The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), on behalf of the California Fish and Game Commission as Lead Agency pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act, is preparing draft environmental documents that address potential impacts resulting from the implementation of elk hunting regulations and bighorn sheep hunting regulations. Pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act Guidelines, section 15082(c), public scoping sessions will be held to identify potentially significant effects on the environment that may result from the proposed regulations, as well as any feasible mitigation measures that should be addressed in the draft environmental document.
Both meetings will be held Friday, Nov. 30, 2018 at the CDFW Wildlife Branch, 1812 Ninth St. in Sacramento (95811). The scoping meeting for elk will be held from noon to 1 p.m., and the scoping meeting for bighorn sheep will be held from 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Existing law (Fish and Game Code, section 3950) designates elk (genus Cervus) and bighorn sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni) as game mammals in California. Fish and Game Code, section 332 provides that the Fish and Game Commission may fix the area or areas, seasons and hours, bag and possession limit, sex and total number of elk that may be taken pursuant to its regulations. Fish and Game Code, section 4902 provides that the Commission may authorize sport hunting of mature Nelson bighorn rams.
State law (Fish and Game Code, section 207) requires the Commission to review mammal hunting regulations and CDFW to present recommendations for changes to the mammal hunting regulations to the Commission at a public meeting. Mammal hunting regulations adopted by the Commission provide for hunting elk and bighorn sheep in specific areas (hunt zones) of the state (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 362, 364 and 364.1).
To help reduce collisions, Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife remind motorists to be on the lookout during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs Sept. 16 – 22.
“With every project we build, we look for innovative ways to protect drivers and wildlife,” said Caltrans Director Laurie Berman. “That can be as simple as installing flashing warning signs or putting in specialized fencing and crossings to provide wildlife with safe passages. Drivers can make a difference too, just by staying alert.”
Watch Out for Wildlife Week coincides with the season when California’s deer and elk migrate and look for mates, and California’s roadways often cut through these animals’ migration routes. It’s vital that drivers be especially alert now through December to avoid collisions with wildlife. These crashes not only harm wildlife, but collisions with large animals can damage vehicles and cause injury and death to drivers and passengers.
“In the fall, wildlife exhibit natural behaviors that can lead them to more unpredictable movements, and nearer to humans and roadways,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW Statewide Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Deer, bears and other wildlife are most likely to be killed or injured by vehicle collisions between September and December. Bucks fight for mates during breeding season, does travel more with their fawns, and many deer herds migrate to their winter ranges. Black bears travel farther for food as they enter a period of excessive eating and drinking to fatten up for hibernation.”
According to the California Highway Patrol, 12 people died and 383 people were injured in 2,134 collisions with wildlife on state, county, and local roadways throughout California in 2017.
Wildlife experts offer the following tips for motorists:
Be extra alert when driving near areas wildlife frequent, such as streams and rivers, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
Pay extra attention driving during the morning and evening when wildlife are often most active.
If you see an animal on or near the road, know that another may be following.
Don’t litter. Trash odors can attract animals to roadways.
Pay attention to road shoulders. Look for movement or reflecting eyes. Slow down and honk your horn if you see an animal on or near the road.
The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.
Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW, and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions, improve awareness of key issues, and improve ecological sustainability:
Highway 395, Improving Wildlife Connectivity in Lassen County
Caltrans is modifying existing undercrossings that were installed on U.S. Highway 395 in Lassen County near the California-Nevada border more than 25 years ago. To improve the area for wildlife, Caltrans will remove deer gates, install escape ramps for mule deer, and extend fencing to guide animals to existing undercrossings. The project area will be monitored with wildlife cameras.
Highway 101, Liberty Canyon Undercrossing in Los Angeles County
The completed environmental document for the famous U.S. Highway 101 Liberty Canyon Project was signed in September 2017. Until a large overpass can be constructed, Caltrans has managed several short-term improvements in the Liberty Canyon area to entice mountain lions to cross safely underneath US-101. New fencing is designed to prevent animals from trying to cross the highway, and a former streambed south of Agoura Road has new vegetation to guide animals safely under the highway.
Highway 101, Wildlife Monitoring Cameras in Sonoma County
Caltrans is monitoring wildlife movement on U.S. Highway 101 north of Santa Rosa. Cameras have been installed on culverts that cross under the highway, and Caltrans regularly downloads images from the cameras to understand more about wildlife in the project area. Mountain lions are just one species that have been observed checking out the culverts along US-101. Camera data will be used to determine potential future improvements that will allow animals to safely cross US-101.
Highway 74, Bighorn Sheep Warning Signs in Riverside County
Efforts are underway to decrease vehicle collisions with Peninsular bighorn sheep, a federally endangered species, on a windy portion of State Route 74 above Palm Desert. In June 2018, Caltrans installed four bighorn sheep warning signs with two flashing beacons to alert drivers that sheep may be in the area. This was a coordinated effort with the Bighorn Institute, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and CDFW.
Big game hunters throughout California are eagerly anticipating the 2018 general hunting seasons. While deer are by far the most frequently hunted big game species in California, many hunters also enjoy fair chase of bear, elk and bighorn. Some of the seasons for these species are already underway, but the majority will open over the next month. The upcoming general season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.
Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round. Most seasons for pronghorn, another California big game species, concluded in August.
Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. While California has its fair share of privately owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW administers public hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program. Other opportunities for access to private lands are available through the Private Lands Management Program.
A valid California hunting license and appropriate tag(s) for each zone and/or species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. There are still many deer tags available for purchase. Hunting license and tags can be purchased online or through a CDFW office or license sales agent.
California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a draft of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan for public review and comment. The plan provides guidance and direction to help set priorities for elk management efforts statewide.
“This draft plan is an important milestone for many of our wildlife program staff, and we’re pleased to be one step closer to completion,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis. “Public feedback is a critical part of shaping this effort, which emphasizes the sharing of resources and collaboration with all parties interested in elk and elk management. These are essential for effective management of California’s elk populations.”
The overarching plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and tule elk in California. The plan also includes subsections that are specific to each of the 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) in California. These areas collectively comprise the currently known distribution of elk in California. Each subsection includes a description of the EMU and information about elk distribution and abundance, management goals, objectives and actions, herd viability and a summary of annual harvests in that unit.
The plan also outlines management actions that emphasize maintenance and improvement of habitat conditions on both public and private land.
All public comments should be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. Comments may be submitted online at ElkManagementPlan@wildlife.ca.gov, or can be mailed to:
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Wildlife Branch, Attn: Joe Hobbs 1812 Ninth St. Sacramento, CA 95811
Comments received by the deadline will be reviewed by CDFW, and appropriate changes will be incorporated into the final document prior to its anticipated release in early 2018.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is accepting applications for 31 elk hunting opportunities offered through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program.
The hunts will occur at various times between Aug. 15 and Dec. 24, 2017 on 28 select properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino and Siskiyou counties. Specific details for all 31 elk hunts can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE#elk. CDFW will be accepting applications through Monday, July 24.
The SHARE program was created to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California by offering incentives to private landowners. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities.
“CDFW has been working to increase private lands access for California hunters. In the last year, we’ve enrolled two new elk hunting properties — one in Colusa County, the other in Siskiyou County,” said Victoria Barr, CDFW’s SHARE program coordinator. “We’re now up to 31 different elk hunts, which demonstrates great progress for the program.”
All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. While hunters may take only one elk per year in California, these hunts offer additional opportunities beyond those issued through the general Big Game Drawing. SHARE hunt applications can be purchased by anyone with a valid 2017 California big game hunting license from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.
An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt application. Applicants may look up their draw results and download their hunt packets on July 28 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.