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Category: Animal behavior

Meet the Grunion program Friday night at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its Meet the Grunion program Friday night.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. Admission is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased at the door (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:35 p.m. to 12:35 a.m.

Grunion runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full and new moon phases during spring and summer, the small silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, and only by hand. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught, but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat.

The program will be offered again June 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the aquarium's website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times


Jumping sturgeon breaks boater's leg

A Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee River. A Florida boater's leg was broken when a 60- to 75-pound sturgeon jumped from the water and crashed into her. The incident occurred just days after the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission issued a warning to boaters about being cautious in waters populated by the fish.

Tina Fletcher, 25, of Cross City, Fla., was a passenger Sunday aboard an airboat on Florida's Suwannee River when the accident happened, FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker told the Gainesville Sun.

"She was riding on a 16-foot-long Freedom Craft air prop airboat when the fish jumped and hit her leg," Parker said. Witnesses told FWC officers that the fish slid back into the water after the incident.

This is the fifth reported sturgeon encounter in Florida waters since April, and the most serious.

Biologists are unsure why sturgeon jump, though they are certain they are not malicious. Theories include that the fish jump to communicate or as a dominance display.

"I have seen these encounters referred to as 'attacks.'  However, these fish are in no way attacking when they jump," said Allen Martin, regional freshwater fisheries biologist. "They are simply doing what they have been doing for millions of years: jumping. They aren't targeting the boaters.

Gulf sturgeon are anadromous, migrating from saltwater to freshwater to spawn, and can grow to more than 8 feet long and exceed 200 pounds.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A Gulf sturgeon in the Suwannee River. Credit: Noel Burkhead / U.S. Geological Survey

 

Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession?

Two fawns nurse as a doe takes advantage of a late night snack.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession? Watching wildlife at night is a very interesting way to educate kids to be on the lookout for and gain an interest in wildlife. I’ve always wondered if using lights to do this would be considered harassment somehow and not be allowed? (Bill T.)

Answer: It is not illegal to shine lights since you won’t have a "method of take" with you, but your activities could alert a game warden who might think you are using the spotlights to poach game at night. Be aware that there are vehicle code laws that prohibit shining a hand-held spotlight from a motor vehicle and another provision that requires "off road" lights to be covered while traveling on a public roadway or highway.

Instead, you might consider using a trail cam like those sold through most outdoor-gear stores. These will allow you to capture (with night-vision equipment) images or video of wildlife that might be visiting a watering hole or passing through an area. There are some cameras that take photos when a light sensor is tripped and some that take photos at certain time intervals. The trail cams would not bother or harass the wildlife, and you’d be able to take photos of them while they are acting normally, doing whatever they naturally do at night. You might also be surprised by the different species that will appear that you probably would not expect!

Q: I helped my boss, who is legally blind, get a disabled license for fishing. However, due to her disability, she will need help baiting her hook. Can I legally help her without needing a two-pole stamp? (Sandy B.)

Continue reading »

Department of Fish and Game offers tips on staying safe in bear country

A young black bear foraging in the Falls Picnic Area caused the closure of parts of San Bernardino National Forest in 2009. Campers, anglers and hikers enjoying the outdoors may have encounters with wild animals -- including black bears, which are estimated to number 40,000 in California. Certain precautions can and should be taken when it comes to interaction with these omnivores, especially by limiting food odors that attract bears.

"Bears are constantly in search of easily obtainable food sources," said Marc Kenyon, California Department of Fish and Game statewide bear program coordinator. "A bear’s fate is almost always sealed once it associates human activity with potential food. It’s always unfortunate when a bear has to be killed because people either haven’t learned how to appropriately store food and trash, or simply don’t care."

The California Department of Fish and Game shares the following precautionary tips that should be taken when in bear country:

-- Keep a clean camp by cleaning up and storing food and garbage immediately after meals.

-- Never keep food in your tent. Instead, store food and toiletries in bear-proof containers or in an airtight container in the trunk of your vehicle.

-- Use bear-proof garbage cans whenever possible or store your garbage in a secure location with your food.

-- Don’t bury or burn excess food; bears will still be attracted to the residual smell.

-- Garbage should be packed out of camp if no trash receptacles are available.

-- While hiking, make noise to avoid a surprise encounter with a bear.

-- Keep a close watch on children and teach them what to do if they encounter a bear.

-- Never approach a bear, pick up a bear cub or attempt to attract a bear to your location; observe the animal and take pictures from afar.

-- If you encounter a bear, do not run; instead, face the animal, make noise and try to appear as large as possible.

-- If attacked, fight back; if a bear harms a person in any way, immediately call 911.

The Department of Fish and Game’s Keep Me Wild campaign was developed in part to address the increasing number of conflicts between black bears and people, and provides further tips for living and visiting safely in bear habitat.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A young black bear foraging in the Falls Picnic Area caused the closure of parts of San Bernardino National Forest in 2009. Credit: California Department of Fish and Game  

'Grunion Fish-tival' Thursday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion come ashore to spawn twice a month during spring and summer.Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will hold a special "Grunion Fish-tival" on Thursday at 7 p.m. to supplement its regular "Meet the Grunion" program. The evening will include a film on grunion as well as the added opportunity to hatch grunion eggs, make grunion origami and other arts and crafts and interact with grunion researchers.

The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased onsite (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 11:05 p.m. to 1:05 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July; because grunion are not in season now, the outing is for observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people catch only what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information are available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion come ashore to spawn twice a month during spring and summer. Credit: Gary Florin / Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Deer hunting clinic offered by California Department of Fish and Game

Mule deer in a field.

The California Department of Fish and Game will be holding a deer hunting clinic on June 18 as part of its advanced hunter education program.

Co-sponsored by the Pacific Coast Hunter Education Assn. and the California Deer Assn., the class will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Canada De Los Osos Ecological Reserve in Santa Clara County.

The clinic, specifically designed for hunting deer in California, will cover deer biology; hunting locations, techniques and requirements; methods for locating deer; field dressing and care of game.

The cost is $45 and space is limited, so those interested are advised to register early. A barbecue lunch is available for an additional $10.

Those 16 or younger will be admitted free but must be accompanied by an adult. Registration, including fee payment, closes two weeks before the workshop date and can be completed online. After registering, participants will receive an email with a map to the facility and a list of items to bring. For more information email or call DFG Lt. Dan Lehman at (916) 358-4356.

-- Kelly Burgess
Twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Mule deer in a field. Credit: Gary Zahm / U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service


Breaching whale damages sailboat off Oregon

A sailboat participating in the Oregon International Offshore Race was struck by a breaching whale Thursday off the coast of Oregon. Thankfully, nobody aboard was injured.

The 38-foot vessel, ironically named L'Orca, was about a half-hour into the race from Astoria, Ore., to Victoria, Canada, when the whale breached and crushed the rigging and mast of the boat.

The sailing vessel L'Orca rests in the water of Astoria's West Basin pier after having its rigging and mast demolished by a breaching whale. "Our boat was moving at about nine knots over the water, and all of a sudden, about a few inches, maybe a foot off the starboard side, a whale came breaching out of the water," crew member Ryan Barnes of Portland, Ore., told the U.S. Coast Guard in a videotaped interview. "It looked to be a humpback whale, about 30 feet in length roughly; it hit the mast about halfway to three-quarters of the way up, and proceeded to fall forward and on the starboard side of the boat.

"The mast came down as well as the forestay and all the rigging, and our tow rail and all our life lines on the starboard side of the boat were demolished as well."

Barnes said that the vessel did suffer some cosmetic damage in addition to the broken mast and rigging, but the crew, including his father -- boat owner Jerry Barnes -- was in the cockpit at the time and no one was injured. A U.S. Coast Guard rescue vessel responded to the scene and escorted the damaged boat and its occupants back to Astoria.

Unlike a whale vs. sailboat incident off the coast of South Africa last year, no photos have yet surfaced.

And while it's uncertain what injuries the whale sustained, they were likely minor. It did, however, leave behind a small memento of the incident.

"We have some nice pieces of whale blubber as a souvenir and proof of what happened," Barnes said.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Video: Ryan Barnes describes the whale breaching and striking his father's 38-foot sailboat, the L'Orca, during the Oregon International Offshore Race. Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert / U.S. Coast Guard via YouTube

Photo: The sailing vessel L'Orca at Astoria, Ore.'s West Basin pier after having its rigging and mast demolished by a breaching whale. Credit: Petty Officer 1st Class Shawn Eggert / U.S. Coast Guard

Fish and Game department reminds Californians about rattlesnakes

Mojave rattlesnake

California is home to more than half a dozen species of rattlesnakes. As the weather warms the state's only native venomous snake becomes more active, increasing the likelihood of their being encountered both in the wilderness and in residential areas.

While the odds of being bitten by a rattlesnake are slim (there are about 800 cases nationwide reported annually to the American Assn. of Poison Control Centers) and should not deter anyone from venturing outdoors, the California Department of Fish and Game shares the following precautionary tips which can lessen the chance of being bitten when out in snake country:

-- Wear hiking boots and loose-fitting long pants. Never go barefoot or wear sandals when walking through wild areas.

-- When hiking, stick to well-used trails. Avoid tall grass, weeds and heavy underbrush where snakes may hide during the day.

-- Do not step or put your hands where you cannot see, and avoid wandering around in the dark. Step on logs and rocks, never over them, and be especially careful when climbing rocks or gathering firewood. 

-- Check out stumps or logs before sitting down, and shake out sleeping bags before use.

-- Never grab "sticks" or "branches" while swimming in lakes and rivers. Rattlesnakes can swim.

-- Be careful when stepping over door sills as well. Snakes like to crawl along the edges of buildings where they are protected on one side.

-- Never hike alone. Always have someone with you who can assist in an emergency.

-- Do not handle a freshly killed snake, as it can still inject venom.

-- Teach children early to respect snakes and to leave them alone.

Information on rattlesnake identification and what to do in the event of a snake bite can be found on the California Poison Control website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Mojave rattlesnake. Credit: George Wilhelm / Los Angeles Times

 

Colorado officials unanimously approve regulation banning the hunting of denned bears

Black bear. The Colorado Wildlife Commission unanimously approved a regulation Thursday that bans the hunting or harassment of black bears in their dens.

The regulation was drafted by the Colorado Division of Wildlife following an incident in November in which hunter Richard Kendall of Craig, Colo., tracked a large black bear to a cave, entered the cave and killed the animal.

Although the killing of the 703-pound bear was legal -- Colorado hunting regulations did not prohibit hunting a bear in a den -- the incident sparked public outrage, generating angry emails and calls to state wildlife authorities.

Colorado Division of Wildlife Regulations Manager Brett Ackerman told the Colorado Wildlife Commission that the den-hunting ban was consistent with a primary objective of the division's strategic plan, which is to maintain and increase public support for wildlife and wildlife management by emphasizing safety and fair chase.

The new regulation will take effect July 1.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Black bear. Credit: Lynn Chamberlain / Utah Division of Wildlife Resources


'Meet the Grunion' Thursday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion spawn on the beaches during the annual grunion run. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its "Meet the Grunion" program on Thursday.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased on site (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July; since this is closed season, the outing is for observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on May 19, June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information are available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: Grunion spawn on the beaches during the annual grunion run. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times


Bear safety tips from 'Bear Whisperer' Steve Searles

Bear expert Steve Searles with a sleeping black bear outside Mammoth Lakes. With spring in full swing, hikers, campers and other outdoor enthusiasts are likely getting out and heading to local mountains and the Sierra Nevada. Also venturing out are black bears, which at this time of year begin to emerge from their dens for longer periods of time after their winter hibernation, meaning two things -- they're hungry, and many of the sows are with cubs.

With that in mind, Mammoth Lakes wildlife specialist Steve Searles, better known as the "Bear Whisperer," shares the following Q & A safety tips for those visiting and living in bear country:

Question: What should a person do if they see a bear on the trail?
Answer: Don't approach the animal, but don't run away, either. Enjoy the experience. If you don't have any food out, admire the animal from afar with binoculars or the zoom feature on a digital camera.

Q: And if the bear is close?
A: Make yourself look bigger by holding your hands above your head, bang pots together and yell at the animal. If everyone did that I wouldn't have a job. Bears are the best at reading body language and vocalization.

Q: What if there are children present?
A: A lot of the information out there says grab your kids and put them up on your shoulder. But this automatically sets an element of fear in the bear. Instead, keep young ones by your side.

Q: What about dogs?
A: All dogs bark at bears. And all bears run from dogs. If I had a penny for every poodle or Chihuahua that chased a bear I'd be rich. Bears are vegetarians -- they don't make a living on dogs and cats.

Continue reading »

'Meet the Grunion' program at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

A grunion burrows into the sand to lay her eggs. Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro will be holding its "Meet the Grunion" program on Tuesday.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9. The cost to attend is $5 for adults and $1 for seniors, children and students. Tickets can be purchased on site (cash only).

Afterward, those who wish to participate will head to the beach to await the spawning run, which has a projected two-hour window of 10:45 p.m. to 12:45 a.m.

Grunion may only be caught in the months of March, June and July, so since this is closed season, it will be a observation only.

Runs are a sight to behold. For four consecutive nights, beginning on full- and new-moon phases during spring and summer, the small, silvery fish leave the water to spawn on beaches. The shoreline may glisten with fish as the silversides attempt to lay and fertilize their eggs.

There is no limit to the number of fish that may be caught during open season (the next one begins June 3), but the California Department of Fish and Game asks that people only catch what they will eat. Catchers 16 and older must possess a valid state fishing license.

The program will be offered again on May 5 and 19, June 3 and 17 and July 16.

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium is at 3720 Stephen M. White Drive in San Pedro. Directions and parking information is available on the website.

-- Kelly Burgess
twitter.com/latimesoutposts

Photo: A grunion burrows into the sand to lay her eggs. Credit: Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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