Category Archives: big game

General Deer Seasons to Open in California on Sept. 17

California’s 2016 general deer season will open in zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6, D7, X9A, X9B and X12 on Saturday, Sept. 17. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters to pay close attention to the occurrence of wild fires in their favorite hunting spots. Current information on forest closures can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

In addition to monitoring forest closures, CDFW recommends hunters scout potential hunting areas prior to the day of the hunt. Deer can sometimes be difficult to locate, and pre-existing knowledge of deer feeding and bedding areas will provide valuable insight and help maximize chances of success.

Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015 nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Lead ammunition may still be used to hunt deer on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), national forest and private lands until July 1, 2019.

Deer tags are still available for many of the state’s most popular zones. Hunting licenses and tags can be purchased online, at one of CDFW’s license sales offices or through a license sales agent. For more information on deer hunting zones and seasons, see the 2016 Big Game Hunting Digest. Specific zone maps and information are also available online.

Every purchaser of a deer tag must report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful. For successful hunters, the report must be made within 30 days of harvesting a deer or by Jan. 31, whichever date is first. Unsuccessful hunters, and those who purchased a tag but did not hunt, must report by Jan. 31. Harvest reports may be submitted online or by U.S. mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

Hunter harvest numbers are an important component of CDFW’s annual population analysis, and are key to ensuring sustainable deer populations and hunting opportunities for future generations. Studies have shown that the most accurate harvest estimates are obtained from hunter-generated reports. Yet historically, only 30 percent of hunters have submitted mandatory harvest reports.

In order to improve hunter reporting rates and collect better hunter harvest data, non-reporting fees were instituted in 2016. Tag holders who fail to report will be charged a non-reporting fee of $21.60, which will be added to license purchases beginning with the 2017-2018 season.

The sale of hunting licenses and tags provides approximately $25 million every year to CDFW to fund research and management of California’s wildlife, including the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, crucial habitat conservation, post-wildfire forest restoration and wildlife migration and population studies.

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Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Reminds Hunters of Mandatory Deer Tag Reporting Requirement

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds deer hunters that all deer tag holders are required to report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful or did not hunt. Harvest, survival and recruitment information are vital to projecting deer populations and setting tag quotas for the next year’s hunting season. By submitting a completed report on-time, hunters can actively help CDFW assess deer populations and also avoid a fine.

Hunters who harvested a deer are required to report within 30 days of harvest or by Jan. 31, 2017, whichever is earliest. Hunters who did not harvest a deer, or did not hunt at all, must report by Jan. 31, 2017. Failure to report by the appropriate deadline will result in a non-reporting fee of $21.60 being assessed when purchasing next year’s tag.

CDFW instituted a grace period during the first year of mandatory deer tag reporting so deer hunters could become acclimated to the new reporting regulation, which was enacted on July 1, 2015. During the 2015 season, only half of all tag holders reported, while others reported late or submitted incomplete reports. The grace period has now ended and fees will be assessed for 2016 tag holders who do not report on time.

Some 2016 tag holders have already reported and CDFW appreciates their cooperation.

Tag holders have two options for submitting a completed report. The preferred method is online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/hunting#9941260-tag-reporting. Reports may also be mailed to the address listed on the report card (CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002).

Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Communications, (916) 651-7824

 

Two CDFW Cold Case Poaching Investigations Gain New Interest with the Offer of Substantial Rewards

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers are looking for any information the public may have regarding two unsolved crimes: the unlawful killing of a male bighorn sheep in Siskiyou County, and the unlawful maiming of an adult male deer in Humboldt County.  

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The bighorn carcass was discovered near the Jenny Creek camping area and reported to CDFW by a citizen on June 12, 2016. The head and horns had been removed from the sheep and the remaining portion of the carcass was left along the side of Copco Road at Iron Gate Lake Road, just out of sight of passing vehicles. Officers are uncertain about the cause of death, but it is always unlawful to remove and possess parts of wildlife that were not legally harvested.

On July 29, 2016, CDFW responded to a citizen’s report of an injured deer near the 6400 block of Elk River Road in Eureka. Wildlife officers discovered the large deer had been shot through its back, which injured its spine and left it paralyzed. Due to the severity of the injuries and suffering, the deer had to be euthanized. Evidence indicated the deer was illegally shot with a high-power rifle, which was consistent with nearby residents’ reports of gunshots in the early morning hours that day.

Anyone with information about these incidents is encouraged to call CalTIP, CDFW’s confidential secret witness program, at (888) 334-2258; or send a text to tip411. Both methods allow the public to provide wildlife officers with factual information to assist with these and other investigations. Callers may remain anonymous, if desired.

The Humane Society of the United States and the Humane Society Wildlife Land Trust learned of these cases from previous news articles and contacted CDFW to pledge a reward of up to $5,000 — in addition to a reward of up to $1,000 from the CalTIP program — for information that leads to arrest and conviction in either of these two cases.

For more information on the CalTIP program or to download the CalTIP reporting app, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/caltip.

Media Contact:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982

Sportsmen’s Dollars Support Research on Desert Bighorn Sheep

Thanks to California’s big game hunters, wildlife biologists studying Desert Bighorn Sheep will have new technology and tools to help them study deadly diseases that affect these icons of the desert.

In 2013, Desert Bighorn sheep populations in the Mojave Desert near Old Dad Peak suffered a die-off. In an effort to learn more about the spread of disease and survival, scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Mojave National Preserve and Oregon State University launched an ongoing joint study of adult sheep. They have captured and radio-collared about 150 adults to date, but important data about lamb mortality is still missing.

Now, in the third year of the study, a grant will enable researchers to collect the data that will unlock the mystery. Beginning this winter, scientists will capture and radio collar bighorn ewes. As they are captured, ultrasounds will be conducted, and ewes that are found to be pregnant will be implanted with special vaginal implant transmitters, the purchase of which will be funded by the $190,000 grant. When the lamb is subsequently born, the transmitter will be pushed out and send an alert signal. Project researchers can then go to the birth site and put a miniature radio transmitter on the lamb.

If the lamb subsequently dies, a mortality signal will be transmitted and the body will be recovered by researchers quickly enough to pinpoint the cause of death. This real-time information gathering technique will hopefully provide answers to the mystery behind unexplained bighorn mortality — why the 2013 disease outbreak was so widespread, what factors contributed to the spread of the disease and what management efforts can be instituted to help prevent future outbreaks.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation and Oregon State University, the study will greatly benefit from the addition of the new technology, made possible by the purchase of big game tags by California hunters.  It is one of many project funded by the Big Game Grants Program, which allots about $800,000 each year to support studies such as this one.

Joint projects are particularly critical to fund, because they help target wildlife management issues which are often beyond the normal scope of CDFW manpower, expertise or financing.

“Funds in the Big Game Grants Program support a wide range of wildlife studies and projects,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW Big Game Program Manager. “We have a responsibility to see that the funding generated by hunters goes toward preserving wildlife populations. This sheep study is a great example of how hunters play a role in solving complicated and challenging research needs.”

This new phase of study is hoped to produce critical information unavailable until now.

“The desert environment is harsh and expansive. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to find and collect dead lambs in a timely manner, which is necessary in order to determine the cause of mortality,” said Daniella Dekelaita, a doctoral student and researcher at Oregon State University. “We know there have been significant lamb losses in some herds and this will give us accurate and timely information on what was the cause.”

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Media Contacts:
Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

SHARE Program Offers Big Game, Upland Hunts in Santa Barbara County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for big game and upland game hunts this fall at several locations in Santa Barbara County.

For the fourth year, fall hunts for deer, bear, turkey, quail and dove at Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch will be offered to the hunting public. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannah, riparian, juniper-sage woodland and chaparral habitats. The ranches are adjacent to public lands, providing additional hunting opportunities not easily accessible to other hunters.

For the first time, Baeke Ranch will offer deer, quail and wild pig hunts. Overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley just northwest of Solvang, Baeke Ranch is located in Ballard Canyon Ranches, known locally as “Hog Valley.” The property is approximately 20 acres surrounded by open space and encompasses maze of game trails winding through chaparral scrub and coyote brush with large oak and pine cover.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Successful applicants for each property will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner depending on the hunt.

These opportunities were made possible by the SHARE program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive monetary compensation and liability protection for providing limited public access to or through their land. 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.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4035

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988