Category Archives: Hunting

Young Hunters, Mentors Enjoy Successful Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Nearly 1,000 young hunters took to the fields on Feb. 4-5 this year, as Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days opened to clearing skies and the ducks and geese were plentiful. These special two days of waterfowl hunting were open only to junior license holders age 17 or younger, and their non-hunting adult mentors.

Various hunts were conducted on 21 wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) operates waterfowl hunting programs. Private waterfowl clubs and conservation organizations, including the California Waterfowl Association and individual chapters of Ducks Unlimited, hosted twice this number of young hunters statewide.

The main objective of Youth Waterfowl Days is to provide young hunters with a special opportunity to learn more about waterfowl hunting and provide a mentored experience.

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Colby Fritter, 11, earned his hunter education certificate and bought his license on the first of two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days.

“This year CDFW staff worked at opening previously flooded areas like the Little Dry Creek Wildlife Unit, since Grizzly Island and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Areas were closed due to flooding,” said Craig Stowers, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Wildlife Branch Game Management Program. “Not only did the young hunters have some great experiences, but they also did very well, averaging nearly three birds each on Saturday.”

One of the top-producing areas was Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, where young hunters averaged 5.4 birds on Saturday. On many of the other state-managed properties, such as Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, youths averaged approximately three birds each. Numerous private duck clubs and organizations with waterfowl properties throughout the state opened their doors to young hunters as well. Some, like the Cameron Duck Club in East Nicolaus, provided guided hunts for youths.

Eleven-year-old Colby Fritter of Chico completed his Hunter Education Course on Saturday. He secured his license at 3 p.m., just in time to go to a private duck blind for an afternoon shoot. On his first hunt, with his first shot, he took a Canada goose with his Youth Model Remington 870 20-gauge.

“He lit up like a Christmas tree,” said his father, Scott Fritter. “He worked and studied hard to pass the hunter education course and exam and it really paid off. It was an experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”

At the Little Dry Creek Unit in the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, staff cleaned up flood debris to prepare for the 63 youth hunters who hunted the first day.  Each of the young hunters was directed to a blind or free-roam area deemed safe to hunt. Upon completing their hunt, they were invited to dine on hot dogs, chips and bottled water. It was the first time the unit was open since Jan. 7, and provided exceptional opportunities for the young hunters.

Waterfowl hunting results, including results for each state-managed Youth Hunting Days hunt, are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

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Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Applications Now Available for 2017 Joice Island Pig Hunts

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering pig hunting opportunities in March and April at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area in Solano County.

CDFW will be holding the limited-entry, permit-only hunts to control a small population of wild pigs on the Joice Island Unit of the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area. Joice Island is a 2,150-acre wetland area consisting of thick cattails, tules, some brush and standing water.

Three hunters will be drawn for eight consecutive weekends, for a total of 24 hunters. The first weekend, March 4-5, will be reserved for apprentice hunters (ages 12-17 with Junior License) only. The following seven weekends (March 11-12, 18-19 and 25-26, and April 1-2, 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23) are open to both adults and apprentice hunters.

This is the first year that applications must be submitted online. Applications can be found at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/dfgspecialhunts/default.aspx. Applications must be submitted by 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 14. The drawing will be held the morning of Feb. 15.

Permits with maps and additional information will be emailed to successful applicants.

Permit holders may bring one non-hunting partner. Hunters may only use shotguns with nonlead slugs or archery equipment. Dogs and bicycles will not be allowed.

CDFW reserves the right to cancel this hunt and close the area to the public without prior notification, in the event of unforeseen circumstances or emergencies.

For more information, please contact CDFW at (707) 425-3828.

Media Contacts:
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944
Orlando Rocha, CDFW Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, (707) 425-3828
Larry Wyckoff, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5542

Youth Waterfowl Days Coming Up February 4-5

Youth hunters have a special opportunity coming up the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Youth Waterfowl Days will provide young licensed hunters an extra weekend to hunt after the regular season ends. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) opens many of their wildlife areas for these special hunt days, as allowed under federal regulations.

Last year an estimated 2,000 youth hunters took to the field to try their luck waterfowl hunting on state, federal and private lands.

Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2016-17 waterfowl season. The regulations can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

This year, some state and federal areas normally open for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days may be closed due to flooding. The main portion of Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is closed, though the Island Slough and Gold Hills units remain open. Some refuges may limit the number of young hunters being admitted for each day of hunting. Many private clubs normally hosting youths on this hunt also face water problems. For updated information on state and federal land closures, please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

“This is a great opportunity for young hunters to have the fields and marshes to themselves, learn skills and techniques from their mentors and share a wonderful experience,” said Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program biologist.

This is only one of the special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days and Junior Waterfowl Hunts held during the 2016-17 season. The Northeastern Zone Federal Youth Waterfowl Hunt days were held Sept. 24-25, and Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges have held special junior hunts where all blinds were reserved for junior hunters. Private organizations like the California Waterfowl Association, chapters of Ducks Unlimited and private clubs provide special youth hunting opportunities throughout the season.

“Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are something California Waterfowl really looks forward to as a chance to pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting to another generation,” said the California Waterfowl Association’s Vice President of Conservation Jake Messerli.

In the Central Valley, Delevan, Colusa and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are scheduled to be open for the youth hunt days while Sutter National Wildlife Refuge will remain closed. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be completely open. Little Dry Creek will have a limited quota if no new flooding occurs. Each of these hunt areas are part of the CDFW reservation system and may fill for the opening Saturday. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is not expected to fill by reservation and will offer walk-on opportunities. Last year at Gray Lodge, 55 young hunters averaged four ducks each.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

2016 Hunting Heritage Youth Essay Contest Winner to be Honored at ISE

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Wildlife Officer Foundation have announced the winner of the annual “Passing on the Tradition” Hunting Heritage essay contest. Tyler Benedetti, a 17-year-old youth hunter from Morgan Hill, was awarded the top prize, a lifetime hunting license donated by the Wildlife Officer Foundation. Tyler won second place in the 2015 essay contest.

Junior hunting license holders or youths under 16 who earned a hunter education certificate in 2016 were eligible to participate in the contest. Entrants were asked to describe their favorite hunting memory in 500 words or less.

Tyler’s winning essay described his introduction to turkey hunting, first tagging along with his father at age five, and his eventual transition to becoming a hunter himself. In recent years, he wrote, his father would bring a camera, rather than a gun, when they ventured into the field together.

“In hindsight, he was always toting a camera, decoys, blinds and pockets of calls. Every trip he planned was for the kids,” Tyler wrote. “I’ll always be grateful for the unselfish giving of his time, foregoing his own ability to hunt, so that I could develop skills and memories that will last me a lifetime.”

The essays were reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives.

“Tyler’s essay stood out because it tells the story of not only his own development as a hunter, but his father’s as well,” said CDFW Lt. John Nores. “The simple act of trading his own gun for a camera says so much about what’s most important to him. That’s what hunting heritage is all about — passing on the tradition and the love of the sport to the next generation.”

Eleven-year-old twins Dan Elliott and David Elliott of Rancho Cordova tied for second place this year. The third place winner is 14-year-old Blake Iverson of King City. All will receive plaques and other prizes donated by the Wildlife Officers Foundation.

AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded to Tyler during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 21 at 1:30 p.m. in Cal Expo’s Adventure Theater.

For more information on becoming a hunter education instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition,” please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. John Nores, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (408) 591-5174
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Wildlife Officers Crack Down on Ivory Trafficking

Investigations by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have culminated in illegal trafficking of wildlife cases pending in Los Angeles and Alameda counties, and in San Francisco.

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In recent weeks, CDFW’s Wildlife Trafficking Team worked three separate investigations:

  • CDFW wildlife officers intercepted and seized 377 items of jewelry containing pieces labeled as mammoth ivory at an air cargo terminal in Los Angeles, following a report from U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) inspectors regarding the unlawful commercial importation. The ivory was shipped from Indonesia into California. Criminal charges will be recommended to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.
  • CDFW wildlife officers and USFWS inspectors intercepted a shipment of three boxes from Indonesia containing 116 items made of python skin. The items included large and small purses, large bags and a variety of wallets. Like ivory and rhinoceros horn, it is unlawful to import into California for commercial purposes the dead body or parts of a python. The items were seized, and criminal charges will be recommended to the Alameda County District Attorney’s office for the suspected violations.
  • Wildlife officers also worked with the San Francisco District Attorney’s office to crackdown on illicit trafficking of ivory and rhinoceros horn in San Francisco. Wildlife officers inspected several businesses in San Francisco and found two with significant violations. Wildlife officers seized a solid bone pagoda and a rhinoceros horn bracelet at one location. At another location they seized 18 statuettes ranging from 15 to 26 inches containing suspected pieces of ivory and 37 statuettes ranging in size from one-half inch to six inches suspected to be made entirely from ivory. They also seized suspected whale teeth, two ivory chess sets and two carved tusks labeled as mammoth ivory. The total value of the seized items from the San Francisco operation is estimated at over $500,000. Criminal charges will be recommended to the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office for the suspected violations.

CDFW wildlife officers have submitted formal complaints to prosecutors in San Francisco and Los Angeles and Alameda counties.  Prosecutors will determine whether charges will be filed.  No arrests have been made to date.

A law banning the sale of nearly all ivory in the state of California took effect July 1, 2016. The ban, which can be found in California Fish and Game Code, section 2022, encompasses teeth and tusks of elephant, hippopotamus, mammoth, mastodon, walrus, warthog, whale and narwhal, as well as rhinoceros horn, regardless of whether it is raw, worked or powdered, or from a store or a private collection. Under the law, advertising the sale of any items containing ivory is also strictly prohibited. The legislation helped fund the team of CDFW officers to focus on ivory, rhinoceros horn and other wildlife trafficking, including training and laboratory capability for evidence analysis.

“Under Governor Brown’s leadership, laws to combat illegal wildlife trafficking have been substantially strengthened,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “The creation of our Wildlife Trafficking Team and enhancement of our laboratory and legal staff are important steps in stopping the epidemic of poaching and trafficking of wildlife in California and around the world. This effort by our wildlife officers demonstrates that the black market trafficking of wildlife in California will not be tolerated. We stand ready beside our federal and state partners, as well as District Attorneys across the state to take these poachers and traffickers out of business.”

Under the new law, raw ivory and most crafted items that include ivory may no longer be purchased, sold or possessed with the intent to sell, with limited exceptions, including the following:

  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a bona fide antique (with historical documentation showing the antique is at least 100 years old) provided the item is less than five percent ivory or rhino horn by volume;
  • Ivory or rhino horn that is part of a musical instrument (with documentation of pre-1975 construction) provided the instrument contains less than 20 percent ivory or rhino horn by volume; and
  • Activities expressly authorized by federal law, or federal exemptions or permits.

Although the sale of ivory and elephant parts has been illegal in California since 1977, the new law closed a loophole that allowed the continued sale of ivory that was imported into the state before 1977. The sale of ivory, rhino horn or products that contain ivory will be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $50,000 and one year of incarceration.

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