Outdoors, action, adventure

Category: Nature

Station Fire recovery program

Burned trees

Have you been wondering how the plants and critters in the Angeles National Forest have been recovering from the 2009 Station Fire, and when you'll be able to hike in the forest again? If so, plan on attending "Recovering From the Station Fire: The 2011 Update" Wednesday night at the Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena.

The program is being sponsored by the Forest Committee for the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter and will be presented by Angeles National Forest Acting Supervisor Marty Dumpis. Topics scheduled to be covered include preventing the invasion of non-native plant species and an update on areas that will be reopened to hiking, hopefully this summer and fall.

The fire in August 2009 burned more than 160,000 acres, and most of the forest and Angeles Crest Highway have been closed to the public ever since. The most recent closure order on the Angeles National Forest website says trails are still closed and entrance to the recovery area is prohibited, except for the Red Box Day Use Area, Hidden Springs Day Use Area and Monte Cristo Campground.

The program Wednesday is at 7:30 p.m., with a reception at 7 p.m. It's open to the public and will be at Eaton Canyon Nature Center, 1750 N. Altadena Drive, Pasadena.

—Julie Sheer

Photo: A hillside in bloom in May 2010, on a wildfire recovery hike in the Hall-Beckley canyon area near La Cañada-Flintridge. Credit: Julie Sheer

'Meet the Grunion' Monday at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Grunion scramble to get onto the beach to spawn.

The grunion are back in Southern California, and with them comes the return of the "Meet the Grunion" program, Monday evening at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

The aquarium exhibit hall will open at 8 p.m., with a film on grunion to be screened at 9 p.m. 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 11:15 p.m. to 1:15 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 on April 5 and 19, 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 aquarium's website.

-- Kelly Burgess

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

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service national survey to begin

Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will begin conducting its national survey of fishing, hunting and wildlife-associated recreation and are requesting that hunters, anglers and other wildlife enthusiasts participate if contacted for interviews scheduled to begin April 1.

The information, collected by the U.S. Census Bureau primarily through telephone interviews to be conducted April to June and September to October this year and January to March, 2012, provides the only comprehensive statistical database available on Americans' participation in and spending on hunting, fishing and wildlife-watching in the 50 states.

"We appreciate the anglers, hunters, birdwatchers and other citizens throughout the United States who voluntarily participate in the survey when contacted," said the wildlife service's acting director, Rowan Gould. "The survey results help wildlife and natural resource managers quantify how much Americans value wildlife resources in terms of both participation and expenditures."

The survey, conducted every five years since 1955, will involve 53,000 households from the Census Bureau's master address file. From this information, the bureau will select samples of 19,000 anglers and hunters and 10,000 wildlife watchers and follow up with further detailed questions.

"The last survey published in 2006 revealed 87.5 million Americans enjoyed some form of wildlife-related recreation and spent more than $122.3 billion pursuing their activities," said Hannibal Bolton, assistant director for the service’s Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration program. "The survey is a critical information resource for federal and state wildlife agencies, outdoor and tourist industries, local governments, planners, conservation groups, journalists and others interested in wildlife and outdoor recreation."

Participation is voluntary and all responses are confidential. Preliminary survey findings will be available in spring 2012 with final reports issued beginning in the fall, to be posted on the restoration program's Web page.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Laying the groundwork for a day of duck hunting, Jim Fisher tosses a decoy as his dog, Willow, looks on. Credit: Fred Greenslade / Reuters


Fish and Game Q&A: Can trespassing wildlife be trapped and relocated?

Raccoon in a tree. 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 illegal to trap and relocate raccoons? I live at the base of Tauquitz Canyon Mountain in Palm Springs and we have a population of raccoons. One of the residents is determined to trap any and all animals that venture onto his property. The problem is he is not trained to trap and he often keeps the animal for three to five days with no food or water until he feels like getting rid of them. I’ve even released a cat from one of his traps in 110 degree heat! Most of the other residents have been educated on how to keep raccoons from doing any damage and how to keep them out of the trash. They are wild and beautiful and I don’t want anything more to happen to them. Can something be done? (Laurie S., Palm Springs)

Answer: The situation described is illegal, cruel and inhumane. When trapping wildlife, traps must be checked every 24 hours and the animals either dispatched or released in the immediate area.

Continue reading »

Fish and Game Q&A: What to do about injured wildlife?

Department of Fish and Game veterinarian Pam Swift examines a young black bear cub. 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: We have seen an injured buck in our neighborhood with a gash in his left hind leg and bone sticking out. It’s swollen, probably infected and he can’t put any weight on that leg at all. I don’t see how it will get better and he doesn’t seem to have much to look forward to other than a lot of suffering and a painful death. He needs to either be given a fighting chance by tranquilizing and treating him or to be put out of his misery so this injury won’t fester and cause him to suffer anymore. Is there anything someone can do? (Jennifer P., Pacific Grove)

Answer: There are wildlife rehabilitation facilities that are able to help fawns in some situations, but for safety reasons they cannot possess or take in adult deer. According to Nicole Carion, DFG’s statewide coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation and restricted species, adult deer can be very dangerous and do not fare well in captivity to undergo medical treatment, so a rescue is not a good option. In this particular case, it sounds like humane euthanasia may be the best solution.

Continue reading »

World Elk Calling Championships Friday and Saturday in Reno

Elk callers from across the U.S. will be converging on Reno next weekend, hoping to bugle, grunt, bark, mew and whine their way to victory in the World Elk Calling Championships, Friday and Saturday at the Reno/Sparks Convention Center.

The championships are a centerpiece of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s annual Elk Camp & Expo, held Thursday through Sunday. The four-day convention helps raise awareness of elk, their habitat and RMEF conservation initiatives.

The elk-calling competition will be held in six divisions: professional, men, women, natural voice, youth and pee-wee. Amateur-level callers have 30 seconds to mimic cow elk sounds, followed by bull sounds. Professionals are required to make specific calls such as barks, whistles and screaming bugles. Most callers blow across a latex reed placed inside the mouth. In the natural voice division, however, no reeds are allowed. A variety of plastic tubes are used like megaphones, giving the sounds realistic resonance. Judges score each competitor anonymously.

Preliminary rounds begin Friday at 9 a.m., and championship rounds begin Saturday at 9 a.m. Winners receive prizes and cash ranging from $500 to $2,500.

Elk Camp also includes seminars led by authorities on bowhunting and other hunting skills, horse packing, marksmanship, wild game cooking, game calling strategies and more. There will also be displays of record elk, plus a 450-booth expo hall filled with outfitted hunting and fishing opportunities, art, gear, firearms and everything elk.

Show hours are Thursday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Daily admission is $12 per person or $25 per family, and free for children 5 and younger.

-- Kelly Burgess

Video credit: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation via YouTube

Submission deadline nearing for third annual California Waterfowl photo contest

Last year's Best of Show winning entry, "You Missed Again."

The deadline is fast approaching for submitting entries to the third annual California Waterfowl Assn. "Take Your Best Shot" photo contest.

Open to all California Waterfowl members, the contest will highlight photos of wetland wildlife, dogs in action, waterfowl hunting and wetland landscape.

Prizes will be awarded to a winner in each category, as well as one best in show and one youth photographer. Photos of particular interest are those that highlight the drama of the moment, the beauty from the blind, and the relationship of the hunter with their dog and/or the environment.

The entry fee is $15 per photo, with proceeds going toward prizes as well as to the development of future California Waterfowl programs.

Entries can be submitted either online or by mail but must be received by March 15. Complete contest rules and information on entering can be found on the California Waterfowl Assn. website.

For questions or more information, e-mail or call Courtney Ashe at (916) 648-1406, ext. 127.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: "You Missed Again," last year's Best of Show winner. Credit: Philip Robertson with Rodger Benadom

Fish and Game Q&A: How much do California halibut move around?

Associate DFG marine biologist Ken Oda with a California halibut. 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: I have a question about the halibut out at San Clemente Island. Is it a self-contained population due to the long distance between the island and mainland? If so, is it harder for this island population to mix and propagate with the mainland coastal halibut? I understand that all fertilized fish eggs, larvae and fry drift with the sea currents, but wouldn’t it be easy to overfish this one "homegrown" species of fish at San Clemente Island? (Steve)

Answer: Halibut do move inshore-offshore and along the coast to spawn. They also follow feed and follow favorable ocean conditions. Unfortunately, there is no good answer to your question regarding the fish at San Clemente Island, mostly because no data are available.

According to Department of Fish and Game associate marine biologist Travis Tanaka, more than 26,800 coastal mainland halibut were tagged as part of a halibut study performed in Southern California from 1992 to 1997. The study seemed to indicate that migration was related to the size of the fish, but this was not statistically proven. Most of the fish in the study (64%) were recaptured in the same region as the original capture. However, halibut larger than 550 millimeters (21.9 inches) in length averaged 29.5 kilometers (18.3 miles) in travel. At the same time, smaller halibut less than 550 millimeters averaged from 4.6 to 5.6 kilometers (2.9 to 3.5 miles) of travel. The greatest distance of travel was accomplished by a 559 millimeter (22-inch) halibut, which traveled 319 kilometers (198.2 miles). The lesson here is that fish do move, and in the case of this particular study, the movement was mostly to the north. (The results of this study can be found in DFG’s scientific journal, California Fish and Game, vol. 85, no. 2.)

Continue reading »

Great Backyard Bird Count begins Friday

Flowers attract a hummingbird.

It's time to break out the binoculars, birding books and notepads and get outside in the name of science.

Birding enthusiasts both novice and expert are encouraged to participate in the 14th annual Great Backyard Bird Count Friday through Monday across the U.S. and Canada.

"Whether people notice birds in backyards, parks or wilderness areas, we ask that they share their counts," said Judy Braus, Audubon’s senior vice president of Education and Centers. "It’s fun and rewarding for people of all ages and skill levels."

A joint project of the National Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, it's an opportunity for people to monitor the bird activity in their neighborhoods. Participants count birds for as little as 15 minutes, or for as long as they wish, on one or more days of the event and report their sightings online.

"When thousands of people all tell us what they’re seeing, we can detect changes in birds' numbers and locations from year to year," said Janis Dickinson, director of Citizen Science at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Last year, birders turned in 97,200 checklists -- a nearly 4% increase over the prior year -- identified 602 species and counted 11.2 million individual birds.

The GBBC website is chock-full of useful information, including printable regional tally sheets, frequently asked questions and information on entering the annual photo contest.

The survey is conducted in February to provide a snapshot of how birds are surviving the winter and where they are located just before spring migrations begin in March.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: Flowers attract a hummingbird. Credit: Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times

Portuguese man-of-war invade Florida beaches


More than 450 beach-goers were treated for injuries after scores of Portuguese man-of-war washed ashore on South Florida beaches over the weekend.

"It's extreme. It is wall-to-wall man-of-war," Delray Beach ocean rescue supervisor Heather Irurzun, a 14-year veteran, told the Palm Beach Post. "I've never seen it this bad."

Delray Beach actually closed to swimmers because of the influx of the stinging creatures, and lifeguards elsewhere were flying yellow caution flags, indicating the presence of the organisms.

While Portuguese man-of-war are a rather common occurrence in ocean waters off the state between Thanksgiving and Easter, consistent southeast winds over the last several days have sent a high number toward South Florida beaches.

The above video, shot by an area resident, shows hundreds of man-of-war left on the sand by tides and is reminiscent of the tranquil nature scenes that end CBS Sunday Morning, if not for the fact of the dangerous nature of the creature's tentacles, which remain capable of delivering painful stings even when on the sand.

Authorities have urged beach-goers not to touch the dead man-of-war, even with a stick. Meanwhile, lifeguards remain at the ready, equipped with treatment gels and ointments.

-- Kelly Burgess

Video: LalaFizphotography via YouTube

Fish and Game Q&A: Are broken antlers a sign of nutrient deficiencies?

Sparring mule deer bucks.

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: I recently had a wonderful opportunity to accompany a friend to the 2010 Goodale Buck Hunt (G3) in the Owens Valley. It was great to see so many mature bucks in California! However, we noticed many large four-point bucks had broken antlers. Some actually had one complete side broken or partially broken. It appeared that the small tines on the four-point bucks had the most damage. I have never seen this many damaged horns in any other zone or any other state. Is this caused by a deficiency in nutrients? (Bob Pihera)

Answer: It may be that a mineral deficiency is playing a role, but we can’t say for sure. According to Department of Fish and Game deer program manager Craig Stowers, we have documented this deficiency regarding Tule elk in the area but don’t have any data specifically related to deer. Additionally, that particular hunt is held late (in December), pretty much in the middle of the rut. By that time those antlers have endured a lot of stress from animals fighting with each other for dominance. Given this, it wouldn’t be too unusual for these animals’ antlers to reflect a lot of wear and damage from the rutting season.

Q: We are Buddhists. For expressing mercy we used to buy captive fishes and set them free in rivers. However, we could not buy live-bred fishes and free them here because the salesperson in the supermarket said it violates California laws. I could not find any information in the regulations you issued. Please tell us which codes apply. (James W.)

Continue reading »

Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival at Cabrillo National Monument

A statue of explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo National Monument is hosting its annual Whale Watch and Intertidal Life Festival on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The 24th annual event celebrates the Pacific gray whales and their return to local waters during their southbound migration to Baja California. The weekend will feature opportunities to watch for the leviathans and the chance to take guided tide-pool walks.

There also will be films; guest speakers sharing their expertise on a variety of marine-related subjects; and exhibitor booths filled with activities and information about whales, tide pools and local oceanic organizations.

All events are included with the regular park entrance fee of $5 per vehicle and $3 for motorcyclists, bicyclists and walk-ins.

Cabrillo National Monument is at the tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, just west of the city of San Diego.

-- Kelly Burgess

Photo: A statue of explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo looks out over the San Diego Bay at Cabrillo National Monument. Credit: New Thanyacheron / National Park Service


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...

About the Bloggers
Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.