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California fish and game (Volume 1952-1954) online

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are now supported b\- season memberships or by a
share the cost arrangement \\ith the operator. In 1951
the Legislature established the name Licensed Game
Bird Clubs for these areas (formerh' they were known
as Game Management Areas) and made modifications
in the law in regard to season, license fees and size of
areas.

Since the law was changed to permit noncom-
mercial or private clubs the system has shown a steady
growth. In 1953 the season extended from October
31, 1953, to January 13, 1954. Seventy-two game bird
clubs were in operation, liberating 43,721 birds and
bagging 28,375 birds in 14,053 man days of hunting.
These clubs now control 62,208 acres of land.

Of the 72 clubs now in operation 70 are private
and tAvo commercial. Sixty-six of these clubs are lo-
cated in Region II with the remaining six scattered
in the other four regions. All are pheasant clubs with
the exception of one operated for both pheasants and
quail.

Disease Laboratory

Ultimate objective of the disease prevention phase
of game management is the control of disease occur-
ring in wildlife throughout the State. Positive steps
have been taken to realize that objective during this
biennium.




Those steps included anticipating epidemics and
devising effective methods of control prior to the out-
breaks; gathering facts and observing the natural
history of diseases as they occurred in the wild; and
maintaining close coordination with other state
agencies in order to prevent or limit transmission of
communicable diseases between domestic stock, wild-
life, and the public at large. A portable laboratory is
maintained for on-the-spot investigations. As an illus-
tration of these points, the following examples may
be cited.

Botulism: Excessively heavy snowfall in the Sierra
Nevada iVIountains during the winter of 1951-52
promised flooding of the Tulare Lake Basin. Through
a knowledge of past conditions,, it was anticipated
that botulism would exist during the following sum-
mer. The most feasible procedures were put into
effect to control that disease during the biennium.
They included a coordinated effort to (1) herd ducks
from affected areas by plane, air-thrust boat, and
through the use of pyrotechnics, (2) maintain water
moverr v-nt by pumping operations through the co-
operation of the farmers in the area, and ( 3 ) distribute
feed elsewhere through the cooperation of the U. S.
Fish and Wildlife Service to hold the waterfowl in a
non-toxic area. Evaluation of this work indicated a
reduction from a past 20 percent mortality to a
mortality of about 1 percent.

Fowl Cholera: There were two outbreaks of fowl
cholera during the biennium, neither of which grew
to epidemic proportions. These occurred in the Alva-
rado area of Alameda County, in March, 1953, and in
the south San Francisco Bay in December of the same
year. Around Alvarado about 1,000 dead birds, mostly
gulls and coots, were found. The south bay toll in-
cluded ducks, coots, and gulls. Less than 200 ducks
died.

To prevent further spread of the disease, the de-
partment cleaned up the carcasses to prevent feeding
on them by gulls, believed to be one of the carriers
of the disease.

To confirm this theory, gulls and coots were inocu-
lated with virulent organisms. A million times as
many organisms were required to kill gulls than coots,
tending to show that gulls were resistant carriers of
fowl cholera. As a result of this experiment, it is
believed that control of gulls at the outbreak of fowl
cholera will limit spread of the disease to epidemic
proportions.

Stomach Worms: The prevalence of round worms
in the intestinal tract is considered as one of the more
important factors limiting the number of deer in the
north coastal counties, although there were no severe
outbreaks during the biennium. A survey concluded
during the biennium determined the relative incidence



The dspartment'i disease laboratory, which allows on-the-spot investi-
gation of wildlife diseases.



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



53



I



of the various species of worms (helminths), and
ostensibly confirmed the theory that younger animals
are more susceptible to infection and therefore more
apt to succumb to the efi^ects of these parasites. A
study of the relation between various nutritional states
and intensity of infection is now underway. Deer
suffering from malnutrition are more susceptible to
the disease.

Cooperative Disease Studies: Investigations have
been made in cooperation with other state agencies
and institutions on diseases related to the welfare of
M ildlife species as well as to domestic stock and public
health. Blood samples obtained from wildlife species
have been submitted to the State Department of Public
Health for a determination of the presence of diseases
transmissible to man, with all results to date being
negative. Sera of wild avian species have been tested
for virus diseases transmissable to poultry. In coop-
eration with the State Department of Agriculture and
the University of California, diseases capable of pass-
ing from livestock to wildlife have been investigated
jointly. As a result, serious threats to wildlife have
been averted by the prompt and combined action of
the interested agencies.

In addition, Pittman-Robertson Project W35-R is
devoted to investigation of \\ ildlife diseases which can
be controlled by management practices.

Mountain Lion Control

During the biennium 355 mountain lions were
bountied, 89 by State lion hunters and 266 by private
individuals. Of this total, 174 were taken in 1952 and
181 in 1953. The bounty is |50 per male lion and $60
per female. Table 26 of the Appendix is the county
breakdown as to the mountain lion kill.

Department policy in regard to taking lions is to
maintain a control over their numbers rather than
trying to eradicate the species. State lion hunters hunt
areas ^\'here sign shows the lions to be excessively
numerous.

There were four Department of Fish and Game lion
hunters in 1952 and three in 1953.

Predator Control

During the biennium 3,779 coyotes, 1,945 bobcats,
and 8,685 lesser predators (skunks, opossums, rac-
coons, etc.) for a total of 14,409 were taken by
department predator control men. In predator control
it is the policy to trap predators where their removal
will afford maximum protection to the game crop. As
a consequence, particular attention is given to trapping
on known deer fawning areas, antelope kidding
grounds, waterfowl nesting areas, and pheasant nest-
ing areas, especially where public hunting access is
allowed.

Table 26 of the Appendix is a county breakdown
of predator control activities.




An evaluaiion of deer foods is made with this experimentol feeding pen.
Native browse and artificial foods are mixed in the diet.



Predatory Birds

During the biennium the State paid a bounty of 15
cents per bird for crows and 10 cents per bird for
black-billed magpies. 1,681 crows and 191 magpies
were bountied during the period.

Wildlife Conservation Board Projects (related to game)

Activities which have received the benefits of Wild-
life Conservation Board programs to date include the
constructon of game farms, quail habitat improvement,
acquisition of deer winter range, and acquisition of
waterfowl management areas. The bulk of the funds
for wildlife have been directed toward the acquisition
of w aterfow 1 management areas.

SURVEYS AND INVESTIGATIONS

During the biennium California received $1,680,968
from federal aid funds, the largest apportionment to
date from the federal excise tax on sporting arms and
ammunition under the Pittman-Robertson Act. Cali-
fornia's contribution, as required by the act, amounted
to $560,322, for a total Pittman-Robertson Fund of
$2,241,290.

These funds were channeled into 22 projects, all
of them aimed at improving the wildlife resource
either through research and investigation or develop-
ment of habitat, management areas, and public shoot-
ing grounds.

Eight of these projects were in the field of surveys
and investigations, aimed at acquisition of knowledge
which will enable the public more fully to understand
the problems of its wildlife resource, and the depart-
ment to more cfficicntl>- and intelligently manage it.



W4rns<:f.u





Canada geese are banded by the waferfowi study team at Honey Lake, Lassen County. This is one of the State's major breeding grounds for the big

''honkers/'



Others are in development, land acquisition, mainte-
nance and coordination. Following is a summary of the
sur\-ey and investigation projects and their aims. De-
velopment projects are summarized under their various
management functions.

Food Habits Investigations, Project W25-R: Food
habits information gained mainl\- through stomach
analyses is an integral part of ^\■ildlife management
studies now being conducted by the department. In-
formation gained on nutritional value of native deer
browses and other deer food habits has been valuable
in helping formulate deer management plans for herds
throughout the State, and in determining possible
range improvements.

Other species in which investigations have been
made included coyotes, bobcats, pigeons, chukars,
quail and waterfowl. Knowledge gained in these
studies enables the department to recommend intel-
ligent control measures against predators, and in the
case of game birds is used in de\eloping new food
plants, in planning waterfowl management areas, and
in determining possible new locations for introductions
or planting of various species.

In addition, the food habits laboratory, as time
allows, has done work for si.\ other western states.
The department is reimbursed for this work on a labor
cost basis.

Study of Production, Migration and Wintering
Areas of Waterfowl in California, Project W3 0-R:
\'alue of information gained through investigations
and sur\-eys of watcrfow I numbers, scope and condi-
tion of breeding grounds, resting areas, and degree of
kill is tremendous in setting of seasons and bag limits.



This material, gathered painstakingly by department
field men, and correlated by the staff, is weighed each
year by the California Fish and Game Commission, the
Pacific Waterfowl Flyway Council, other states on the
flyway, and federal agencies in the formulation of
policies and regulations.

As California is the main wintering ground of the
entire Pacific Flyway, data gathered here is of vital
importance to all western states. Main phases of the
project are:

1. Winter Inventory of Waterfowl. An annual
winter inventory is conducted in order to determine
any rise or fall in over-all waterfowl populations.
Armed with this information, recommendations may
be made for changes in seasons or bag limits. This has
been a joint program of the department and the Fish
and Wildlife Service.

2. Breeding Grounds Survey. The major breeding
grounds within the State are surveyed in the spring
in order to determine the local production of ducks
and geese. An aerial census of paired waterfowl and
actual nesting studies are phases of the project.

3. Banding Operations. An extensive waterfowl
banding program has been in progress. This study
yields data on migration patterns and mortality of
various species as affected by hunting pressure. Dur-
ing the two-vear period, 68,732 birds, including ducks,
geese and coots, were banded. The rate of return
averaged 15 percent.

4. Bag checks to determine the degree various spe-
cies of waterfowl enter into the over-all kill.

5. Duck Club Surve\'. Annual records are kept on
hunting success on the various duck clubs in the State.



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT



55



This \ields additional important data relative to deter-
mining the over-all waterfowl hunting success b\- year.

6. Wood Duck Nest Boxes. A study is in progress
in order to determine the feasibility of putting up arti-
ficial nesting sites for wood ducks as a luanagciuent
aid in increasing this species in California.

Big Game Studies, Project W41-R: Development of
management techniques for sound management of
California's big game species is the aim of this study.

1. Deer Herd Studies. This phase of the project
conducts studies of deer populations in specific areas
throughout the State. The scope of the studies include
population numbers, herd composition counts, herd
productivity, migration patterns, effects of hunting
pressure, range use and condition, trapping methods,
food habits, predator relationships, and agriculture and
livestock conflicts. Successful management of the herds
would be impossible without the information gained in
the studies.

2. Antelope. Studies on methods to increase pro-
duction of antelope herds is a new phase of the proj-
ect. Particular attention is directed toward evaluating
the effects of predation on antelope kidding grounds
and determining other causes of kid mortality. An an-
nual aerial count of antelope numbers is conducted to
keep close tab on any rises or falls in the over-all pop-
ulation.

3. Bighorn Sheep. Preliminary work on determin-
ing the population of bighorn in California is the in-
itial phase of this study. Possible management of this
species through spring development in desert mountain
ranges where this species occurs is being investigated.



Effects of Economic Poisons on Wildlife, Project
W45-R: Another project under service agreement
with the University of California, its purpose is to
determine beneficial and detrimental effects of those
chemicals and methods of application used in agricul-
ture, forestry and other related fields.

Particular attention is being paid to chemicals hav-
ing toxic eff^ects on wildlife, and in developing safe
practices in use of these agents.

Project W46-R Game Range Restoration: This
project is being conducted under a service agreement
w ith the California Forest and Range Experiment Sta-
tion.

Its purpose is to develop practical means of increas-
ing desirable deer browse species on depleted ranges.
Particular emphasis is being paid to east side Sierra
areas where problems of deer browse shortages are
especially acute. Propagation of range plants by seed-
ing and cuttings are under experimentation. Bitter-
brush, an important and highly palatable range plant,
is receiving special attention. The possibility of intro-
ducing new species into the area is also being investi-
gated.

Effects of Brush Removal on Game Ranges in Cali-
fornia, Project W31-R: Under a service agreement
with the Universitx' of California, sound management
of brush lands in California is being investigated, and
methods of improving deer and quail productivity on
these lands studied. Results of these investigations and
experiments are a definite improvement of carrying
capacity for wildlife, not only on the burned and
cleared areas, but on surrounding territory. Increased



Results of a controlled burn in Tuolumne County. This area has been reseeded with orchard and Harding grass. The thicli stand of grass tends to retard

re-invasion of brush.









■^-C^'

i>^^-



A cannon net trap, fired over pigeons watering of a spring, a successful
method of capture for banding.



numbers of deer, quail, and doves have resulted from
controlled bums.

Experiments were made in controlled burning,
mechanical clearing, chemical treatment, and in re-
seeding of cleared areas. Burning appears to be the
cheapest and most effective method when followed by
reseeding.

Project W47-R Upland Game Investigations: This
project has several phases as listed below.

1. Pheasant. Studies involve evaluation of the ef-
fects of releasing game farm birds; brood counts to
determine the yearly production of pheasants in the
wild; effects of agricultural practices on pheasant pop-
ulations; and investigations into effects of hunting
pressure. Hunting season controls as they apply to
hunters and land uses are being studied to facilitate
farmer-sportsmen relationships. A new phase of the
project is concerned with evaluation of the effects of
the licensed game bird club system on pheasant hunt-
ing. Studies already have indicated that where habitat
is suitable, planting of game farm birds shows small
return in the matter of total increase.

2. Quail. A general evaluation of the effects of
past development work on quail is under way in order
to provide basic data for future developments. This
is concerned mainly with the water development or
"guzzler" program. Quail have thrived in areas for-
merly without water as a result of this program.

3. Chukar partridge. The initial phase of this study
was a state-wide surve\- of chukar populations. An



immediate result of this investigation was the deter-
mination that enough chukars are now present to call
California's first chukar season for 1954. Continued
investigations into the possibility of further expansion
of chukars into suitable range not now occupied by
the birds is being made. Wild birds trapped from es-
tablished populations supplemented by game farm
birds are used for stocking new areas. Other phases
of the work involve nesting studies, brood counts,
developing more efficient trapping methods, and food
habits.

4. Band-tailed pigeons. A detailed state-wide study
of the life history of the band-tailed pigeon is being
made with special emphasis given to setting seasons,
bag limits, and agricultural depredation problems. The
department has been very successful in trapping and
banding this species. Band returns show an intensive
migration with interstate movements between the
three Pacific states.

Other Pittman-Robertson Projects

Other Pittman-Robertson federal aid in wildlife
restoration projects in force during the biennium in-
cluded maintenance, land acquisition and coordination
projects.

Generally, development and management projects
were carried out on a regional basis, while survey, in-
vestigation and coordination projects were the func-
tion of the central office staff.

Project W37-IVI provides for inspection and main-
tenance of quail guzzlers constructed under Project
W26-D. Four land acquisition projects, initiated dur-
ing the decade 1940-1950, provide for a small amount
of money to add to any of the following areas should
the need arise and land be available.

Project WIO-L, Tehama Winter Deer Range— 42,-
897 acres acquired.

Project Wll-L, Honey Lake Waterfowl Manage-
ment Area— 4,820 acres acquired.

Project W17-L, Madeline Plains Waterfowl Man-
agement Area— 5,176 acres acquired.

Project W21-L, Doyle Winter Deer Range-1 3,503
acres acquired.

A final project, W29-C, wildlife management co-
ordination, provides general direction and coordina-
tion by the central staff on all Pittman-Robertson
projects.



MARINE
FISHERIES




.,<lfl0- ■■' ! I !





V



Sardines industry nears disaster during biennium.

Salt water sport fishery shows slight decline, although salmon sport
fishery grows rapidly.

New oyster fishery established.

Fish screens and ladders program coordinated.

Anchovy canning replaces sardine packing to some extent.



I



FORTY-THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT
MARINE FISHERIES



59



As additional demands are placed on California's oceanic and inshore salt water natural resources,
the value of more factual knowledge concerning them becomes increasingly important. A mushroom-
ing population, greater pressures for recreation and use of ocean products for food and industry all
hav^e had their effect on the sea and its inhabitants.



The Marine Fisheries Branch is concerned with the
conservation of these resources. Many diverse and im-
portant commercial and sport fish activities are under
the administration and study by the branch, and
through constant contact with the complex ocean
fishery, the branch recommends conservation and
management practices.

The branch conducts investigations on the import-
ant segments of marine fauna with tunas, salmons, sar-
dines, sport fishes, bottom fishes, oysters, abalones, and
other shellfishes of major concern. Work is directed
from headquarters through the field laboratories lo-
cated at Terminal Island and Stanford. Fisheries inves-
tigations centered in the Southern California region
are under the Terminal Island Laboratory as is the
statistical operation. Fisheries studies of Central and
Northern California are directed by the Branch Lab-
oratory located at Stanford University, with accessory
facilities for investigations located at Pacific Grove
and Eureka.

I The collection and processing of fish landing rec-
ords is one of the most important phases of marine
management, as only through the collection of these
basic records can knowledge of what is happening to
the fisherv be obtained. This phase of the branch
work is the keystone upon which understanding of
the entire marine resources is based.

DECREASING SARDINE FISHERY

In spite of danger signs over the years, repeated
warnings from the Department of Fish and Game,
and requests by the commission and the department
for regulation and management of the fishery, all of
which went unheeded, near collapse came in 1953 to
the California sardine industry. During each of the
past two seasons scarcely 5,000 tons were taken, a
total equivalent to only an average day's fishing for
any of the State's major ports during their heyday.

Causes of this catastrophe, resulting in heavy finan-
cial loss to the fishermen, the failure of many process-
ing plants and a general economic disturbance in the
whole industry, are twofold; heavy mortality among
the older sardines, and failure in recruitment of young
fish to the population.

Sardines in fishable numbers were not to be found
on the California grounds. The only fisheries extant
at the close of the biennium were those operating out
of the Baja California ports of Ensenada and Cedros
Island. Sardines from these iMexican waters have
moved to the California grounds in former years and



fishermen optimistically hope that they will do so
again. Surveys by the department, continued during
the past two years show, however, that there are not
enough fish in these southern waters to support a
fishery of the magnitude needed for a healthy Cali-
fornia industry. As a consequence, \vhen and if Mex-
ican sardines should move north they could not bring
about a complete restoration of the sagging fishery.

Much Below Average

During the 35 years in which studies have been
made on sardine populations, survival from each sea-
son's spawning has varied markedly. Outstanding con-
tribution of young fish to the population and to the
fishery occurred every two, three or four years. Since
1939, no group of young fish exceeded average abun-
dance and several were much below average, notably
sardines resulting from the 1944, 1945, 1949, 1950,
1951, 1952, and 1953 spawnings. Thus for 7 of the
last 15 years nature has not restored to the population
the numbers which have been lost through man's ac-
tivities and through natural causes.

Explaining the lack of sardines on the California
fishing grounds, nature's failure to provide new re-
cruits to the population, and the part man has played
in bringing about this lack, is the task of the Marine
Fisheries Branch and of the other agencies working in
a cooperative investigation of the sardine and its en-
vironment.

The Marine Fisheries Branch lias continued its as-
sessment of sardine population abundance in Baja Cali-
fornia as well as in California waters. Cruises in the
last half of 1952 showed a scarcity of all such fish off
California and no increase off the Mexican coast.
Young fish resulting from the 1952 spawning were
more numerous than in 1949, 1950, and 1951, but were
not found in great numbers. In 1953 sardines again
were very scarce off California, nor were there any
indications of good survival of the young from the
1953 spawning. An additional disturbing factor is the
almost complete absence of spawning on the offshore
grounds in Southern California, ivhich in forjner years
were the major source of new recruits to the Cali-
fornia popidation.

Studies of size and age composition of fish in the
cannery catch have been continued in cooperation
with the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service. In both sea-
sons of the biennium the remnant fishery depended
chiefly on sardines four to eight years old and
spawned prior to 1949. In 1952-53 these older fishes



60



DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME



comprised 85 percent of the catch, and in 1953-54 one-
half. .Mature fish which did appear off California were
caught wherever possible before the spawning sea-


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