Tag Archives: Public Safety

California Black Bears are Back in Action: Stash Food and Trash

California’s black bears are waking up hungry from their winter downtime. To help minimize unwanted bear foraging behavior, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding those living in or visiting bear country to store food and dispose of garbage properly.

Black bears typically prefer remote mountainous areas. However, as more people frequent or live in natural bear habitat, the abundance of food and garbage associated with human activities is a temptation hungry bears find hard to resist.

“Over the years, we have seen bear behavior change significantly in areas where more people live and recreate in bear habitat,” said Vicky Monroe, CDFW’s Conflict Programs Coordinator. “Beginning with spring and into late fall, we receive a steady stream of calls from the public reporting anything from bears breaking into cabins and tents to bears stealing food off picnic tables.”

Black bears, like other bear species, have a highly specialized sense of smell, which can sometimes lead them to towns and recreation areas where they may quickly find an overflowing garbage can or someone’s leftover hamburger and French fries.

The public can help bears stay out of human settlements and stick to their natural diet by properly disposing of leftover food and garbage. Additional suggestions include:

  • Residents and vacationers should remove any food attractants from around their home or rental. Pet food, barbecue grills and bird feeders are also attractants. Store trash in bear-resistant storage sheds until trash pickup day.
  • Use sensory deterrents (such as ammonia), electric mats and bear-resistant fencing to exclude hungry and curious bears from gaining access to attractants.
  • Visitors to towns and tourist areas should not pile trash in a trash can or bin that is already overflowing – take trash to a proper receptacle or another location if necessary.
  • Keep campsites and other recreation areas clean. Use bear-resistant coolers and store all food in bear lockers.
  • Never feed wildlife.

Additional information can be found on CDFW’s website, including tips on how to keep California black bears wild, information about bear proof containers and information about black bear biology.

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Media Contacts:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933
Victoria Monroe, CDFW Human-Wildlife Conflict Program, (916) 856-8335

Shake, Rattle and Roll: Rattlesnake Season is here

With the coming of spring and warmer weather conditions, snakes of many species are through hunkering down, making human encounters with these elusive creatures more likely. Although most native snakes are harmless, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommends giving the venomous rattlesnake a wide berth and knowing what to do in the rare event of a bite.

“Snakes really get an unfair bad rap, when they actually play an important role in California’s ecosystems,” said CDFW’s Keep Me Wild program coordinator Lesa Johnston. “Like most wild animals, snakes prefer to keep to themselves and are not naturally aggressive. Taking the time to learn about safety precautions before going outdoors can make all the difference.”

Rattlesnakes are widespread in California and are found in a variety of habitat throughout the state from coastal to desert. They may also turn up around homes and yards in brushy areas and under wood piles. Generally not aggressive, rattlesnakes will likely retreat if given room and not provoked or threatened. Most bites occur when a rattlesnake is handled or accidentally brushed against by someone walking or climbing.

On occasion, rattlesnake bites have caused severe injury – even death. However, the potential of encountering a rattlesnake should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors. The California Poison Control System notes that the chances of being bitten are small compared to the risk of other environmental injuries. Most bites occur between the months of April and October when snakes and humans are most active outdoors.

CDFW provides tips for safely living in snake country on its website, as well as tips for keeping snakes out of your yard and what do to do (and not do) in the event of a snake bite.

Additional resources can be found on the CaliforniaHerps.com Living with Rattlesnakes webpage.

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Media Contact:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933

Crab Quality Delays 2018-19 Northern California Commercial Dungeness Crab Season to Dec. 31

Based on results of another quality test, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director Charlton H. Bonham has announced an additional 15-day delay of the northern California commercial Dungeness Crab season. The new opener date is Dec. 31. Results of the Dec. 4 quality test continue to show that Dungeness Crab are not yet ready for harvesting.

Delays due to quality only affect the northern commercial fishery in California Fish and Game Districts 6, 7, 8 and 9 (Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties). The season in these districts is now scheduled to open at 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 31, 2018, to be preceded by a 64-hour gear setting period that would begin no earlier than 8:01 a.m. on Dec. 28, 2018.

Crab are evaluated to compare meat weight to total crab weight to determine whether they are ready for harvest under testing guidelines established by the Tri-State Dungeness Crab Committee. If results indicate low or poor quality, the Director may delay the fishery in Mendocino, Humboldt and Del Norte counties, under authority of Fish and Game Code, section 8276.2.

Additional testing will be scheduled to occur by Dec. 21. If quality results remain low, a final delay announcement issued by the Director would further delay the season until Jan. 15, 2019.

No vessel may take or land crab in an area closed for a meat quality delay (i.e., Fish and Game districts 6, 7, 8 and 9) or within an area closed for a domoic acid delay. In addition, any vessel that takes, possesses onboard or lands crab from ocean waters outside of a delayed area is prohibited from participating in the crab fishery in any delayed area for 30 days following the opening of those areas. This applies to any delayed areas in Oregon and Washington as well as in California.

The updated Frequently Asked Questions for the current 2018-19 season addresses questions regarding the Fair Start provision.

For more information about Dungeness Crab fisheries in California, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

For more information on health advisories related to fisheries, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories.

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Media Contacts:
Christy Juhasz, CDFW Marine Region, (707) 576-2887 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Wildlife Officers Remove Cannabis Grow Site from CDFW Wildlife Area

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Law enforcement officers with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently conducted a successful outdoor raid on a black-market marijuana cultivation site in the White Slough Wildlife Area in San Joaquin County. In all, wildlife officers removed approximately 1,700 plants at the site.

In the late summer, wildlife officers received information regarding a possible cultivation site. On Sept. 21, K-9 assisted teams from CDFW’s Marijuana Enforcement Team (MET) arrested Fernando Garcia-Lizea, 25, of Lodi. The suspect was armed with a .45 caliber semi-automatic pistol. He was booked into San Joaquin County Jail on multiple felony charges.

After securing the site, officers from other CDFW Special Operations, as well as San Joaquin County Sheriff’s deputies, assisted in the eradication and cleanup of the site. MET officers discovered a bottle of toxic chemicals, along with a face mask and latex gloves used by the suspects. Though the label was mostly removed, officers determined the bottle likely contained cufuran, which is part of a family of banned, highly toxic poisons that are increasingly found at illegal grow sites and are lethal to wildlife even in the smallest doses.

CDFW established MET in 2013. The team’s primary duties include detection and apprehension of transnational criminal organization cartel suspects whose illegal cultivation of black-market marijuana poses an ever-growing public safety and environmental threat. The teams then work to rehabilitate the sites and attempt to restore the damaged habitat.

“These grows threaten the public, destroy habitat, pollute our lands and waterways, illegally divert water, and put unsafe and untested cannabis products on the black market that are frequently grown using toxic chemicals,” said David Bess, Deputy Director and Chief of the CDFW Law Enforcement Division.

CDFW collaborated with the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office on the mission. CDFW would like to remind the public to be aware of their surroundings and report poaching and pollution information to the CDFW 24/7 CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258.

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

CDFW to Graduate 32 New Wildlife Officers

It is a great day when the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) adds graduates of the Wildlife Officer Academy to the ranks of its Law Enforcement Division.

CDFW’s most recent Wildlife Officer Academy class will graduate Friday, Aug. 10, with a final inspection at noon and the formal ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. at the Paradise Performing Arts Center in Paradise. The 32 new wildlife officers will begin the CDFW Field Training Program to put their training into practice under the close supervision of experienced Field Training Officers (FTOs). Two additional cadets paid their way through the Academy as “self-sponsors” in the interest of applying for a wildlife officer position with the CDFW Law Enforcement Division or a different law enforcement agency.

“Both full-time Academy staff and dozens of wildlife officers go to great lengths to prepare our newest wildlife officers to serve and protect the public and the precious resources of this state,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement.

CDFW’s Wildlife Officer Academy is certified through the California Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) and offers training consistent with every law enforcement agency in California. Field training with experienced FTOs is also mandated by POST to be sure new wildlife officers can apply the skills they learned during the academy to real life circumstances. The Field Training Program is the final stage of formal training. Upon successful completion, these officers will begin patrolling California to protect the natural resources of this great state.

Wildlife officers make contact with more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations annually. These officers primarily work alone, in remote areas, contacting subjects who almost always have some form of weapon, and they do so knowing that backup could be hours away. Wildlife officers have large patrol districts and great responsibilities, and frequently a sole officer will cover an entire county. The average California wildlife officer’s patrol district exceeds 500 square miles.

In 2008, CDFW teamed with Butte College to provide peace officer academy training for prospective wildlife officers. That partnership provided CDFW a state of the art POST-certified academy facility with 43 years of police training history.

The Law Enforcement Division will be accepting applications through Sept. 30, 2018, for the Academy beginning in January 2020. For more information about becoming a wildlife officer and the application timeline, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, Law Enforcement Division, (916) 322-8911
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988