Fish and Game upheaval reveals shift in California wildlife policy

http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Upheaval-at-Fish-and-Game-highlights-shift-in-6759859.php?t=94e724585b&cmpid=fb-premium
By Peter Fimrite |
January 15, 2016 | Updated: January 15, 2016 4:34pm

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan McCoy checks the shotguns of hunters during daily patrols on the California Delta near Brentwood, Calif. on Sat. January 9, 2016, Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
Photo: Michael Macor, The Chronicle
California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Ryan McCoy checks the shotguns of hunters during daily patrols on the California Delta near Brentwood, Calif. on Sat. January 9, 2016,

The sudden resignation of the most adamant defender of hunting and fishing on the California Fish and Game Commission could put the finishing touches on a sweeping philosophical shift in the way the state views wildlife, sets rules for fishing and controls predators like mountain lions and wolves.

Chaos at Fish & Game

Photo taken Sept. 30, 2015 shows one of the offspring of ex-California wolf OR-7. The photo was taken in the Southern Oregon Cascade Mountains.
Wolf conservation plan drawn up for California

In this photo taken Thursday, Nov. 12, 2015, crab pots fill a large section of a parking lot at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, Calif. California has delayed the Nov. 15 start of its commercial crab season after finding dangerous levels of a toxin in crabs. Officials in Oregon and Washington are testing crab samples and will decide soon whether to open its coastal season by Dec. 1 as planned. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Sour talk as lawmakers, crabbers meet over Dungeness shutdown

A bobcat with a severe case of ringworm is being rehabilitated at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue Monday August 10, 2015 in Petaluma, Calif. California wildlife advocates like the staff at Sonoma County Wildlife Rescue are celebrating the ban on bobcat trapping and are now setting their sights on protecting other species like foxes and coyotes.
Wildlife advocates expand target after bobcat ban

Commissioner Jim Kellogg retired in late December in frustration over what he termed a lack of consideration for the sportsmen and women he represents. The resignation — combined with the unrelated recent departures of commission President Jack Baylis and Sonke Mastrup, the commission’s executive director — sets the stage for Gov. Jerry Brown to appoint conservationists to the increasingly pivotal state board.

Such a move may, observers say, complete the transformation of the commission from an organization that advocates for fishing and hunting to one that safeguards endangered species, preserves habitat and protects California’s top predators from slaughter.

But it won’t happen without a fight. While environmentalists say they are finally getting a fair shake in the high-stakes political game of wildlife management, advocates for outdoor sports fear they have lost their voice and that the role they have played in the protection of species is being forgotten.

The five-member commission, whose job is to recommend policies to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, has been wading through divisive issues that could profoundly impact the future of the state, including what to do about diminishing salmon populations, sick sea lions and disappearing sea otters.

http://www.sfchronicle.com/science/article/Upheaval-at-Fish-and-Game-highlights-shift-in-6759859.php?t=94e724585b&cmpid=fb-premium

December auto sales soar 9% in record year

[It seems some folks aren’t getting the message about climate change…]

by Nattan Bomey and , USA TODAY 7:08 p.m. EST January 5, 2016

Automakers posted a solid 9% sales gain in December, an exclamation point that sealed 2015 as the biggest sales year ever for the industry, they reported Tuesday.

All told, automakers sold 17.47 million new vehicles for the year, Autodata reported, besting the previous record set in 2000 by 68,138 vehicles. Low gas prices, cheap credit, low unemployment, soaring consumer confidence and warm weather fueled a rush into showrooms in December.

“The U.S. economy continues to expand, and the most important factors that drive demand for new vehicles are in place, so we expect to see a second consecutive year of record industry sales in 2016,” said Mustafa Mohatarem, GM’s chief economist, in a statement.

Meanwhile…

Porter Ranch Methane Leak Spreads Across LA’s San Fernando Valley

http://ecowatch.com/2016/01/15/porter-ranch-methane-leak-spreads/

It now looks like the catastrophic Porter Ranch gas leak, which has spewed more than 83,000 metric tons of noxious methane for nearly three months, has spread across Los Angeles’s San Fernando Valley.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander called on the Southern California Gas Co. to extend residential relocation assistance to residents in Granada Hills, Chatsworth and Northridge who live near the Aliso Canyon gas leak above Porter Ranch. These residents reported symptoms related to the exposure of natural gas such as nausea, vomiting, headaches and respiratory problems.

porterranchgasleakmap
The researchers have developed the Valley’s first comprehensive map of methane exposure. Photo credit: HEET

More: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2016/01/05/auto-sales-2015/78302038/

 

 

 

Rat poison killed the mountain lion known as P-34

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/we-killed-the-mountain-lion-known-as-p-34-and-rat-poison-was-the-weapon/ar-CCfxJN?ocid=spartandhp

Martha Groves4 hrs ago

Encounters between rats and mountain lions generally have predictable outcomes. The prey dies so that the predator can live.

But as civilization continues to push into landscapes once populated mainly by non-human species, the balance has shifted. People use highly toxic poisons to kill rats, then the low-on-the-food chain rodents take the apex-predator big cats down with them.

On Tuesday, this upending of the natural order gave Southern California activists another poster animal for their movement, as the National Park Service confirmed that the once-photogenic mountain lion known as P-34 died of exposure to rat poisons.

A necropsy of the puma, whose carcass had been found by a trail runner in Point Mugu State Park on Sept. 30, validated the initial suspicions of biologists who found blood running freely inside the dead female.

Rat poisons, or rodenticides, are designed to kill rodents by thinning their blood and preventing clotting. They lead to uncontrollable bleeding.

In addition to proving deadly for their intended targets, these poisons can wreak havoc as they work their way up the food chain. A mountain lion might devour a ground squirrel that consumed the bait or an animal such as a coyote that had eaten another animal that had the bait in its system.

“This is the latest indication that local wildlife continues to be exposed to these rodent poisons,” said Seth Riley, a wildlife ecologist who has led a long-term study of mountain lions in the park service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area.

Scientists said Tuesday that evidence was mounting that California’s July 2014 ban on retail sales of certain highly toxic rat poisons – called second-generation anticoagulant rodenticides – has not produced the far-reaching benefits that researchers had hoped.

“I thought there would be more improvement than I’m actually seeing,” said Stella McMillin, senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. “We’re still seeing non-target exposure at pretty high levels.”

Although consumers may no longer buy these “super toxins” off the shelf, farmers and licensed pest-control companies regularly use them. Bait boxes have become ubiquitous accessories outside restaurants, hotels and grocery stores.

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Moreover, other rat poisons that consumers are still allowed to use are increasingly showing up in wildlife, said Jonathan Evans, environmental health legal director with the Center for Biological Diversity, a nonprofit advocacy group in Oakland.

Wildlife deaths continue to demonstrate the “need to ban these products from the market,” he said. He and other activists have met with the California Department of Pesticide Regulation to point out loopholes in the ban.

“We continue to call on state regulators to ban these poisons to protect California’s most iconic and imperiled wildlife,” Evans said. Consumers and businesses, he added, must consider using other rodent-control methods that “do not involve killing predators that are part of the solution.”

P-34, who was not quite 2 years old, showed evidence of exposure to five compounds, “an impressive number,” Riley said.

Last December, P-34 made news when she was discovered lounging under a trailer in a Newbury Park mobile home community. A resident photographed the lion ambling along the top of a wall in her backyard.

P-34’s was the first puma death conclusively linked to rat poisons since 2004, when scientists confirmed that two siblings died because of exposure to the toxic chemicals. Those lions, P-3 and P-4, spent most of their time in the Simi Hills, north of the 101 Freeway.

In 2012, a hiker in Point Mugu State Park found the carcass of a female lion known as P-25. The cause of death was never determined, but toxicity from rat poisons was strongly suspected, given that she showed no sign of disease or having fought with another lion.

P-34’s sibling, the male P-32, was struck and killed by a motorist in August while attempting to cross Interstate 5 near Castaic.

P-32, who was about 21 months old, was the only male mountain lion known to have dispersed out of the Santa Monica Mountains and wander north into other habitat areas. He had managed to cross the 101 Freeway, State Route 23, Highway 118 and Highway 126.

Park service researchers have documented the presence of rodenticide compounds in 12 of 13 mountain lions they have tested, including a 3-month-old kitten.

Scores of bobcats, coyotes and other animals are known to have died from internal bleeding likely caused by the toxins.

In 2014, P-22, the Griffith Park mountain lion, famously developed a case of mange that biologists said was probably caused by exposure to rat poisons. A park service biologist applied a topical treatment and injected Vitamin K to offset the effects. Recent images of P-22 indicate that he remains mange-free.

World’s Largest Wildlife Corridor to Be Built in California

James William Gibson, Earth Island Journal | September 27, 2015

Earlier this month an obscure Los Angeles area regional public lands agency—the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority—announced the first stages of a five-year plan to build one of the largest wildlife corridors in the world. The goal is to create a natural looking bridge that will allow a small cougar population in the Santa Monica Mountain National Recreation Area the chance to escape north into much larger public lands, while at the same time allowing northern mountain lions the chance to move south and help out the badly inbred and lethally infighting Santa Monica cougars.

Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area
Although a young female from the Santa Monica Mountains, P33, did successfully cross Highway 101 in March this year, her escape north is a rare event. Photo credit: Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

The proposed bridge will leap over Highway 101, an eight-lane, east-west freeway in LA’s northern suburbs that sees 175,000 car trips a day. The bridge will be built at Liberty Canyon in the suburb of Agoura and when completed will be 200 feet-long and 165 feet-wide. It will be landscaped to blend in with the brushy hills and sound walls along the edge of the bridge will “mitigate traffic noise and block light in order to make the crossing more conducive to wildlife,” says the project study report. The bridge will extend beyond the 101, reaching over an access road south of the highway, necessitating the construction of a tunnel. Estimated cost of the entire project: about $57 million.

Despite the report’s dull bureaucratic language—mountain lion sex is blandly described as “the exchange of genetic material”—at its heart the proposed Liberty Canyon wildlife corridor represents an astonishing effort to reverse decades of suburban sprawl and fragmentation of the region’s surviving open spaces.

The campaign’s iconic poster boy is the famous “Hollywood lion,” also known by its wildlife ID number, “P22.” In 2012, P22 crossed two major freeways and migrated roughly 40 miles from the Santa Monica Mountains along the coast to Los Angeles’s 4300-acre Griffith Park on the city’s eastside. There he took up residence, feeding on the park’s mule deer and soon became a national celebrity of sorts.

More: http://ecowatch.com/2015/09/27/worlds-largest-wildlife-corridor-california/

Let’s Clean Up Our Language…Cigarettes come in packs, wolves come in families!

by Oliver Starr

Like all of you, I was overjoyed to hear the extraordinary news that a new wolf family has made California their home. For the first time in nearly 100 years the howls of WILD WOLF PUPPIES are gracing the slopes of Mt Shasta! How fitting that such a picturesque location would host such an important guest.

But my joy quickly turned to dismay when I saw that once again, as a community, we are making a mistake in our collective use of language and this mistake is harming wolves.

People that know wolves are well aware that groups of wolves are families — not “gangs of associated animals”. The term “pack” as defined by Webster’s provides many meanings for the word; most of them negative, none of them having anything in common with the reality of wolves: http://www.dict.org/bin/Dict…*

When we use the term “pack” to refer to wolf families, we “de-humanize” the species and we diminish what they are. The use of the term “pack” when applied to wolves is not only biologically inaccurate, it plays into the hands of those that hate them. It’s one thing for “Wildlife Services” to say, they’re eliminating the Wedge Pack, then if they told the truth and said they were going in to kill the Wedge Family of Wolves.

Even as I write this, I am watching tweets appear announcing the “Shasta Pack” in Northern California, I’ve received at least half a dozen emails from NGO’s and seen more news items than I can count announcing the same thing.

But imagine the even more positive nature of this news if the headlines read like this instead:

“California Welcomes Shasta Wolf Family as Species Gains Ground in West”

“CDFW Reports New Wolf Family Confirmed Via Camera Trap: Meet The “Shasta’s”

“Shasta Family: newest wolves to grace the Siskiyou…”

It’s a small change in language but one that gives a vastly different impression. It’s also a distinction that’s factually true. We can help the wolf by taking control of this language and consistently bringing this point home.

I know there are many others among you that share this conviction, one I owe to the late Gordon Haber. So for Gordon and for the wolves, let’s take back the dialog and welcome all wolf families, but most especially the Shasta Wolf Family, home.

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First Wolf Pack in Decades Spotted in Northern California

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/wolf-pack-decades-spotted-northern-california-33212137

California Wolf Pack

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California has its first wolf pack since the state’s gray wolf population went extinct in 1924.

State and federal authorities announced Thursday that a remote camera captured photos earlier this month of two adults and five pups in southeastern Siskiyou County.

They were named the Shasta pack for nearby Mount Shasta.

The pack was discovered four years after the famous Oregon wandering wolf OR-7 first reached Northern California.

Karen Kovacs of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife said it was an amazing accomplishment for gray wolves to establish themselves in Northern California just 21 years after wolves were reintroduced in the Northern Rockies.

Those wolves eventually migrated into Oregon and Washington before reaching California, where they are protected by federal and state endangered species acts.

Just where these wolves, all black in color, came from will have to wait for DNA testing on scat at an Idaho lab, but it is likely they are a continuation of the increasing numbers of wolves migrating from Oregon’s northeastern corner to the southern Cascade Range, Kovacs said.

Though the wolves have been spotted by local ranchers tending their herds, there have been no reports of wolf attacks on livestock, Kovacs said.

Kirk Wilbur, government affairs director for the California Stockmens Association, said ranchers remain worried about the potential for losing animals to wolves as their numbers increase.

Amaroq Weiss, of the conservation group with Center for Biological Diversity, said she was more worried the wolves could fall victim to hunters as hunting season gets underway.

Anticipating that wolves would migrate into the state, California declared them an endangered species last year, but the state Fish and Wildlife Department does not expect to have a management plan in force until the end of this year, Kovacs said.

The department has no goals for how many wolves might eventually live in California and no idea how many once lived in the state, she added. California’s last known native wolf was killed in 1924 in neighboring Lassen County.

There are at least 5,500 gray wolves in the contiguous 48 states, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Ban the Trap

Action Alerts – Need Your Help Today

 

July 25, 2015

 
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Dear (Contact First Name),

 

Social Compassion in Legislation has launched a “Ban The Trap” billboard and social media campaign in support of an upcoming vote by the California Fish & Game Commission.  The vote is on August 5, 2015 and would prohibit bobcat trapping state-wide. And yes, it IS still legal to trap bobcats for their fur in California, most people do not realize that this is the case.

 

Here are some of the facts:

  • Trappers setup their traps on private property.
  • Trappers stalk the Internet for people posting where bobcats were seen.
  • Trappers get $600-$1000 for their pelts.
  • California has not counted their bobcat population since 1970!
  • Trappers take an estimate of over 14,000 bobcats per year, but really no one knows how many.
  • California bobcats, once trapped, are shot in the head and skinned for their fur which is then sold and sent to China, Russia and Europe, where demand has sadly increased.

When SCIL was alerted that this lifesaving vote was pending, we wanted to make sure your voice can be heard! We hope you will take action.  We do not want to miss this opportunity to make history for our native bobcats. They are Californians too, and are desperately counting on your support.  Please take action TODAY!

Please help bobcats by contacting the Fish & Game Commission before Tuesday, August 4th:

Email  fgc@fgc.ca.gov  Call (916) 653-4899 Fax (916) 653-5040

 

Twitter:  @CaliforniaDFW @JerryBrownGov #BanTheTrap

Please tell them you Support Option #2 “Complete Ban” on bobcat trapping.  Let’s end this barbaric practice in our state.

 

*** If you are a member of the press, we will be holding a press conference Monday morning – July 27th.  We will have a special guest and new information.  Please consider covering our press event, and contact me for more information.  We will send out a press release Monday afternoon with our news.

Here is a link to the Proposed Regulations.
http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/2015/478ntc.pdf 

 

Billboard
We would like to thank our donors and billboard participants:  Diane Warren, Gloria Butler, Dr. Jenn Mann, Alexandra Paul, Matt Raimo, board members: Katie Cleary & Simone Reyes. Also, we want to thank Michael Roud for donating his time and his talented photography services.

  

Billboard location sites are:

Los Angeles -Santa Monica Blvd. and Kelton facing west.

Sacramento -5 Freeway south Richards Blvd.

URGENT: Help Ban Bobcat Trapping in CA & Set a National Precedent!‏

ban-bobcat-trapping-banner
  TrishCarney-Bobcat-VR 2

In less than a month the California Fish and Game Commission will vote whether to make California the first state in the nation to ban bobcat trapping.

Together we can do this- but we need your help! With a few simple actions you can help end this needless killing.

As Governor Brown recently appointed two new Commissioners (Eric Sklar and Anthony Williams who replaced Michael Sutton and Richard Rogers), it is all the more important that these Commissioners hear from you on this issue- and from your friends, family and colleagues. They need to know how many Californians and visitors to California care about wildlife and don’t want to see bobcats trapped for fur.

In 2013, California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Bobcat Protection Act (AB 1213) into law. Originally intended to ban bobcat trapping statewide, the legislation was then amended and weakened by the pro-trapping industry. Now the Commission is developing rules to implement this Act and thanks to former Commissioner Richard Rogers, the Commission is considering a complete ban on commercial/recreational trapping of bobcats (“Option 2”).

Please join Project Coyote in supporting Commissioner Rogers’ enlightened and compassionate proposal. We have a unique opportunity to protect California’s bobcats from the insatiable international fur market where individual bobcat pelts can sell for more than $1,000 per pelt.

What you can do:

1- Write to the California Fish & Game Commission and express your support for Option 2 which would end the commercial and recreational trapping of bobcats in California (see talking points below):

Contact:
California Fish and Game Commission
P.O. Box 944209
Sacramento, CA 94244-2090
fgc@fgc.ca.gov

Be sure to include your full contact information in your letter and please cc Project Coyote at info@projectcoyote.org as we are tracking letters submitted to the Commission.

You don’t have to be a California resident to comment. If you reside outside of California, please mention your interest in seeing live bobcats in the wild as a tourist and your willingness to spend money doing so.

2- Join Project Coyote and allies and testify at the upcoming Fish and Game Commission August 5th meeting where this issue will be voted on.

What: California Fish and Game Commission meeting
When: Wednesday, August 5th (agenda to be posted here)
Where: River Lodge Conference Center, 1800 Riverwalk Drive, Fortuna, CA 95540

3- Sign our petition calling on the California Fish & Game Commission to ban the commercial and recreational trapping of bobcats in California.

Join more than 10,000 people who have signed this petition already.

4- CA Residents: Help keep this issue in the public eye by submitting Letters to the Editor to your local paper(s). Use the talking points below and our tips and tools for writing LTE’s.

TALKING POINTS (Please personalize your letter!):

*Express your support for Option 2- the “no bobcat trapping” option.

*The proposed regulatory rules to implement the Bobcat Protection Act would be both complicated and expensive to enforce. A simple ban on bobcat trapping will save the Department money and resources instead of creating a morass of complicated regulations and causing confusion for law enforcement, sportsmen and the public.

*Trapping bobcats is ethically indefensible, ecologically unsound, and economically unjustifiable.

*Trapping bobcats is cruel and unnecessary. Trapped bobcats are generally clubbed and/or suffocated to death (bullets damage the pelt).

*Bobcats are an important native species to California. We should not allow the trapping of our bobcats to feed the growing international fur markets in Asia and Russia where one bobcat pelt can sell upwards of $1,000.

*Fewer than 100 Californians trap bobcats for the fur trade. As stewards and trustees of California’s wildlife, the Commission should not cater to this tiny minority of people who enjoy killing bobcats for fun and profit.

*The value of one live bobcat to the millions who enjoy wildlife watching far outweighs the value of one dead bobcat to one fur trapper.

*As the Commission continues to work toward modernizing predator management statewide, banning commercial and recreational bobcat trapping is a step in this direction.

Thank you for speaking up for wildlife! Watch our video here and be inspired by the voices of youth calling for a ban on bobcat trapping! 

PLEASE SHARE THIS ALERT WITH OTHERS!

Scientists Warn of Mass Ocean Die-Offs

TV: Scientists warning of mass die-off along California coast — Official: Seafloor littered with dead fish, washing up “as far as I could see” — Toxin has spread all up and down West Coast — Experts: “Very, very unusual… Really extraordinary” (VIDEO)

Published: June 2nd, 2015 at 11:59 pm ET
By

KSBW, May 29, 2015 (emphasis added): Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: Mass die-off could happen – “We are beginning with continuing coverage of that algae bloom in the Monterey Bay. Scientists say they’re seeing the highest levels of red tide in more than a decade, and they’re worried it will have grave impacts on marine life… [It] spreads all up and down the West Coast. Researchers in Santa Cruz have already recorded a mass die-off of anchovies and they expected more species could follow.”

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Scientists with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are predicting a mass die-off on the Central Coast… Up and down the West Coast, a large algal bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia is growing rapidly.

Chris Scholin, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI), May 28, 2015: Very Toxic Algal Bloom in Monterey Bay — I wanted to let you know we have been following a very big bloom of Pseudo-nitzschia over the past couple of weeks here in the bay, and the amount of associated domoic acid is really extraordinary… Yesterday I noticed anchovies washing up on the beach in front of MBARI as far as I could see. There’s also lines of fish scales (anchovy?) marking the high tide line… One of the staff went snorkeling off the beach here, and saw the seafloor littered with anchovies… keep an eye out for seizuring sealions, sick birds, maybe sick otters… We think this is a very large event… Don’t eat shellfish or forage fish from MB — very nasty right now!!!

KSBW, May 29, 2015: “New tonight… researchers say a large algae bloom has taken over the Monterey Bay“… Jim Birch, MBARI: “We’re seeing these really high domoic acid levels in both locations, which is very, very unusual“… “Scientists with MBARI say the toxins from the algae bloom are going to have a chain reaction on marine animals, and they’ve already seen more dead seabirds on Central Coast beaches… It has started to really grow in the last few days.

KSBW, May 29, 2015: Raphael Kudela, a researcher at [UCSC] said the bloom… is being found from Washington to Santa Barbara… reports of dead seabirds are already coming in.

Monterey Herald, May 28, 2015: A mysterious neurotoxin… returned with a vengeance… “This is an unusual one,” said Raphael Kudela… “We haven’t seen a bloom this big in 15 years.”… why the toxin periodically blooms in Monterey Bay is still a marine mystery… scientists are getting closer to pinning down the reason for the blooms, with human impacts among the range of possibilities… Domoic acid is also suspected in a recent spate of bird deaths.

UC Santa Cruz, June 2, 2015: The toxin was first detected in early May, and by the end of the month researchers had detected some of the highest concentrations of domoic acid ever observed in Monterey Bay. “It’s a pretty massive bloom. The domoic acid levels are extremely high right now… the event is occurring as far north as Washington state. So it appears this will be one of the most toxic and spatially largest events we’ve had in at least a decade,” said Raphael Kudela, [UCSC] professor of ocean sciences.

MBARI, Jun 1, 2015: Researchers measured some of the highest concentrations of harmful algae and their toxin ever observed in Monterey Bay… During a normal [bloom] 1,000 nanograms per liter would be considered high… [It’s] reached 10 to 30 times this level. On May 27, 2015, very high levels… were found in dead anchovies… The researchers do not know if the anchovies died because of domoic acid poisoning.

Watch: KSBW’s broadcast | San Diego 6 News broadcast