Category Archives: Hunting

Sportsmen’s Dollars Support Research on Desert Bighorn Sheep

Thanks to California’s big game hunters, wildlife biologists studying Desert Bighorn Sheep will have new technology and tools to help them study deadly diseases that affect these icons of the desert.

In 2013, Desert Bighorn sheep populations in the Mojave Desert near Old Dad Peak suffered a die-off. In an effort to learn more about the spread of disease and survival, scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Mojave National Preserve and Oregon State University launched an ongoing joint study of adult sheep. They have captured and radio-collared about 150 adults to date, but important data about lamb mortality is still missing.

Now, in the third year of the study, a grant will enable researchers to collect the data that will unlock the mystery. Beginning this winter, scientists will capture and radio collar bighorn ewes. As they are captured, ultrasounds will be conducted, and ewes that are found to be pregnant will be implanted with special vaginal implant transmitters, the purchase of which will be funded by the $190,000 grant. When the lamb is subsequently born, the transmitter will be pushed out and send an alert signal. Project researchers can then go to the birth site and put a miniature radio transmitter on the lamb.

If the lamb subsequently dies, a mortality signal will be transmitted and the body will be recovered by researchers quickly enough to pinpoint the cause of death. This real-time information gathering technique will hopefully provide answers to the mystery behind unexplained bighorn mortality — why the 2013 disease outbreak was so widespread, what factors contributed to the spread of the disease and what management efforts can be instituted to help prevent future outbreaks.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation and Oregon State University, the study will greatly benefit from the addition of the new technology, made possible by the purchase of big game tags by California hunters.  It is one of many project funded by the Big Game Grants Program, which allots about $800,000 each year to support studies such as this one.

Joint projects are particularly critical to fund, because they help target wildlife management issues which are often beyond the normal scope of CDFW manpower, expertise or financing.

“Funds in the Big Game Grants Program support a wide range of wildlife studies and projects,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW Big Game Program Manager. “We have a responsibility to see that the funding generated by hunters goes toward preserving wildlife populations. This sheep study is a great example of how hunters play a role in solving complicated and challenging research needs.”

This new phase of study is hoped to produce critical information unavailable until now.

“The desert environment is harsh and expansive. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to find and collect dead lambs in a timely manner, which is necessary in order to determine the cause of mortality,” said Daniella Dekelaita, a doctoral student and researcher at Oregon State University. “We know there have been significant lamb losses in some herds and this will give us accurate and timely information on what was the cause.”

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Media Contacts:
Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

First Dove Season Opener Approaches

The first of two opening days of California’s dove hunting season is fast approaching. This year’s season for mourning dove, white-winged dove, spotted dove and ringed turtle dove will run from Thursday, Sept. 1 through Thursday, Sept. 15 statewide, followed by a second hunt period, Saturday, Nov. 12 through Saturday, Dec. 26.

Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit of 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared dove is legal year-round and there are no limits.

Please note that nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on all wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Use of lead shot is still legal for hunting dove, quail and snipe on federal properties, public lands not managed by CDFW and private lands, including licensed game bird clubs, until July 1, 2019. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

dove identification guide can be found on the CDFW website, along with a map of upland game fields in Imperial County, the state’s hub for dove hunting.

Although parts of California are still in a serious drought, mourning doves are dry environment birds and are capable of exploiting many food types and sources. The 2016 statewide dove banding effort, which is still in progress, has indicated so far that there is no shortage of mourning doves for the opener. Hunters who encounter a banded bird are asked to report it to the USGS Bird Banding Lab (www.reportband.gov). Banded birds are part of important biological monitoring and reporting banded birds provides valuable data. Mourning and white-winged doves are migratory and the hunting regulation framework is determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). States are required to set hunting regulations within this framework. The migratory dove populations are managed similarly to migratory waterfowl and based on a flyway population. California is part of the Western Management Unit, which includes six other western states. In addition to banding data, breeding bird surveys, call count surveys, wing surveys and Harvest Information  Program (HIP) data all provide information that is included in the effort to monitor the population status by management unit. These results are used by the USFWS to establish hunting seasons, bag limits and possession limits.

Dove hunting is considered a great starting point for new hunters. There is very little equipment required and just about any place open for hunting will have mourning doves. Minimum requirements are a valid hunting license with an upland game bird stamp (if the hunter is 18 or older) and HIP validation, good footwear, a shotgun, shotgun shells and plenty of water. Hunters should be careful not to underestimate the amount of fluids needed, especially during the first half of the season.

Most successful dove hunters position themselves in a known flyway for doves. These can be to and from roost sites, water, food sources or gravel. Doves are usually taken by pass shooting these flyways, but hunters may also be successful jump shooting. Dove movement is most frequent in the early mornings and late evenings when they are flying from and to their roost sites (this is when the majority of hunters go into the field). Late morning to early afternoon can be better for jump shooting. Hunters should scout out dove activity in the area a few times just prior to hunting.

Important laws and regulations to consider include the following:

  • Shoot time for doves is one half hour before sunrise to sunset.
  • All hunters — including junior hunters — are required to carry their hunting license with them.
  • Hunters must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land.
  • Bag limits apply to each hunter and no one can take more than one legal limit per day.
  • It is illegal to shoot within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling.
  • It is illegal to shoot from or across a public roadway.

It is the responsibility of every hunter to know and follow all laws.

Safety is the most important part of any hunting adventure. Although wearing hunter orange (blaze) is not required by law, it may be required in specific areas. Wearing a minimum of a hunter orange hat is recommended, especially when sitting or when hunting in deep vegetation. Safety glasses are a simple way to protect the eyes and are available in many shades for hunting in all types of lighting situations.

The weather throughout the state on Sept. 1 is expected to be hot and dry. CDFW urges hunters to drink plenty of fluids, wear sun protection and have a plan in case of an accident.

A summary of the 2016-17 dove hunting regulations can be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Fothergill, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 716-1461
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW to Hold Public Outreach Meeting for Northern California Wildlife Areas

elkGriz81609 232The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold a public outreach meeting regarding Yolo, Grizzly Island and Napa-Sonoma wildlife areas. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 23 from 10 a.m. to noon at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area’s conference room located at 45211 County Road 32B, Davis, California.

CDFW will take public comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on public lands.

These wildlife areas are located in CDFW’s Bay Delta Region, which includes 12 counties in Northern California and is one of seven CDFW regions in the state.

CDFW annually provides an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on wildlife areas through public meetings and other outreach.

Media Contacts:

Larry Wyckoff, Grizzly Island Wildlife Area, (707) 944-5542

Jeff Stoddard, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, (530) 757-2431

Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 327-9948

Los Padres National Forest Trails and Roads in Burn Area Closed Due to Soberanes Fire

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A forest closure order has been implemented to close the trails and roads within the Los Padres National Forest, Monterey Ranger District due to the Soberanes fire burning in Monterey County. The order prohibits going into or being upon National Forest Service lands within the Soberanes Fire area.

“Safety is our first priority and we are cooperating with emergency responders to let the public and hunters know to stay away from this area,” said Terry Palmisano, Acting Regional Manager with CDFW’s Central Region.  “We are in the middle of our A zone deer season, which runs through September and want to alert hunters of the closures.”

For current updates on the Soberanes Fire, please visit the CAL FIRE Incident Information website, http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_details_info?incident_id=1348 or call the Soberanes Fire Information Center at (831) 204-0446. The message will be revised as more information becomes available.

For updates on the U.S. Forest Service closures, please visit the U.S. Forest Service Incident Information System at http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/incident/4888/.

Media Contacts:

Jeff Cann, CDFW Central Region, (831) 649-7194

Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 715-9072

CDFW to Hold Public Outreach Meeting on Northern San Joaquin Valley Type A and B Wildlife Areas

Pintails flying on 15 ac seas wetl during drought 2014-09-06The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold an outreach meeting Saturday, Aug. 20 in Los Banos regarding the Northern San Joaquin Valley Type A and B Wildlife Areas. CDFW will take comments and recommendations and provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on public lands. 

The meeting, which will be held from 9 a.m. to noon, is being offered in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited and the Grassland Water District. Federal staff will discuss the Merced National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), including the Lone Tree Unit, and the San Luis NWR, including the Kesterson, Blue Goose, East and West Bear Creek, and Freitas units. The Grassland Water District will make a short presentation on refuge water supply. 

State wildlife areas to be discussed are Mendota, Los Banos, Volta and North Grasslands, including the Salt Slough, China Island, Gadwall and Mud Slough units.  

According to state law (Fish and Game Code, section 1758), CDFW shall annually provide an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs, including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on Type A and B wildlife areas, as defined under the commission’s regulations, through public meetings or other outreach. In complying with this section, CDFW may hold regional meetings on its hunting programs for several different wildlife areas. 

The meeting will be held at the Grassland Environmental Education Center, 18110 W. Henry Miller Road, in Los Banos. Please email Sean Allen (sean.allen@wildlife.ca.gov) if you are planning to attend. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/los-banos-wa.

 Media Contact:

Sean Allen, CDFW Central Region, (209) 826-0463

Steve Gonzalez, CDFW Communications, (916) 715-9072