Eroded streambank at Ackerson Meadow

Wildlife Conservation Board Funds Environmental Improvement and Acquisition Projects

At its Feb. 26, 2020 quarterly meeting, the Wildlife Conservation Board (WCB) approved approximately $33.2 million in grants to help restore and protect fish and wildlife habitat throughout California. Some of the 41 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 $275,000 grant to American Rivers, Inc. for a cooperative project with Yosemite National Park and Stanislaus National Forest to complete environmental compliance, planning and permitting to restore approximately 230 acres of mountain meadow at three sites: one in Yosemite National Park, one in the Stanislaus National Forest and one managed by both the National Park Service and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) agencies in Tuolumne County.
  • A $300,000 grant to Land Trust of Santa Cruz County for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy to plan, design and permit trails, boardwalks, and fishing and boating access at Watsonville Slough Farm located adjacent to the city of Watsonville in Santa Cruz County.
  • A $1.21 million grant to River Partners for a cooperative project with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and Kern River Corridor Endowment and Holding Company that will plant milkweed and nectar-rich plants to establish or enhance monarch butterfly habitat on approximately 600 acres of natural lands in the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley and San Diego region.
  • A $1.93 million grant to Calaveras Healthy Impact Product Solutions for a cooperative project with the USFS and Upper Mokelumne River Watershed Authority to enhance forest health and reduce hazardous fuels through selective thinning, prescribed fire and replanting activities on approximately 1,915 acres of mixed conifer forest in Eldorado National Forest in Amador County.
  • A $2.5 million grant to the Monterey County Resource Management Agency for a cooperative project with the State Coastal Conservancy, California State Parks, California Department of Transportation, California Department of Water Resources and Big Sur Land Trust to restore approximately 135 acres on the lower floodplain of the Carmel River located approximately one mile south of the city of Carmel-by-the-Sea in Monterey County.
  • A $2.32 million grant to the Trust for Public Land for a cooperative project with the California Natural Resources Agency’s Environmental Enhancement and Mitigation Program, National Audubon Society, Sierra Nevada Conservancy, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and Kern River Valley Heritage Foundation to acquire approximately 3,804 acres of land for the protection of threatened and endangered species, wildlife corridors, habitat linkages and watersheds, and to provide wildlife-oriented, public-use opportunities near Weldon in Kern County.
  • A $1 million grant to the Mountains Recreation Conservation Authority (MRCA) and the acceptance of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant, and the approval to subgrant these federal funds to MRCA to acquire, in fee, approximately 320 acres of land for the protection of a core population of coastal California gnatcatcher, the coastal cactus wren and other sensitive species located near Chino Hills in San Bernardino County.
  • $6.33 million from the USFWS Habitat Conservation Plan Land Acquisition Grant and approval to subgrant these federal funds to the Endangered Habitats Conservancy (EHC), and a WCB grant to the EHC for a cooperative project with the federal government, acting by and through the U.S. Navy to acquire, in fee, approximately 955 acres of land for the protection of grasslands, oak woodlands, coastal sage scrub and vernal pools that support threatened and endangered species and to support the preservation of wildlife corridors and linkages, located in the community of Ramona in San Diego County.

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

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Media Contacts:
John Donnelly, WCB Executive Director, (916) 445-0137
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

raccoon eating from a dog bowl

Distemper Cases Rise Among California’s Foxes, Raccoons, Skunks

Residents Reminded to Vaccinate Pets, Remove Wildlife Attractants

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reporting an unusually high number of canine distemper virus (CDV) cases in wildlife populations throughout the state. CDV can infect a wide range of domestic and wild carnivores, including some non-canids. Gray foxes, raccoons and skunks are the most commonly affected species.

Unvaccinated domestic dogs can potentially contract the disease through contact with food or water bowls that are “shared” with infected wild carnivores. Pet owners should be particularly vigilant in their efforts to keep their domestic animals from coming into contact with wildlife. CDV is not transmissible to humans.

“Keeping dogs up to date on vaccinations not only protects pets, it protects wildlife,” said CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Deana Clifford. “Wild animals can spread distemper to domestic dogs, but unvaccinated domestic dogs can also spread the disease to wild animals.”

Dr. Clifford noted that distemper is the most common disease CDFW finds as the cause of death in California’s carnivores. Large outbreaks of distemper may temporarily reduce some local carnivore populations, thus wildlife biologists and veterinarians monitor reports of sick animals and confirm disease cases when possible to track potential impacts.

Transmission of CDV typically occurs similar to the common cold, via inhalation of infected respiratory droplets or direct contact with saliva, nasal discharge and tears. Occasionally other body fluids (feces and urine) contain the virus. Environmental transmission of canine distemper is rare because the virus does not survive long in the environment. For this reason, CDV presents more of a problem for dense wild carnivore populations as close contact between animals is necessary to spread the disease. While distemper may occur at any time of year, CDV is more common in adult animals during the winter and is thought to be more common in juvenile animals in the spring and summer.

Distemper can cause respiratory, neurologic and gastrointestinal illness. Clinical signs may vary depending on the strain of the virus, the environment, the host species and the age of the infected animal. Signs include (but are not limited to) depression, fever, labored breathing, diarrhea, anorexia, incoordination, moving in small circles, yellow to clear discharge from the nose and eyes, and crusting on the nose, eyes, mouth or footpads. There is no treatment for sick animals except supportive care. Infected animals may or may not survive the illness. Animals with the virus may not show clinical signs but can still spread the virus for up to 90 days.

In addition to removing food and other attractants, CDFW urges the public to keep a safe distance from sick or injured wild animals, as animals that are ill or feel threatened may act aggressively. Please report the sick animal’s behavior and location to the closest CDFW office and/or to a local animal control agency, as soon as possible.

Any wildlife encounter that is an emergency should be reported to 9-1-1. For non-urgent questions concerning wildlife, please contact your local CDFW Regional Office or your local animal control service. Additional information about living with wildlife can be found on CDFW’s website.  If you are bitten or scratched by a wild animal, please wash the wound vigorously with soap and water and consult a physician and/or contact your County Public Health Department. Neurologic signs of CDV may not be distinguishable from rabies virus infection, which is a public health risk.

Do not handle carcasses of wild animals with bare hands. CDFW’s has protocol for safe handling and disposal of carcasses on its website.

For questions regarding distemper in wildlife or concerns about sick animals, contact CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory at (916) 358-2790.

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Media Contact: 
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Little brown myotis

All for the Benefit of Bats: CDFW Celebrates “Bat Week” in California

October 24-31 is Bat Week, an annual international celebration of these fascinating winged mammals and the important role they play in our environment.

California is home to 25 species of bats, ranging from the commonly found Mexican free-tailed bat, a medium-sized bat that makes its home in caves, attics, under bridges and in abandoned structures, and canyon bat, smallest of California’s bats with a wingspan of about seven inches, to the western mastiff bat, which has a wingspan of almost two feet.

Bats – which are the only mammals that can fly – can be found in just about every corner of California. They serve several hugely important functions, including pest management, pollination of rare plants and seed dispersal.

About two-thirds of bats are insectivorous. Each night, a bat will consume between 50 and 100 percent of its own weight in insects. They protect our food crops and timber industry – worth more than $57 billion per year – and if it weren’t for bats, farmers might need to use far more chemical pesticides than they do now. Nationwide, the service bats provide to American agriculture by suppressing insect populations has been valued at an estimated $4 billion to $50 billion per year.

Unfortunately, population declines have caused 17 of California’s 25 native bat species to receive some level of state or federal protection. And the threat is only increasing.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are preparing for the possibility of the introduction of a fungus known to be deadly to bats. In June 2019, the fungus that causes White-nose Syndrome (WNS) was detected in low levels for the first time in Plumas County. The fungus – Pseudogymnoascus destructans – grows in and on bats’ skin during winter hibernation and spreads quickly through bat colonies. WNS has killed more than six million bats elsewhere in the U.S. and minimizing its impacts on California’s bats is a top priority for CDFW’s Nongame Wildlife Program.

“Given the huge impact WNS has had on eastern populations of bats, and its occurrence now in Washington state, it is essential to be vigilant for signs of an outbreak of the disease in California so we can take appropriate action, when needed,” says Scott Osborn, CDFW’s lead for WNS response.

Californians can learn more about WNS, including how to report bats that could be suffering from the disease, on CDFW’s website.

In addition to reporting bats that might be suffering from WNS, other ideas to promote bat conservation can be found on the Bat Week 2019 website. For example:

  • You can report bat sightings using the North American Bat Tracker, and help biologists document the location and health of existing bat colonies.
  • You can take an urban bat walk in many communities. Contact your local nature center, museum, zoo or other educational institution to see if a bat expert is available to lead a walk.
  • You can build a bat house for your own yard, helping to promote a healthy environment in your own backyard.
  • You can plant a bat-friendly garden that attracts night pollinators, like moths, that bats like to eat.

“In addition to the important ecosystem functions they provide, bats are simply amazing animals,” says Osborn. “They occupy a completely unique niche among animals: they fly, they use echolocation to navigate at night and capture insects in complete darkness, and many hibernate to escape the harsh conditions of winter when their insect prey is unavailable. When you consider all these adaptations are packaged in an animal that weighs about as much as a nickel, you can’t help but feel a sense of awe.”

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Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 324-3564

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

CDFW Law Enforcement Division Now Hiring Wildlife Officers

Are you interested in becoming a California wildlife officer? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division (LED) is currently accepting applications for wildlife officers and cadets. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a love of the outdoors and a passion for fish and wildlife conservation.

Warden cadet applications and warden applications must be submitted by July 31, 2019. Apply for a warden cadet position if you are not currently a peace officer. Apply for a warden position if you have your POST certificate.

The Job Post Announcement can be found online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=148187.

All prospective candidates are encouraged to extensively review informational materials on LED’s webpage before contacting CDFW with questions.

CDFW wildlife officers are fully sworn California peace officers with a fundamental duty to serve and protect the public. They have the authority to enforce all California laws, including the Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Health and Safety drug laws and more. The primary mission of a wildlife officer is to enforce wildlife resource laws, protect California waterways and habitat from destruction, pollution and litter, provide the public with hunting and fishing information and to promote and coordinate hunter education and safe weapons handling.

Wildlife officers patrol the mountains, valleys, deserts, creeks, streams, rivers and ocean. They frequently work alone and cover both rural and urban areas. California’s diverse ecosystem spans 159,000 square miles divided into 58 counties, with a human population in excess of 39 million. The state has 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers. Wildlife officers patrol with trucks, ATVs, personal watercraft, boats, snowmobiles and airplanes, making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. Wildlife officers work undercover, conduct surveillances and complete in-depth investigations, including writing and serving search warrants. CDFW LED has numerous specialized teams and assignments including K-9, wildlife trafficking, cannabis enforcement, marine patrol, and oil spill prevention and response.

Annually, wildlife officers contact more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.

Successful applicants for warden cadet will attend a Peace Officer Standards of Training (POST) certified law enforcement training academy, conducted by CDFW at Butte College, in Oroville. Following the academy, probationary wildlife officers will work with a seasoned field training officer for several weeks, where they will learn to apply their training in practical circumstances.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Perry Schultz, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-2082
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982

 

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Redding

At its June 2019 meeting in Redding, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. Commission President Eric Sklar and Commissioners Russell Burns, Samantha Murray and Peter Silva were present. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin was absent. The following are just a few items of interest from the two-day meeting.

The Commission voted to move the policy on Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fisheries management from the Wildlife Resources Committee to the full Commission for further review and potential changes. Scores of Delta anglers were drawn to the meeting for this item because it includes policy regarding striped bass and predation concerns on salmon.

“We hear you. We see you,” Commissioner Murray told the crowd as she thanked them for their public engagement. Commissioners explained that in their review of that policy, they would consider the anglers’ concerns about lost striped bass fishing opportunity on the Delta.

The Commission voted 3-1 to accept a petition to list four species of bumble bees for protection under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The action  begins a one-year status review of the species and following that review, the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the bee species have protections under CESA as a candidate species. Commissioner Burns was the dissenting vote.

The Commission voted 4-0 to accept a petition to list summer steelhead under CESA. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, summer steelhead have protections under CESA as a candidate species.

The Commission and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division David Bess announced Jessica Brown as 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown is Supervising City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office.

The Commission consented to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s additional acquisition of 487 acres to expand the San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

CDFW Marine Region staff informed Commissioners that effective July 1, 2019, electronic reporting of landing data is mandatory for fish businesses with a multifunction license, fishermen’s retail license or the fish receiver’s license who are reporting the sale or delivery of commercial fish landings. Two outreach events are scheduled for next week to assist businesses with this transition:

  • June 17, 2019 from 2-4 p.m. at the CDFW Office, 32330 N Harbor Dr., Fort Bragg.
  • June 18, 2019 from 1-4 p.m. at the Humboldt Bay Harbor, Recreation and Conservation District Office, 601 Startare Dr., Eureka.

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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.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937