California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

On the second day of its April remote meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from today’s part of the meeting (see information from yesterday).

The Commission acknowledged robust public participation using remote technology.FGC Logo

“While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

The Commission approved the mammal hunting regulations and increased the number of elk tags in the northwest management unit. This increased hunting opportunity for the state’s hunting public, based on the best-available scientific data, is due to robust elk populations in this part of the state. The recovery of these elk is a great success story in California wildlife conservation.

The Commission approved the waterfowl daily and seasonal limits for ducks and geese for the 2020-21 hunting season. The northern pintail limit will remain at one pintail per day due to the current status of the population. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the models to address the public’s concerns that pintail limits are too low.

The Commission adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of the Shasta snow-wreath may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by CDFW.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW.

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is a teleconference scheduled for May 14, 2020.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

CDFW Expands Statewide Sampling for Chronic Wasting Disease

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is increasing the scope of its monitoring and testing efforts for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in California’s deer and elk herds.

“While California has never had a report of CWD, increased testing is needed to establish with a high degree of certainty that there are no deer with CWD in California,” said CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian Brandon Munk. “Keeping this disease out of our state is a top priority, both for wildlife managers and for hunters.”

CWD is always fatal to deer and elk, and is an ongoing concern for hunters and managers throughout the country. Once CWD enters a herd, it is nearly impossible to eradicate. Although there are no known cases of CWD being transferred to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not consuming meat or organs from any animal that tests positive for CWD.

CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory has set an ambitious goal to test 600 deer statewide during this year’s hunting seasons and increasing that number to 2,000 statewide in the upcoming years.

Continued hunter cooperation will be key to achieving the CWD deer testing goals. CDFW will set up check stations during the various deer seasons, and hunters will be asked to bring their deer in for the quick removal of a lymph node for testing. CWD testing of hunter-taken deer is voluntary, and no meat is taken.

Information about specific locations and times of operation of CWD check stations in each of the state’s deer zones and control hunt areas will appear on CDFW’s website. Hunters can also contact regional CDFW offices to get check station schedules. Some offices may also offer onsite deer testing.

Some professional meat processors and butchers throughout the state are also partnering with CDFW to take samples from deer at the hunter’s request. Hunters who may be unable to visit a check station or CDFW regional office for sampling are encouraged to ask their butcher ahead of time if sampling is available at the time of processing.

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Media Contacts:
Brandon Munk, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-1194
Nathan Graveline, CDFW Big Game Program, (916) 445-3652
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

North Coast Roosevelt elk herd

CDFW to Host Public Meeting to Discuss North Coast Elk

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public meeting on Monday, July 15 to provide information and receive input that will help biologists refine the management plan for the North Coast Roosevelt Elk Management Unit.

The meeting will be held at Lake Earl Grange Hall, 6820 Lake Earl Drive in Fort Dick (95538), from 3:30-5 p.m. It will be a drop-in “open house” format with staff presentations, including a status update on elk populations and current elk research studies in the management unit. The public will have an opportunity to offer recommendations for consideration in the update of the management unit plan. CDFW staff will also be available to discuss hunting and landowner programs such as the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program.

As potential regulatory changes are considered, other in-person opportunities to provide comment will be available at the California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee meeting in September, and at the December Commission meeting when potential changes may be formally proposed.

For more information about the meetings, or if you cannot attend and would like to submit questions or comments, please contact CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Shawn Fresz at shawn.fresz@wildlife.ca.gov. More information about CDFW’s Elk Management Program is also available on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Shawn Fresz, CDFW Wildlife Program, (707) 445-7850
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Smith River elk herd

SHARE Program Offers Elk Opportunities for Adult and Junior Hunters

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be offering 47 elk hunting opportunities through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program this fall. Applications for SHARE elk hunts will be available for purchase as of Sunday, June 16.

New additions to the program include 24 elk tags, 16 hunts and three properties. A total of 72 elk tags will be available during 47 hunts, with six of those tags going to junior hunters.

SHARE elk hunts will occur at various times between Aug. 15 and Dec. 24, 2019 on 31 select properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta and Siskiyou counties. Specific details for all 47 elk hunts can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#elk. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, July 24.

All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. While hunters may take only one elk per year in California, hunters may apply for more than one SHARE hunt. These hunts offer additional opportunities to apply for an elk tag if you were unsuccessful in the elk tag opportunities provided through the general Big Game Drawing. SHARE hunt applications can be purchased by anyone 12 years of age or older, with a valid 2019 California Hunting License from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales.

An $11.88 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 29 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales.

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.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Reward Offered in North State Elk Poaching Case

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters Program (CalTIP) is offering a reward of up to $2,500 for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the poacher responsible for killing four Roosevelt elk in Humboldt County last December.

On Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018, CDFW wildlife officers responded to a poaching report in the Maple Creek area, southeast of Blue Lake. There they discovered four dead Roosevelt cow elk and evidence that they had been killed with a firearm. One elk was pregnant.

CDFW closely manages the state’s Roosevelt elk herds. A limited number of hunting permits are available for this species in Humboldt County and some hunters wait more than a decade to be successful in the drawing. Elk hunting season was not open at the time these animals were shot, and CDFW is asking the public for help with any information that may help bring the poachers to justice.

“This poacher shot these animals and left them for dead,” said CDFW Law Enforcement Division District Capt. AJ Bolton. “The vast majority of hunters are ethical and law-abiding citizens, but this is poaching, plain and simple.”

CDFW extends its thanks to four non-governmental hunting organizations that pledged the reward money to help solve this case. Those organizations are California Bowmen Hunters, California Houndsmen for Conservation, the Oranco Bowmen from Ontario and the Orange Belt Field Archers.

Wildlife officers are continuing their investigation, including processing evidence left at the crime scene. CDFW asks that anyone who has any information regarding this poaching crime to contact the statewide tip hotline, CalTIP, at 1 (888) 334-2258. Tips can also be sent via text to CALTIP, followed by a space and the message to tip411 (847411). CalTIP is a confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide CDFW with information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. CalTIP operates closely but independently from CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division and is funded exclusively from private donations.

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Media Contacts: 
Warden John Fraley, CDFW Law Enforcement, (707) 445-6493
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692