The drought is not expected to affect operations at most state and federal public waterfowl hunting areas when the season begins Saturday.
Department of Fish and Game personnel have been busy evaluating migrating bird populations at the following hunting areas:
--The DFG-operated Wister Unit in the Imperial Valley, which, according to Manager Chris Gonzales, has about 10,000 birds. The duck population consists primarily of pintails, with good numbers of gadwall and green-winged teal as well. Some mallards and cinnamon teal have also arrived.
--The Kern National Wildlife Refuge near Delano, according to Manager Tom Charmley, has had trouble acquiring the necessary water to flood the area in time for the opener. However, Charmley expects the water problems to be resolved soon and says that additional water acquisitions will boost the hunter capacity to 100 before long. Present hunter capacity at the refuge is 71.
--At Fresno County's Mendota area, according to DFG wildlife habitat supervisor Dave Richter, all of the 7,600 wetland acres will be flooded in time for the opener.
Richter estimated the bird population, primarily pintails and green-winged teal, to be about 30,000.
--Of the three public hunt locations in western Riverside and San Bernardino counties, Perris Lake should be the most productive, according to wildlife biologist Tom Paulek.
"I expect a good hunt this year, at least comparable to last year," he said.
Last season, hunters averaged two birds apiece. Of the 450 downed ducks, most were green-winged teal and mallards.
Hunter access at the Department of Parks and Recreation-run area is first-come, first-served. Perris is open for hunting on Sundays and Wednesdays only. Hand-launchable boats with motors are required.
Paulek also noted that Baldwin Lake, a popular waterfowl hunting location in the San Bernardino Mountains, is extremely dry and advised hunters not to waste their time there.
The season for upland game will also open Saturday and wildlife biologists said surveys indicate good numbers of quail, chukar and rabbits in most desert areas.
In the wake of the recent trout kill on the East Walker River in Bridgeport, the Department of Fish and Game plans to change its tactics in protecting California's fish and wildlife.
Bob Rawstron, inland fisheries chief for the DFG, told Western Outdoor News that the department, in a major policy shift, will start taking matters to court, rather than compromising and maintaining a low-key profile.
"When (Director Pete Bontadelli) heard about the East Walker River, he said, 'Let's sue the . . .,' " Rawstron was quoted as saying. " . . . We're going to come back hard."
Rawstron said that several lawsuits on such issues as water diversion and flow, erroneously reported oil spills and construction-related destruction of fish habitat, will probably be filed soon.
A public hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Porterville to decide whether to remove game fish from nearby Lake Success and introduce chemicals to kill non-game fish that compete with game fish for food and habitat. George Nokes, DFG Regional Director in Fresno, said that because the drought has caused the sport fishery to decline, "this looks like an opportune time to improve the fishery." . . . Olympian Dan Carlisle of Corona easily won the Sporting Clays West Coast championship at Raahauge's shooting facility in Norco by breaking 174 of a possible 200 clay birds.