Tag Archives: wildlife management

CDFW Completes 2019 Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual waterfowl breeding population survey. Mallards, gadwall and cinnamon teal comprised 85 percent of ducks observed. The survey results included the following:

  • Total breeding ducks in the survey area decreased 14 percent from 2018 and are 14 percent below the long-term average.
  • Mallards – which were the most abundant species of ducks surveyed – decreased 12 percent from 2018 and are 28 percent below the long-term average.
  • Gadwalls increased eight percent from 2018 and are 29 percent above long-term average.
  • Cinnamon teal decreased 36 percent from 2018 and are 17 percent above long-term average.

According to Dan Skalos, a CDFW waterfowl program biologist, the decline was disappointing, given near-normal precipitation levels over the past two years. “It would have been nice to see higher numbers in the survey, but there may be some increases still ahead,” Skalos said. “The abundant rainfall we saw in May likely led to a longer nesting season and should contribute to better production going forward.”

Skalos also noted that while local waterfowl production should be better than the past few years, the decrease in wildlife-friendly agriculture (e.g. wheat and other annual crops that provide important nesting cover) in the Central Valley will limit long-term improvement of populations.

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual 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. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The 2019 California Survey was flown April 22-26 in the Central Valley and May 7-9 in northeastern California. Some of the scheduled transects in the northeastern stratum were not flown due to high winds, but the survey was 100 percent complete in the Central Valley and 95 percent complete in the northeast, for a total survey effort of 99 percent.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in early August. 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.

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Media Contacts:
Dan Skalos, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3763
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW to Host Public Meeting to Discuss North Coast Elk

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public meeting on Monday, July 15 to provide information and receive input that will help biologists refine the management plan for the North Coast Roosevelt Elk Management Unit.

The meeting will be held at Lake Earl Grange Hall, 6820 Lake Earl Drive in Fort Dick (95538), from 3:30-5 p.m. It will be a drop-in “open house” format with staff presentations, including a status update on elk populations and current elk research studies in the management unit. The public will have an opportunity to offer recommendations for consideration in the update of the management unit plan. CDFW staff will also be available to discuss hunting and landowner programs such as the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program.

As potential regulatory changes are considered, other in-person opportunities to provide comment will be available at the California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee meeting in September, and at the December Commission meeting when potential changes may be formally proposed.

For more information about the meetings, or if you cannot attend and would like to submit questions or comments, please contact CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Shawn Fresz at shawn.fresz@wildlife.ca.gov. More information about CDFW’s Elk Management Program is also available on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Shawn Fresz, CDFW Wildlife Program, (707) 445-7850
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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

Survey Shows Severe Decline in Mount San Gorgonio Desert Bighorn Sheep Population

Aerial and ground surveys of Southern California’s Mount San Gorgonio desert bighorn sheep population conducted during early March have confirmed a severe decline in numbers. Biologists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and partner agencies counted 60 animals, approximately one-third the number counted in the last helicopter survey conducted in March 2016.

Watch video of biologists preparing for the survey at: https://youtu.be/ecdag5Y6d1g

This reduction appears to be consistent with an outbreak of respiratory disease that CDFW has been investigating since December.

“Die-offs of bighorn sheep of this type and magnitude that have occurred in the past have almost always been triggered by contact with domestic sheep or goats,” CDFW Wildlife Biologist Dr. Jeff Villepique said.

In December 2018, multiple reports of dead or dying bighorn sheep in Whitewater Canyon and the Mission Creek drainages were confirmed by biologists working for CDFW. Tissue samples from carcasses were sent to pathologists at the California Animal Health and Food Safety laboratories. The investigation is ongoing, with 21 bighorn carcasses identified thus far.

Administering medical treatment to sick bighorn is not feasible due to many factors, including the remote location, the difficulty of capturing animals and inability to capture and treat the entire herd.

Southern California is home to approximately 4,800 bighorn sheep in 64 herd units. To date, there have been no reports of sheep in nearby herds being affected by the disease.

CDFW is one of several entities involved in managing bighorn sheep in California, and participates in the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies Wild Sheep Working Group. The Group has declared respiratory disease to be “the biggest impediment to restoring and sustaining bighorn sheep populations.”

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Media Contacts:
Dr. Jeff Villepique, CDFW Inland Deserts Region, (909) 584-9012
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

 

CDFW Releases Conservation and Management Plan for California Elk Populations

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan. The plan has undergone extensive public review and will help guide state wildlife managers’ efforts to maintain healthy elk herds. The plan builds on the success of efforts to reestablish elk in suitable historic ranges, and management practices that have resulted in robust elk populations throughout the state. It includes objectives for providing public educational and recreational opportunities, habitat enhancement and restoration, and minimization of conflicts on private property.

“This plan demonstrates CDFW’s commitment to build upon its strong foundation for the continued conservation of this iconic species for future management of California’s elk populations,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis.

There are three subspecies of elk in California: Roosevelt (Cervus canadensis roosevelti), Rocky Mountain (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) and Tule (Cervus canadensis nannodes). California’s 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) collectively comprise the distribution of all three species within their respective ranges in the state. The plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting all three species statewide, in addition to individually addressing each EMU. The EMU plans include herd characteristics, harvest data, management goals and management actions to conserve and enhance habitat conditions on public and private lands.

More information about California’s Elk Management Program can be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988