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Wildlife Photo Tips And CDFW Career Options
California Outdoors 10-4-23

Wildlife Photography

Q: What are the basic tips for producing good quality wildlife photos, even if I’m just using my phone?

A: First, remember that great wildlife photography is generally the result of long hours spent waiting for the perfect moment and using expensive equipment. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get your own great results with less expensive gear. Here are some tips from veteran CDFW Photographer Travis VanZant.

Try to use a zoom lens, which allows for closeup images while maintaining a safe distance. Some phones are equipped with an optical zoom as opposed to a digital zoom, so quality doesn’t suffer as the subject gets larger.

If possible, use a faster shutter speed so pictures are clear and not blurry.

Consider using your walking stick, a stump or even a rock as a monopod to help stabilize your camera for clearer images.

Proper lighting is a major element in good photography. Hopefully the wildlife is in a sunny area (though cloudy skies can produce great images too) and not backlit (sun is behind your subject, making it darker than the background).

Make sure you’re as calm and quiet as possible, so wildlife isn’t startled and on the move.

It is also important not to get too close to wildlife because California regulation prohibits the harassment of animals. California Code of Regulations, title 14, section 251.1 states “no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or nongame bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns…”

You may also consider using one of many wildlife photography blinds at select wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges around the state.

Finally, be patient. Great wildlife photography doesn’t happen on any schedule.


CDFW Careers

Q: Is CDFW one of the agencies represented at the downtown California Natural Resources Agency (CNRA) career center?

A: Yes, CDFW is one of several state agencies offering career assistance at the new CNRA Career Center. The office is located at 715 P Street in downtown Sacramento in the California Poppy Pavilion. CNRA created the career center to make one-on-one aid available to people interested in jobs with CDFW, California State Parks, CalFire and other CNRA departments, since applying for and securing a position with the state of California can present challenges.

Drop-in assistance is available Tuesday and Thursday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The career center is within easy walking distance from nearby public transportation stations for people using Sacramento Regional Transit. Please note the center is staffed by a variety of CNRA department personnel and staffing is on a monthly rotation. But even if a CDFW representative isn’t on site the day of a visit, the career center guide will be able to assist with general CNRA career questions. CDFW’s employment page is also a great source of information on gaining work at the department.


Feeding Wildlife

Q: How does CDFW respond after getting reports of someone feeding wildlife?

A: The feeding of wildlife is highly discouraged by CDFW because handouts by well-meaning people can result in wildlife losing their natural fear of humans. Animals that feed on human sources of food may lose their ability to forage naturally. Potential negative results in wildlife include increased aggression toward humans, unnatural increases in population and increased death rates from the spread of diseases.

There are multiple legal consequences to feeding wildlife including the violation of California Code of Regulations section 251.3 which states “no person shall knowingly feed big game mammals, as defined in Section 350 of these regulations.”

Reports of suspected feeding can be left with CDFW regional offices around the state and that information will be forwarded to the Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program. One of CDFW’s conflict specialists is likely to follow up with the reporting party to learn more about the activity. A community visit might also be scheduled to further educate the public about the potential harm done to wildlife by feeding. If the behavior continues, a team of CDFW volunteers could be used to go door-to-door to discuss the issue with residents and distribute anti-feeding literature.

Please visit for additional information on the reasons to avoid feeding wildlife.


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