On June 21, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to reduce sage-grouse hunting permits to zero for the 2017 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended this action to the Commission based on spring lek (breeding ground) surveys that showed significantly fewer sage-grouse in all four hunting zones.
Although managed hunting, in and of itself, is not considered a risk to the species, five years of drought conditions, the large-scale Rush Fire of 2012 and heavy storms in winter 2016-17 have all contributed to habit loss and degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. Scientists found that sage-grouse population counts have decreased between 47 percent and 62 percent in the four hunt zones over the last five years.
CDFW bases its population estimates on extensive scientific data collected in the field. However, heavy winter snow hampered biologists’ access to sage-grouse leks this spring, and some sage-grouse that were present in the survey area may not have been accounted for in the survey. CDFW thus took a precautionary approach in making its recommendation to the Commission.
Sage-grouse populations fluctuate naturally based on weather and habitat conditions. By this fall, California’s sage-grouse population is projected to be 1,341 on the low end and 2,145 on the high end.
The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinates conservation efforts across the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces where sage-grouse live. Leaders from dozens of participating state and federal agencies meet quarterly to work toward achieving shared conservation goals.
In 2015, a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be not warranted, following review of stakeholder-developed conservation plans and amendments to federal land use plans throughout the species range, including California.
Media Contact: Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a series of hunter certification classes in Inyo and Mono counties for teenagers who would like to learn to hunt. Students who successfully complete a class will earn a lifetime hunter education certificate, necessary for purchasing a hunting license.
“Last year we brought the hunter education to several schools in the Eastern Sierra and every one of them asked us to come back this year,” said Lt. Bill Daily, CDFW supervising warden for the area. “It’s very encouraging to see how many of the students took an interest in not only the hunting but the conservation as well.”
The courses will be offered at no charge for seventh and eighth graders in Bishop, Big Pine, Round Valley, Mammoth Lakes and Coleville schools. Parental or guardian approval is required for all students.
In addition to serving as a prerequisite to purchasing a hunting license, hunter education programs are a valuable education tool for beginning hunters to learn about firearm and hunting safety. The hunter education program produces responsible, knowledgeable and involved citizens – young men and women who understand the importance of complying with hunting laws, behaving ethically and wildlife conservation.
The one- or two-hour daily classes are taught by CDFW officers during the regular school day or immediately afterward. Classes will be offered at the following locations:
Jan. 6-17 at Mammoth Lakes Middle School
Jan. 21-Feb. 2 at Big Pine Middle School
Jan. 27-Feb. 7 at Bishop Middle School
Feb. 4-21 at Round Valley Middle School
Feb. 24-March 7 at Coleville Middle School
Youth interested in attending the classes must attend seventh or eighth grades at a participating school. Parents may register their child through the school administration office.
Media Contacts: Bill Dailey, CDFW Law Enforcement, (661) 203-6380 Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Media Contact: DFG Office of Communications, (916) 322-2420
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 email@example.com, 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or Robin Campos at (805) 488-3677, rcampos@portofhueneme.
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.
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/.
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.
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 — 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, email@example.com 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.
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.
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.