May 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 — 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 — Nimbus Hatchery Virtual Tot Time, 10 to 10:30 a.m. May 3, 10, 17 and 24. The popular story time program hosted by Nimbus Hatchery is back in a virtual format! Join us for nature-themed stories, songs, dancing and more! These free events are designed for ages 3-5. To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_rXPHcz1nTe-h7R1PyeW1ag. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

Various Days — Vernal Pool Virtual Tours, 9 to 10 a.m. May 8 and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. May 19. Explore these crucial, incredible habitats with Yolo Basin Foundation staff and volunteers through a virtual experience at the vernal pools of 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. For more information and to register for these free events, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.  

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers for the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas (Oregon-California State Line to Point Arena). Season opens for the following species: rockfish, cabezon, kelp and rock greenlings, lingcod, California scorpionfish (aka sculpin), 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

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens (until Nov. 15 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

1 — Virtual Tour of the Davis Wetlands, 10 to 11 a.m. Join Yolo Basin Foundation staff and docents to explore and learn about this managed, native California wetland ecosystem. Observe wildlife up close with our virtual spotting scope view! Registration is required to receive the Zoom event link. To register for this free event, please visit yolobasin.org/virtualwetlandtours.

3 — Archery Only Spring Wild Turkey and Additional Junior Spring Turkey Seasons Open (extending through May 16). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds

5 — Deadline for 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.

5-9 — World Migratory Bird Week at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Celebrate the diversity of birds migrating through Elkhorn Slough Reserve with an independent avian scavenger hunt, do-it-yourself crafts and an outdoor exhibit of bird artifacts. To find out more, please visit the event calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

7 — International Migratory Bird Day Webinar, 10 to 10:45 a.m. What is the Pacific Flyway, and why is it key to the diversity of birds in California? Learn which migratory birds use the Pacific Flyway and how they move across the world in this free Zoom webinar hosted by Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center naturalists. To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_8a2Mx7v4TSmf8J2x68m9vg. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

8 — Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Tour, 8 to 11 a.m., 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis (95618). Yolo Basin Foundation offers monthly tours of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, October to June. These tours are appropriate for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts and birders! Due to current guidelines, tours are limited to 20 people. Every individual must be registered to participate. For more information and to register, please visit yolobasin.org/wetlands-tours. There is a suggested donation of $10 per adult for tours. Donations support our wetlands education programs.

11 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, time to be determined. 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.

11 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined. 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.

11 — Vernal Pool Speaker Series: Plants of the Vernal Pools, 7 p.m. Take a closer look at the beautiful and unique plant species that call vernal pools home! Many of the gorgeous flowers that encircle vernal pools are fully protected and a rare treat to see. Carol Witham, botanist and vernal pool expert, will discuss the biology of these plants, why they grow in vernal pools and how to protect and safely view them. To register for this free event, please visit yolobasin.org/grpspeakerseries.  

14 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program Proposal Solicitation Notice Closes. Applications must be received by 5 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

15 — Bat Talk and Walk Tickets On Sale. Did you know that an estimated 250,000 bats live under the Yolo Causeway during the summer? Yolo Basin Foundation hosts popular Bat Talk and Walk events where you can learn all about these amazing and beneficial animals and watch the “flyout” of the largest urban colony of Mexican free-tailed bats in California! This summer, the talk portion will be held via Zoom and the walk portion will be an in-person event to view the flyout. As in past years, there will be a few special nights for CDFW employees and their families. More information and registration links will be available at yolobasin.org/bats2021.

15-16 & 19 — Teachers on the Estuary Workshop, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). This free hands-on estuarine science workshop focuses on developing inquiry-based lessons for middle and high school teachers. The 2021 TOTE Workshop focus will be climate change and blue carbon, and it will be held as two online learning sessions and one in-person field day at the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. During the field day, all state COVID protection protocols will be practiced, including mask wearing, physical distancing and a capacity on group size. To learn more and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/teachers-on-the-estuary-workshop-2.  

20 California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 1 p.m., via Zoom or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

21 — Endangered Species Day Webinar, 10 to 10:45 a.m. Find out which endangered species call California home and what their future may look like in this free Zoom webinar presented by Nimbus Hatchery Visitor Center naturalists. Learn about our native bees and discover what you can do to help them thrive! To register, please visit us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_RvlH50RnQXqfmoQCCyeS4A. For more information, please contact Stephanie Ambrosia at stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov or (916) 597-7752. 

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

CDFW Offering Hunts of a Lifetime

Drawings for ‘Golden Opportunity,’ Open Zone Deer Tags
to Benefit Wildlife Conservation

For the first-time ever, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will raffle off two “Golden Opportunity” fundraising deer tags to the general hunting public. These rare tags allow hunters to take any legal buck by any legal means anywhere in the state beginning July 10, 2021, through the end of the year.

CDFW’s Golden Opportunity tags typically are sold at auction by partnering, nonprofit wildlife conservation organizations to raise funds for big game management, habitat and scientific research in California. In 2019, Golden Opportunity tags brought an average price of $48,200 each. Two of these once-in-a-lifetime tags are now available to the hunting public through CDFW’s 2021 Big Game Drawing for a $7.05 application fee.

Along with the Golden Opportunity tags, CDFW is also announcing additional chances to win a coveted “Open Zone Deer Tag.” These fundraising tags allow hunters to hunt in any deer zone of their choice during its open season and are likewise mostly sold at auction. Four Open Zone Deer Tags will be available to hunters in CDFW’s 2021 Big Game Drawing for a $7.05 application fee. This is an increase from one Open Zone Deer Tag offered in the drawing in previous years.

“The hunting public truly has some amazing opportunities this year to win a dream hunt for the price of just a few dollars,” said Stafford Lehr, CDFW Deputy Director for Wildlife and Fisheries. “COVID-19 disrupted the operations of many of the conservation organizations we partner with to help sell these tags and raise critical funds for wildlife. As a result, we have some very special deer hunts to add and offer up through our fundraising tag raffle this year.”

In 2019, the auction of five Golden Opportunity deer tags collectively raised $241,000 for conservation. The auction of five Open Zone deer tags in 2019 generated a combined $50,000.

Applications for both the Golden Opportunity and Open Zone Deer Tags are on sale now through June 2, 2021, and are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website and at retail agents statewide that sell California hunting and fishing licenses.

The tags are available to both California residents and nonresidents. There are no limits on application purchases. Winners are awarded the tags at no additional cost. Preference points do not apply. They are neither lost nor gained as part of the drawing.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s Fundraising Random Drawing Tags web page.

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

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

California’s Spring Wild Turkey Season Fast-Approaching

California’s general spring turkey season opens statewide March 27 and runs through May 2 with additional hunting dates for young hunters and archery hunters.

Among the many opportunities to bag a wild turkey this spring:

  • Those possessing a valid junior hunting license get the first chance at a spring turkey. A youth-only weekend hunt takes place March 20-21, a week before the general season opens. A post-season youth hunt begins Monday May 3 and runs through Sunday May 16. Shotguns are permitted for all youth seasons.
  • A special, archery-only hunting season begins Monday, May 3 and runs through Sunday, May 16.
  • CDFW’s SHARE Program, which offers public hunting opportunities on private properties, is offering drawings for spring turkey hunts on two private ranches in Tulare County, the 722-acre River Ridge Ranch and the 975-acre Hart Ranch, including one post-season hunt Sunday, May 16 at the River Ridge Ranch for adult archery hunters or junior hunting license holders with a shotgun. Applications for these special hunts must be made through CDFW’s online sales site. There is a $12.42 application fee for each hunt with most of the money raised returned to participating landowners. For more details on these hunts, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/SHARE.
  • CDFW will host nearly 100 special turkey hunts on public lands throughout the state this season. The hunts were available through an online lottery process that has now closed.

With stable to growing populations of wild turkeys in many parts of the state, the spring turkey season has become one of the more anticipated events on the hunting calendar.

Shooting hours for spring turkeys are from one half-hour before sunrise to 5 p.m. Both a hunting license and upland game bird stamp validation are required to hunt wild turkeys, although an upland validation is not required for junior hunting license holders.

Hunters are limited to one bearded turkey per day with a spring season limit of three birds.

Nonlead shot is required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in the state. Turkeys also can be legally hunted with air rifles and lead pellets of at least 0.177 caliber. Crossbows may be used for the general turkey season but not during the archery season.

Turkey hunters are strongly encouraged to review the 2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes Due to COVID-19 web page prior to visiting any state-operated wildlife area in order to understand all required health and safety practices in place to help protect visitors and staff. Turkey hunters are further advised to check with the local management of the individual property they are planning to hunt for specific entry procedures, details and other regulations.

Below are general COVID-19 safety guidelines to reduce the risk of exposure to the virus in the outdoors:

  • Stay Local: Stay close to home during this pandemic period. If you or anyone in your household is feeling sick, please remain at home and plan your trip for another time.
  • Plan Ahead: The ongoing pandemic response continues to be dynamic. Prior to leaving home, check to ensure your destination is open, if parking is available and what visitor guidelines may be in effect.
  • Stay Safer at Six Feet: No matter the recreational activity, maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Those camping together should only include people within your immediate household. This means no guests or friends, and no gatherings or parties.
  • Keep Clean: Be prepared as not all services may be available. Restrooms may be unavailable or closed. Bring soap/hand sanitizer. Please pack out all trash.
  • Stay Covered: The state requires you to wear a face covering when you cannot maintain a physical distance of six feet or more. Individuals must have a face covering with them at all times.

CDFW Seeks Artists to Enter Annual California Duck Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) invites artists to submit their original artwork to the 2021-2022 California Duck Stamp Art Contest. Submissions will be accepted April 26 through June 4.

The artwork must depict the species selected by the California Fish and Game Commission, which for the 2021-2022 hunting season is the gadwall. These common dabbling ducks are similar in size and shape to a mallard, with both males and females donning somewhat muted coloring. Despite lacking the bright colors typical of other male ducks, male gadwalls exhibit intricate feather patterns with subtle yet striking color variations of brown and gray ending in a black patch at the tail.

The winning artwork will be reproduced on the 2021-2022 California Duck Stamp. The top submissions are traditionally showcased at the Pacific Flyway Decoy Association’s art show in July, but this year’s show status is pending due to COVID-19.

The design is to be in full color and in the medium (or combination of mediums) of the artist’s choosing, except that no photographic process, digital art, metallic paints or fluorescent paints may be used in the finished design. Photographs, computer-generated art, art produced from a computer printer or other computer/mechanical output device (air brush method excepted) are not eligible for entry and will be disqualified. The design must be the contestant’s original hand-drawn creation. The entry design may not be copied or duplicated from previously published art, including photographs, or from images in any format published on the Internet.

The contest is open to U.S. residents 18 years of age or older as of March 8, 2021. Entrants need not reside in California. All entries must be accompanied by a completed participation agreement and entry form. These forms and the official rules are available online at wildlife.ca.gov/duck-stamp/contest.

Entries will be judged in June. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, and art and printing, will choose first, second and third-place winners, as well as honorable mention.

Since 1971, CDFW’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California. In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license. Now California has moved to an automated licensing system and hunters are no longer required to carry the physical stamps in the field (proof of purchase prints directly onto the license). However, CDFW will still produce the stamps, which can be requested by interested individuals at wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps.

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Media Contacts:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 738-9641
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch

Winning 2020-21 Duck Stamp painting of canvasbacks by Jeffrey Klinefelter.