Our Wacky CDFW In Action: License Sales Press Release Issued, Then Retracted

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Leave it to our wild and wacky California Department of Fish and Wildlife to be always “on top” of what’s going on in the Department.

At 5:54 pm on Friday, December 2, I received an email, with two conflicting press releases. The first, posted on their website at 10:45 am, said the CDFW license sales counters will be closed on December 5.

The second release, posted on their website at 3:45 pm, retracted the earlier news release, stating that the counters would be actually open that day.

The first press release, https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/cdfw-license-sales-counters-will-be-closed-dec-5/, stated:

CDFW License Sales Counters will be Closed Dec. 5

DECEMBER 2, 2016
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is notifying the public that department license sales offices will be closed Monday, Dec. 5.

Due to staffing uncertainties, all CDFW hunting and fishing license sales counters will be closed for the day. Sales counters will re-open during regular business hours on Tuesday, Dec. 6.

Sport fishing and hunting licenses will continue to be available from more than 1,400 license sales agents statewide and online. Commercial fishing license renewals will be available online, or at select license agents. CDFW customers can find their nearest license agent by using this online tool.

Media Contact: Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

The second release, https://cdfgnews.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/cdfw-license-sales-offices-will-be-open-monday/, stated:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is retracting an earlier news release notifying the public of department license sales office closures on Monday, Dec. 5. All CDFW license sales counters will be open during regular business hours that day. ###

Media Contact: Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

After receiving the email, I called Clark Blanchard to find out what was going on. Of course, he didn’t answer the phone, apparently having left for the day. I left a message on his phone, but of course, haven’t heard back from him.

This is apparently standard “communications” procedure at the CDFW under the leadership of Director Chuck Bonham: issue a press release after 5:00 pm on a Friday – and then have nobody there available to answer any questions from reporters about the release.

The apparent reason for the press release was because SEIU 1000, a union for many state employees, was planning to stage a strike on Monday over a dispute over contract negotiations. However, there was no information in the press release indicating the reason for “staffing uncertainties.”

The LA Times did report in a tweet Friday afternoon: “California’s largest state worker union cancels its Monday strike in Sacramento.” That is apparently the reason for the CDFW issuing the second press release.

When will the CDFW leadership ever consult with experienced outdoor writers and environmental journalists about how to better communicate with the public – and maybe even how to write a good, informative press release?

The confidence In the Department of Fish and Wildlife by anglers, hunters and the general public is at all-time low. Much of this is due to the poor manner in which the agency communicates with the public.