Science Spotlight

Science Institute News

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Recent accomplishments of CDFW's scientific community


Counting Lizards: New CDFW Study Confirms a Better Way to Survey Reptiles

Small brown, gray, and blue speckled lizard on man's hands
One might say that a groundbreaking new study conducted by two CDFW scientists and their research partners provides a leap forward in lizard research.

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.

Badly Burned Ursines Get Back on their Feet – Thanks to Teamwork and Fish Skin

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Two talented veterinarians, an environmental scientist and several dedicated staff members at the CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab recently put their heads and their resources together to help heal a pair of adult bears that were badly burned in the Thomas Fire. The bears, which were treated at the same time as a young mountain lion with similar, less severe burn injuries, were released back to the wild last Thursday, after several weeks of intensive – and unusual – care.

Scientists Battle Mange Outbreak in Urban Kit Fox Population

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Fate has not been kind to the San Joaquin kit fox (Vulpes macrotis mutica). Shrinking habitat caused by urbanization and agricultural expansion landed this Central Valley native on the federal Endangered Species List decades ago. California’s total population of San Joaquin kit foxes may now be down to a few thousand animals. To make matters worse, its favorite food, the kangaroo rat, is likewise endangered as the desert habitat it prefers continues to disappear.