April 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 — California Invasive Species Action Week Youth Art Contest. Students in grades 2-12 are invited to submit artwork on the theme, “Be an Invasive Species Detective!” All types of media are encouraged! Submit entries electronically by May 5, 2021. Find complete information at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/invasives/action-week/poster-contest. Winners will be announced during California Invasive Species Action Week in June. Please send any questions to invasives@wildlife.ca.gov.

Various Days — Nature Bowl 2021: Family Challenge Edition. Hosted by CDFW’s North Central Region, the 2021 Nature Bowl has been reformatted into a virtual nature challenge to all California families with school-age students. Spring is here, and it’s time for rejuvenation, emerging from winter hibernation and getting outside for a healthy dose of nature. Your challenge is to work together as a family to compete in five nature-themed activities – and possibly win cool nature-related prizes. Nature Bowl runs through May 14, 2021. For more information and materials, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/nature-bowl or contact Genelle Treaster at genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

Various Days — Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Scavenger Hunt, sunrise to sunset through April 11, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis (95618). Learn about the Yolo Bypass wetlands and wildlife in this family-friendly, self-guided scavenger hunt around the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Participants will solve clues as they journey to the scavenger hunt stations shown on the provided map. Visit at least five stations and submit the scavenger hunt form to be entered to win exciting prizes. See if you can visit all 10 stations! The Scavenger Hunt is free, though a $10 donation per family to support Yolo Basin Foundation’s environmental education programs is suggested. For more information, materials and instructions, please visit yolobasin.org/scavengerhunt.

Various Days — Vernal Pool Speaker Series, 7 p.m., April 1, 13 and 27. Vernal pools are home to a variety of rare and endemic plants and animals. These talks, presented via Zoom, will cover the natural history and ecology of vernal pools of the Central Valley, plant and animal species conservation, and the history of Grasslands Regional Park. For the schedule of talks and to register for these free events, please visit yolobasin.org/grpspeakerseries.

1 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program Proposal Solicitation Notice Release. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens, for all boat-based anglers in the San Francisco Management Area (Point Arena, Mendocino County to Pigeon Point, San Mateo County), San Francisco Bay and the Central Management Area (Pigeon Point, San Mateo County to Point Conception, Santa Barbara County). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish.  

1 — California Grunion Season Closes. Season closes at midnight the night of March 31. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/grunion.

1 — San Francisco Bay Surfperch Season Closes. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/fishing-map/sf-bay.

3 — Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from Pigeon Point to U.S./Mexico Border. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon webpage at 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.

3 — Vernal Pool Virtual Tour, 9 to 10 a.m. Explore the crucial, incredible habitats of vernal pools with Yolo Basin Foundation staff and volunteers through a virtual experience at Grasslands Regional Park. Discover how vernal pools are naturally created, how they can be restored and how they provide unique habitat. Zoom in more closely to view amazing wildflowers and small creatures that call the vernal pools home. Registration is free and limited to 60 devices per virtual tour. For more information and to sign up, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.

6-9 — 11th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference and 2021 IEP Annual Workshop. The 11th Biennial Bay-Delta Science Conference and the 2021 Interagency Ecological Program Annual Workshop will be a combined virtual event this year. The conference acts as a forum for presenting scientific analyses and results relevant to management of the San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. The goal of the conference is to provide new information and syntheses to the broad community of scientists, engineers, resources managers and stakeholders working on Bay-Delta issues. The conference theme is “Building Resilience through Diversity in Science.” Attendance is free with registration. To register for the event, please visit baydeltascienceconference.org. For more information on the conference, please visit deltacouncil.ca.gov/delta-science-program/11th-biennial-bay-delta-science-conference.

8 — Advanced Hunter Education Webinar: Archery Turkey Hunting, 6 to 7 p.m. This webinar will cover many aspects of a successful turkey hunt with a bow. Join us as we share information on how to bag a wild turkey using archery equipment. Register at www.register-ed.com/programs/california/162-advanced-hunter-education.

10 — Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Virtual Tour, 10 to 11 a.m. Join Yolo Basin Foundation staff and docents to explore your local wetlands. Observe wildlife up close with our virtual spotting scope view! Registration is free and limited to 60 devices per virtual tour. For more information and to sign up, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.

13 — California Fish and Game Commission Tribal 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.

14 — 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.

15 — 2021-22 Hunting Items on Sale. Hunters can purchase 2021-22 hunting licenses, tags and validations, and apply for the annual Big Game Drawing. Items may be purchased at license agents, online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales or by phone at (800) 565-1458. Sales transactions for the Big Game Drawing applications must be completed before midnight on June 2, 2021. Please contact a local CDFW license sales office for more information.

15 — Deadline to Submit Lobster Trap Loss Affidavits. Commercial lobster fishermen must submit an affidavit reporting trap loss for the 2020-2021 season. Forms can be found at nrm.dfg.ca.gov/filehandler.ashx?documentid=141218 and can be returned either by email to lobster@wildlife.ca.gov or by mail to 3883 Ruffin Road, San Diego, CA 92123.

22 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Stream Flow Enhancement Program Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Zoom. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

22 — Advanced Hunter Education Webinar: Applying for Big Game Tags, 6 to 7 p.m. This webinar will cover how to successfully apply for all big game tag applications. Learn how the process works and how to properly apply for your hunt choices. Register at www.register-ed.com/programs/california/162-advanced-hunter-education.

24 — Aquatic WILD Virtual Workshop, 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). This one-day workshop for elementary school teachers takes a deep dive into aquatic habitats and their animals! Participants leave with the Aquatic Wild guide to hundreds of fun and engaging lessons and activities, and skills to lead field investigations at their school or on the reserve. This workshop is free, but registration is required. For more details and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/aquatic-wild-teacher-workshop-3.

29 — Watershed Scale Thinking: An Evenings at the Estuary Presentation, 5:30 to 7 p.m., Virtual Event. Join Elkhorn Slough Foundation Stewardship Director Dash Dunkell and Digital Mapping expert Kass Green for a discussion on watershed restoration and the brand-new vegetation maps of the Elkhorn Slough and learn how to take meaningful action in your own area. To register for this free event, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/watershed-scale-thinking.

30 — Deadline to Report Spiny Lobster Report Cards. Divers and hoop netters who were issued report cards for spiny lobster must report their data by April 30, 2021. Report card holders who fail to return their Spiny Lobster Report Card or report their harvest online by the deadline will be assessed a $21.60 non-return fee when they purchase a spiny lobster report card for the following season. Divers and hoop netters may report online or mail their report card to the address printed on the report card. To report online, please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin.

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

Many Californians Took to the Woods and Waters in 2020

Fishing, Hunting License Sales Soar Amid Pandemic

With more free time on their hands, a growing interest in securing their own food, coupled with the needs for physical outlets and mental relief as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, more Californians turned to fishing and hunting last year.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) issued nearly two million sport fishing licenses in 2020, an 11 percent increase from 2019. Of those, 1,201,237 were annual resident sport fishing licenses, a 19 percent increase over 2019. Not since 2008 has CDFW issued as many sport fishing licenses as it did last year.

California hunter numbers also spiked. CDFW issued nearly 300,000 California hunting licenses in 2020, a nine percent increase from the previous year. Of those, 244,040 were annual resident hunting licenses – an 11 percent increase from the previous year.

About 16 percent of the annual resident hunting licenses issued last year – 43,450 – went to first-time license holders. Another 12 percent of those hunting licenses – 31,835 – went to reactivated hunters, meaning residents who didn’t purchase a California hunting license in 2019, but held one in a prior year.

“We recognize it’s important to provide an outlet for recreation, mental and physical health during these difficult times, and we’ve worked hard as a department to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open, available and safe as much as possible,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “We’re especially excited to welcome so many new hunters and new anglers of all ages and all backgrounds. A California fishing or hunting license is a passport to outdoor adventure and a gateway to healthy living, environmental stewardship, good times and lifetime learning.”

Hunters and anglers play a crucial role in managing natural resources by regulating wildlife populations to maintain ecological and biological diversity, participating in surveys for scientific data collection and reporting wildlife crimes. Hunters and anglers also help sustain a multibillion-dollar outdoor recreation industry and provide a significant funding source for fish and wildlife conservation in California.

Amid the global pandemic in 2020, CDFW created new virtual learning resources for hunters and anglers while instituting COVID-19 safeguards and precautions on the ground to keep hunting and fishing opportunities open and safe for both staff and participants. Among those efforts:

  • The Harvest Huddle Hour (R3H3) debuted. Part of CDFW’s R3 initiative to recruit, retain, and reactivate hunters and anglers in California, the virtual seminar series for beginning adult audiences is intended to increase knowledge and confidence around skillsets required to harvest wild food in California. The seminars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Intro to California Inland Fishing,” “Bag and Possession Limits and Gifting Your Take,” “Intro to Foraging,” “Tackle Box Basics” and “Intro to Turkey Hunting.” More topics in hunting, fishing, foraging and the shooting sports are planned for 2021.
  • Beginning in May, CDFW’s Hunter Education Program allowed aspiring hunters to complete their hunter education requirements entirely online. Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor.
  • CDFW’s Hunter Education Program also moved its Advanced Hunter Education Clinics – focused on the how-to of hunting – to an online, webinar format in 2020. The webinars, archived online at the CDFW website, included “Waterfowl Reservation System and Refuge Operations,” “Waterfowl Wednesday,” “Upland Opportunities” and “Band-tailed Pigeons – What They Are and How to Hunt Them.” More topics are planned for 2021.
  • CDFW’s Fishing in the City Program, which provides angling opportunities for city dwellers and suburban residents, continued with trout and catfish plants in neighborhood park ponds and suburban lakes even though it had to suspend in-person fishing clinics. Fishing in the City created a series of “learn to fish” videos to help newcomers get started in fishing – and help parents get their kids started in fishing.
  • CDFW instituted COVID-19-related safeguards and operational changes at all state-operated wildlife areas and refuges — popular with hunters, anglers, wildlife watchers, hikers, and others — to keep these areas open and accessible throughout 2020 and into 2021.
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

CDFW Warns of Continued Fraudulent License Sales Operations

If you are in the market for a California fishing or hunting license (or any related products, such as hunting tags), please ensure that you are making your purchase from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or an approved vendor.

Several unauthorized online websites are continuing to improperly charge customers extra fees for online fishing and hunting license purchases, and may be collecting sensitive personal information as part of their unauthorized transactions.

California hunting and fishing licenses may properly be purchased in only one of four ways:

Because CDFW’s license sales offices and some independent license sales agent offices have been temporarily closed to help slow the spread of COVID-19, there has been a surge in online sales over the summer months. Unscrupulous website operators and scammers are taking advantage of increased virtual traffic, and the public should take extra precautions to ensure they do not fall victim to a scam.

Since June 2019, six websites offering unauthorized license sales have been taken down at CDFW’s behest, and an additional two websites are in the process of being disabled.

The ALDS, which is CDFW’s exclusive means of online license sales, was launched in 2011. ALDS can be accessed via CDFW’s website or by clicking the link that is frequently provided in official communications from the department. When making an online purchase, please check the URL of the site you are visiting to ensure you are on the official CDFW website (wildlife.ca.gov) or the ALDS website (www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales). These are the only CDFW-affiliated links for hunting and fishing license sales.

Unofficial websites may attempt to represent CDFW and/or contain information about hunting and fishing licenses, and Internet search engines may not always list the official CDFW website as the top result.

Please be cautious when providing personal information to any website. While authorized purchases made through independent license sales agents and ALDS are subject to an additional 5 percent handling fee, the fraudulent sales websites offer products for sale with “shipping and handling fees” that are much higher than 5 percent of the base purchase price. To date, it appears that the fraudulent activity has been limited to charging customers unauthorized fees. Licenses that have been mailed to customers after unauthorized transactions may be valid; however, CDFW cannot guarantee that this is or will be true in all cases.

If you believe you may have been defrauded by an unauthorized website or would like to check the validity of a previous purchase, please provide us with information about your experience at ReportFraud@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contacts:
Stephen Adams, CDFW Information Systems Branch, (916) 323-1456
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

girl wearing Hunter Education sweatshirt studying mobile device

California Temporarily Authorizes Completion of Hunter Education Courses Online

In response to the delay of in-person California hunter education classes due to COVID-19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily allowing new hunters to complete their education requirements entirely online.

Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor (HEI). Because all classroom instruction opportunities have been suspended, California will temporarily waive the in-person requirement, allowing students to complete the full course of instruction online.

“Online-only certification is a temporary solution to allow Californians the ability to fulfill their hunter education requirements and obtain a hunting license during these unique times,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to earn their certification before the fall hunting seasons, so we believe this is a reasonable solution, given the circumstances.”

When deemed safe to do so, CDFW intends to return to the prior system, including a minimum level of in-person instruction with a certified HEI. “We value our 1,000 extremely dedicated volunteer instructors enormously, and we’re anxious to see them back in front of students as soon as possible,” Bess added.

Effective immediately, prospective hunters may earn their hunter education certification online. More information is available at  https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. The cost for the course is $24.95. Successful prospective hunters who complete and pass the online course will be able to immediately print a paper Hunter Education Completion Certificate, which will qualify them to purchase a hunting license.  Their CDFW online license profile will automatically be updated with their Hunter Education Certification within two days.

Prospective hunters are advised that the deadline to apply for California’s Big Game draw is June 2, 2020. CDFW advises new hunters to set a goal of completing the online certification by May 31, to allow time for the automatic update of their CDFW license profile. CDFW license profiles can also be updated by presenting the paper certificate to a CDFW License Agent.

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