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Importation of live turtles & frogs: Something fishy at Fish & Game?

Bullfrog. Photo by Flickr user John-Morgan used under a Creative Commons License
bullfrog John-Morgan

Gary:
In March of 2010, in a move to protect the state’s natural resources, The California State Fish & Game Commission voted unanimously to direct the California Department of F&G to cease issuing permits for the importation of live frogs and turtles for human consumption, the culmination of a 15-year struggle. The Commission received nearly 4,000 letters supporting the ban, from conservation and sporting organizations and the general public. Former Resources Secretary Huey Johnson wrote twice.
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Posted on Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Under: Fish and Game, Frogs, Turtles | 5 Comments »

Frog & Turtle Alert: Your e-mails and calls urgently needed now!

Freshwater turtle. Photo by Flickr user zevotron used under a Creative Commons License
turtle zevotron

Dear Gary:
FROG/TURTLE ALERT – E-MAILS/CALLS URGENTLY NEEDED NOW.

The Mandate of the State Fish & Game Commission is to protect the state’s natural resources. Toward that end, the Commission voted twice (5:0 in March) and (3:0 in May) to no longer issue permits to import live frogs and turtles for the live animal markets. Sadly, the battle is not over.
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Posted on Tuesday, May 18th, 2010
Under: Fish and Game, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles | 2 Comments »

Live Animal Food Markets: Frog & turtle ban by Fish & Game Commission

Bullfrog. Photo by Flickr user John-Morgan used under a Creative Commons License
bullfrog John-Morgan

Frog & turtle ban at live animal food markets! Finally!

Wow, is this good news! And we owe it all to Eric Mills of Action For Animals (see his letter below) who has been leading this fight for years! Please drop Eric an e-mail at afa@mcn.org and thank him for his his dedication in helping to end the suffering of untold numbers of animals! Eric truly fights the good fight. Thanks, Eric … /Gary

April 12, 2010
TO: VARIOUS MEDIA
FROM: ERIC MILLS, COORDINATOR, ACTION FOR ANIMALS
RE: VICTORY!  LIVE ANIMAL FOOD MARKETS – FROG/TURTLE BAN

Greetings, all:
** See attachment from the State Fish & Game Commission at end of this note.

THIS IS A BIG DEAL, SO I’M HOPEFUL THAT THE MEDIA WILL GIVE THIS ISSUE THE PUBLICITY IT DESERVES.  It will spare the lives and prevent the suffering of millions of animals, while protecting the environment and the public health.
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Posted on Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Under: Fish and Game, Frogs, Live Animal Markets, Turtles | 4 Comments »

Lost mountain lion climbs tree in backyard

Residents found a young mountain lion in a Sonoma backyard and Fish and Game wardens captured her.

Bay City News Service reported a young, 60-pound mountain lion was tranquilized and captured from a Redwood tree in an unincorporated Sonoma County backyard Thursday and, according to the California Department of Fish and Game, she was unharmed.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department received a report of the lion just before 1 p.m. in the 16700 block of Calle Del Luna in the Agua Caliente Knolls sub-division.
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Posted on Friday, May 23rd, 2008
Under: Fish and Game, Mountain lion | No Comments »

Fish & Game needs help

My friend Eric Mills, coordinator of Action For Animals in Oakland, sent me a copy of the following letter from recently railroaded Fish & Game Commissioner Judd Hanna to California Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara & Ventura counties). I think this letter is worth a careful read. It makes some interesting points.

(AB 821 is the bill that bans the use of lead ammo in the endangered California condor range.)

Hanna’s letter:

18 October, 2007
Assemblymember Pedro Nava
State Capitol
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 93030

RE: AB 821

Dear Assemblymember Nava:
I congratulate you and applaud your perseverance in navigating AB 821 through the shoals of ignorance and the reefs of paranoia. You have done the citizens of California a service for which our grandchildren will thank you. I applaud the Governor, as well, for his support.

If the hunting community had only opened their eyes to the irrefutable science of lead poisoning, had supported a lead ban and led the fight, every editorial and op-ed in the State would have, in turn, supported the hunter who claims to be the original “conservationist.”

Instead, a recent study done in California on the public’s perception of the hunter said: 74% of respondents believed that when game laws were broken, they are broken intentionally; hunters drink too much and hunters engage in unsafe activities. That might have something to do with the decline of the hunting community’s numbers (all 292,750 of us in California). And the dogma of the NRA is no friend of the hunter. Every member of my family has a lifetime hunting license and my grandchildren will know who to look to when the non-hunters of this state rise up and say “enough — hunters have no ethics — let’s just stop all hunting and be done with it.”

As the hunting and fishing segment of the state’s population dwindles and license revenues plummet along with the Department’s budget, one solution over which you might have some influence is to support the DFG’s funding, to a larger extent, by the General Fund. The Department should be given a more realistic budget to manage our State’s wildlife and habitat, including a real incentive to attract Game Wardens to the profession by giving them a living wage. Without Wardens, we will soon have little wildlife to enjoy as a hunter, fisherman, bird watcher, wildlife enthusiast or conservationist.

Many thanks for all you have done. Keep up the good fight.

Respectfully,

R. Judd Hanna
Circle S Ranch, Mill Creek, CA

We definitely need to support more funding for the DFG in the strongest way possible. A large part of the Department’s budget comes from hunting and fishing license fees — so the DFG’s budget has dropped, along with the decline of those who hunt and fish.

As Hanna says in his letter, the Department needs to receive more money annually from the state’s General Fund. They need to be able to pay game wardens a living wage. Statewide, only approximately 192 of 352 warden positions are filled. They need to fill them all ASAP!

Back in the 1970s when I was Curator of the Lindsay Wildlife Museum, the number of game wardens in Contra Costa County included: a patrol captain, a lieutenant and five or six wardens. Today, there are only two wardens to cover the entire county. It’s the same way all over the state.

Without wardens, who will protect our wildlife? /Gary

Posted on Thursday, November 29th, 2007
Under: Fish and Game | No Comments »

Young mountain lion shot in Pleasanton

A juvenile mountain lion about a year old was shot and killed in Pleasanton, by a California Department of Fish and Game warden at 11:15 a.m. this morning.

I just got off the phone with Troy Swauger, a DFG information officer and he said they got a call from animal control about 9:20 a.m. reporting that the 50-60 pound mountain lion was acting unusual. A DFG warden responded to the scene. When the warden came into the area, she noticed a park with playing children about 200 yards away.

The warden was told the big cat had been pacing back and forth in the parking lot next to a Pleasanton condominium complex. The cat had probably come out of an open space area next to the complex by traveling along a nearby creekbed. Local police officers on the site told our Valley Times staff writer Sophia Kazmi that the lion had "been in at least a couple of back yards in the Birch Creek Townhouses complex."

Troy told me the cat was standing next to a chainlink fence that it could have jumped over and returned to the open space area but it refused to go. He said the mountain lion was moving from the parking lot back toward the townhouses when the warden took one shot and killed it. It had been determined to be a public safety issue with a potential risk to humans.

This is the time of year when mama mountain lions boot yearling cats out on their own after spending a year being trained in the art of hunting. Troy said the 50-60 pound cat was a little smaller than normal for its age, but it appeared healthy. They’ll be doing a standard necropsy on the animal to find out the sex and to see if it had any diseases.

Today’s mountain lion encounter was very similar to other encounters with these big cats in the past (Palo Alto, Livermore in 2004). It’s almost always a yearling cub, freshly on its own and trying to set up its own territory. Unfortunately, mountain lion territories seem to be getting more and more in demand as the lion population grows and habitat space is gobbled up by us greedy humans. Older, bigger lions keep chasing the youngsters off until some of them occasionally wander into town and unfortunately get into trouble.

My friend Jim Swanson, a DFG wildlife biologist who retired a couple of years ago, once told me, "I believe the reason we are having so many lion sightings now is that the lion population is growing and these cats are getting kicked out of the better habitats and are searching for a place to make a living and unfortunately they are ending up adjacent to and in the urban areas where trouble brews for them."

As Jim told me in 2004 when I wrote a lot of columns on dealing with mountain lions, "saving the animal is always the first choice." Capture is the next consideration, and the only safe way to do it is to tranquilize the animal. Back in the 1970s, I took the DFG tranquilizer course, where wardens are trained to tranquilize problem animals. I quickly discovered there are many uncertainties and variables with tranquilizing an animal, especially if you’re in the middle of town. Only on TV shows do the animals go immediately to sleep. In reality, you could end up with a terrified, half-drugged mountain lion running through backyards and maybe encountering and injuring a human, or worse.

All things considered, as much as I love those beautiful animals, I’d probably have made the same decision as the warden, especially after seeing those kids playing in a nearby park.

On another note, as I wrote in a column on May 19, 2004, it would be a good thing if DFG could offer more guidance to help local law enforcement agencies handle these lion problems. Special seminars and special "Mountain Lion Kits" could be created and provided. The object of the program would be simple. Come up with standardized ways to deal with the big cats. And put together a "DFG Lion Committee" of lion experts from California and other states to meet regularly and analyze past events and brainstorm and come up with better and less lethal and more effective ways of dealing with wildlife encounters.

It would make things a lot easier for police and wardens and citizens the next time a mountain lion or a bear decides to go for a walk downtown.

Posted on Tuesday, June 13th, 2006
Under: Fish and Game, Mountain lion, Wildlife | 6 Comments »