Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) would like to remind hunters that California’s waterfowl hunting seasons are just weeks away. Opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.
In most years, good public hunting access can be found on over two dozen national wildlife refuges and state wildlife areas. This year, the ongoing drought is affecting waterfowl habitat on these areas. The amount of water available to wildlife areas and refuges varies. Some areas will have significantly reduced amounts of water available for habitat management, while others will have normal to near-normal water conditions. Therefore, some wildlife areas and refuges may be closed, may open later in the season or may have a reduced hunter quota.
CDFW is making every effort to only offer reservation applications to areas that will be open for hunting. However, last minute closures may occur due to uncertain water availability and refunds cannot be issued for applications submitted to areas that close due to lack of water. Waterfowl hunters should stay up-to-date on reservation and quota numbers, which are expected to fluctuate frequently by checking online. Hunters can also check the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.
In an ongoing effort to expand public access, CDFW recently announced waterfowl hunting opportunities through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Program at the Merced Wildlife Management Area in Merced County. The SHARE program has partnered with California Waterfowl to offer additional hunting opportunities, including the recently acquired Goose Lake Wildlife Management Area located approximately eight miles south of Kern National Wildlife Refuge. For a full description of the hunts offered and step-by-step instructions on how to apply, please visit California Waterfowl online.
A valid California hunting license, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition to these items, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.
California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement.
Whether you’re hunting geese in the Klamath Basin, calling ducks somewhere in the vast wetlands of the Sacramento Valley or experiencing the large snow goose flights of the Wister Wildlife Area in Southern California, CDFW encourages hunters to get out and enjoy our state’s unmatched waterfowl hunting opportunities. Be safe and have fun.