Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County Closed to All Public Use Aug. 10-16 for Special Lottery Deer Hunt

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to remind the public that the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County will be closed to all public use during the first week of the A Zone general deer season, Aug. 10-16, to accommodate a special lottery draw deer hunt.

Deer hunt permit holders will be the only ones allowed on the wildlife area during the first week of the A Zone deer season. No other public use is permitted. The area reopens to all users Saturday, Aug. 17.

The special lottery draw deer hunt was initiated for the first time this year to limit the number of hunters on the popular public hunting area for safety purposes and to improve the quality of the hunting experience for permit holders.

Only hunters whose names are listed on the hunt permit may participate in the hunt.  Anyone not listed specifically on the hunt permit, including non-hunters, helpers and assistants, will not be permitted on the wildlife area during the hunt period.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay-Delta Region, (707) 576-2836

CDFW to Hold Public Hearing on Proposed Dungeness Crab Trap Gear Retrieval Program

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is developing regulations to implement a retrieval program for lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear. A public hearing will be held at 10 a.m. on June 25, 2019 at the CDFW Monterey Office at 20 Lower Ragsdale Drive, Monterey, Calif.

At the initial public hearing in Santa Rosa on April 2, CDFW proposed modifications to the program. A supplemental public comment period began May 10 and will run through June 24, 2019.

Under existing law (Fish and Game Code Section 8276(d)), all commercial Dungeness crab traps must be removed from the water by 11:59 p.m. on the last day of the commercial Dungeness crab season. Under the proposed program, qualified entities (Retrieval Permittees) and their designated agents can retrieve lost or abandoned commercial Dungeness crab gear remaining in the water after the close of the season. Retrieval Permittees must contact the Dungeness crab vessel permitholder and offer to return the gear in exchange for reasonable compensation. If reasonable compensation is not provided, CDFW will reimburse the Retrieval Permittee and levy fees against the vessel permitholder. The program is expected to reduce the amount of lost or abandoned commercial trap gear in ocean waters, which pose entanglement risk to marine life and navigational hazards to other boaters.

Interested individuals are encouraged to review the proposed regulations (www.wildlife.ca.gov/Notices/Regulations/Gear-Retrieval-Program) and to submit written comments prior to the close of the supplemental public comment period (5 p.m. on June 24) or give oral comments at the public hearing on June 25, 2019.

Media Contacts:
Morgan Ivens-Duran, CDFW Marine Region, (831) 649-2811
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Marks One-Year Anniversary of Nutria Eradication Effort: Biologists Report More Than 400 Invasive Rodents Captured to Date

One year after launching an Incident Command System and a formal effort to eradicate invasive nutria from the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reports significant progress in combatting the destructive, South American rodents, though much work remains.

In the early 1900s, nutria were imported and farmed in California for the fur trade. Following the market collapse, escaped and released nutria established small populations that were eventually eradicated by the late 1970s. In 2017, nutria were again discovered within the San Joaquin Valley.

Nutria pose a “triple threat” to California’s future as a top-rated agricultural pest, a destroyer of critical wetlands needed by native wildlife, and a public safety risk as their destructive burrowing jeopardizes the state’s water delivery and flood control infrastructure. CDFW has formed partnerships with both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture to survey and eradicate nutria from the state.

To date:

  • CDFW and USDA have taken or confirmed the take of 410 nutria in five counties – 330 from Merced County, 65 from San Joaquin County, 12 from Stanislaus County, two from Mariposa County and one from Fresno County. Nutria have also been confirmed in Tuolumne County.
  • The eradication efforts have prioritized the one known nutria population in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta in order to limit their spread and impact on California’s most important water resource and the heart of the state’s water delivery and infrastructure. Of the 65 nutria taken from San Joaquin County, 64 were captured within Walthall Slough near Manteca. Survey crews have not detected nutria elsewhere in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
  • Nutria are a semi-aquatic species never far from water. CDFW has identified approximately 1.8 million acres of habitat suitable for nutria in California, mostly in the state’s central regions. CDFW so far has assessed more than 300,000 acres in three counties: Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin.
  • In suitable nutria habitat, CDFW and its partners set up trail cameras to monitor for nutria presence and deploy traps to catch the nutria once their presence has been confirmed. Over the past year, the project has set up 487 camera stations, conducted more than 1,600 camera checks and deployed 995 trap sets for a total of 12,930 trap nights.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts have the broad support of the state’s agricultural community. As a top-rated agricultural pest, nutria threaten California’s nearly $50 billion agricultural industry. San Joaquin Valley farmers have donated five tons of sweet potatoes to use as bait to trap nutria.
  • Nutria have been documented on federal, state and private property. Gaining access to private property is key to eradication efforts and to prevent isolated populations from re-infesting the state. More than 2,400 private property owners have granted CDFW written permission to survey and trap nutria on their land, which CDFW does at no cost to property owners.
  • CDFW has received widespread public support for its eradication efforts. CDFW’s Invasive Species “hotline” and corresponding e-mail account has received 357 nutria reports from the public over the past year. While most of these have turned out to be false reports – either sightings of other wildlife mistaken for nutria or reports that lack enough information to confirm – public reporting will continue to be important to determine the full extent of the infestation. When possible, reports should be accompanied by photos and videos. CDFW’s toll-free reporting hotline is (866) 440-9530. The e-mail address to report nutria sightings is invasives@wildlife.ca.gov. CDFW’s nutria eradication webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/nutria offers references for distinguishing nutria from other similar aquatic animals.
  • Public education and outreach are key components of CDFW’s eradication efforts. In addition to numerous nutria presentations in front of scientific, agricultural and community organizations, CDFW has partnered with the Delta Stewardship Council to produce a nutria identification pocket guide. The guide is available at http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/nutria-pocket-guide.
  • CDFW has secured more than $3 million in state and federal grants to support nutria eradication. The Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta Conservancy has awarded CDFW $1.2 million over three years; California’s Wildlife Conservation Board has awarded CDFW $600,000 over three years; and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State Wildlife Grant Program has awarded CDFW $1.25 million over three years.
  • Future CDFW nutria efforts include using detection dogs to help locate remnant nutria or confirm their absence. CDFW also is in the early stages of developing a “Judas nutria” project where surgically sterilized nutria, which are social animals, are outfitted with radio telemetry collars and released back into the environment to lead biologists to other nutria.
  • CDFW’s eradication efforts are modeled after those in the Chesapeake Bay in the 2000s. That ongoing effort is led by the federal government and has removed more than 14,000 nutria from 250,000 acres in the Delmarva Peninsula. Though nutria are established in more than a dozen U.S. states, including Washington, Oregon, and, most notably, Louisiana, the Chesapeake Bay effort remains the only successful, large-scale nutria eradication in U.S. history.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

East Side of Knoxville Wildlife Area Reopens Following 2018 County Fire

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is pleased to announce the reopening of the east side of the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County on March 1, 2019.

The July 2018 County Fire consumed approximately 6,000 acres of the wildlife area and forced the closure of the entire east side. This winter’s vegetation regrowth over the burned area has helped stabilize hillsides allowing the public to once again enjoy the recreational opportunities the 21,500-acre wildlife area has to offer.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW Offering Drawings for 86 Spring Wild Turkey Hunts on Public, Private Land

California’s spring turkey season opens statewide March 30 and extends through May 5, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering 86 special hunts this year on public and private land to help hunters bag a tom.

Young hunters have additional opportunities. Junior Hunting License holders can hunt March 23-24, the weekend before the general opener, and the two weeks after the general season closes, May 6-19, using shotguns or any other legal method of take. CDFW is offering 25 special turkey hunts reserved just for Junior Hunting License holders.

California’s archery-only spring turkey season runs from May 6-19. New this year, CDFW is offering a drawing for seven, archery-only hunts throughout the general and archery seasons near Millerton Lake in Madera County.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting access to private properties, is offering drawings for spring turkey hunts on two private ranches in Tulare County, the 722-acre River Ridge Ranch and the 975-acre Hart Ranch. Both properties are new to the SHARE program for the spring turkey season.

With growing populations of wild turkeys in almost every part of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the most anticipated events on the upland bird hunting calendar.

Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and an upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required of Junior Hunting License holders.

Nonlead shot is required when taking wild turkeys with a shotgun anywhere in the state except when hunting on licensed game bird clubs. These regulations apply to both public and private land, including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management and CDFW properties. For more information on nonlead ammunition regulations, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.

Applications for CDFW’s special spring turkey hunting opportunities must be made through CDFW’s Automated License Data System. Hunts are grouped into four separate drawings: Junior Hunts, General Opening Weekend Hunts, Archery-Only Hunts and Balance of Season Hunts. There is a $2.42 application fee and only one application per hunter is allowed for each drawing. Applications allow hunters to select their top three hunt choices in order of preference. Hunters may only be drawn once per application. The application deadline for these hunts is as follows:

  • Junior Hunts: Saturday, March 2, 2019
  • Opening Weekend General Season Hunts: Saturday, March 9, 2019
  • Archery-Only Hunts: Sunday, March 10, 2019
  • Balance of the Season Hunts: Wednesday, March 13, 2019

To apply, please visit CDFW’s online sales site, sign into your account, select the “Purchase Licenses” link and select “2018 – Hunting” from the menu on the left side of the page. The spring turkey hunt application items will be available under the “Drawings” section on the right side of the page. After submitting your application, checking out and completing payment, you will be able to download a receipt confirming your entries into the drawings.

For more details and descriptions of these hunts, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/turkey-hunts.

Hunters will also find the “SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application” available in the same location online after signing into their accounts. The application fee for the Tulare County private ranch turkey hunts is $11.62 per hunt with all of the proceeds returned to participating landowners to pay for these hunts and additional opportunities.

For more details and descriptions of these SHARE hunts, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#51518483-general-hunts and select the links for the River Ridge Ranch and the Hart Ranch.