Pacific Southwest RegionCalifornia, Nevada and Klamath Basin
Rumble in the river: brook vs. bull trout
In the fictional world of trout wrestling, one of the most uneven matchups would pit brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) against bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus). When squaring off in their aquatic ‘ring,’ the invasive and scrappy ‘brookies’ are bullies, outcompeting the native bull trout by eating all the food, hogging the best shelter and generally pushing them around.
Photo courtesy of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coleman National Fish Hatchery and Mt. Lassen Trout Farm have come together to raise endangered Sacramento River winter-run Chinook salmon and release them into Battle Creek as part of the Jumpstart Project aimed at reintroducing winter-run to the watershed.
Credit: Jake Sisco / USFWS
Dredging up the past at Antioch Dunes
Over thousands of years, the shifting sands of time built dunes that reached 120 feet high and stretched for 2 miles along the San Joaquin River, about 35 miles east of San Francisco. Isolated from similar habitats, the Antioch Dunes slowly developed species found nowhere else in the world.
Credit: Brandon Honig / USFWS
Restoration brings salmon, people back to Clear Creek
“You get to see big male salmon chasing each other away from females and see females digging redds, or nests, it’s exciting.” said Fish and Wildlife Service biologist Charlie Chamberlain. “It’s something a lot of people would not expect to see in California except on National Geographic.”
Credit: Brandon Honig / USFWS
A great leap forward
Juvenile Foothill yellow-legged frogs look similar to adults except for their smaller size, more contrasting dorsal coloration and lack of significant yellow on their undersurfaces.
Credit: Rebecca Fabbri / USFWS
Using local seeds to save the sage
The idea of using local, native seeds in restoration is taking off, just like the wildfires they are designed to follow, as ecologists and botanists in Nevada embark on research to test the use of these seeds in helping burned areas recover and become resilient.
Credit: Sarah Kulpa / USFWS
Imagine taking a kayak out on the water all day as a full-time job. Well, that’s exactly what the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees from the Red Bluff office do for a portion of the year.
Credit: John Heil / USFWS
“The excitement in the air is palpable,” says Chad Mitcham, fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, after releasing 43 Ohlone tiger beetles to their new home in Santa Cruz County.
Photo courtesy of Alex Jones/University of California, Santa Cruz
Pacific Southwest Highlights
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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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