Wednesday, 24 April 2024

California Outdoors: Eastern Sierra Trout Opener, wild turkey taste and texture, wildlife rehabilitation facilities

The 2022 Trout Opener in Mono County. Courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Is this year’s trout opener in the eastern Sierra Nevada likely to be impacted by weather?

Q: Is this year’s trout opener in the eastern Sierra Nevada likely to be impacted by weather, like it was last year?

A: CDFW is not expecting the same weather conditions that made the 2023 opener virtually impossible to experience. A year ago, it was a record snowpack that made many lakes and streams inaccessible.

Though the Sierra Nevada mountains still received plenty of snow in 2024, the snow isn’t nearly as dense, and temperatures in the valley have been warmer. Crowley Lake, which is known for excellent trout fishing at nearly 7,000 feet, never completely froze in 2024. That milder weather also allowed CDFW to reach and stock almost all our usual stocking locations this year.

By the way, the trout opener is always the last Saturday in April, which this year is April 27.

Wild turkey taste and texture

Q: How different is the taste and texture of wild turkey compared to store-bought turkey?

A: This is an excellent time to explore this question, with the popular spring wild turkey hunts about to begin. One recent national survey showed wild turkey as the third most popular wild game species, following deer and other small game.

It’s probably not surprising to learn that the taste and texture of a wild turkey compared to a domestic (store-bought) turkey is quite different. That’s due to wild turkeys having more developed muscles than turkeys raised on a farm where physical activity is limited. A wild turkey also has less fat and will end up drier after cooking. It’s important to prepare the wild turkey properly and understand when the cooking is finished.

Dan Skalos isn’t just a 10-year employee at CDFW who currently oversees the department’s upland game and waterfowl programs, which include turkey, he’s a serious cooking hobbyist who is happy to share his best tips for successful wild turkey preparation.

Because wild turkey can be tougher at the time of consumption, a good brine is necessary according to Skalos. Brine is a mixture of water and salt, which helps with flavoring and increasing moisture. Skalos suggests a brine treatment of at least two days, and a basic mixture that includes one gallon of water and a cup of salt.

But his preferred recipe involves far more ingredients like brown sugar, vegetable stock and candied ginger just to name a few items. After all that, his final tip involves time and temperature. Because an overcooked wild turkey can become too dry if it reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit, Skalos said it’s important to have a meat thermometer in use, and to make sure the bird is removed from the oven promptly when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

For wild turkey and other wild game recipes visit California’s Wild Kitchen.

Wildlife rehabilitation facilities

Q: What role do wildlife rehabilitation facilities play in bringing care to injured animals?

A: Wildlife rehabilitation facilities serve an incredibly valuable role in the care of wildlife that are sick, injured or orphaned. Between 100 and 125 thousand animals are treated annually at facilities that are licensed by CDFW. There are more than 80 permitted facilities, and roughly 500 satellite facilities that are permitted under the primary permittee. Satellite facilities assist with neonate (less than four weeks of age) care for round the clock feeding or preparing an animal for release.

Birds are the most common form of wildlife to be seen by rehabbers in California, followed by mammals, and then reptiles and amphibians.

Rehabilitation facilities are a great help to CDFW when it comes to learning about disease outbreaks. They might see a large number of sick animals from a particular area, which can alert CDFW to a possible disease outbreak.

The CDFW website contains a county-by-county list of these wildlife rehabilitation facilities that includes information on which species they’re able to accept. If you come across a sick or injured animal do not drop it off at one of the locations, without notifying an employee and given directions on what to do.

It can be costly operating a wildlife rehabilitation facility. For a single large bear, food alone can reach costs of over $1,000 a month.

Information on how to make tax deductible donations is available at CDFW tax donation.

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