tree squirrel

General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 14

California’s 2019-2020 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

California received above-average rainfall during 2018-19, with a particularly wet spring season. “With a return to favorable weather patterns, and good acorn production, there should be ample opportunities to hunt tree squirrels this year,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program.

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

quail

Quail, Forest Grouse, Ptarmigan and Band-tailed Pigeon General Seasons to Open Soon

The 2019-20 general upland game bird hunting season will open in mid-September for several species in specific zones around the state, providing hunters with many opportunities to bring home some delicious table fare.

September openers include quail (Zone Q1 opens for mountain quail on Sept. 14, and Zone Q2 will be open for all quail on Sept. 28), sooty and ruffed grouse (general season will open in various northern and eastern counties on Sept. 14), white-tailed ptarmigan (which will open Sept. 14) and band-tailed pigeon (the northern hunt zone will open Sept. 21).

Please note that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

Zone maps and information about daily bag limits and possession limits for each game bird species can be found on the CDFW Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage. Additional information about each species can be found below.

Quail

Quail are some of the state’s most popular native game birds. There are three species of quail found in California: California quail, mountain quail and Gambel’s quail. California quail (the state bird) are common and widespread throughout the state in low to mid-elevation brushy habitats with good cover and abundant food. Mountain quail are found in higher elevation habitats. Gambel’s quail are California’s most desert-adapted species and are found in the very arid lands of southeastern California.

The early mountain quail-only season starts on Sept. 14 in Zone Q1 and continues through Oct. 18, covering much of the mountainous region of northern and eastern California. On Sept. 28, the early general quail season opens in Zone Q2 for all quail species in several north coast counties. The remainder of the state will open to quail hunting on Oct. 19 and extend through Jan. 26, 2020. Finally, an additional two-day early hunt season will be open on Oct. 5-6 in Mojave National Preserve for hunters with junior hunting licenses.

CDFW is offering fall hunts for quail (and wild chukar) throughout the state. Special drawings for public land quail and chukar hunts through the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunt Program are available in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and drawings for hunts on private ranches (offered through the SHARE Program) will be available in Tulare and Santa Barbara counties. Hunters can apply for these opportunities online, at CDFW license sales offices, through retail license agents or by calling (800) 565-1458.

For all quail species, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

All three native species of quail are characterized by high reproductive potential associated with adequate and well-timed winter and early spring precipitation. Northern California experienced increased precipitation this spring, benefitting quail habitat and productivity. Hunters should experience good populations of quail this fall.

All three species of quail are most active in the early morning and later afternoon and move in large coveys throughout the day. Quail have distinctive calls that can provide clues to the birds’ location. Quail are more apt to run than flush, making them a more challenging game bird to hunt. Hunting dogs can be useful for locating, flushing and retrieving birds in the field.

Quail can be successfully hunted with legal gauge shotguns. A modified or improved cylinder choke is recommended to avoid damage to the bird. Because of the dense brush habitats where they are usually hunted, downed quail can be hard to find. Despite this challenge, CDFW reminds hunters that wasting game is both unethical and illegal.

Forest Grouse

California has two species of native forest-dwelling grouse: the sooty grouse and the ruffed grouse. Sooty grouse occur in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and northern Coast ranges while the ruffed grouse is restricted to the northwestern part of the state. The general hunting season for both species extends from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14 this year. For sooty and ruffed grouse, the daily bag limit is two (both of one species or mixed species) and possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Although they are fairly large birds, grouse camouflage themselves well and generally hold tight to their location even when hunters are nearby. They flush quickly and fly off in a zigzag pattern, requiring a quick and accurate response from a hunter. Dogs are useful companions to help hunters find, flush and retrieve bagged grouse.

Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan is a non-native grouse that was introduced by CDFW to the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. This is the smallest species of ptarmigan and the only one found in California. They inhabit the high elevation alpine habitats at low densities from Sonora Pass in Tuolumne County to Kings Canyon National Park.

Hunting these birds can be challenging because of the high elevation and steep terrain. Hunting is permitted from Sept. 14-22. The daily bag limit is two per day and the possession limit is two per season. Hunters should prepare for difficult hiking conditions and be familiar with the area before heading out after this game bird.

Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is California’s only native pigeon and is a close relative of the extinct passenger pigeon. They look similar to the introduced domestic or rock pigeons that frequent urban areas. Band-tailed pigeons are often found in mountainous terrain throughout the state, using coniferous forests as well as oak woodlands, but populations are migratory and movements can be unpredictable.

The northern California hunt zone season runs from Sept 21-29. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. The southern hunt zone does not open until December.

CDFW reminds hunters that an upland game bird stamp is required for licensed adult hunters (18 years and older) but not for hunters with a valid junior hunting license. A HIP validation is also required to hunt band-tailed pigeons.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

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

Nebraska Artist Wins 2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest

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A painting of northern pintails by Frank Dolphens, Jr. of Omaha, Neb. has been chosen as the winner of the 2019 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. The image will be the official design for the 2019-2020 stamp.

The contest judges praised the anatomical accuracy of Dolphens’s painting, as well as the accuracy of the habitat. They complimented the excellent body shape and the contrast between the subjects and the background, which seems to make the pintails “pop” off the canvas. The judges also appreciated the three-bird composition and the fact that both sexes were represented.

“I have always admired the northern pintail,” said Dolphens. “I am inspired by their mysticism and their colors and was anxious to enter this year’s contest to portray these characteristics in the painting. I wanted to present the pintails in a grouping to show the strength of their colors in a background setting that enhanced their features.”

Artists from around the country submitted entries for the contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). John Nelson Harris of Groveland, Fla., placed second, Jeffrey Klinefelter of Etna Green, Ind., placed third and Roberta Baer of Redding received honorable mention.

The top four paintings will be displayed at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s 49th Annual Classic Wildlife Art Festival, which is scheduled July 20-21 in Sacramento.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. The contest is traditionally open to artists from all 50 states in order to ensure a wide pool of submissions. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California.

In the past, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting licenses. Today, hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps because California’s modern licensing system prints proof of additional fees paid directly onto the license. However, CDFW still produces the stamps, which can be requested on CDFW’s website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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

Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

CDFW Law Enforcement Division Now Hiring Wildlife Officers

Are you interested in becoming a California wildlife officer? The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Law Enforcement Division (LED) is currently accepting applications for wildlife officers and cadets. CDFW is particularly interested in recruiting applicants with a love of the outdoors and a passion for fish and wildlife conservation.

Warden cadet applications and warden applications must be submitted by July 31, 2019. Apply for a warden cadet position if you are not currently a peace officer. Apply for a warden position if you have your POST certificate.

The Job Post Announcement can be found online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=148187.

All prospective candidates are encouraged to extensively review informational materials on LED’s webpage before contacting CDFW with questions.

CDFW wildlife officers are fully sworn California peace officers with a fundamental duty to serve and protect the public. They have the authority to enforce all California laws, including the Vehicle Code, Penal Code, Health and Safety drug laws and more. The primary mission of a wildlife officer is to enforce wildlife resource laws, protect California waterways and habitat from destruction, pollution and litter, provide the public with hunting and fishing information and to promote and coordinate hunter education and safe weapons handling.

Wildlife officers patrol the mountains, valleys, deserts, creeks, streams, rivers and ocean. They frequently work alone and cover both rural and urban areas. California’s diverse ecosystem spans 159,000 square miles divided into 58 counties, with a human population in excess of 39 million. The state has 1,100 miles of coastline, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, 4,800 lakes and reservoirs and 80 major rivers. Wildlife officers patrol with trucks, ATVs, personal watercraft, boats, snowmobiles and airplanes, making contact with Californians in the great outdoors. Wildlife officers work undercover, conduct surveillances and complete in-depth investigations, including writing and serving search warrants. CDFW LED has numerous specialized teams and assignments including K-9, wildlife trafficking, cannabis enforcement, marine patrol, and oil spill prevention and response.

Annually, wildlife officers contact more than 295,000 people and issue more than 15,000 citations for violations of the law.

Successful applicants for warden cadet will attend a Peace Officer Standards of Training (POST) certified law enforcement training academy, conducted by CDFW at Butte College, in Oroville. Following the academy, probationary wildlife officers will work with a seasoned field training officer for several weeks, where they will learn to apply their training in practical circumstances.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Perry Schultz, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-2082
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 651-9982