December 2020 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 — Nimbus Fish Hatchery Free Public Webinars, 9 to 9:45 a.m., Dec. 3, 10 and 17 via Zoom. These free public webinars will be broadcast live from Nimbus Hatchery staff for all ages to enjoy. Because the Visitor Center is currently closed, we are offering everyone the opportunity to connect with wildlife and our hatchery experts. Information on each webinar and a link to register (required) will be posted to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nimbushatchery. For additional information, please contact stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or call (916) 358-2884.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Hunting Opportunities. There are still opportunities available for pig, waterfowl and upland game hunting through February. An $11.25 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

Saturdays — Swan Tours, 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Yuba County north of Marysville in privately owned rice fields. Led by CDFW naturalists, this is an excursion into a prime Pacific Flyway overwintering grounds. Tours focus on the majestic and ancient tundra swan, but participants are sure to see an assortment of geese, ducks, shorebirds and raptors. Sign up on Eventbrite. Tours have been modified to meet health and safety guidelines. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours or email genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

5 — Weaving Yesterdays: A Live History Series Virtual Event, 1 to 1:30 p.m. Reserve naturalists and historians will host a Facebook Live series exploring the cultural heritage of Elkhorn Slough. At 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, participants will hear the backstory of a new location around the area. Please visit facebook.com/events/916213552118672 to view the series and find recordings of previous installments.

8 California Wildlife Conservation Board Special Meeting, 10 a.m., via Microsoft Teams or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

9-10 California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on Dec. 9 and 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 10. 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.

10 — Woven in Time: The Cultural Heritage and Historical Ecology of Elkhorn Slough Virtual Event, 5:30 to 7 p.m. Explore the Elkhorn Slough’s rich history with Stewardship Coordinator Andrea Woolfolk. After the lecture, celebrate with us at a live virtual ribbon cutting for a new historical ecology exhibit. For more information and to view live, please visit facebook.com/events/2519752044989001.

11 — Lower American River Conservancy Program Virtual American River Parkway Tour, 1 to 3 p.m. This virtual tour of the American River Parkway will explore current conditions of the Parkway and highlight current and potential natural and community investment sites. Information will be available at wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

13 — The Ups and Downs of King Tides Virtual Event, 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. Witness the highest and lowest tides of the year virtually and find out how scientists use the king tides phenomenon to model sea level rise impacts on California’s coast. This two-part presentation will feature Elkhorn Slough Reserve naturalists speaking from the reserve at the highest tide of the year (8:30 a.m.) and the lowest (4 p.m.). For more information and to view live, please visit facebook.com/events/657171038289554.

16 — Earliest Possible Date for Opening of Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery North of the Sonoma-Mendocino County Line (Northern Management Area). After a delay from Dec. 1 due to crab quality, Dec. 16 is the earliest possible date the season could open. However, the opening date may be further delayed in some or all of this area due to elevated marine life entanglement risk or poor meat quality. Should there be additional changes to the season opening date due to entanglement risk, information will be made available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and sent out through the CDFW Whale Safe Fisheries email listserv. More information on the crab fishery and season updates due to crab quality can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

19 — General Season for Band-tailed Pigeons in the Southern Hunt Zone Opens (extending through Dec. 27). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

27 — Black Bear Season Ends Statewide (or earlier if CDFW determines that 1,700 black bears have been reported taken). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear. Successful hunters must have their tag validated. All hunters are required to submit a report on their bear tag, whether they hunted for bear or not. Tags can be mailed to the address on the tag or reported online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin.

28 — Archery Only Pheasant Season Opens (extending through Jan. 24, 2021). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

31 — Recreational Groundfish Fishery for Boat-based Anglers Closes. 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.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Commercial Dungeness Crab Update

The commercial Dungeness crab season in the central management area, Point Arena to the Mexico border, will continue to be delayed due to the presence of whales within fishing grounds and the potential for entanglement. The commercial Dungeness crab season in the northern management area was scheduled to open Sunday, Dec. 1, but was delayed until at least Wednesday, Dec. 16 due to low meat quality. Meat quality testing and delays are a long-standing tri-state industry supported component of the season opener to ensure high quality crab at the start of the fisheries in northern California, Oregon and Washington. In early December, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Director will re-assess entanglement risk in the central management area and evaluate risk in the northern management area to inform the season opener for both areas.

CDFW in partnership with researchers, federal agencies and the fishing industry has conducted surveys from the Oregon state line to the Channel Islands to observe marine life concentrations. CDFW has conducted five aerial surveys since late October and more than 10 vessel-based surveys have been conducted by researchers and the fishing industry. Additional sources of data include observations from a network of observers spread across three national marine sanctuaries.

Based on those data sources, “CDFW, after consulting with the Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, is enacting a delay in the central management area,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “Available data indicates the whales still remain in the fishing grounds. This risk assessment focused on the central management area because the northern management area was already delayed due to low meat quality. CDFW staff, collaborators and partners have scheduled additional surveys in the next few weeks that, weather permitting, are anticipated to provide the data necessary to reassess whale presence. Our hope is both quality testing and additional marine life survey data will support a unified statewide opener on Dec. 16, just in time to have crab for the holidays and New Year.”

CDFW is planning additional aerial surveys for the first week of December to inform a risk assessment in advance of Dec. 16. When the data indicates the whales have migrated out of the fishing grounds, CDFW stands ready to open the commercial season.

For more information related to the risk assessment process or this delay, please visit CDFW’s Whale Safe Fisheries page.

For more information on Dungeness crab, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

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Media Contacts:
Ryan Bartling, CDFW Marine Region, (415) 761-1843
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

November 2020 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.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Nimbus Fish Hatchery Free Public Webinars, 9 to 9:45 a.m., Nov. 5, 12, 19 and 25 via Zoom. These free public webinars will be broadcast live from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery for all ages to enjoy from a safe social distance. Because the Visitor Center is currently closed, we are offering everyone the opportunity to connect with wildlife and our hatchery experts. Information on each webinar and a link to register (required) will be posted to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nimbushatchery. For additional information, please contact stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov  or call (916) 358-2884.

Saturdays — Swan Tours, 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Yuba County north of Marysville in privately owned rice fields. Led by CDFW naturalists, this is an excursion into a prime Pacific Flyway overwintering grounds. Tours focus on the majestic and ancient tundra swan, but participants are sure to see an assortment of geese, ducks, shorebirds and raptors. Sign up on Eventbrite. Tours have been modified to meet health and safety guidelines. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours or email genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 — First Day of No Depth Limit for Recreational Boat-Based Groundfish Fishing, California-Oregon State Line to Point Arena (through Dec. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary.

1 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D3-D7, D17 and D19. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.  

7 — Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Opens Statewide. Health advisory information will be posted at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/crabs.

7 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone D12. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.  

7 — Canada Goose Season Opens in the North Coast Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — Scaup Season Opens in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of State Zones (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — White Goose Season Opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — Weaving Yesterdays: A Live History Series Virtual Event, 1 to 1:30 p.m. Reserve naturalists and historians will host a Facebook Live series exploring the cultural heritage of Elkhorn Slough. At 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, participants will hear the backstory of a new location around the area. Please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/weaving-yesterdays-a-live-history-series to view the series schedule and find recordings of previous installments. 

7 — Teachers on the Estuary Workshop, 9 to 11:30 a.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The reserve presents a hands-on estuarine science workshop for middle and high school teachers through a combination of virtual lessons and field work. Teachers will learn from reserve scientists, engage in inquiry-based lessons and take home new hands-on activities. For the full workshop schedule and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.

8  Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. Recreational ocean salmon fishing closes statewide. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon or call the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

8 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D11, D13-D15 and X9c. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

10 — California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, 9 a.m. 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/2020.

14 — Fall Wild Turkey Season Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 13). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — General Pheasant Season Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 27). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — Late Season Dove Hunting Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 28). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

15 — 2021 Sport Fishing Licenses Available. The 2021 sport fishing licenses become available at various sites. For more information or to purchase a license online, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing.

15 — Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery South of the Sonoma-Mendocino County Line (Central Management Area) Scheduled to Open. The opening date may be delayed in some or all of this area due to elevated marine life entanglement risk or human health concerns from domoic acid. Should there be a change to the season opening date due to entanglement risk, information will be made available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and sent out through the CDFW Whale Safe Fisheries email listserv. More information on domoic acid and the crab fishery can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/crabs.

16 — California Fish and Game Tribal Committee Meeting, 1:30 p.m. 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.

18 — Brant Season Opens in the Northern Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 14). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

18 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Microsoft Teams or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

19 — Brant Season Opens in the Balance of State Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 15). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

22 — General Deer Season Closes in Zone D16. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

29 — General Deer Season Closes in Zone D12. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

California Fish and Game Commission Meets

At its Oct. 14, 2020 meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from this week’s meeting.

fish and game commission logo

The Commission adopted changes to the statewide sportfishing regulations to make them more user friendly. The regulation is the culmination of years of work by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife including input from stakeholders to overhaul and simplify these regulations. This effort will result in a 52 percent increase in fishing opportunity in special regulated waters and open up significant opportunities for the remaining inland waters across the state. The regulation is expected to take effect March 1, 2021, after final approval by the Office of Administrative Law.

Recreational and commercial groundfish regulations were adopted for consistency with federal regulations.

Three new wild trout waters were designated as Trout Heritage Waters, while the designation was removed for one section of waterway.

The Commission heard from stakeholders about extending the sunset date on the current recreational red abalone closure, amending recreational take of crab regulations to provide additional whale and turtle protections in the trap fishery, and amending regulations to allow for additional recreational take of sea urchins. The items were discussions only and no action was taken today.

In a unanimous vote, the Commission determined that changing the status the Mohave Desert Tortoise from threatened to endangered under the California Endangered Species Act may be warranted.

The full commission – President Eric Sklar, Vice President Samantha Murray and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Peter Silva – was present. President Sklar announced that former Commissioner Russell Burns recently resigned from the Commission and the seat he vacated is now open.

As a reminder, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting budget gap in California, Commission meetings through June 2021 will be held via webinar and teleconference.

The agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is scheduled for Dec. 9-10, 2020.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.

Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

crab in tidepool

CDFW Reminds Beach Visitors of Tidepool Collection Regulations

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has noted an increase in the number of visitors to our rocky seashore this summer, and reminds people they must know the rules governing harvest and should do what they can to protect these amazing places.

“Regulations that either prohibit or limit the collection of species like turban snails, hermit crabs and mussels are meant to protect our tidepools, which are full of fascinating life that’s important to the marine ecosystem,” said Dr. Craig Shuman, CDFW Marine Region Manager.

Individuals should not remove any animals from tidepools that they don’t plan on keeping and should also be aware that even walking over some sensitive areas can unintentionally harm tidepool plants and animals.

“It is important to watch where you walk, not only to avoid unintentionally harming the myriad of sea life that call California’s tidepools home, but to avoid an accidental fall,” Shuman said.

Tidepool animals have special regulations that limit the species and numbers that can be taken (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). Most species found in tidepools can only be collected by hand. The use of pry bars, knives or other devices to remove them from the rocks is not allowed. There are also regulations that cover fish found in tidepools, which can only be taken by hook and line or hand. No nets or other devices can be used. In addition, the California Department of Public Health’s annual mussel quarantine is in effect until at least Nov. 1, because eating mussels at this time of year may be hazardous to your health. Mussels can be collected for bait but may not be taken for human consumption during this period.

“People may not realize that anyone age 16 or older must have a valid sport fishing license to collect tidepool animals, and that there are limits to how many can be taken,” said Assistant Chief Mike Stefanak of the CDFW Marine Law Enforcement Division. “In Southern California, an Ocean Enhancement Validation is also required for tidepool collection.”

Most marine protected areas (MPAs) do not allow collection of tidepool animals. MPA maps and regulations are available on CDFW’s MPA web page, and on the mobile-friendly Ocean Sport Fishing interactive web map. Local authorities may also close off other areas to tidepool collecting.

Tidepooling and legal collecting can be a safe outdoor activity that maintains physical distancing from others as we work to minimize transmission of COVID-19. Those interested in participating must make sure to stay six feet from anyone not in their same household, wear a face mask, follow all fishing regulations, watch for incoming waves and where they step, and stay safe. Any wildlife crimes witnessed can be easily reported to CDFW’s “CalTIP” hotline, by calling 1-888-334-2258, or by texting “CALTIP”, followed by a space and the message, to 847-411 (tip411).

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Media Contacts:
John Ugoretz, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 338-3068

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714