Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its May 20, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $36.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 31 approved projects will benefit fish and wildlife — including some endangered species — while others will provide public access to important natural resources. Several projects will also demonstrate the importance of protecting working landscapes that integrate economic, social and environmental stewardship practices beneficial to the environment, landowners and the local community.

Funding for these projects comes from a combination of sources including the Habitat Conservation Fund and bond measures approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources.

Funded projects include:

  • A $343,000 grant to The Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the National Park Service and the California Institute of Environmental Studies to restore approximately three acres of migratory bird breeding habitat on Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park off the coast of Port Hueneme in Ventura County.
  • A $635,000 grant to the Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority and the San Fernando Valley Audubon Society to acquire approximately 22 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species and riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River and to provide the potential for wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Acton in Los Angeles County.
  • A $1.3 million grant to Truckee Donner Land Trust to acquire in fee approximately 201 acres to preserve montane meadow, wildlife corridors and habitat linkages, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Truckee in Nevada County.
  • A $4.7 million grant to Tuolumne County for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), CAL FIRE, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Forest Service to enhance forest health and reduce hazardous fuels through selective thinning and replanting activities on approximately 6,434 acres of mixed conifer forest in the Tuolumne River watershed located in Stanislaus National Forest 20 miles east of Sonora in Tuolumne County.
  • A $1.25 million grant to Port San Luis Obispo Harbor District for a cooperative project with California State Parks to rehabilitate a pier and boat landing at Avila Pier located approximately eight miles northwest of Pismo Beach in San Luis Obispo County.
  • A $689,000 grant to Bolsa Chica Conservancy for a cooperative project with Signal Landmark, Pacific Life Foundation and CDFW to install new portable buildings for an interpretive center and construct educational features, an Americans with Disabilities Act accessible observation desk and restrooms in the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve approximately four miles northeast of Huntington Beach in Orange County.
  • A $10 million grant to Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority for a cooperative project with the Peninsula Open Space Trust and State Coastal Conservancy to acquire in fee approximately 235 acres of land to protect a critical linkage both for movement of wildlife and for species adaptation to climate change, and the protection of a natural floodplain located in Coyote Valley in Santa Clara County.
  • A $5 million grant to the Ventura County Watershed Protection District for a planning project that will complete final design plans for Matilija Dam removal and for three downstream levee construction/rehabilitation projects as essential components of the Matilija Dam Ecosystem Restoration Project, a watershed-scale dam removal initiative and one of California’s largest dam removal efforts located five miles northwest of Ojai in Ventura County.

For more information about the WCB please visit wcb.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 817-0434

turkey vulture receiving veterinary treatment for poisoning

CDFW Reminds Veterinarians and Pet Owners to Properly Dispose of Animal Remains

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reaching out to veterinarians and owners of pets and livestock to remind them of the importance of properly disposing of the remains of chemically euthanized animals. CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory has recently confirmed the fourth known incident of secondary pentobarbital poisoning in a turkey vulture from Marin County.

The other three Marin County incidents, dating back to 2014, also involved turkey vultures that were suffering from secondary poisoning after consuming the remains of animals that were euthanized with sodium pentobarbital. CDFW has confirmed similar cases of poisoning in Ventura County in 2017 and Shasta County in 2018, also involving turkey vultures. In 2017, a bald eagle was also poisoned by pentobarbital in Fresno County.

Sodium pentobarbital is commonly used to humanely euthanize domestic animals such as dogs and cats, horses, goats, cattle, poultry and other livestock. The drug is quickly distributed throughout the animals’ body. Secondary poisoning of wildlife occurs when the animal remains are disposed of improperly and scavengers feed on the animal exposing them to the euthanasia drug.

Pentobarbital poisoning of wildlife is entirely preventable. Law requires that animals chemically euthanized with pentobarbital be cremated or buried at least 3 to 4 feet deep to prevent exposing scavenging wildlife to the euthanasia drug. Leaving a euthanized animal unburied in a field or landfill will put wildlife scavengers at risk of poisoning. Proper disposal of animal remains is the responsibility of the animal owner and veterinarian administering the drug.

Wildlife that have ingested pentobarbital-contaminated animal remains may appear dead. They often have no reflex response and breathing may be barely detectible. If treated promptly, turkey vultures have a fair chance of survival. The most recent turkey vulture was successfully treated and released by wildlife rehabilitation staff at WildCare in San Rafael. Unfortunately, given that several turkey vultures may feed on the same animal remains, it is possible additional vultures and other scavengers may have been similarly affected but not recovered.

Incidents and information about possible sources of poisoning may be reported to the CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory by phone at (916) 358-2790, by email at WILab@wildlife.ca.gov or online via the CDFW website.

If grounded birds are observed, please contact your local wildlife rehabilitation center.

For more information, please see the USFWS Fact Sheet “Secondary Pentobarbital Poisoning of Wildlife.”

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Media Contacts:
Krysta Rogers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 531-7647
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714
Alison Hermance, WildCare, (415) 453-1000, ext. 24

 

Roadkill Still Illegal to Possess on Jan. 1, Despite Passage of the “Wildlife Traffic Safety Act”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds the public it is still illegal to collect or possess roadkill animals and violators could face citation, even after Jan. 1, 2020. SB 395 – Chapter 869 (Archuleta), also known as the “Wildlife Traffic Safety Act,” was enacted with the intent to eventually make available for utilization the roadkill meat of deer, elk, pronghorn antelope or wild pig.

However, the legislative language does not permit the general public collection and utilization of roadkill animals, but rather authorizes development of a program for what the bill describes as “salvageable wild game meat.” Such a program is not yet in place, contrary to many news articles and social media traffic.

SB 395 only authorizes the California Fish and Game Commission to adopt regulations, in consultation with the California Department of Transportation, California Highway Patrol and the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment, to establish such a salvageable wild game meat utilization program. It would mandate any such program to include a permit and a reporting process.

“Many Californians think it will be legal to possess and utilize roadkill on Jan. 1, which is the  technical effective date of the Wildlife Traffic Safety Act, but that’s not the case,” said  David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “There is no collection or utilization program in place. We are trying to avoid any confusion by misinformed citizens who think it is lawful to collect roadkill animals.”

In addition, SB 395 authorizes CDFW to create a roadkill reporting database to help wildlife managers identify the places where wildlife/vehicle collisions are most common. Data from such a reporting system could support wildlife conservation efforts conducted through regional conservation investment strategies. That program is also not yet in place. However, the University of California, Davis has a public reporting system called the California Roadkill Observation System (CROS) that is currently operational. Any citizen can contribute roadkill data and photos to CROS, either anonymously or as a registered user.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-6692

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

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Sacramento

At its December 2019 meeting in Sacramento, 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 the two-day meeting.

The Commission made a listing decision under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) regarding the foothill yellow-legged frog. Due to the level of genetic divergence, geographic isolation, and differing levels of imperilment between populations and threats within these populations, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended separating the listing into different clades for the foothill yellow-legged frog. The Commission’s decision was consistent with that recommendation. The Commission listed the Southern Sierra, Central Coast and South Coast clades as endangered under CESA, and the Feather River and Northern Sierra clades as threatened under CESA. The Commission also decided that listing the North Coast clade is not warranted at this time. The Commission is scheduled to adopt findings for the decision at its February 2020 meeting.

The Commission recognized five newly inducted members of the California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees are L. Ryan Broddrick, Dean A. Cortopassi, John M. Eadie, Richard Janson and Mickey W. Saso. The California Waterfowler’s Hall of Fame was established in 2006 to recognize those individuals who have made significant contributions to enhancing waterfowl and their habitats in California.

After hearing from numerous Delta anglers, the Commission voted to postpone adoption of a Delta Fisheries Management Policy and potential amendments to the Commission’s Striped Bass Policy to a future meeting.

Successful and sound management of game populations has allowed for the Commission to authorize publication of notice to amend hunting regulations for big game mammals and waterfowl. Amendments to be considered include additional hunting opportunities in some elk and desert bighorn sheep zones where populations continue to thrive, and new hunting opportunities for veterans and active military personnel for waterfowl hunting.

The Commission authorized publication of notice to amend the regulations for CDFW lands to add properties to the lists of wildlife areas and ecological reserves, and to remove properties from those lists for which CDFW no longer has management authority. This focused regulatory package also proposes authorization of new site-specific public uses, as well as other amendments to address operational or public safety concerns.

The Commission received an annual report from CDFW on management activities of the Statewide Marine Protected Area Program and heard other marine-related items.

The Commission also elected to move the dates of the next meeting to Feb. 20-21, 2020 with marine items being heard on the first day and wildlife items on the second day.

Commission President Eric Sklar, Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Commissioner Samantha Murray were present. Commissioners Russell Burns and Peter Silva were absent.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at www.fgc.ca.gov. An archived video will also be available in coming days.

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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.

Little North Fork of the Navarro River, Mendocino County.

CDFW Awards $10.1 Million for Fisheries Habitat Restoration and Forest Legacy Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today announced the selection of 31 projects that will receive funding for the restoration, enhancement and protection of anadromous salmonid habitat in California watersheds, as well as forest legacy restoration.

The grants, which total $10.1 million, are distributed through CDFW’s Fisheries Restoration Grant Program (FRGP). They include $256,440 allocated for timber legacy restoration projects and approximately $9.8 million for anadromous salmonid restoration projects. FRGP monies come from a combination of state sources and the federal Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.

“We are excited to further the restoration of river ecosystems critical to California’s salmon and steelhead,” CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham said. “Several of this year’s projects incorporate process-based restoration to address the root of ecological degradation and benefits all species using the waterway, including salmonids.”

In response to the 2019 Fisheries Habitat Restoration Grant Solicitation, CDFW received 70 proposals requesting more than $38 million in funding. All proposals underwent an initial administrative review. Those that passed were then evaluated through a technical review process that included reviews by CDFW and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists.

The 31 approved projects will further the objectives of state and federal fisheries recovery plans, including removing barriers to fish migration, restoring riparian habitat, monitoring of listed populations and creating a more resilient and sustainably managed water resources system (e.g., water supply, water quality and habitat) that can better withstand drought conditions. These projects further the goals of California’s Water Action Plan and CDFW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, as well as addressing limiting factors specified in state and federal recovery plans.

The list of approved projects is available on the FRGP web page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Wells, CDFW Watershed Restoration Grants Branch, (916) 445-1285
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988