CDFW Accepting Applications for Special Draw Deer Hunt on the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited, lottery draw deer hunt scheduled for opening week of the A-Zone general deer season on the Knoxville Wildlife area in Napa County.

The 21,000-acre Knoxville Wildlife Area is located approximately 1.5 miles north of Lake Berryessa. This special lottery draw deer hunt was created to limit the number of hunters on the wildlife area during opening week and to improve the hunting experience.

“This will be the second year of our special draw for the opening week of deer season. We essentially close the wildlife area to other uses and allow drawn hunters to have the whole area to themselves,” said Stacy Martinelli, wildlife biologist for Napa and Sonoma counties.

Only 120 hunt permits will be issued for the special lottery draw. The hunt permit is valid for the single hunt period, August 8-14, 2020. The Knoxville Wildlife Area will be closed to all other users during the hunt period.

For more information and to apply for the lottery draw, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/hunts/knoxville-deer-draw.

Applications are being accepted until June 20, 2020.

Successful applicants will be selected through a random computerized draw and will be notified by email four to six weeks before the hunt period. Up to four hunters may apply as one party by including all required information in the online application. Multiple applications from any hunter will result in disqualification from the drawing. Substitutions of hunt party members will not be permitted.

Hunters must possess a valid 2020-21 California hunting license prior to applying for the lottery draw.

Deer hunt preference points will not be considered for this lottery draw, nor will preference points be affected if drawn for this special hunt.

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

2020-21 Hunting Licenses and Big Game Drawing Applications Now Available

California hunters can now purchase hunting licenses for the 2020-21 season, as well as apply for the Big Game Drawing online. Californians have many options to harvest wild protein, and at this time, the current COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to lead to the closure or delay of any hunting seasons. 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest cover

The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is June 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest, which includes information about hunts, tag quotas, season dates and the Big Game Drawing, can be downloaded online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=178428&inline. Printed copies will be mailed to all those who applied to last year’s Big Game Drawing. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website is the most reliable source for the Big Game Digest.

New this year, per Fish and Game Code, section 3031, a resident or nonresident must be under 16 years of age on July 1, 2020 in order to be eligible for a 2020-21 Junior Hunting License. The previous law, which allowed youth up to 18 years old to purchase a Junior Hunting License, has sunset.

“Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to practice physical distancing,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This means avoiding crowded trails, parking lots and campgrounds. If you find that your favorite hunting spot is crowded, do not risk your health and the health of others. Please remember all seasons, limits, license, private property restrictions, and other laws and regulations still apply. Be smart and stay safe.”

CDFW also wants to remind hunters of the change that went into effect on July 1, 2019 requiring nonlead ammunition when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Nonlead ammunition is now required for all hunting in California.

Due to changes in the penal code regarding the purchase or transfer of ammunition, CDFW recommends purchasing ammunition well in advance of hunting and practicing with it in order to ensure firearms are sighted-in appropriately before heading into the field.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Helicopter Elk Surveys to Be Conducted in Mendocino County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning to conduct helicopter surveys of elk in Mendocino County on March 12, 13, 14 and 15.

Aerial surveying is a common technique used by wildlife biologists to count deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep populations throughout the state.

Many of the elk living in Mendocino County are found on private property, which means residents, tourists and motorists passing through the area may notice low-flying helicopters surveying for elk over private property during these days.

For additional information regarding the Mendocino elk helicopter surveys, please contact Angela Moran at (707) 445-5363.

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Media Contacts:
Angela Moran, CDFW Northern Region, (707) 445-5363
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Convicted Poacher Fined $17,500 For Unlawful Take of Deer Over Bait

A Granite Bay man has been convicted of poaching a trophy class deer with the use of bait, and will pay an enhanced penalty. A tenacious investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and prosecution by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office made the conviction possible.

Wildlife officers conducting surveillance over the course of the 2018 deer hunting season observed archery hunter Myron Barry Woltering, 66, repeatedly adding food to a bait pile on a property he owns in Pilot Hill, El Dorado County. Woltering was unlawfully using alfalfa, corn, other grains and salt licks for the purpose of attracting deer. Using a combination of surveillance, a review of mandatory hunting report records and search warrants served at Woltering’s home, business and the property where the baiting took place, wildlife officers were able to prove that Woltering had poached a very large trophy class 6×4 buck over the bait.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Woltering pled no contest in El Dorado Superior Court to one misdemeanor count of taking deer over bait. Because the buck was of “trophy” size, the penalties for the crime were enhanced. Woltering will serve three years’ probation, during which time he will be prohibited from hunting. He stipulated to the forfeiture of all seized items and paid a fine of $17,500.

The Pope and Young Club, one of North America’s leading bowhunting and wildlife conservation organizations, defines “fair chase” as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner which does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the animal.

“California hunters have long considered baiting for deer a violation of fair chase principles,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The Legislature and Fish and Game Commission enacted laws and regulations to prohibit the act, then took it a step further to enhance the penalties associated with conviction of baiting trophy class deer.

“As more and more would-be poachers see poaching convictions with these enhanced penalties, we hope they will be deterred from poaching the largest deer out of these local herds,” Bess continued.

If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any violation of fish and wildlife laws, or if you have information about such a violation, please call the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Other reporting options include texting or using the CalTIP app. Please visit CDFW’s CalTIP web page for details.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095

poached trophy buck

Elverta Man Fined $20,000 for Poaching Trophy Class Deer

An Elverta man is now paying a heavy price for the unethical take of California wildlife – killing deer out of season with the aid of bait and falsifying validation signatures on deer tags. William Vaden, 70, was recently convicted of several poaching related offenses after killing a deer on a property he owned in El Dorado County. He was sentenced under a recent law enacted to increase penalties associated with poaching a trophy class game mammal.

Vaden’s actions came to light after an El Dorado County wildlife officer observed what appeared to be an automatic deer feeder on a property within his patrol district. For more than a year, the officer kept an eye on the place to see if the illegal deer feeding was for the purpose of poaching. It was. After a diligent investigation was conducted, the suspect was presented with the evidence and confessed to placing the feeder to bait deer, as well as ultimately killing a very large trophy class deer on the property.

“Baiting cases involve persistent investigative work on the part of a wildlife officer,” said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Lt. Stacey LaFave. “Early mornings, long hours of surveillance and keen observations are required to make a case.”

Vaden pled no contest to baiting the deer and unlawful take of deer out of season and admitted the trophy allegation. He will serve 90 days of alternative sentencing, pay a $20,000 fine pursuant to Fish and Game Code Trophy enhancements, forfeit most of the seized items, serve three years’ summary court probation and is subject to search and seizure of his person, home, automobile and electronic devices for evidence of unlawful hunting. He may not hunt during the term of probation.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife thanks Deputy District Attorney Erin Tognetti of the El Dorado District Attorney’s office for her efforts on the successful prosecution.

If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any fish and wildlife violation, or have information about such a violation, immediately dial the toll-free CalTIP number (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Or go to the CalTIP web page for more options.

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Media Contact:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095