Boy with decoys at sunrise

January 2021 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, waterfowl, turkey and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $12.14 non-refundable application fee is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Fishery for Boat-based Anglers Closed. Species include rockfish, cabezon, kelp and rock greenlings, lingcod, leopard shark, soupfin shark and spiny dogfish, and other federally managed groundfish. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary.

2 — White and White-fronted Goose Season Opens in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — “Humbled: How California’s Monterey Bay Escaped Industrial Ruin” Virtual Event, 5:30 to 7 p.m. In their book, “Humbled: How California’s Monterey Bay Escaped Industrial Ruin,” local authors Glenn Church and Kathryn McKenzie recount the story of a divided community, an emerging environmental movement and the twists and turns that eventually dismantled plans for a vast industrial complex. Hear from the authors and learn about this pivotal event in California’s history of conservation. Hosted by the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, this event is free and available to stream live via Facebook and Zoom. For more information and to view the program, please visit www.facebook.com/events/801486314032275.

10 — Canada Goose Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

12— California Fish and Game Commission Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

12—California Fish and Game Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2021.

13 — Duck Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

15 — White Geese and White-fronted Goose Season Closes in the Northeastern California Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Duck and Goose Season Closes in the Balance of State Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Duck and Goose Season Closes in the Colorado River, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California Zones. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

31 — Deer Tag Reporting Deadline. Deer tag holders must submit a harvest report for any 2020 deer tag by the Jan. 31, 2021 deadline. All tag holders must report even if they did not hunt, or they hunted unsuccessfully. Tag holders who do not report by this deadline will be charged a $21.60 non-reporting penalty fee when purchasing a 2021 deer tag drawing application or deer tag. To report your harvest online, please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/hunting#9941260-tag-reporting.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Wildlife Officer Academy Graduates 21 New Wildlife Officers

After a grueling 10 months, the Wildlife Officer Academy Class of 2020 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) graduated today in Oroville.

“It’s a great day when we add wildlife officers to the Law Enforcement Division,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement. “These new wildlife officers have shown unparalleled resolve and were able to overcome the challenges many of us have and continue to face in 2020.  I am proud of these wildlife officers as they begin their new careers dedicated to serving and protecting the people of California and safeguarding the diverse landscape of California’s natural resources.”

The 2020 academy class is made up of 35 cadets, including 21 new wildlife officers, nine State Parks peace officers, one Butte County Deputy Sheriff and four self-sponsored cadets. The academy participants began instruction in January at Butte College near Oroville, but classes were abruptly interrupted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not stop the learning process as the academy staff rose to the challenge of implementing distance learning. Online instruction was offered in place of classroom training and when deemed appropriate, required in-person training modules were conducted in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

At today’s ceremony, 21 wildlife officers were pinned with the badge indicating the rank of warden.

The next training phase is the Field Training Program, which begins in November. During field training, newly sworn wildlife officers patrol with a seasoned Field Training Officer. These wildlife officers will begin to employ the skills they learned in the academy by apprehending poachers and polluters, protecting our ocean waters and beaches, responding to human wildlife conflict incidents, shutting down illegal cannabis cultivation and protecting the people of California.

A career as a California wildlife officer offers individuals interested in natural resources and law enforcement a lifetime of challenges, diverse assignments and opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. To find out more about what it takes to become a California wildlife officer, please visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

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Media Contact:
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Hunter retrieving a duck

CDFW Implements Wildlife Area and Refuge Check Station Safety Precautions for 2020-2021 Hunting Seasons

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning ahead to provide ample recreational hunting opportunities on wildlife areas and refuges this fall and winter, while also keeping hunters and CDFW staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDFW has established a page on its website to describe specific procedures to be implemented this year for public and staff health and safety. Wildlife areas and refuges will be open as long as visitors implement these practices.

Hunters should be aware of the following:

  • Changes have been made to in-person lottery and first-come-first-served (FCFS) operations for the 2020-21 waterfowl season, such as adjusted hours and controls to increase physical distancing between hunters and staff. To further reduce the congestion of hunters at check stations during peak use periods and minimize the potential for spread of COVID-19, hunters will be allowed to enter a lottery or FCFS list at only one state wildlife area or federal refuge prior to each shoot day for the 2020/21 waterfowl season. This limitation does not apply to reservation applications through the Automated License Data System.
  • Sanitation procedures have been put in place, including a requirement for all individuals on the property to wear masks and maintain distance from others while conducting check station business. Non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public (portable restrooms will be provided). Hunters and other visitors to CDFW lands are asked to bring hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies with them, and to carry their trash home for disposal.
  • Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be implemented to minimize contact between hunters and staff. In some locations, this could include the installation of drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards. Each hunter should carry and present their own bird strap to facilitate safe check-out procedures.
  • CDFW is accepting RV camping applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. Please contact wildlife area staff for up-to-date information on the status of RV camping.

For details, additional information and updates, please check https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/COVID-19 frequently throughout the season.

CDFW may need to update these provisions to ensure consistency with the latest state and local guidelines and directives.

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

Elkhorn Slough

Celebrate California Biodiversity Day 2020 by Exploring Nature, In Person or Online

California is one of the most biodiverse regions in the world, with more than 30,000 species of insects, 6,500 plants, 650 birds, 220 mammals, 100 reptiles, 75 amphibians, 70 freshwater fish and 100 species of marine fish and mammals. We celebrate the unique diversity of living things found in our state, and encourage actions to protect them, on California Biodiversity Day, held Sept. 7 of each year. In 2020, the celebration coincides with Labor Day.

Although physical distancing restrictions and other COVID-19 precaution have prevented California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) ecological reserves and wildlife areas from planning the “open house” style celebrations that were hosted last year, where large groups of people could gather, CDFW staff across the state have created a roster of ways – both virtual and outdoors – for Californians to explore and learn about the biodiversity found on state lands. A master list of California Biodiversity Day events can be found at https://resources.ca.gov/biodiversityday2020.

This year’s virtual events, self-guided tours and outdoor opportunities lend themselves to physical distancing. The events will be held over the course of a week, from September 5-13, 2020.

A sampling of California Biodiversity Day 2020 events, many of which feature the use of the free iNaturalist app, include the following:

  • Take one of the many self-guided tours available at CDFW properties throughout the state. Use the iNaturalist app to learn and document any plants, animals or other organisms you encounter while exploring CDFW ecological reserves and wildlife areas.
  • Challenge yourself with a self-guided bioblitz at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Contribute observations of organisms spotted while exploring the park between September 5 and 13.
  • Play along in the bioblitz competition between Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park and Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Support your favorite park in their quest to log the highest number of bioblitz participants.
  • Play California Biodiversity Bingo! Download the California Academy of Science’s bingo card and see if you can find enough common species in your backyard or neighborhood to make a bingo.
  • Challenge your family to with a bioblitz at the greater Mono Lake area, including Lee Vining Canyon and Lundy Canyon. Share what you see, from bird nests to scat samples!
  • Get ideas for kid-friendly activities on the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History’s website. Learn about ways to engage kids at home in exploring and learning about biodiversity.
  • Venture out on a virtual scavenger hunt at the Nimbus Fish Hatchery. Walk along the Discovery Trail and try to find as many of the species on the list as you can!

Please visit the website for a full list of events and details.

All proposed in-person activities will take place outdoors and involve minimal contact between participants and any staff present, with a minimum physical distance of 6 feet from individuals from different households observed by all.

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Media Contacts:
Kim Tenggardjaja, CDFW Science Institute, (916) 704-3092
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Urges Big Game Hunters to Plan Ahead to Validate Tags

orange deer tag

As California’s big game hunting seasons open throughout the state, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) urges hunters to plan ahead in order to get their big game tags validated in a timely fashion as required by law.

CDFW has closed many of its high use public areas – including fish hatcheries, license counters and other office locations – to slow the spread of COVID-19. Many successful big game hunters rely on these facilities and the CDFW staff there to validate (countersign) their big game tags. Hunters this year are strongly advised to plan ahead and contact their nearest CDFW facility in advance of their hunt to understand the tag validation locations, hours and procedures this season, which will differ from facility to facility.

Deer and elk tags need to be validated before transporting a harvested animal – except for the purpose of taking it to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag. Persons authorized to validate deer and elk tags include CDFW employees but also a long list of other state, federal and local agents, including firefighters, public notaries, peace officers, meat processors, USDA Forest Service staff and others. A listing of those authorized to validate deer and elk tags is available on page 23 of the 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest.

Bear tags, on the other hand, can only be validated by a CDFW employee. Bear tags must be validated prior to transporting the bear – except for the purpose of taking the bear to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag en route to the hunter’s home. CDFW will not require a bear tooth extraction this season.

A list of CDFW offices that will validate bear tags along with their contact information is available on page 57 of the 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest. Hunters must contact these offices ahead of time as many of these facilities and hatcheries are closed.

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Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858