Tag Archives: wildlife

CDFW Completes Update to the State Wildlife Action Plan

Media Contacts:
Carol Singleton, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8962
Armand Gonzales, SWAP Project Lead, (916) 616-0691

Western Pond Turtle
Western Pond Turtle

After a multi-year effort involving conservation groups, agencies, tribes, private landowners and other stakeholders, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed the 2015 State Wildlife Action Plan (SWAP) Update. The action plan is now under review by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and should receive final approval in February 2016.

“The State Wildlife Action Plan is a vital planning tool for resource conservation managers and land managers across the state,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This revision will ensure the plan contains the most up-to-date and scientifically-sound information on the status of California’s wildlife.”

The action plan identifies and prioritizes at-risk species and habitats, and provides conservation strategies to help protect and conserve these species. The plan is not a regulatory document. Rather, it is meant to build consensus and collaboration by identifying best management practices for conserving the state’s most vulnerable wildlife species. Once the action plan is approved, it will open up millions of dollars in federal grant funding for programs that benefit at-risk species such as the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, coho salmon and others.

“The revision process mirrored our department’s core values of collaboration, transparency and public participation,” said Bonham. “We worked closely with partner agencies, nonprofit groups and the public to ensure every effort was made to provide updates along the way and solicit feedback.”

As mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, CDFW revises the State Wildlife Action Plan every 10 years. The action plan focuses on a regional approach to conservation, one that takes into consideration the complexity inherent to every unique ecosystem. In addition to the conservation strategies addressed for each ecosystem, the plan also contains companion plans to address key overarching issues such as agriculture, energy development, land-use planning and water management.

In a separate but related action, CDFW and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) today signed an agreement highlighting the use of innovative wildlife conservation tools on public lands managed by the BLM in California. These tools provide for actions on public lands that improve wildlife habitat conditions and better align California and federal conservation goals. The agreement recognizes that the 15 million acres of BLM lands in California are critically important for sensitive species. The agencies have agreed to cooperatively identify public lands where more lasting wildlife conservation would meet mutual goals. As such, the agreement will accelerate and facilitate delivery of conservation efforts highlighted in the State Wildlife Action Plan and at the same time provide for addressing threats and stressors in a targeted way.

California is home to 197 mammal species, 433 species of birds, 84 reptiles, 67 species of freshwater fish and 5,047 native plants. It has more species than any other state. However, population growth, increased development, water management conflicts, invasive species and climate change are putting tremendous stress on these natural resources.

For more information on the State Wildlife Action Plan, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/SWAP/


Caltrans and Fish and Wildlife Urge Motorists to Be Alert During Watch Out for Wildlife Week

Caltrans and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) remind motorists to remain alert for wildlife near roadways during Watch Out for Wildlife Week, which runs September 14-20.

“Motorists need to be alert when traveling through wildlife areas,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “This will protect the public and animals, while helping reduce tragedies.”

Defenders of Wildlife, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting native species and their natural communities, reports more than 200 people are killed nationally in collisions with deer, elk and other large mammals each year and estimates 1.5 million animals are hit each year.

The Watch Out for Wildlife campaign is supported by Caltrans, CDFW, Defenders of Wildlife and the Road Ecology Center at the University of California, Davis.

“Drivers may see more animals crossing roads and highways this year, as they need to travel farther than usual to find adequate food and water,” said Marc Kenyon, CDFW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Manager. “This is just one of many reasons to give driving our complete attention when we’re on the road. Only drivers can prevent collisions with animals, by being careful and paying attention.”

Caltrans, CDFW and Defenders of Wildlife offer a few tips for motorists:

  • Be especially alert when driving in areas frequented by wildlife, and reduce your speed so you can react safely.
  • Pay particular attention when driving during the morning and evening, as wildlife are most active during these times.
  • If you see an animal cross the road, know that another may be following.
  • Don’t litter. The odors may entice animals to venture near roadways.

Here are a few examples of what Caltrans, CDFW and their partners are doing to reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions and improve ecological sustainability:

Highway 101, Los Angeles County

Caltrans is currently in the process of partnering to develop a project that will provide a dedicated wildlife passage across Highway 101 near Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura Hills. The proposed structure would traverse an eight-lane freeway and connect the Santa Monica Mountains and the Simi Hills, helping to protect the genetic integrity of wildlife in both areas.

Highway 89, Sierra County

Caltrans proposes to construct two wildlife undercrossings and accompanying directional fencing on Highway 89 in Sierra County. This section of highway was identified as a high priority during a wildlife corridor analysis, and data shows that it is within the migratory routes of deer and other wildlife.

Highway 193, Placer County

Caltrans will be starting construction on a mile-long curve correction project on rural Highway 193 in Placer County between Lincoln and Newcastle, including a wildlife undercrossing in the project design.

Highway 246, Santa Barbara County

Highway undercrossings have been designed to facilitate California tiger salamander passage between breeding ponds and upland habitat on opposite sides of Highway 246. Six under-crossings are proposed and will consist of 8-foot corrugated metal culverts spaced approximately 150 feet apart. The California tiger salamander is listed under both the state and federal Endangered Species Acts. In addition to the design and implementation of these six undercrossings, Caltrans has proposed a five-year study to assess their efficacy.

Highway 118 Culverts Project, Ventura County

The proposed project includes the improvement of six undercrossings along Highway 118 which are key for wildlife movement from the Santa Susana Mountains to Las Posas Valley. It also will add rip-rap ramps which allow wildlife to scale the high ledges under culverts which have proved to be barriers for wildlife crossings in the area. Other improvements will also consist of one-way gates for wildlife and fencing.

Highway 126 Wildlife Corridor Study

The study entails identifying likely pathways for wildlife to cross Highway 126 in Ventura and Los Angeles counties, determining how these pathways are negatively affected by the road and surrounding land development and developing options for mitigation of these impacts. This road is critical because it is currently one of the largest obstacles affecting the movement of wildlife between the Santa Monica Mountains to the south, and the Los Padres National Forest to the north. This linkage is one of the most important and imperiled natural connections in Southern California.

Research conducted by U.S. Geological Survey and Western Transportation Institute

Caltrans has contracted with the U.S. Geological Survey and Western Transportation Institute at Montana State University to conduct research that will provide information on the efficacy of wildlife crossings for special-status amphibians and reptiles. This work will help Caltrans practitioners select materials and designs for amphibian and reptile crossings that are durable and promote the sustainability of the transportation infrastructure, as well as ecological sustainability.

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Sept. 3 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $31 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 27 funded projects will benefit fish and wildlife – including some endangered species – while others will provide the public with 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. The funds for all these projects come from initiatives approved by voters to help preserve and protect California’s natural resources. Some of the funded projects include:

  • A $375,000 grant to the Solano Resource Conservation District for a cooperative project with landowners, the U.S. Natural Resources Conservation Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Center for Land-based Learning, to enhance approximately 21 acres of riparian habitat on two privately owned properties – one located approximately five miles north of Rio Vista and the second approximately four miles southeast of Winters, in Solano County.
  • A $510,000 grant to Anza-Borrego Foundation for a cooperative project with the San Diego Association of Governments, the Nature Conservancy, and the Resources Legacy Fund to acquire in fee approximately 1,129 acres of land for the protection of habitat that supports endangered species, habitat linkages and corridors between existing protected lands, and potential wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Cuyamaca in San Diego County.
  • A $3.4 million grant to the Nature Conservancy for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to acquire a conservation easement on approximately 2,554 acres of native forest habitats, including redwood, Douglas fir and Grand fir forest in the upland zones, and mature red alder forest within the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River, near Fort Bragg in Mendocino County.
  • A $1.4 million grant to the Napa County Regional Park and Open Space District to acquire approximately 443 acres of land for the protection and preservation of deer, mountain lion and oak woodland habitat, and existing regional wildlife linkages west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County.
  • Authorized a tax credit on behalf of United Technologies Corporation in the amount of $8,607,500, consistent with the Natural Heritage Preservation Tax Credit Act Program and awarded $2.7 million to reimburse the state general fund. This is part of a larger cooperative project with Santa Clara Open Space Authority, USFWS, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, California State Parks, California Coastal Conservancy, the Resources Legacy Fund and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to acquire approximately 1,831 acres of land. Purchasing this land will protect threatened and endangered species, provide movement corridors and connectivity, and provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities near Morgan Hill in Santa Clara County.
  • A $980,000 grant to the Elkhorn Slough Foundation for a cooperative project with CDFW, the California State Coastal Conservancy, DWR, USFWS and Santa Cruz County Public Works, to restore approximately 46 acres of tidal marsh and five acres of perennial grasses on CDFW’s Elkhorn Slough National Marine Estuarine Research Reserve, two miles east of Moss Landing in Monterey County.
  • A $7.5 million acquisition in fee of approximately 282 acres of land by CDFW and to accept settlement funds from the U.S. Department of the Interior Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Fund for the protection of threatened and endangered species, and riparian and floodplain habitat along the Santa Clara River, and to provide wildlife-oriented public use opportunities associated with CDFW’s Fillmore Fish Hatchery in Ventura County.

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

Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Dana Michaels, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-2420

Flat, green and gold pasture in Solano County, California
Cronin Ranch pasture, north of Rio Vista. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
weedy stream bank and channel
Weedy stream bank and channel where habitat restoration will occur on Cronin Ranch. Solano Resource Conservation District photo
dirt-covered ridge looks like moonscape under blue sky
Coyote Ridge near Morgan Hill. Santa Clara Open Space Authority photo
pawprint of California black bear in soil
Fresh bear track west of Lake Berryessa in Napa County. Photo used with permission.
a small spring in oak woodland
Partially developed spring in deer, mountain lion, and oak woodland habitat west of Lake Berryessa. Photo used with permission.
view of conifer forest and hills from above the fog
Native forest habitats near Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo
a fallen log lays across a small stream runs through red alder forest
Mature red alder forest in the riparian zone along the Ten Mile River in Mendocino County. Nature Conservancy photo

Elkhorn Slough OtterCam Goes High Definition

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been upgraded from standard to high-definition, and there is now a second HD video camera focused on sea otters, thanks to the generous support of the Acacia Foundation and the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS). Now anyone can watch California’s adorable sea otters in HD by going to www.elkhornslough.org/ottercam.

Located in areas of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve’s salt marshes where sea otters often congregate, the two new cameras offer great image clarity and fine detail for viewing this iconic Monterey Bay marine mammal and a teeming cast of other Elkhorn Slough wildlife. Elkhorn Slough Ecological Reserve is managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam HD video streams will be featured as part of the PBS/BBC Big Blue Live television and online event, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2 (at www.pbs.org/big-blue-live/live-cams/elkhorn-slough-otter-cam). Anchored from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, the three-day, live televised event will highlight the amazing marine life that converges off California’s central coast. The Big Blue Live website links to live cameras, including the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam.

Elkhorn Slough is home to the largest concentration of endangered southern sea otters (enhydra lutris nereis) on the California coast, and the first webcam dedicated to streaming live video of wild southern sea otters in their natural habitat. The Elkhorn Slough OtterCam has been streaming live video online from the tidal salt marshes of the Elkhorn Slough Reserve since 2012. The upgrade to high-definition enhances the OtterCam for both researchers and visitors.

For almost two years, researchers have used the Elkhorn Slough OtterCam to observe sea otter behavior such as foraging, grooming and raising pups. Stationed on the edge of the slough, the camera looks across pickleweed marsh and tidal channels of the slough. These channels are frequented largely by female otters and appear to be used as a nursery, as sea otters with pups are regularly seen in the meandering channels. During the past three years, the camera has provided video and still photographs documenting the growth of otter pups, interactions with harbor seals and other wildlife, and the movement of otters throughout the slough.

“The OtterCam has opened a unique window on the lives of sea otters. There are times we are seeing 25 or more otters in the protected channels of the slough’s marsh,” Elkhorn Slough Foundation (ESF) Executive Director Mark Silberstein said. “This suggests there may be more otters residing in the slough than previously thought. We’ve witnessed some unique behaviors, such as hauling out of the water, resting and grooming in the pickleweed marshes.”

Research is underway to better understand how sea otters are using the estuary, with the hope of helping southern sea otters recover in other parts of their historic range. In turn, recent evidence suggests that sea otters may yield important ecological benefits to the estuaries they inhabit. A study published by reserve researcher Brent Hughes in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed that sea otters enhance the health of subtidal seagrass beds, as they do in kelp forests.

“We are pleased to present these remarkable images from the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, and shine a light on sea otter use of the estuary,” Reserve Manager Dave Feliz said. “The behavior of these animals in a salt marsh is little understood, yet the story is unfolding before the eyes of the world on ElkhornSlough.org. CDFW is happy to be a part of this new chapter in sea otter life history.”

Elkhorn Slough, in the central Monterey Bay area, encompasses a wide variety of habitats – oak woodlands, maritime chaparral, coastal prairie and the largest tract of tidal salt marsh in California south of San Francisco Bay – that support an incredible abundance and diversity of life. Elkhorn Slough hosts 550 species of marine invertebrates and 100 species of fish, as well as resident sea lions, harbor seals and the highest concentration of southern sea otters on the West Coast. On the Pacific flyway, Elkhorn Slough bird numbers can soar during migration seasons, nearly doubling the resident bird counts. The slough is designated a Globally Important Bird area, with more than 340 species identified in and around the slough.

ESF is a community-supported non-profit land trust whose mission is to conserve and restore the Elkhorn Slough and its watershed. ESF protects 4,000 acres of rare habitat including oak woodlands, maritime chaparral and wetlands. Since 1982, ESF has been the non-profit partner of the Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve (ESNERR).

ESNERR is managed by CDFW with administrative assistance from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. ESNERR is one of 28 reserves established nationwide to support long-term research, water-quality monitoring, environmental education and coastal stewardship.

For information about ESF and ESNERR, and to support the conservation of Elkhorn Slough, please visit ElkhornSlough.org and CDFW Elkhorn Slough.


Media Contacts:
Dave Feliz, CDFW Elkhorn Slough Reserve, (831) 728-2822
Scott Nichols, Elkhorn Slough Foundation, (831) 728-5939
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Knoxville Wildlife Area Reopened

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced today that Knoxville Wildlife Area will reopen for public use Sunday, Aug. 9 at 5:00 a.m. Because of successful efforts by fire personnel from multiple agencies on the Rocky Fire, CDFW considers conditions to be safe for public access. The public is reminded that campfires are not allowed on the wildlife area at any time.

Because of the Rocky Fire in neighboring Lake County, Knoxville Wildlife Area was closed to all public use on Aug. 3. The general deer season opener began today, and Knoxville is a popular hunting area.

The public can monitor the status of the Rocky Fire at www.fire.ca.gov/general/firemaps.php.

Media Contacts:
Conrad Jones, Knoxville Wildlife Area, (707) 944-5544
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW Completes 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

Mallards in flightThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) completed its 2015 waterfowl breeding population survey. The CDFW survey, which uses methodology approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), indicates the total number of breeding ducks (all species combined) has declined. Breeding mallards, the most numerous duck species in the state, declined 27 percent from 2014.

The total number of breeding ducks is estimated at 315,580, compared to 448,750 last year. The estimated breeding population of mallards is 173,865, a decrease from 238,670 in 2014. CDFW attributes the decline to very low precipitation and poor habitat conditions. Similar declines in breeding duck population estimates have occurred in the past but recovered after habitat conditions improved.

“Habitat conditions were poor the last three years in both northeastern California and the Central Valley and the production of young ducks was reduced as a result, so a lower breeding population was expected in 2015,” said CDFW’s Waterfowl Program Environmental Scientist Melanie Weaver. “We would expect another low year of duck production from these two important areas in California in 2015. However, habitat conditions in northern breeding areas (Alaska and Canada) are reported to be better than average.”

CDFW has conducted this survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. These areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, the Central Valley from Red Bluff to Bakersfield, and the Suisun Marsh. The Breeding Population Survey Report is available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/waterfowl/.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the USFWS in Alaska and Canada, and these results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

The federal regulation frameworks specify the outside dates, maximum season lengths and maximum bag limits. Once CDFW receives the USFWS estimates and the frameworks for waterfowl hunting regulations from the USFWS, CDFW will make a recommendation to the Fish and Game Commission regarding this year’s waterfowl hunting regulations.


Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

May 15 is the 10th National Endangered Species Day

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recognizes the 10th National Endangered Species Day with a focused environmental concern. The purpose of the Endangered Species Act is to conserve imperiled species and the ecosystems upon which they depend to prevent extinction. Special activities are scheduled at the zoos in San Diego, Santa Ana, Los Angeles and San Francisco, at Yosemite National Park, San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, San Diego Botanic Gardens, Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro, Buena Vista Audubon Society Nature Center, San Francisco Zoo and Sacramento’s Beach Lake Park. Visit www.endangeredspeciesday.org to learn more. California, with all its geographic variety, has tremendous biological diversity. Our state supports more than 5,000 native plants and more than 1,000 native animal species. At least one third of the plants and two thirds of the animals here are endemic species that occur nowhere else in the world. Of all these species, more than 300 are designated by the state as rare, threatened or endangered. There are 133 species listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in California. Loss of habitat, water management conflicts, invasive species, poaching and climate change are the greatest threats to their long-term survival. The combination of wildfires and extreme drought conditions in most of the state add to the pressures on our already-stressed wild plants and animals. CDFW is paying special attention to priority listed species and other sensitive native wildlife that are in areas most severely affected by the drought. Emergency drought funds support projects that transferred water to critical fish and wildlife populations that might not have survived the continuing severe dry conditions without it. Examples of actions taken last year include the flooding of wetland habitats for giant garter snakes in State Wildlife Areas and the relocation of stranded salmon and steelhead. CDFW is establishing fish and wildlife stressor monitoring to assess the drought’s effects and identify key support projects for high-priority listed species such as Amargosa vole, tri-colored blackbird, salmon and species that occur in the San Joaquin Valley. One endangered plant is Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccosa ssp. californica), a small annual plant that only occurs at the bottom of rocky vernal pools in Butte County. The species has been protected at CDFW’s Stone Ridge and North Table Mountain Ecological Reserves, and although several thousand plants were observed at Stone Ridge this year, only 107 plants were counted at North Table Mountain, which is open to the public and offers fantastic spring wildflower viewing. Endangered Species Day was started in 2006 by the U.S. Senate to raise awareness of and celebrate these disappearing plant and animal species, and draw attention to successful recovery programs and opportunities for the public to get involved. It also honors the people who uphold the legacy of the Act while inspiring the next generation of conservation leaders. To learn more about CDFW’s drought-related actions to protect California’s fish and wildlife, visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/drought.

Gray owl on tree branch
A great gray owl in Sierra National Forest near Oakhurst. Chris Stermer/CDFW photo
Orange and yellow globe-like flower
Pitkin marsh lily, (lilium pardalinum), a state-listed endangered species. Roxanne Bittman/DFG photo
gray freshwater fish with salmon-colored sides and gills in clear stream
Rare Paiute cutthroat trout in a remote Alpine County stream. CDFW photo.
A red fox with black legs and ears, sitting in snow
Sierra Nevada red fox, in Sonora Pass area, Mono County. CDFW photo
A light brown vole in a gloved hand
Captive Amargosa vole. Don Preisler/UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine
Western pond turtle on dry gravel
Western pond turtle. Christina Sousa/CDFW photo
a dark gray salamander on wet dirt
Santa Cruz Long-Toed Salamander. David Laabs photo.
Tan and brown giant garter snake
Female, standard brown giant garter snake. Eric Hansen photo

Media Contacts: Daniel Applebee, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (209) 588-1879 Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

Increase in Turtle “Rescues” Prompts CDFW Reminder: If You Care, Leave Them There

More than a few kind-hearted Californians are unnecessarily “rescuing” western pond turtles this spring, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is imploring to the public to leave them alone. Turtles normally travel away from water during a portion of their life cycle, and a solo turtle is not necessarily a lost or distressed turtle. Spring is nesting season, so many turtles are leaving their aquatic habitat and traveling upland to lay eggs.

Wildlife rehabilitation centers and animal shelters report that a surprising number of people have been bringing healthy western pond turtles – California’s only native freshwater turtle species – to their facilities, thinking there is something wrong with them because they’re not in a pond. The common name “pond turtle” doesn’t mean they never leave ponds. In fact, this species more frequently lives in rivers, streams, lakes, and permanent and temporary wetlands. It requires terrestrial habitats not only to nest, but also to wait out extended hot, dry periods or overwinter in a state of dormancy throughout many parts of California.

While most western pond turtles nest somewhat near water, they have been documented traveling long distances (more than 500 yards) to upland habitat to lay eggs and sometimes even farther to overwinter. With water becoming more scarce as the drought persists, more turtles are moving upland earlier in the season to estivate (summer dormancy). People may encounter turtles during these travels and think they are lost or sick, since they are quite some distance from water. CDFW receives many contacts from well-meaning people who report that they have found and collected what they believe to be a sick turtle, when in reality the turtle was traveling to upland habitat as part of its natural activities.

Western pond turtles are designated as a “species of special concern” in California, “critical” in Oregon, and “endangered” in Washington. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in April that the species may warrant protection under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“Western pond turtles face a number of threats throughout their range,” said Laura Patterson, CDFW’s Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator. “They are shy animals and sensitive to human disturbance. Anyone who removes a healthy turtle from the wild is potentially compromising its ability to successfully reproduce and survive in the future. In addition, anyone – other than a licensed wildlife rehabilitator – who releases turtles that have been kept in captivity is not only breaking the law but putting the health of wild populations at risk by spreading disease. These actions are almost always unnecessary and often quite counterproductive, so I urge the public to take a hands-off approach to caring for these sensitive, imperiled animals.”

Western pond turtle populations have declined significantly in some parts of the state, especially Southern California, due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation. Predation, competition and diseases from non-native species, including pet turtles released into the wild, have also contributed to declines and localized extinctions.

According to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 40, it is illegal to capture, collect, intentionally kill or injure, possess, purchase, propagate, sell, transport, import or export any native reptile or amphibian, or part of one, with very few exceptions. Native reptiles covered under the law include western pond turtles and desert tortoises. Once they’ve been in captivity, they may not be returned to the wild without written authorization from CDFW.

It is best to leave all native wildlife alone. If you care, leave them there!

A brochure with more information on western pond turtles and what to do if you find one can be downloaded at http://tinyurl.com/ljy5cmu.


Media Contacts:
Laura Patterson, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 341-6981
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

2015 Big Game Digest Now Available Online

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has posted the 2015 Big Game Digest to its website. The 64-page document can be downloaded online for free at www.dfg.ca.gov/publications/digest/.

2015 California Big Game Hunting DigestThe popular guide includes season, quota and harvest information for deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep, as well as tag drawing information, bear and wild pig hunting information and big game hunting regulations for the 2015-16 seasons.

Printed copies of the Big Game Digest will automatically be mailed in late April to hunters who purchased a big game tag or applied for the Big Game Drawing in California in 2014.

“As printing costs continue to rise, more funding for big game conservation will be available if the department reduces printing and mailing costs,” said Dan Yparraguirre, CDFW’s Deputy Director of Wildlife and Fisheries. “Making the Big Game Digest available online also means that hunters can access this information sooner.”

Hunting licenses, tags and drawing applications will be available on April 15. Purchases may be made through the Online License Service, at any CDFW License Sales Office or License Agent, or by telephone at (800) 565-1458. The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is midnight on June 2.


Media Contact:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3642
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Launches Online Form for Citizens to Report Incidents of Wildlife Mortality

Californians around the state can now use an online tool to report incidents of fish and wildlife mortality directly to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). By contributing to CDFW’s growing database, citizens can help state environmental scientists gather important information necessary to monitor and evaluate wildlife populations and help prevent and control emerging diseases.

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“The CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab is asking for this information so we can be one step ahead of a potential disease outbreak or other health concern,” said CDFW Environmental Scientist Lora Konde. “If we don’t know about it, we can’t do anything about it.”

CDFW is particularly interested in reports of dead animals with no visible injuries, sick or dead animals in unusual locations and/or more than five sick or dead animals at one location.

There are three ways to submit information:

  • Online: The preferred method is to submit information using the new mortality reporting form found at wildlife.ca.gov/living-with-wildlife. From the “Living with Wildlife” webpage, click on the purple box, “Report Dead Wildlife,” to access the form. The form asks for such information as: observation date, the reporter’s name and contact information, what kind of animal, where the animal was located and estimated mortality date. Photographs may be uploaded as well. The form is meant to be submitted online, but can also be filled out manually, printed and faxed to the Wildlife Investigations Lab at (916) 358-2814.
  • Smartphone: There is not a smartphone “app” available, but the mortality reporting form on the CDFW website is phone-enabled and can be filled out and submitted directly from a smartphone. To access the form, go to the main CDFW website (wildlife.ca.gov) and type “mortality reporting” into the search engine. The first suggested link that appears will redirect you to the form and submission page.
  • Email: Reports can also be sent via email to the Wildlife Investigations Lab email at wilab@wildlife.ca.gov.

CDFW’s database does not include small animals (cats, dogs, skunks, possums, etc.) killed by cars or other mechanical means. These can be reported to the California Roadkill Observation System, www.wildlifecrossing.net/california/. However, please contact your local CDFW office (www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions) if you observe a deer, mountain lion or bear that has been hit by a car.

For health reasons, do not touch a sick, injured or dead animal. If you find an injured or sick animal, you can contact a local licensed wildlife rehabilitation center (www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/wil/rehab/facilities.html) for advice.

Local animal control agencies can also assist with sick animals that may need help or small dead animals that should be removed.

Public contributions to state scientists’ efforts (dubbed “citizen science”) is encouraged and greatly appreciated by CDFW. “When people are going about their daily activities and they keep an eye out in the field for sick or dead animals and take the time to report it to us, it is very helpful. The public’s input is an extra resource to support this monitoring effort and keep wildlife populations healthy,” Konde explained.

Though still relatively new, the online submission feature is already proving to be useful. In January 2015, CDFW began closely monitoring the population of band-tailed pigeons for signs of disease. Many Californians who observed increased numbers of dead birds took the time to share that information with CDFW.

“We were grateful that the public responded enthusiastically and provided us with a lot of useful information through this online reporting method,” said Konde. “This makes the process of gathering data easier and more efficient. The faster we know about an outbreak, the faster we can analyze it and take action.”


Media Contacts:
Krysta Rogers, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-1662

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Kristi Matal, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8911