Category Archives: big game

New Laws Enhance Poaching Penalties to Better Protect Wildlife

As many big game hunting seasons progress into the fall, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers have a new tool to deter poaching and punish violators for serious poaching crimes.

Legislation sponsored by the wildlife conservation community approved enhancements of penalties for the illegal take of trophy-class animals. Under Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 12013.3 penalties are significantly enhanced for any person convicted of poaching deer, elk, pronghorn, bighorn sheep and wild turkey with certain characteristics that would define them as trophy game animal.

In addition to the legislation that enhanced poaching penalties, the California Fish and Game Commission developed regulations to define those trophy characteristics. Commissioners worked with the CDFW and several outdoors, conservation and hunting organizations to define the characteristics in California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 748.6. The legislation and regulation package went into full effect on July 1, 2017.

In summary, “…the punishment for a person who knowingly violated and has been convicted of [take out of season, spotlighting, baiting, waste of meat, or take without a tag]… where the violation involved a trophy… deer, elk, antelope, or bighorn sheep shall be a fine of not less than five thousand dollars ($5,000) nor more than forty thousand dollars ($40,000), and where the violation involved a wild turkey, a fine of not less than two thousand dollars ($2,000) nor more than five thousand dollars ($5,000), or imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or both that fine and imprisonment.”

“The first case adjudicated after the trophy law took effect exemplifies the potential benefits this enhancement law could have on wildlife protection,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division.

On July 5, 2017, Garrett Thomas Peacock, 22, of Yuba City, was sentenced to two years’ probation with a restriction from hunting during that time and ordered to pay $5,150 in fines and penalties. The case began months prior when wildlife officers, acting upon an anonymous CalTIP (Californians Turn in Poacher and Polluters), contacted Peacock during a follow-up investigation. The investigation revealed that Peacock unlawfully killed a trophy class “buck” deer without permission in an orchard on private property in Maxwell in Colusa County. Peacock did not possess the required deer tag at the time of the killing. Officers recovered photographic evidence, deer antlers, numerous packages of meat and a deer tag purchased after the fact from Peacock.

“Unlawfully targeting animals for their trophy qualities is an egregious violation,” said Chief Bess.  “Under the enhanced penalties of this law, the punishment will more closely match the severity of these types of poaching crimes.”

Anyone with information about unlawful fishing, hunting or pollution is encouraged to contact CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program that encourages the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information leading to the arrest of poachers and polluters. The CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, is printed on the back of every hunting and fishing license. Tips can also be relayed by text to 847411 (tip411). Text messages allow for a two-way conversation with wildlife officers, while preserving the anonymity of the tipster. Texts should begin with the word “CALTIP,” followed by a space and the message. There is also an app for smartphones that works similarly. For more information on the program and the CalTIP app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

Media Contact:
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-6692

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by Getting Outdoors

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are joining to celebrate California’s long-standing outdoor heritage and the contributions made to wildlife conservation by hunters and anglers on National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Saturday, Sept. 23 is National Hunting and Fishing Day and California hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing. Currently deer, bear, grouse, early mountain quail, rabbit, and tree squirrel seasons are underway across the state. The high country streams, rivers and lakes are in peak form. This is prime time.

Together, CDFW and BLM are proud to promote the excellent hunting and fishing opportunities available on public lands. BLM-managed public lands in California offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating and backcountry exploring. Millions of acres of public land are available for hunting and thousands of miles of rivers and streams are available for fishing in California. CDFW is responsible for over 1 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat, managed through 749 properties throughout the state. These properties provide habitat for a rich diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species.

Hunters and anglers are advised to check area closures and local restrictions before heading out. Fire season is here and several large wildfires are burning currently, which may close some areas to hunting and fishing. Additionally, the severe winter damaged roads, which may account for other closures or restricted access. Information on area closures is available at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

While current target shooting restrictions are in place on some BLM-managed public lands, hunting in those areas is open with a valid hunting license. For updates on BLM restrictions visit: blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/california/fire-restrictions.

For the 2016 season, a record 84 percent of deer tag holders complied with California’s new mandatory deer tag reporting requirement. CDFW thanks all those who reported and hopes for increased participation following the 2017 season. The reports are vital to estimating deer populations and setting tag quotas for the coming hunting season.

California is phasing-in the use of non-lead ammunition for hunting. Lead ammunition is permitted in 2017 for hunting deer in California outside of the California condor range, state wildlife areas or ecological reserves where non-lead ammunition is required. Learn more about California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting by visiting wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Hunters and anglers are often referred to as the original conservationists. CDFW and BLM value the many contributions they make to fish and wildlife conservation efforts in the Golden State.

For more information about California’s hunting and fishing seasons, licenses and tags, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov.

For more information about BLM lands and outdoor activities, please visit www.blm.gov/california.

Media Contacts:
Samantha Storms, BLM Communications, (916) 978-4615
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

California’s General Deer Season Opens Sept. 16 Across Much of the State; Hunters Advised to Check Area Closures Before Heading Out

Deer season is already underway in California’s A and B4 deer hunting zones along the coast, but the majority of general zones – B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6 and D7 – open Saturday, Sept. 16.

Several other deer hunting zones – D3-D5 and D8-D10 – open the following week, on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Severe winter weather conditions took a toll on some migratory deer populations and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reduced the number of tags for a few popular areas in order to sustain herds over the long term. Not all populations suffered heavy winter losses, however, and CDFW’s trail cameras and fecal DNA studies revealed bucks out there for the taking.

“One benefit from the above-average rain and snowfall this winter is that we did see an early green-up,” said Stuart Itoga, senior environmental scientist and the CDFW’s deer program coordinator. “Plentiful forage and water are generally helping deer populations recover from multiple years of drought.”

Detailed information on California’s various deer zones, including season dates, descriptions and maps, is available at CDFW’s Deer Hunting webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Deer#54773-seasons.

Hunters are strongly advised to check area closures and local restrictions before heading out. Fire season is here and several large wildfires are burning currently, which may close some areas to hunting. Additionally, the severe winter damaged roads in some areas, which may account for other closures or restricted access. Information on area closures is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

For the 2016 season, a record 84 percent of deer tag holders complied with California’s new mandatory deer tag reporting requirement. CDFW thanks all those who reported and hopes for increased participation following the 2017 season. The reports are vital to estimating populations and setting tag quotas for the coming hunting season. Tags can be reported online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/CustomerSearch/Begin. Tag holders may also submit reports by mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

California is phasing-in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Lead ammunition is permitted for hunting deer in California in 2017 outside of the California condor range, state wildlife areas or ecological reserves where nonlead ammunition is required. Learn more about California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW photo by Stuart Itoga

SHARE Program to Offer Wild Pig, Waterfowl, Pheasant and Dove Hunts this Fall

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for hunting on properties in Colusa, Solano and Merced counties this fall.

SHARE is offering nine new archery-only wild pig hunts at East Park Reservoir located in Colusa County, approximately 45 minutes west of Maxwell. SHARE hunters will have access to 600 acres of oak woodland on the south side of the reservoir for these hunts. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period. The hunts will take place October 2017 through February 2018.

SHARE will also offer eight wild pig hunts from November to December at Rush Ranch, located in Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open-space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh. Two permits (each good for two hunters) will be randomly drawn for each period. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch for these hunts and will be able to camp in a designated area for no extra fee.

SHARE is also offering waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunts on the wildlife management area at the city of Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The property is located five miles south of the city of Merced and is tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields. The seasonal pond and wetland on the property provide cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant. Three hundred acres will be open to hunting. Successful applicants will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or non-hunting partner.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Application deadlines are 17 days before each hunt.

To apply for these hunts, visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/, login to your account and select Purchase Licenses. Then select 2017 – Hunting, 2017 – SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application, then select specific hunt periods.

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers private landowners liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

Applications Now Available for Fall Apprentice Deer Hunt in San Luis Obispo County for Junior License Holders

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a drawing for an apprentice deer hunt for junior license holders on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve.

The two-day buck hunt, which is being offered in cooperation with the California Deer Association (CDA), will be held Sept. 16 and17 on the 30,000-acre reserve in San Luis Obispo County. Mandatory hunter orientation will take place the evening of Friday, Sept. 15. Overnight lodging will be available at the main ranch house on the ecological reserve on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Three apprentice junior license holders will be chosen by lottery. Selected junior license holders must possess an A zone deer tag and must be accompanied by an adult. Participants will receive classroom, range and field training in gun handling techniques and safety, deer hunting and game care. Hunts will be led by CDA volunteers. CDA will provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

Junior license holder applicants may apply online using their GO ID number through the Automated License Data System (ALDS) at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales.  The hunt will be titled Carrizo Plain ER – Chimineas Unit Apprentice Deer Hunt. Please note that this hunt option can only be viewed using a junior license holder’s GO ID.

The application deadline is Monday, Aug. 21. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt.

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CDFW Photo by Stuart Itoga

Media Contacts:
Robert Stafford, CDFW Central Region, (805) 528-8670
Rocky Thompson, CDFW Central Region, (805) 594-6175
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908