Science Spotlight

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Banding Together: Two Pacific Flyway States Share Resources to Manage Geese

Woman with glasses and braided hair holding goose while second woman holds goose's head in one hand and measuring device in other.
Every September, California Department of Fish and Wildlife waterfowl biologist Melanie Weaver sets off on an unusual business trip. She packs up a trailer with huge nets, wire, rockets, crates and a number of VHF collars. She makes the seven-hour drive to Summer Lake, in southern Oregon’s high desert country, and settles in for a waterfowl capture project of indeterminate length.

Science Spotlight: Increasing the Genetic Diversity of White Abalone

Scuba diver underwater holding white board and mesh bag near rocky floor with kelp in background
At nearly 130 feet underwater, CDFW abalone researcher Dr. Laura Rogers-Bennett didn’t have much time. Her dive computer told her it was time to ascend, which meant that she would have to stop searching for the endangered white abalone hiding in the waving fields of red and gold gorgonians.

Science Spotlight: CDFW Biologist Gives Unlucky Sea Turtle a Second Chance

Green sea turtle laying in gray plastic kennel on top of blue pad while resting head on kennel opening.
CDFW Senior Environmental Scientist Mike Harris is credited with the rescue of a green sea turtle that was unintentionally caught from a pier in Morro Bay. Harris and the Morro Bay Harbor Patrol responded to a report of the hooked turtle on Aug. 17, after Harris was alerted by a friend in the area.

No Cooling Off for Invasive Species ‘Hotline’ in Battle Against Nutria

Tiny brown and green speckled juvenile coqui frog sitting atop a penny
Six months after announcing the discovery of a breeding population of invasive nutria in the San Joaquin Valley, CDFW’s Invasive Species “hotline” continues to receive multiple reports each week of nutria sightings from the public.

Science Spotlight: The Fight to Keep Chronic Wasting Disease Out of California

Man wearing beige pants, blue scrub shirt, and black gloves hunched over black tarp covered table holding flesh over a black cutting mat, knife and forceps. Deceased deer laying on opposite end of table.
CDFW scientists, wildlife officers and other staff are pulling out all the stops to fight a wildlife disease of major concern from crossing state lines and infecting native deer and elk populations.

Science Spotlight: Oiled Wildlife Experts Make the Case for Rescue and Release Over Euthanasia

Oil covered duck held and soaped by orange gloved person wearing plastic apron
Scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and University of California, Davis have published an opinion essay that advocates rehabilitation and release, rather than euthanization, of animals injured by oil spills.

Safe Harbor Agreement Helps Secure the Future of the Humboldt Marten

Marten wearing black collar looking down from a tree hollow
A small population of a rare member of the weasel family has an improved chance at expanding its range, thanks to a joint effort between a forest products company and a state agency.

Update on Thomas Fire "Tilapia Bears"

A cinnamon-colored bear with light brown paws and muzzle stands in the crotch of a large tree, looking down toward the ground
We have an update on the two black bears that were burned in the Thomas Fire in late December/early January! Both bears were suffering from extensive burns to their paws when they were brought to CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Lab in northern California. Under the care of CDFW Senior Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Deana Clifford and Dr. Jamie Peyton of the UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, the bears were given an unusual experimental treatment involving the use of sterilized tilapia skins as bandages. After the bears were well enough to survive on their own, they were returned to the Los Padres National Forest, as near as possible to where they were originally found. Both have covered many miles and each has been spotted at least once since their release.

Science Spotlight: California Fish and Game, Volume 104-1 Now Available

Cover for California Fish and Game scientific journal featuring a photograph of a black-tailed jackrabbit
The latest issue of the scientific journal California Fish and Game is now available online (for free!). Volume 104, Number 1 features a gorgeous photo of a black-tailed jackrabbit in sunlit profile taken by renowned photographer David Jesse McChesney.

Science Spotlight: Legwork and Expertise Combine to Bolster Endangered Frog Populations

Frog resting on water-slicked rock with water rushing in background
Many years of painstaking monitoring and assessment efforts undertaken by CDFW have helped guide an ongoing effort to bolster the dwindling populations of mountain yellow-legged frogs in Southern California.