Waterfowl hunting in California, jeopardized when the state Fish and Game Commission challenged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Sevice's right to phase out the use of lead shot nationwide, will open on schedule this weekend.
The commission lost its battle last week, when Federal Judge Raul Ramirez upheld the Fish and Wildlife Service's right to prohibit the use of lead shot. Hunting with steel shot only will be the rule in all or parts of 16 counties.
Biologists maintain that ducks and geese consume spent lead shot, then die of lead poisoning. Eagles and other predatory birds also have died of lead poisoning after eating afflicted waterfowl.
Hunting will start today along the Colorado River, and Saturday in northeastern California. It will begin Oct. 17 in Southern California, and Oct. 24 in those areas not previously opened.
The commission last year was forced to authorize a waterfowl season with steel shot only in the northeastern California counties of Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen and Shasta when the Fish and Wildlife Service threatened to close federal bird refuges in those counties to hunters.
The lead shot ban has been extended to a dozen more counties: Butte, Imperial, Yolo, Colusa, San Joaquin, Yuba, Contra Costa, Merced, Solano, Glenn, Sacramento and Sutter.
Duck and goose populations in Southern California appear to be comparable to last year, the DFG added.
The California Supreme Court ruled that the DFG can go ahead with its plan to kill white bass in southern San Joaquin Valley waterways.
Chief Justice Malcolm Lucas signed the order in Los Angeles, lifting a stay issued by the state's highest court last week. The order, without dissent, also said that the court refused to review the case.
"We're really pleased to be able to proceed here," said Peggy Blair, a DFG spokeswoman, adding that the department will begin the project some time next week.
DFG officials had sought to dissolve Tulare County's appeal, which delayed the beginning of the white bass kill plan last week.
The high court, in an unexpected move, had agreed Sept. 29 to delay the white bass project.
The state plans to spray at least 150 miles of waterways in Tulare Lake Basin to kill predatory white bass, which biologists contend are a major threat to the commercial fishery in San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
The spraying is expected to suffocate all fish in the waterways and yield a 200-cubic yard heap of dead fish. The lakes and waterways will be restocked with trout, largemouth bass and other species upon completion of the project.
United Anglers of California say that plans to dump 7 million cubic yards of dredge materials at the Alcatraz disposal site in San Francisco Bay will likely destroy what is left of sportfishing in the Bay.
A letter from the Corps of Engineers dated Sept. 23 notified the public that the environmental review process is near completion for the "Oakland Outer and Inner Harbors Deep-draft Navigation Improvements Project."
United Anglers claims that the current disposal activity already clouds the Bay's water to the point where striped bass, salmon, rockfish, halibut and anchovy no longer use the Bay, as they historically have.
A solution, they claim, would be to move all dredge disposal to a deep-water ocean site where it "won't affect sport and commercial fishing."
That has been ruled out by those involved in the project as too expensive.
The DFG advises that anglers fishing the remaining days of the general trout season in the eastern Sierra might discover a bonus--hatchery-raised trout that are larger than usual.
Bill Rowan, supervisor of the DFG hatcheries in the area, said that large numbers of rainbow trout remain on hand at the department's Hot Creek, Black Rock and Fish Springs hatcheries, and suitable local waters are being stocked each week with fish, some weighing as much as a pound.
Rowan said that if all the fish are not planted by the last week of trout season, which ends Oct. 31, the rest will be stocked in the three waters that are open year-round: Pleasant Valley Reservoir, the Owens River from Laws Bridge downstream to Steward Lane, and Diaz Lake, all in Inyo County.
Darwin Atkin of Porterville, winner of several awards associated with fly fishing and conservation, will present a film on fly fishing the North Fork of the Tule River after the 7:30 p.m. dinner meeting of the Sierra Pacific Flyfishers Oct. 15 at the Odyssey restaurant in Mission Hills. . . . Amigos de Bolsa Chica, a group dedicated to the preservation of California's coastal wetlands, will conduct five guided tours of the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve in Orange County, beginning Nov. 7. . . . Showtime: Southern California Sail and Power Boat Show, Oct. 23-Nov. 1, Long Beach Convention Center.