Category Archives: Hunting

Habitat Restoration Projects to Help California’s Wintering Waterfowl

State Duck Stamp Dollars Support Waterfowl Population at Beginning of Their Life Cycle

It might seem incongruous for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to fund a habitat restoration project located somewhere outside of California. Yet, doing so is a very important part of biologists’ efforts to protect and manage the approximately 5 million waterfowl that winter in our state annually – and is a very important use of the conservation dollars provided by waterfowl hunters.

“The goal is to ensure the long-term security of the northern pintail and other duck species that winter in the Central Valley of California,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Game Species Program Manager. “In order to do that, we need to consider their entire life cycle, and trace their migration all the way back to their origin. That’s why legislation and the best available science both support the use of California Duck Stamp dollars and funding through the North American Wetland Conservation Act to secure and restore additional habitat for breeding waterfowl in Canada.”

In an average year, CDFW sells almost 70,000 state duck stamps, generating about $1.3 million for waterfowl-related projects. The number of stamps sold has been relatively consistent since 1991. The majority of wetland enhancement and restoration projects supported through the state Duck Stamp Fund occur here in California, on public lands open to hunting. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, that includes more than $1 million allocated for habitat restoration and enhancement projects at Honey Lake Wildlife Area, Butte Valley Wildlife Area, Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Butte Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Wildlife Area and Morro Bay Estuary.

But few hunters realize $2.25 of every duck stamp sold is allocated by law (California Fish and Game Code, section 3704) for the purposes of restoring habitat in those areas of Canada from which come substantial numbers of waterfowl migrating to, or through, California.

In 1972, the State Legislature implemented a mandate to use duck stamp funds in Canada in order to conserve critical waterfowl habitat in North America’s breeding grounds. This legislation looked to the future of waterfowl populations and directed CDFW (then known as the California Department of Fish and Game) to spend these moneys wisely and seek out matching funds to get as much conservation work done as possible. Those matching funds come both from CDFW’s conservation partners and the federal government via the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

This year, duck stamp dollars marked for Canadian wetland and upland conservation projects will go to the King Conservation Easement in Alberta. This is a key breeding area for pintail and is in need of wetland and upland habitat protection. The Duck Stamp Fund will contribute $155,000, with the rest provided via federal match, to protect approximately 48 acres of wetlands and 592 acres of uplands. This particular easement is key because it is adjacent to other conservation easements that together form a habitat range of more than 15,000 acres.

In addition to wetland restoration projects, duck stamp funds also support species-specific projects. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, these projects will include:

  • A pintail banding project that will help biologists study harvest and survival rates ($35,000)
  • A mallard banding project that will provide data critical to the establishment of annual duck hunting regulations ($23,000)
  • A tule greater white-fronted goose study that will use radio transmitters to collect data about this special-status species’ population, habitat use and distribution ($7,000)
  • A waterfowl food study to determine the amount of calories provided by post-harvest rice and corn, and how these food sources affect waterfowl ($51,890)

Any projects that are supported by duck stamp funds are approved only with the input and analysis of waterfowl conservation groups such as the California Waterfowl Association and Ducks Unlimited. And, unlike nearly all other hunter-generated funds, state duck stamp projects must be first approved by the California Fish and Game Commission, which adds another important layer of accountability and transparency.


Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

2016 Youth Essay Contest Offers Shot at Lifetime Hunting License

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and California Wildlife Officers Foundation are again co-sponsoring the annual “Passing on the Tradition” essay contest for young hunters.

The California Wildlife Officers Foundation will recognize one grand prize winner with a lifetime California hunting license, valued at more than $600. Second and third place winners will also be selected and prize packages will be awarded.14705659448_049b713a4f_o

This year’s contest invites entrants to share their favorite hunting memory.

“Young hunters learn important lessons about ethics, sportsmanship and conservation every time they venture into the field with their mentors, and they’re creating memories that will last a lifetime,” said CDFW Hunter Education Program Administrator Capt. Robert Pelzman. “We are looking forward to hearing about the experiences that have made the greatest impressions on them.”

The contest is open to all junior hunting license holders, as well as youths under 18 who have earned a hunter education certificate. Entrants should submit an essay of 500 words or less, describing a past hunting experience (either their own or observing a mentor) that was particularly memorable or special.

Entries should be submitted via email to Lt. John Nores at and must be received on or before Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 at 5 p.m. Applicants must provide their date of birth and a contact telephone number.

Essays will be reviewed and scored by CDFW wildlife officers and other CDFW representatives. The winners will be notified by telephone.

For additional information, please contact Lt. John Nores at (408) 591-5174.

AWARD CEREMONY: The grand prize will be awarded during a special ceremony at the International Sportsmen’s Exposition (ISE) show in Sacramento on Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.  The contest winner must be present with a parent or guardian.

To find information about becoming a Hunter Education Instructor to help “Pass on the Tradition” to others, please visit

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

Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon; Closure Information Available Online

As California’s 2016-2017 waterfowl hunting season approaches, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises hunters to stay informed about the status of wildlife areas. Limited opportunities or closures in the areas where they plan to hunt are likely to occur again this year given limited water supplies in some regions of the state early in the season.

It is also common for waterfowl hunting areas to close periodically throughout the season due to safety concerns caused by flooding. Areas that most commonly experience flood closures include Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Waterfowl hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which are expected to fluctuate frequently. Reservations for state-operated wildlife areas that are closed due to flooding will not be accepted at other hunting areas, and refunds will not be issued for applications submitted to areas that are closed or if reservations are not available.

Hunters can follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.

Opening and closing dates vary by zone. These dates, along with detailed information about daily bag and possession limits, can be found in the 2016-2017 Waterfowl Regulations booklet.

Quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by CDFW. Please note that nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

A valid California hunting license, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement annually.


Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Recognizes National Hunting and Fishing Day, Celebrates California’s Original Conservationists

National Hunting and Fishing Day is Saturday, Sept. 24. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds Californians of the plentiful opportunities to enjoy hunting and fishing in the state and commends them for their commitment to conservation.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. thanked California’s hunters and anglers for their conservation legacy and encouraged their continued support and dedication to conserving the state’s natural resources in a commemorative letter.


In 2015, over 2 million licensed hunters and anglers contributed approximately $90 million toward fish and wildlife management and conservation activities in the state. Fish and wildlife management and conservation activities have resulted in numerous success stories over the years in California. For example:

Tule Elk
1874: Thirty were remaining in California in one herd in the southern San Joaquin Valley.
2015: 4,200 animals distributed in 22 herds across California.

Desert Bighorn Sheep (Nelson)
1915: They were nearly extirpated in the state.
2014: There are approximately 2,000 in California.

Wild Trout Fisheries
1970: No designated wild trout sport fisheries.
2015: 51 designated wild trout waters, encompassing 1,400 miles of streams and 14 lakes.

Landlocked Sal 654 mon
1993: No landlocked salmon sport fisheries.
2015: Twenty-one reservoirs support sport fishing for Kokanee salmon and 12 reservoirs support sport fishing for landlocked Chinook salmon.

For more information on hunting and fishing opportunities in the Golden State, please visit For information on how to purchase a hunting or fishing license, please visit For more information on National Hunting and Fishing Day, please visit

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

Wildfire Awareness Still Necessary as Additional Deer Seasons Open Sept. 24

California’s 2016 deer season continues with the opening of the D3-D5, D8-D10, X8 and X10 Zones on Sept. 24. Drought and dangerous fire conditions persist in many areas of the state, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) urges hunters to be mindful of wildfires and forest closures that could affect the area where they plan to hunt. CDFW does not refund tag fees due to wildfire closures.

CDFW does not close or open areas due to fires, but leaves that authority to incident commanders with CAL FIRE and the U.S. Forest Service.

Current information on forest closures can be found at the following links:

Hunters are encouraged to check these links frequently in order to obtain the most up-to-date information.

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Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988