Butte County Fish and Game Commission meeting
January”s Butte County Fish and Game Commission meeting included a late-season summary by local DFW Wildlife Officer Lt. Sam Castillo. He reported that waterfowl hunting overall had been poor, but those who had access to flooded grain did best. Not many overlimits were observed, and most citations were written for mechanical violations such as too many shells.
Castillo noted that nuisance wildlife calls, especially about bears and mountain lions continue to be common. He also expressed appreciation for equipment purchased by the commission for the local team of Wildlife Officers.
The Feather River Hatchery”s supervisor, Anna Kastner, reported on the phenomenally successful salmon egg collection efforts this year. Kastner said that the FRH had never seen so many salmon, and they had 3,700 Spring Run Chinook, and 42,160 Fall Run Chinook come through the hatchery this year.
The maximum number of salmon that can actually have eggs taken and processed is about 8,000 total. As a result, some 30,000 pounds of salmon filets were distributed to the public; about half going to local Native Americans and about half going to local food banks.
Steelhead season is still going on, but is also seeing a substantial increase from last year. Over 1,600 steelhead have been collected so far this year, compared to only 850 total for last year.
Kastner advised that about 120,000 juvenile Chinook salmon at the FRH have currently been earmarked for Lake Oroville. Due to scheduled shutdown of the FRH for maintenance this summer, the young Chinooks will likely be planted in May, instead of the usual November or December time frame. As such, the size at planting will be only 4 to 6 inches on average.
The commission also heard financial grant proposals for 2014, and will convene again on Feb. 11, to announce their final decisions.
The very popular steelhead planting project in the Thermalito Afterbay will get a big shot in the arm soon, reported Department of Water Resources biologist Julie Brown. Approximately 10,000 juvenile steelhead are ready and waiting in the Feather River Hatchery, and will be planted in the Afterbay sometime in mid-February.
The small steelies will average about 6 to 7 inches long, and will be marked to distinguish them from the steelhead in the river. Their growth rate is fast, and some may exceed 5 pounds within just two years. Brown reported no progress on a proposal to supplement or replace the steelhead planting with juvenile Chinook salmon, due to the annual uncertainty of the Feather River Hatchery having enough excess steelhead eggs for the Afterbay project.
The Bugle Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation will hold its annual fundraising banquet at 5 p.m. on Feb. 23, at the Chico Masonic Center, 1110 W. East Avenue in Chico. Tickets are $75 single, $110 couple, $35 youth. Catering by Steelhead Catering.
A great assortment of raffle and auction items will be available, including wildlife-themed art, equipment, hunting trips, and collector-quality guns like the Browning White Gold Medallion A-bolt rifle. All new RMEF memberships or renewals who attend the banquet will also receive a Buck Paklite Caper Knife. For tickets or more information, call 345-7624.
Highest average scores of the week at the refuges were as follows: Colusa — 1.0 birds per hunter average (12 geese), top species gadwall; Delevan — 3.82 (83 geese), greenwing teal; Gray Lodge — 2.63 (87 geese), greenwing teal; Howard Slough — 3.45 (4 geese), greenwing teal; Little Dry Creek — 3.56 (34 geese), mallard; Llano Seco — 3.0 (17 geese), widgeon; Sacramento — 3.24 (163 geese), gadwall.
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