Knoxville Wildlife Area, Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, Putah Creek Wildlife Areas Remain Closed Due to LNU Lightning Complex Fires

view of hill with dry grass and oak tree

Knoxville and Cedar Roughs wildlife areas, both in Napa County, and Putah Creek Wildlife Area in Solano County, have been closed until further notice by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) due to the proximity of the Hennessy and LNU Lightning Complex fires.

To ensure public safety and to allow CDFW to fully evaluate the effects of the wildfire, the wildlife areas will be closed to all public uses including hunting and hiking.  The closure will remain in effect through the remainder of the year, which will include A Zone deer hunt season, dove hunt season and the fall wild turkey hunt season. 

When the wildlife areas are considered safe for public use, CDFW will issue a press release announcing their re-opening.

The updated list of CDFW land closures can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/closures.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

California’s First Dove Season Opener Approaches

The first of two opening days of California’s dove hunting season is fast approaching. This year’s season for mourning dove, white-winged dove, spotted dove and ringed turtle dove will run from Tuesday, Sept. 1 through Tuesday, Sept. 15 statewide, followed by a second hunt period, Saturday, Nov. 14 through Monday, Dec. 28.

Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit of 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared-dove is open year-round and there is no limit. A dove identification guide can be found on the CDFW website.

Please note that nonlead ammunition is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

Due to safeguards and limitations necessitated by COVID-19, CDFW asks all hunters to please respect physical distancing from other hunters and adhere to all site-specific rules and regulations. Before heading to a CDFW facility or public area, please check to see if any regulations or restrictions have been instituted to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

All of CDFW’s most popular and productive wildlife areas for dove hunting will be open to the public during the first half of the season. These areas include Upper Butte Basin, Gray Lodge, Yolo Bypass, North Grasslands, Los Banos and Imperial Valley wildlife areas, and Palo Verde Ecological Reserve. All of these areas have been planted with food crops to attract and hold doves. Maps are available at some check station locations. Entry procedures vary from area to area, so hunters are advised to call ahead in preparing for their hunt. Portions of Los Banos and North Grasslands wildlife areas are restricted to special permit holders until noon on Sept. 1, after which they open to public hunting the remainder of the season.

Mourning doves are denizens of dry environments, and are capable of exploiting many food types and sources. There have been a few isolated cases of avian trichomonas in mourning dove this year, so hunters are encouraged to report any birds that appear to have the disease.

While the final results of the 2020 statewide dove banding effort are not yet available, initial numbers indicate no shortage of mourning doves for the opener. Hunters who encounter a banded bird are asked to report it to the U.S. Geological Survey Bird Banding Lab (www.reportband.gov). Banded birds are part of important biological monitoring and reporting of bands completes the process.

Dove hunting is considered a great starting point for new hunters. There is very little equipment required and just about any place open for hunting will have mourning doves. Minimum requirements are a valid hunting license and upland game bird stamp (if the hunter is 18 or older), good footwear, a shotgun, shotgun shells and plenty of water. Hunters should be careful not to underestimate the amount of fluids needed, especially during the first half of the season.

Most successful dove hunters position themselves near a known flyway for doves. These sites can be near paths to and from roost sites, water, food sources or gravel. Doves are usually taken by pass shooting these flyways, but hunters may also be successful jump shooting. Dove movement is most frequent in the early mornings and late evenings when they are flying from and to their roost sites (this is when the majority of hunters go into the field). Late morning to early afternoon can be better for jump shooting. Hunters should scout out dove activity in the area a few times just prior to hunting.

Important laws and regulations to consider include the following:

  • Shoot time for doves is one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • All hunters — including junior hunting license holders — are required to carry their hunting license with them.
  • Hunters must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land.
  • Bag limits apply to each hunter and no one can take more than one legal limit.
  • It is illegal to shoot within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling.
  • It is illegal to shoot from or across a public roadway.
  • It is illegal to hunt within 200 yards of a wildlife watering place.

It is the responsibility of every hunter to know and follow all laws.

Safety is the most important part of any hunting adventure. Safety glasses are a simple way to protect the eyes and are available in many shades for hunting in all types of lighting situations.

The weather throughout the state on Sept. 1 is expected to be hot and dry. CDFW urges hunters to drink plenty of fluids, wear sun protection and have a plan in case of an accident.

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Media Contacts:
Megan Crane, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 373-8827
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, 916-804-1714

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

fish and game commission logoAt its August 19-20 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from this week’s meeting.

The Commission began a rulemaking process to extend the sunset date on the current recreational red abalone closure.

The Commission voted unanimously to notify the public of its intent to amend recreational take of crab regulations to provide additional whale and turtle protections in the trap fishery.

The Commission began a rulemaking process to amend regulations to allow, for a period of three years, both the unlimited recreational take of purple urchins at Caspar Cove in Mendocino County, and the unlimited recreational take of red and purple urchins at Tanker Reef in Monterey County.

The Commission determined that listing Pacific leatherback sea turtle as threatened or endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA) may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review of the species and the Commission will make a final decision at a future meeting. During the status review, the Pacific leatherback sea turtle is protected under CESA as a candidate species.

After presentations from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the petitioner, and comments from stakeholders and the public, the Commission continued to a future meeting the consideration and potential action on the petition to determine whether listing western Joshua tree under CESA may be warranted. While Commission members expressed support for moving forward with the listing process, the decision was continued to next month to allow time to develop options that could keep critical projects moving forward if the tree becomes a candidate species. Commissioner Russell Burns recused himself from this decision. The future meeting to consider whether listing is warranted will be announced through the Commission’s electronic mailing list.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva – was present.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. With the exception of the special meeting that will be scheduled in September (see western Joshua tree information above), the next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for October 14-15, 2020.

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Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

CDFW’s Franks Tract Plan Now Available for Public Review

aerial view of winding delta waters
Aerial view of Franks Tract

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released its draft report exploring options for achieving recreation, ecosystem, water quality and other community benefits at Franks Tract, a 3,000-acre flooded island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The public draft of the Franks Tract Futures Report, titled “Franks Tract Futures 2020 reimagined,” is now available for public review and can be accessed at franks-tract-futures-ucdavis.hub.arcgis.com.

Comments can be emailed to ucdfrankstract@gmail.com or submitted online. All comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

“For this report we worked with the local community to come up with concepts for restoration that address not only biological objectives but also recreation, navigation, flood concerns and economic concerns,” said Carl Wilcox, CDFW’s Delta policy advisor.

The new report identifies three restoration concepts and a no-action alternative. The preferred restoration design resulting from the stakeholder-driven planning process would restore about 1,000 acres of tidal marsh habitat while deepening other areas to provide fill for the marsh creation. It would also address community concerns regarding navigation and recreation.

Franks Tract is a nexus point of many Delta uses ranging from duck hunting and bass fishing to fresh water supply for California cities and farms. However, Franks Tract is also a hot spot for invasive plants and predatory fish, as well as a conduit for saltwater intrusion during dry conditions into waterways used to convey freshwater supplies to cities and agriculture in the Delta and other parts of California. For these reasons, Franks Tract is a strong candidate for restoration.

Media Contacts:
Carl Wilcox, CDFW Delta Policy Advisor, (707) 738-4134
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

California Fires Force Closure of CDFW Properties

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily closing some of its public lands in response to multiple active fires in Colusa, Lake, Lassen, Merced, Monterey, Napa, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Sierra, Solano, Sonoma and Yolo counties. The closures will help ensure safety and accommodate the needs of fire crews.

The updated list of CDFW land closures can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/closures.

The lands listed on the closures page will be closed to all public access and activities including hunting until further notice. Due to the uncertain nature of the fires and potential damage to state lands, it is unknown when these areas will reopen to the public.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120