlife management staff say it is possible that a healthy population and a dry winter may be attracting bears to urban environments earlier than normal. Bears are more commonly found in residential areas toward the end of summer or right before hibernation in the fall months.

“The thriving population, coupled with a dry spring could be playing a role in the uptick of activity. We want to encourage residents who live in areas near bear habitat to be extra diligent securing their trash and bear-proofing their homes,” said CDFW state bear program coordinator, Marc Kenyon. “We want Californians to enjoy bears. However, we don’t want bears to become reliant on food intentionally or otherwise provided by people.”

California has one species of bear– the black bear. With more than 30,000 bears in California, it is not surprising that during the summer months CDFW offices receive many calls about bears rummaging through trash bins, raiding campsites or making their way into residential areas.

CDFW recommends the following tips for businesses, campers and homeowners:

• Purchase and properly use a bear-proof garbage container.
• Wait to put trash out until the morning of collection day.
• Don’t leave trash, groceries, or animal feed in your car.
• Keep garbage cans clean and deodorize them with bleach or ammonia.
• Keep barbecue grills clean and stored in a garage or shed when not in use.
• Don’t leave any scented products outside, even non-food items such as suntan lotion, insect repellent, soap or candles.
• Keep doors and windows closed and locked.
• Harvest fruit off trees as soon as it is ripe, and promptly collect fruit that falls.

For more information, visit: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/bear.html