Category Archives: Editor’s Blog

Staying Safe Amid SoCal Coyote Encounters

Several incidents with coyotes in Southern California prompted a warning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to use caution and common sense. (USFWS)

Several incidents with coyotes in Southern California prompted a warning from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to use caution and common sense. (USFWS)

Several incidents around Southern California with coyotes prompted the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to issue the following release:

Due to a recent increase in the number of human/coyote incidents in Southern California, residents should be particularly vigilant in watching their children and pets when outdoors.

In the past month, there have been four incidents in Irvine where young children were either bitten or scratched by a coyote, resulting in minor injuries.

“These incidents highlight the importance of communities working together to eliminate sources of food that may attract wildlife to neighborhoods,” said Capt. Rebecca Hartman, of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Law Enforcement Division. “When coyotes are fed, either intentionally or unintentionally by food being left out, they can become a public safety threat.”

CDFW volunteers have been conducting outreach and distributing wildlife information to residents in Irvine and trappers have been deployed to locate and humanely euthanize coyotes in the area where the incidents have occurred.

During the warm summer months, particularly from March through August, coyotes are very active. They are raising their young and are in an almost constant search for food.

Coyotes are highly adaptable and often live in close proximity to populated areas where food and water sources are abundant. They usually fear humans and avoid interactions; however, if they begin to associate humans with food, they lose their natural fear and can become bold and aggressive.

Coyote Safety Tips
• Keep a close eye on small children when outdoors.
• Keep small pets inside particularly at dawn and dusk when coyotes are most active.
• Keep pets on a leash when walking.
• Keep pet food and water dishes inside.
• Secure food and trash at all times and remove all sources of water.
• Pick up fallen fruit and keep compost piles tightly sealed.
• Sweep up fallen birdseed, which can attracts mice and rats, a common food source for coyotes.
• Remove brush, wood piles and debris where coyotes can find cover and where rodents are abundant.
• Install motion-activated lighting or sprinklers.
• If a coyote approaches or acts aggressively, throw rocks, make noise, look big, and pick up small children and pets. Do not turn your back to the animal.
• If a coyote is frequently seen around schoolyards or playgrounds or is acting aggressively, contact your local animal control or CDFW.
• If a coyote attacks, call 911.

There has been only one recorded fatality in California from a coyote attack (a 3-year-old girl in 1981). Coyote attacks are relatively rare and the mere presence of a coyote does not constitute a public safety threat. However, in areas where coyotes are highly visible and active, caution is advised.

For more information on living responsibly with wildlife, visithttp://www.keepmewild.com.

 

An American Birthday Bash

Photo by Chris Cocoles (baseball fan)

Photo by Chris Cocoles (baseball fan)

 

Baseball, Hot Dogs, Apple Pie and Chevrolet! 

The younger kids probably don’t know what the in the name of James Madison am I talking about? But if you’re a forty-something (or more) like me you remember that catchy jingle that was a 1970s’ ode to the good ol’ USA. Most of my family probably would consider the Mount Rushmore of Americana faves as football (me and two sisters do love baseball though), chicken, vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce and definitely FORD! But I digress, and here are a few thoughts as we celebrate our nation’s 239th birthday:

1. Today is the first of California’s Free Fishing Days (the other coming on Sept. 5), so take your son or daughter or gather a few buddies who don’t fish much and wet a line somewhere. There is water in this state and there are plenty of trout, catfish, bass and others that swim hungry for a meal.

2. Grill whatever you damn well please today. But make sure you do throw a few hot dogs (as the commercial implored us to) on the barbie. I know I’ll make sure to indulge on a couple over the course of the holiday weekend.

3. Take some time on Sunday to watch the final of the Women’s World Cup with team USA against Japan in a rematch of a classic 2011 final. I’m not the biggest soccer fan either, but these ladies work just as hard as your baseball-playing Dodgers, Angels, Giants, Padres and this editor’s Athletics and deserve your full attention with the championship of the planet at stake in Vancouver.

4. Stating the obvious here, but please be careful around the grill and with both not drinking and driving (duh) but also safely shooting off your fireworks. Yes, we have water but our state is full of scorched earth. Too many wildfires and burning homes are born out of carelessness.

5. Remember the struggles of our Founding Fathers to create this powerful but flawed nation, plus all of the patriots who fought to preserve the Declaration of Independence.

Enjoy the party, and save me a piece of apple pie!

 

 

 

 

Drought Forces Hatchery Fish To Be Evacuated… Again

The American River Hatchery is being forced to evacuate fish again due to drought conditions. (CDFW)

The American River Hatchery is being forced to evacuate fish again due to drought conditions. (CDFW)

The drought’s lingering effects through four years of scant rainfall in California has done a number on the state’s fish hatcheries. None has been hit harder than the American River and Nimbus hatcheries near Sacramento.  Once again, as the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reports with this press release, fish are being moved out of the hatcheries for a second consecutive year:

With a fourth year of extreme drought conditions reducing the cold water supply available, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is moving fish out of the American River and Nimbus hatcheries for the second year in a row.

Bureau of Reclamation models suggest water temperatures at the hatcheries could be at lethal levels for cold water fish by August. CDFW has already begun to stock American River Hatchery rainbow and brown trout into state waters earlier than normal. These fish range from small fingerlings to the larger catchable size. The accelerated planting schedule will continue through mid-July when all the fish in the raceways are expected to be evacuated. This includes all the fingerling size rainbow trout that would normally be held in the hatchery to grow to catchable size for next year.

A new, state-of-the-art building at American River Hatchery, completed in early June using emergency drought funds, will enable CDFW to raise Lahontan cutthroat trout through the summer for planting into eastern sierra lakes and streams. The new building will also enable CDFW to hold a small group of rainbow trout fingerlings that are scheduled to be stocked in west side sierra put-and-grow fisheries by airplane in July. The new hatchery building utilizes water filters, ultraviolet sterilization techniques and large water chillers to keep water quality and temperatures at ideal levels for trout rearing. However, the new technology is limited to the hatchery building and not the raceways, which will limit capacity to include only the Lahontan cutthroat trout once the fish start to grow to larger sizes.

Nimbus Hatchery has already begun relocating some 330,000 steelhead to the Feather River Hatchery Annex to be held through the summer. When the water temperature at the Nimbus Hatchery returns to suitable levels in the fall, the steelhead will be brought back to Nimbus to finish growing and imprinting then will be released into the lower American River. The Feather River Hatchery Annex is supplied by a series of groundwater wells that maintain cool water temperatures throughout the year.

The fall run Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery have all been released into state waterways. If necessary, the chilled American River Hatchery building will be used this fall to incubate and hatch Chinook salmon from Nimbus Hatchery.

“Unfortunately, the situation is similar to last year,” said Jay Rowan, Acting Senior Hatchery Supervisor for CDFW’s North Central Region. “We have begun to implement contingency plans to avoid major fish losses in the two hatcheries. We want to do the best job we can to provide California anglers with good fishing experiences and communicate when there will be deviations from normal practices. With that in mind, we want to let anglers in the area know that a lot more fish than normal will be going out into area waters served by American River Hatchery.”

Rowan said that the number of fish planted at various waterbodies will increase as the planting timeframe decreases, so the fishing should be very good through the summer at foothill and mountain elevation put-and-take waters. Early fish plants now mean there won’t be as many fish available to plant in the lower elevation fall and winter fisheries, so the fishing may drop off later in the season if the fish don’t hold over well.

American River Hatchery operations focus on rearing rainbow and Lahontan cutthroat trout and kokanee salmon for recreational angling, predominantly in waters within the North Central Region. Nimbus Hatchery takes salmon and steelhead eggs from the American River and rears them to fish for six months to a year, until they are ready to be put back in the system.

To the south, San Joaquin Hatchery near Fresno expects to experience high water temperatures this summer. Transferring and stocking fish in advance of high water temperatures is planned. CDFW hopes to maintain some trout at low densities at the hatchery for the winter stocking season.

Annually, CDFW works with the Bureau of Reclamation to ensure its operations provide suitable conditions for fish at hatcheries and in the river. This year, conditions are forecasted to be dire with little flexibility in operations. Similar to last year, low reservoir storage and minimal snow pack will result high water temperatures over summer and very low river flows by fall.

Fall and winter rains, if received in sufficient amounts, will cool water temperatures enough to allow both hatcheries to come back online and resume operations.

Mallard Breeding Declined By 27 Percent

Photo courtesy of CDFW

Photo courtesy of CDFW

 

From the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

The 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.

NOAA: Saltwater Anglers Spending Big Bucks

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)

Getting the job done aboard the Royal Star, long-range veteran Art Nolen with a nice yellowtail. (Photo courtesy Royal Star)

 

 

From the National Oeanic and Atmospheric Administration:

Anglers spent approximately $156 million on saltwater recreational fishing in California’s four national marine sanctuaries on average, which generated more than $200 million in annual economic output and supported nearly 1,400 jobs, according to a new NOAA report released today. The peer-reviewed report cited data ranging from 2010-2012, the most recent years for which this data is available, from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

father helping son fish over the side of a boat
Mason Nunn visiting from Colorado gets a little help from his dad on a big fish while fishing in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Sanctuary Classic

The findings highlight the positive effects and economic value of recreational fishing in the four California sanctuaries–Channel Islands, Greater Farallones, Cordell Bank and Monterey Bay–which are managed to ensure the health of our most valued ocean places. Approximately 13.4 percent of all saltwater recreational fishing in California from 2010 to 2012 took place in national marine sanctuaries, the report states. During the study period, the Greater Farallones sanctuary was called the Gulf of the Farallones; it was renamed earlier this month.

“This report underscores the value of national marine sanctuaries as focal points for recreation and local economic development,” said Bob Leeworthy, chief economist for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “It also highlights the important role sanctuaries play in protecting the health and integrity of critical marine ecosystems, including places cherished by recreational saltwater anglers.”

The Economic Impact of the Recreational Fisheries on Local County Economies in California National Marine Sanctuaries, 2010, 2011 and 2012, was produced by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Among the findings:

  • Based on a three-year average from 2010 to 2012, the total economic impact from recreational fishing in California national marine sanctuaries–the so-called “ripple effect”–totaled $213.1 million.
  • Communities served by a national marine sanctuary, on average, saw an additional $74.4 million in income to business owners and employees as a result of recreational fishing in the sanctuary.
  • Of the places anglers fish, national marine sanctuaries accounted for 13.4 percent of the total person-days of recreational fishing in California each year on average.
  • Land-based shore fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for an average of 9.9 percent of shore fishing person-days in California; charter and passenger fishing vessels (CPFV) in the sanctuaries accounted for 22.3 percent of all CPFV person-days in California; and private/rental boat fishing in the sanctuaries accounted for 25.8 percent of all private/rental boat person-days in California.
  • Anglers spent $79.7 million on trip-related expenses, with fuel one of the largest expenditures for anglers. Non-residents had higher trip-related expenditures for auto rental and lodging. Anglers spent an additional $75.9 million on durable goods purchases, with the highest expenditures for rods and reels, tackle and boat storage.

The complete California recreational fishing economic impacts study, along with earlier national marine sanctuary socioeconomic reports, can be found atsanctuaries.noaa.gov/science/socioeconomic/pdfs/california_rec_sanctuaries.pdf.

NOAA’s mission is to understand and predict changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and to conserve and manage our coastal and marine resources. Join us on Facebook,link leaves government site Twitterlink leaves government site, Instagramlink leaves government site and our other social media channels.

Young Angler Tournament In San Diego

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From the San Diego Sportfishing Council:

Young anglers ages six through 15 are invited to compete in the free 13th Annual Young Angler Tournament this summer at the Shelter Island Pier, located at 1776 Shelter Island Drive on Saturday August 8th. This saltwater event is sponsored by the San Diego Sportfishing Council, the International Game Fish Association and the Port of San Diego.
The tournament will feature a points system to allow for catch and release. Winners-one in each age category between six and 15 — will be determined by adding up points for various fish caught. The angler with the most points overall will be recognized on the tournaments’ perpetual trophy. IGFA representatives and volunteers from the United Pier and Shore Anglers Club, San Diego Rod & Reel and the San Diego Anglers will be on hand to assist young anglers and to tally points. Young anglers in the competition are encouraged to bring their own gear, although a limited number of loaner rods will be available on a first-come, first-serve basis. Small quantities of bait will be provided each angler while supplies last.

Registration for the Shelter Island Pier Tournament slated for Saturday, Aug. 8 begins at 7:30 AM.  Fishing begins at 8:30 AM and ends at 12 noon.  Prizes are awarded by 1 PM.  Hot dogs, chips, and sodas will be served to all registered anglers. Lunch provided courtesy of Stump’s Village Market of Rancho Santa Fe and Tommy Gomes from Catalina Offshore Products and Specialty Produce.

Sponsors include OKUMA Fishing Tackle, Turner’s, Anglers Distributing, Big Hammer Lures, Friends of Rollo, Costa Sunglasses, Uni Goop, Tiburon Engineering, Point Loma and H&M Sportfishing Landings.  Prizes and raffle drawing items for the tournament include rods and reels, hats, T-shirts, and fishing gear and deep sea fishing trips.  Loaner Gear, Bait, and tackle are provided by Okuma Fishing Tackle, Anglers Distributing, and Friends of Rollo.

The San Diego Sportfishing Council is California non-profit corporation established in 1979 to promote San Diego fishing as an attractive marine recreational activity, to increase awareness and availability of “how, when and where” information on sportfishing opportunities. 

For more information, please call the San Diego Sportfishing Council at (619) 234-8793 or log onto the website at: www.sportfishing.org.

Hatchery Concerns In California

Nimbus Hatchery on the American River. (KIRSTEN MCINTYRE/CDFW

Nimbus Hatchery on the American River. (KIRSTEN MCINTYRE/CDFW

Eyeopening piece in the Sacramento Bee about the concerns of fish hatcheries in California.  Drought conditions and fear of disease within the fish populations are the main theme of this report.

Here’s a little bit from Bee reporter Ryan Sabalow:

The browns and rainbows at the Mount Shasta hatchery are under isolation for a very different reason from their redband cousins.

State fisheries officials worry they may be carrying the spores of a highly contagious parasite that causes an ailment called whirling disease, which can decimate trout, salmon and steelhead populations. The parasite has been found in various state waterways for decades, and hatchery officials are trying to stop it from spreading further through infected hatchery trout.

They have quarantined Mount Shasta and another north state hatchery, Darrah Springs, where the new outbreak is believed to have originated. All told, the 3 million trout under quarantine equal about 15 percent of the trout stocks at state hatcheries.

Those imperiled redband trout at the Mount Shasta hatchery should be safe from the disease, despite their proximity, officials said. They’re being kept in an area that draws on a contained, parasite-free water system.

But as California weathers a fourth year of drought, the scenario playing out at the oldest trout hatchery west of the Mississippi River could portend a more complicated future for the state’s fish-hatchery system. As streams holding rare native fish dry up, it will put more pressure on the Department of Fish and Wildlife to choose between two distinct and sometimes competing mandates: sheltering endangered species to prevent their extinction, while simultaneously producing ample fish stocks for recreational anglers.

Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/state/california/water-and-drought/article24825115.html#storylink=cpy

 

Gauging An ‘Unprecedented’ West Coast Algae Bloom

 

 Pseudo-nitzschia, the diatom that produces toxic domoic acid, collected off the Oregon Coast in May. NOAA Fisheries/NWFSC

Pseudo-nitzschia, the diatom that produces toxic domoic acid, collected off the Oregon Coast in May. NOAA Fisheries/NWFSC

From the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:

NOAA Fisheries’ Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle has mobilized extra scientists to join a fisheries survey along the West Coast to chart an extensive harmful algal bloom that spans much of the West Coast and has triggered numerous closures of important shellfish fisheries in Washington, Oregon and California.

The bloom stretches from the Central California Coast north to Washington and possibly Alaska, and involves some of the highest concentrations of the natural toxin domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay and off the Central Oregon Coast. In early June elevated toxin levels led shellfish managers to close the southern Washington Coast to Dungeness crab fishing, the largest-ever closure of Washington’s multi-million-dollar crab fishery.

“We’re taking advantage of our active surveys to focus research on a serious concern for coastal communities and the seafood industry,” said Eileen Sobeck, assistant administrator for NOAA Fisheries. “The better we understand what’s happening out on the water, the better we can address the impacts.”

While localized blooms of marine algae that naturally produce domoic acid are common in spring, the bloom that began earlier this year has grown into the largest and most severe in more than a decade. Sardines, anchovy and other fish that feed on the algae and other microorganisms known as plankton can accumulate the toxin, in turn poisoning birds and sea lions that feed on them.

“This is unprecedented in terms of the extent and magnitude of this harmful algal bloom and the warm water conditions we’re seeing offshore,” said Vera Trainer, manager of the Marine Microbes and Toxins Program at the Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) in Seattle. “Whether they’re related we can’t really say yet, but this survey gives us the opportunity to put these pieces together.”

State agencies monitor toxin levels closely and impose harvest closures where necessary to ensure that all commercial seafood remains safe to eat. NOAA Fisheries and others are also developing advanced robotic systems and models to better detect and forecast harmful algal blooms. See state agency websites linked below for the latest details on closures inCaliforniaOregon and Washington.

 

The NWFSC’s Marine Microbes and Toxins Program is working closely with the University of California Santa Cruz, University of Washington, Quileute Nation and Makah Tribe to add scientists to an already scheduled fisheries survey leaving today (June 15) from Newport, Ore., aboard the NOAA research ship Bell M. Shimada. The survey is a partnership between the NWFSC in Seattle and the Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif., to assess sardine and hake populations on the West Coast. The additional scientists will examine levels of marine toxins and the organisms that produce them.

The researchers will collect samples of water, the microscopic diatoms that produce domoic acid and another form of marine microorganism called dinoflagellates that produce another type of toxin called paralytic shellfish toxins (PSTs) that have also been detected in some shellfish. Domoic acid and PSTs are rarely found in shellfish at the same time, but they have been this year.

The scientists will also sample plankton-feeding fish such as anchovies and sardines that concentrate the toxins and transfer them to other marine animals.

Research during previous harmful algal blooms found “hot spots” of toxin-producing organisms along the West Coast, Trainer said, and the survey will search for similar concentrations this year.

The Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) Research Program is completing a study of one such hot spot in California’s Monterey Bay and provides funding for UC Santa Cruz to analyze samples that will be collected during the survey. The results will help investigate connections between the current bloom and unusually warm ocean temperatures that have dominated the West Coast since last year, which may offer a preview of ocean conditions likely to become more common with climate change.

 

California officials have warned against consuming recreationally harvested mussels and clams, commercially or recreationally caught anchovy and sardines, or the internal organs of commercially or recreationally caught crab taken from Monterey and Santa Cruz counties.

 

Officials in Oregon have halted all shellfish harvesting from the Columbia River south to Tillamook Head and closed the entire state coastline to razor clamming because of elevated levels of domoic acid. High levels of PSTs have led to the closure of mussel harvesting along the Oregon Coast north of Gold Beach.

 

All coastal Washington beaches have also been closed to razor clamming, at an estimated loss of more than $9 million in revenue for coastal communities in the last month alone.

 

 

Background: Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act

http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/research/habs/habhrca/

 

Current closures in California

http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp

 

Current closures in Oregon

http://www.oregon.gov/oda/programs/foodsafety/shellfish/pages/shellfishclosures.aspx

 

Current closures in Washington

https://fortress.wa.gov/doh/eh/maps/biotoxin/biotoxin.html

 

Washington coastal domoic acid levels

http://wdfw.wa.gov/fishing/shellfish/razorclams/domoic_levels.html

 

USFWS Proposals Would Add Outdoor Opportunities

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From our friends at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe today announced as part of Great Outdoors Month the agency is proposing to expand fishing and hunting opportunities on 21 refuges throughout the National Wildlife Refuge System. The proposed rule also modifies existing refuge-specific regulations for more than 100 additional refuges and wetland management districts.

“The Service is committed to strengthening and expanding hunting and fishing opportunities,” said Ashe. “By expanding hunting and fishing programs across the Refuge System we are furthering a rich tradition of providing quality recreational opportunities to the American people. These programs support local economies, help people connect with the outdoors, and encourage people to value nature.”

National wildlife refuges provide premier outdoor recreational opportunities across the Nation. There are more than 560 national wildlife refuges and 38 wetland management districts, including one within an hour’s drive from most major metropolitan areas. The Service manages refuge hunting and fishing programs to ensure sustainable wildlife populations, while offering traditional wildlife-dependent recreation on public lands.

Under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997, the Service permits hunting and fishing along with four other types of wildlife-dependent recreation when they are compatible with an individual refuge’s purpose and mission. Hunting, within specified limits, is permitted on 335 wildlife refuges. Fishing is permitted on 271 wildlife refuges.

Hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities on refuges help stimulate the economy and generate funding for wildlife conservation. The Service’s report Banking on Nature shows that refuges pump $2.4 billion into the economy and support more than 35,000 jobs. More than 47 million people visit refuges every year.

Other wildlife-dependent recreation on national wildlife refuges includes wildlife photography, environmental education, wildlife observation, and interpretation.

The Service also proposes expanding hunting and sport fishing on the following refuges:

California