Category Archives: big game

Pronghorn Season Set to Open in Northeastern California

Sagebrush flats, rolling hills, wide-open skies and crisp mornings characterize California’s general pronghorn antelope season, which opens Saturday, Aug. 24 in northeastern California.

While thousands apply for the opportunity each year, only a small group of Californians will get the chance to escape the late-summer heat gripping most of the state to hunt pronghorn the last week in August in the remote reaches of northeastern California.

Only 245 pronghorn tags are awarded through CDFW’s Big Game Drawing, and the season lasts just nine days, ending Sept. 1 in most of the six pronghorn hunt zones. Archery hunters got a jump on their rifle-toting counterparts with an early season that began Aug. 10 and ended Aug. 18.

While the odds of drawing a California pronghorn tag are long, the hunter success rate is high. Hunters reported taking 201 pronghorn in 2018. Hunter success across the six northeastern hunt zones and season dates in 2018 averaged about 86 percent for rifle hunters and about 48 percent for archery hunters.

The high success rates help explain why more than 18,000 hunters applied for a tag in 2018. Another 8,700-plus hunters applied for a preference point to improve their chances of drawing a pronghorn tag in future years. Only one pronghorn tag is awarded to a nonresident each year.

North America’s fastest land animal, pronghorn can reach speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour. Unlike deer and many other big-game animals, pronghorn prefer wide-open areas with little cover. They are usually found in flat to rolling open country, using their excellent eyesight and speed to maintain a safe distance from any perceived threats.

Once found throughout California’s Central Valley, pronghorn today are most numerous in northeastern California. Through their tags and application fees, hunters are funding important pronghorn research and management that includes a trapping and collaring program underway in Siskiyou County.

Successful hunters are asked to submit two front teeth from their pronghorn for age analysis. Successful tag reporting allows CDFW to better understand and manage pronghorn herds for continued population growth, expansion and hunting opportunity.

Over the decades, CDFW has made efforts to re-establish herds in suitable habitat across the state. Pronghorn today roam the Carrizo Plain grasslands in San Luis Obispo County as a result of the translocation of animals from Lassen County herds in the1980s.

CDFW biologists have seen recent evidence of pronghorn naturally expanding their range as well.

A small herd of pronghorn visits the Bodie Hills area of Mono County, spending much of the year in Nevada. Biologists believe some of these animals have origins back to Yellowstone National Park and translocation efforts decades ago by both Nevada and California wildlife agencies.

A herd that may have originated in Lassen County or perhaps Nevada may be colonizing parts of Sierra and Plumas counties. Research is currently in the planning stages to investigate these potential range expansions.

Media Contacts:
Kristin Denryter, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-9992
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW Steps in to Protect Animals at Wildlife Waystation

On August 11, 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was notified by the Wildlife Waystation, a wild animal refuge that houses exotic and domestic animals in Sylmar, that their Board of Directors had voted to surrender the facility’s CDFW permit voluntarily and to close the facility. CDFW has implemented an incident command structure to handle daily operations and assist with the placement of animals.Wildlife Waystation 2

As of this morning, CDFW is on site, actively ensuring that daily operations remain smooth at the facility, and is working with animal welfare organizations to place the animals into other facilities. CDFW will maintain oversight of the facility until all animals are placed appropriately.

CDFW’s primary concern is for the health and welfare of the animals. CDFW is working collaboratively with Wildlife Waystation staff to ensure the best possible care during this transition.

The Wildlife Waystation was founded in 1976 and has been operating with a current permit issued by CDFW. The aging facility was extensively damaged in the 2017 Creek Fire and again in flooding in early 2019. Wildlife Waystation leadership is unable to repair the facility to current standards.

Media and the public are asked to please refrain from traveling to the property. The property is closed until further notice and access will not be granted. There is very limited road access and no cellular reception.

CDFW is contacting its network of local and national animal welfare organizations both for assistance and expertise in care of the animals as well as assistance in finding permanent placement for the more than 470 animals at the facility.

CDFW Deputy Director Jordan Traverso will be available for media interviews at the command center at the Hanson Dam Ranger Station at 10965 Dronfield Ave., Sylmar, Calif. until 3:30 p.m. She can also be reached at (916) 654-9937.

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Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County Closed to All Public Use Aug. 10-16 for Special Lottery Deer Hunt

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to remind the public that the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County will be closed to all public use during the first week of the A Zone general deer season, Aug. 10-16, to accommodate a special lottery draw deer hunt.

Deer hunt permit holders will be the only ones allowed on the wildlife area during the first week of the A Zone deer season. No other public use is permitted. The area reopens to all users Saturday, Aug. 17.

The special lottery draw deer hunt was initiated for the first time this year to limit the number of hunters on the popular public hunting area for safety purposes and to improve the quality of the hunting experience for permit holders.

Only hunters whose names are listed on the hunt permit may participate in the hunt.  Anyone not listed specifically on the hunt permit, including non-hunters, helpers and assistants, will not be permitted on the wildlife area during the hunt period.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay-Delta Region, (707) 576-2836

August 2019 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

Various Days — Bat Talk and Walk at Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Various times, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis (95618). Each year, from June through September, the Yolo Basin Foundation offers “Bat Talk and Walk” tours. The tour begins with a 45-minute indoor presentation on bat natural history, after which attendees are shuttled to the outdoor viewing area to witness firsthand the spectacular aerial performance of the Mexican free-tailed bats. Pre-registration is required at http://yolobasin.org. For more information, please contact Corky Quirk at cquirk@yolobasin.org.

Various Days — Ecological Reserve Tours at Elkhorn Slough. Volunteers lead walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays at 11 a.m. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. The day use permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased on-site). Groups of five or more should please notify staff that they are coming and groups of 10 or more can request a separate tour. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/elkhorn-slough-er.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadlines for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, deer, bear, turkey, dove and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $11.00 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

Various Days — Guided Wetland Tours, By Reservation, at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Rd., Gridley (95948). A wildlife naturalist will lead your group, school or organization through the diverse wetlands of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. General information includes wildlife identification, behavior patterns and conservation efforts. Your experience can be catered to include requested information, along a half-mile, walking route. Minimum group size is 18 people. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

3 — Archery-Only and Falconry-Only Tree Squirrel Season Opens (extending through Sept. 13). For archery-only and falconry-only tree squirrel season and zone descriptions, please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx#307. To view a map of tree squirrel hunting zones, please visit https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/filehandler.ashx?documentid=109005&inline.

7-8 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday and 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, Natural Resources Building, Auditorium, First Floor, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814. For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.

10 — General Deer Hunting Season Opens. California’s 2019 general deer season will open in zone A on Saturday, Aug. 10, and in zone B-4 on Saturday, Aug. 24. The opener for zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6 and D7 is Saturday, Sept. 21. General deer season opener dates for other zones, season end dates and information about additional hunts are available on the CDFW website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer. Please remember to report your deer tags! All deer tags you purchase, whether you hunt or not, must be reported. Successful hunters must report their tags within 30 days of their successful hunt or by Jan. 31, 2020, whichever is first. Hunters who are unsuccessful or who do not hunt are required to report by Jan. 31, 2020. Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife for any purpose in California.

10 — The First General Season for Black Bears Opens in Deer Hunting Zone A. General black bear season will open concurrently with the general deer hunting season in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 and extend through Dec. 29. Deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 have different deer season opening dates depending upon the deer zone. General season for black bears opens in deer hunting zones X-1 through X-7b on Oct. 12, and extends through Dec. 29. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear or call toll-free (888) 277-6398. Please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx for a description of the current mammal hunting regulations.

15 — Evenings at the Estuary Lecture: Stories of the Southern Sea Otter, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The Elkhorn Slough Reserve will host a panel discussion on Sea Otters in the Monterey Bay. Panelists Michelle Staedler (Monterey Bay Aquarium), Melissa Miller (CDFW) and Ron Eby (Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve) will share highlights from their research and conservation efforts. The presentation will be followed by a question and answer period. This is a free community event and preregistration is not required.For more information, please contact Ariel Hunter at ariel.hunter@wildlife.ca.gov.

17 — Falconry-Only Pheasant, Quail, Chukar, Ptarmigtan and Sooty (Blue) Grouse/Ruffed Grouse Seasons Open (extending through Feb. 29). For zone maps and other upland game season information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

17 — Hunting with Air Guns – Advanced Hunter Education Clinic, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Hungry Valley State Recreation Area. This hands-on clinic will cover hunting with air gun related regulations, species, history, equipment, maintenance, sighting in and more. For more information about Advanced Hunter Education classes and to register for this clinic, please visit https://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.

17 — Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area Annual Clean-up Day, 7 a.m. to noon, 9256 Highway 162, Butte City (95920). People will participate in cleanup activities on all three units of the wildlife area (the Llano Seco, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough units) in preparation for the upcoming waterfowl season. Activities typically involve cleaning and brushing up hunting blinds, and improving area signage and field markers. Volunteers should bring gloves, work boots and sunscreen. Water and insect repellent will be provided. Barbecue lunch to follow. For more information or to register, please contact the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area office at (530) 982-2169.

17 — Archery Season for Black Bears Opens in each of the five American black bear hunt zones, Northern California, Central California, Southeastern Sierra, Southern Sierra and Southern California, extending through Sept. 8, 2019. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear or call toll-free (888) 277-6398. Please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx for a description of the current mammal hunting regulations and American black bear hunt zone boundary descriptions. The bag and possession limit for either archery or general season is one adult bear per hunting license year. Cubs and females accompanied by cubs may not be taken.

17 — Grasslands Wildlife Areas-Refuges Outreach Meeting, 9 a.m. to noon at the Grassland Environmental Education Center, 18110 W. Henry Miller Road in Los Banos (93635). CDFW staff and federal wildlife refuge managers will take comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on Type A wildlife areas that include Mendota, Los Banos, Volta, North Grasslands, the Merced National Wildlife Refuge and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge. The Grassland Water District also will make a short presentation on refuge water supply. Please email sean.allen@wildlife.ca.gov if you are planning to attend so enough seating and refreshments can be arranged.

21 — Archery-Only Quail, Chukar and Sooty (Blue)/Ruffed Grouse Seasons Open (extending through Sept. 10). For zone maps and other upland game season information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

24 — Sunset Saturday, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Participants can enjoy a sunset on the Slough, with the reserve open to the public until 8 p.m. All visitors must check in at the Visitor Center before entering the trails. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. The day use permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased on-site). For more information, please contact Ariel Hunter at ariel.hunter@wildlife.ca.gov.

24-25 — Volunteer Training for School and Youth Program Guides, Elkhorn Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076), from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Elkhorn Reserve will offer training for individuals interested in volunteering with school and youth groups at the reserve. The workshop will prepare volunteers to lead K-12 students in lab and field activities. Interested participants can find more information and register online at www.elkhornslough.org/events/reserve-education-volunteer-training.

27 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1 to 3 p.m., “Drought Stressor Monitoring: Summary of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Statewide Drought Response,” presented by Kristine Atkinson. To understand the status of California’s at-risk aquatic species and habitat conditions during the historic 2012-2016 drought, CDFW responded by collecting information on stream temperature and dissolved oxygen, the status and extent of habitat fragmentation, and impacts on aquatic species. Collection of this information was critical as a baseline understanding for management actions taken during and post-drought. Attendance is free. To register or learn more, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.

28 — Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m. Natural Resources Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). The public is invited to attend. For more information, please visit https://wcb.ca.gov.

28 — Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico Border. All recreational ocean salmon fishing south of Pigeon Point will be closed through the remainder of the year. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon or call either the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

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Media Contacts:
Sarah Guerere, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8974
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) is offering a drawing for an apprentice deer hunt for Junior Hunting License holders on the Chimineas Unit of the Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve in September.

The two-day buck hunt, which is being offered in cooperation with the A-Z Foundation (AZF) and the Chimineas Ranch Foundation (CRF), will be held Sept. 14 and 15 on the 30,000-acre reserve in San Luis Obispo County. Mandatory hunter orientation will take place in the evening on Friday, Sept. 13. Overnight lodging will be available at the main ranch house on the ecological reserve on both Friday and Saturday nights.

Three apprentice Junior Hunting License holders will be chosen by lottery. Selected Junior Hunting 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 AZF volunteers. AZF and CRF will provide breakfast, lunch and dinner on Saturday, as well as breakfast and lunch on Sunday.

Junior Hunting License holders may apply online using their GO ID number through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). The hunt application is titled “Carrizo Plain ER – Chimineas Unit Apprentice Deer Hunt.”

The application deadline is Monday, Aug. 19. Successful applicants will be notified by phone and will receive additional information, including maps and special regulations, prior to the hunt.

Media Contacts:
Bob Stafford, CDFW Central Region, (805) 594-6175
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908