California Outdoors Q&A

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  • June 30, 2022
red-eared slider turtle in natural habitat

Red-eared sliders

Q: I see turtles all the time in the creeks that run through my neighborhood and the small lake at the local park. How can I tell which turtles are invasive? Should I remove the invasives from the water or leave them alone?

A: Yes, a fishing license is required for individuals 16 years old and over, and you can capture them using authorized methods named in section 5.60 of CDFW’s freshwater sport fishing regulations. There is no bag limit on sliders and they can be taken to be kept as pets or for food. But know, if you remove a red-eared slider from the wild, you can’t ever release it again – and they can live for up to 40 years in captivity, which is quite a commitment!

If your goal for removing them would be to benefit the environment, we recommend you work with the agency or organization responsible for managing the given waterbody. For restoration purposes, authorization to remove non-native turtles can be granted in consultation with CDFW staff.

CDFW’s Invasive Species Program compiles reports of sliders and other invasive species to help inform management efforts, so we encourage you to report sightings along with a photo to CDFW at invasive species sighting report. If your sighting took place in a waterway where red-eared sliders weren’t previously known to exist, this information is especially useful to biologists.

Tule elk

Q: How many tule elk are there in California?

A: There are currently about 6,000 tule elk persisting in 22 recognized populations scattered throughout the state. California’s other two sub-species of elk are Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt. For more information, please visit CDFW’s elk web page.

California bears

Q: I live in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada and a neighbor of mine said she’s seen a grizzly bear in the wild. Is that possible?

A: Black bears are the only wild bears in California. However, they do come in many different colors, from solid black to shades of brown and tan. Some have different patches of color, such as a white blaze on the chest or lighter colored muzzles.

People will sometimes claim to have seen a “brown bear.” Generally, the term “brown bear” refers to Ursus arctos, the grizzly bear. California grizzly bears became extinct by the 1920s and only the one on our state flag remains. There are two subspecies of black bears recognized in California: The northwestern or Olympic black bear (Ursus americana altifrontalis) in the northwest corner of California, and the California black bear (Ursus americana californiensis) throughout the rest of California. They are thought to be geographically distinguished from each other by the crest of the Klamath Mountains.

California’s black bear population is robust and has increased over the past 25 years. Since the extinction of the California grizzly, black bears have been able to expand throughout much of the state as they no longer face direct competition from the larger bear species. For more information, please visit CDFW’s black bear web page. For resources on co-existing with bears, please see CDFW’s Keep Me Wild web page and Bear Naked Truth blog.

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Photo: Simon_g/Shutterstock.com

Categories: General