U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service

Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Pacific Southwest Highlights

two Mourning doves perched on a tree branch

A pair of mourning doves strengthen their bond by mutual preening and cooing softly to each other. Doves mate for life and inspired the term ‘lovey dovey’ in the late 1700s. Source: idioms.com. Credit: Tom Koerner/USFWS

Which lovebird are you?

Are you a lovebird? You might be if you point, stare, hop, hoot or cartwheel for your sweetheart! Which of nature’s pairs below best reflects your inner cupid?

The regal bald eagle puts on one of the most spectacular courtship shows. Mated partners lock talons in midflight and then spiral in a free-fall dive known as cartwheeling. Eagles often mate for life, and pairs will return to the same nests year after year. Male bald eagles help with nest construction and raising the eaglets.

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a green frong on a green plant

Since the project was completed, the response by wildlife has been tremendous. There has been an increased diversity of birds, mammals, insects and amphibians – like this small chorus frog. Credit: Becca Reeves/USFWS

If you restore it, they will return - Riparian restoration in northern California

Imagine a serene setting in a lush river valley over 300 hundred years ago. Beavers maintained swaths of wetlands, their dams creating thickets of willows and cottonwoods attracting billions of beneficial native insects. In spring, the calls of birds and frogs filled the air. Western pond turtles basked above pools on fallen logs and schools of young salmon darted below. Salamanders lurked under rocks and ring-necked snakes patrolled for bite-sized morsels. Now picture this scene completely transformed, still and quiet, devoid of most plants and wildlife.

This is what happened in the Scott Valley of northern California when the fur trade arrived in the 1820s followed by the gold rush three decades later. The landscape was forever changed from the ridgetops down to the river bottoms. Habitats were reduced in size and complexity, which decreased species diversity. All strands of nature’s food web were affected, and many species suffered dramatic population declines.

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a red beetle with a small heart put onto its back with a photo editor

Male Valley elderberry longhorn beetle. Credit: USFWS (modified image)

4 Bugs that Need Love

We’re using the the term “bugs” loosely here. True bugs belong in a family known as Hemiptera while beetles are insects of the Coleoptera family. The main difference — insects go through a complete metamorphasis while true bugs don’t.

Now that we’ve covered that, did you know the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protects over 24 insects in California? Here are four threatened and endangered California crawlies that need some love this Valentine’s Day and beyond.

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a collection of nine photos including from the top left, two toads, a small fish, a monarch butterfly, a salmon being injected, a green beetle, a toad, a ram, a hand holding two small toads, and a school of fish in blue water

Photo composite by Jake Sisco/USFWS

Celebrating 10 wildlife wins from 2020

With 2021 underway, it’s time to look back at all the conservation successes in California and Nevada from last year. From fish and birds to amphibians and mammals, the Service had quite a year of accomplishments. Check out some of our successes with story links below.

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a man kneeling on a bank  holding a bucket with small fish in water

California Department of Fish and Wildlife fisheries biologist John Hanson releasing Paiute cutthroat trout into Silver King Creek. Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Horne/USDA Forest Service

Paiute cutthroat trout recovery effort continues despite the Slink Fire

The Paiute cutthroat trout made national headlines last year when the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other partners returned this California native fish to its home waters in Alpine County for the first time in more than 100 years. The Paiute cutthroat trout was one of the first species in the nation listed under the federal Endangered Species Act in the 1960s.

Recovery efforts continued this October when fisheries biologists relocated 44 Paiute cutthroat trout by pack animals from the nearby Corral Valley Creek into Silver King Creek, the fish’s historic home. Both creeks are in the Carson-Iceberg Wilderness on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.

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a small brown rabbit standing on dry grass

The endangered riparian brush rabbit is found only in California’s Central Valley and could be impacted by a deadly virus new to wild rabbits in North America. Photo courtesy of Don Cool

Partnership protects endangered rabbit from fatal virus moving through California

Under the hot summer sun, Eric Hopson, assistant refuge manager for the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge, sets traps to capture live, endangered riparian brush rabbits on the refuge. Brown and white with a fuzzy cottontail, the riparian brush rabbit was once believed to be extinct, but a remnant population was discovered in San Joaquin County and reintroduced to the refuge. Recovery efforts improved the population, but the successful work could be derailed by a highly infectious virus that appeared in wild rabbits for the first time this spring.

In an eerie parallel to the pandemic sweeping across the human population, the rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus serotype-2 was first observed in wild rabbits in March 2020. While the virus was known to infect domestic rabbits, its discovery in wild populations in the United States was alarming.

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a hand holding a fish

Central Valley steelhead, seen here at Coleman National Fish Hatchery in Anderson, California, has been federally listed as a threatened species since 1988. Credit: Steve Martarano/USFWS

Restoring Dry Creek - Joint project with U.S. Air Force opens spawning habitat for threatened steelhead

In 1943 the Army completed a dam on Camp Beale so its soldiers could fish, swim and jump off the dam’s diving platform. Nearly 80 years later, the Air Force is giving Dry Creek back to the original tenants: its fish.

“The dam was built to provide recreation,” said Paul Cadrett, a fish biologist and habitat restoration coordinator for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Lodi, California. “Then in the ’80s someone said, ‘Hey, there are fish banging their heads at the bottom of this dam,’ so they built a fish ladder. But it didn’t work very well, and most fish weren’t able to navigate it.”

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a fish being injected with thiamine

Biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Livingston Stone National Fish Hatchery inject a female winter-run Chinook salmon with thiamine. Researchers will gauge whether the vitamin boost is passed on to their offspring to address the risk of thiamine deficiency. Credit: Travis Webster/USFWS

Researchers probe deaths of Central Valley Chinook, with possible ties to ocean changes - Deficiency in Vitamin B1 linked to higher juvenile mortality in California fish hatcheries

Scientists from several fish and wildlife agencies have launched a rapid research and response effort for deficiency of thiamine, or Vitamin B1. This deficiency was recently found to be increasing juvenile mortality among Chinook salmon in California’s Central Valley.

The magnitude of its effect is not clear. However, it could be a risk to Chinook stocks, including endangered winter-run Chinook salmon and the fishery for fall-run Chinook salmon.

In early 2020, staff at state and federal salmon hatcheries in California’s Central Valley observed newly hatched offspring of adult Chinook salmon that spawned in 2019. They were swimming in corkscrew patterns and dying at unusually high rates. Researchers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Fish Health Center eliminated infectious diseases as the cause. Then, they noticed that a bath of thiamine immediately revived the ailing juveniles.

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