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

Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office Prosecutor Honored for Pursuit of Justice in Wildlife Crimes

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the California Fish and Game Commission are pleased to name Jessica Brown, Supervising City Attorney in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office as 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year. Brown oversees the Environmental Justice Unit in the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office, which includes a team of superb prosecutors, all of whom are highly dedicated to the successful prosecution of fish and wildlife cases.

Jessica Brown
Jessica Brown, 2018 Wildlife Prosecutor of the Year

“The Los Angeles City Attorney’s team of Environmental Justice Unit prosecutors, and especially Ms. Brown, have worked tirelessly to prosecute poachers and to send a clear message that poaching and trafficking of wildlife will not be tolerated,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “Ms. Brown is a true asset to the protection of California’s natural resources and has displayed exceptional skill and an outstanding commitment with her relentless pursuit of justice.”

The following are just a few examples of her tenacious work.

  • Brown and her team prosecuted some of the first ivory trafficking cases in California, including winning convictions in the first two ivory cases to go to jury trial, since the Legislature strengthened the law to prohibit ivory trafficking in July 2016. The multi-week trials involved litigating a vast array of legal topics related to the recently enacted statute, including developing jury instructions, crafting complex pretrial motions and arguing numerous legal concepts during trial. Brown and her team demonstrated exceptional cooperation with wildlife officers, wildlife forensic specialists and the CDFW Office of General Counsel throughout all stages of these trials, from pretrial preparation through sentencing. “It was critical to prosecute these first ivory trafficking cases right the first time since it would set the stage for future prosecution of similar cases,” said Chief Bess.
  • Brown and her team were instrumental in the filing of complex cases related to interstate seafood trafficking. This joint law enforcement operation involved wildlife officers from California, Maine and Hawaii and resulted in several Fish and Game Code violations against numerous retail establishments. During the operation, Brown went above and beyond in conducting her own investigations into records violations, which significantly contributed to the successful outcome of this case.
  • Brown and her team prosecuted a recent high-profile restricted species possession case involving a monkey. Another case involved a convicted drug dealer who illegally possessed a tiger. CDFW and the Commission hope the cases will have long-term deterrence impacts and help educate people that exotic pets do not belong in unpermitted homes, owned by people who lack the qualifications to properly care for them.
  • Brown and her team have also regularly assisted CDFW wildlife officers with marine enforcement cases involving unlicensed commercial passenger fishing vessels, resulting in positive marine conservation benefits for the state. Brown understands the importance of California’s ocean’s resources and takes action against those who illegally exploit them for personal gain.

If all this was not enough, Ms. Brown and her team have shared their knowledge and expertise with fellow prosecutors by spearheading a statewide prosecution task force dedicated to stopping wildlife trafficking. Prosecutors around the state now have additional resources to facilitate successful prosecutions of cases concerning the illegal commercialization of wildlife, with significant credit going to Brown.

“I certainly understand why the CDFW and the Commission are honoring Jessica Brown as Prosecutor of the Year,” said Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer. “I’m a big fan. Jessica’s determination to protect the environment and our wildlife – and hold accountable those who violate the law – is an example for all of us. My colleagues and I are inspired by her commitment, passion and hard work.”

As the supervising attorney for the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Environmental Justice Unit, Brown’s steadfast dedication to CDFW’s cases has earned her the respect of wildlife officers and she has been instrumental in advancing the successful prosecution of CDFW cases in California. Her devotion to the protection and conservation of California’s natural resources makes her worthy of this recognition.

 

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Mule deer fawn

CDFW Reminds Public to Leave Young Wildlife Alone

Late spring and early summer is the peak time for California’s wildlife to have their young, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is issuing a reminder to well-intentioned people to not interact with young wildlife – even if they find an animal that appears to be abandoned.

It may be hard to resist scooping up a young wild animal that looks vulnerable and alone but human intervention may cause more harm than good. Young animals removed from their natural environment typically do not survive or may not develop the appropriate survival skills needed to be released back into the wild.

“It is a common mistake to believe a young animal has been abandoned when it is found alone, even if the mother has not been observed in the area for a long period of time,” said Nicole Carion, CDFW’s statewide wildlife rehabilitation coordinator. “Chances are the mother is off foraging, or is nearby, waiting for you to leave.”

Adult female deer often stash their fawns in tall grass or brush for many hours while they are out foraging for food. A female mountain lion may spend as much as 50 percent of her time away from her kittens.

After leaving the nest, fledgling birds spend significant time on the ground while learning to fly with their parents somewhere nearby.

If a young animal is in distress, or you are unsure, contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility and speak to personnel to determine the best course of action.

For an injured, orphaned or sick bear, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, wild pig or mountain lion, contact CDFW directly, as most wildlife rehabilitators are only allowed to possess small mammals and birds. Although some wildlife rehabilitators are allowed to accept fawns, injured or sick adult deer should be reported directly to CDFW for public safety reasons.

Anyone who removes a young animal from the wild is required to notify CDFW or take the animal to a state and federally permitted wildlife rehabilitator within 48 hours. These animals may need specialized care and feeding that is best done by trained wildlife care specialists.

It is important to note that wild animals – even young ones – can cause serious injury with their sharp claws, hooves and teeth, especially when injured and scared. They may also carry ticks, fleas and lice, and can transmit diseases to humans, including rabies and tularemia.

To learn more about how to live and recreate responsibly where wildlife is near, please visit CDFW’s Keep Me Wild website at www.keepmewild.org.

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Media Contacts:
Nicole Carion, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (530) 357-3986
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933