Wildlife Officer Academy Graduates 21 New Wildlife Officers

After a grueling 10 months, the Wildlife Officer Academy Class of 2020 from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) graduated today in Oroville.

“It’s a great day when we add wildlife officers to the Law Enforcement Division,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement. “These new wildlife officers have shown unparalleled resolve and were able to overcome the challenges many of us have and continue to face in 2020.  I am proud of these wildlife officers as they begin their new careers dedicated to serving and protecting the people of California and safeguarding the diverse landscape of California’s natural resources.”

The 2020 academy class is made up of 35 cadets, including 21 new wildlife officers, nine State Parks peace officers, one Butte County Deputy Sheriff and four self-sponsored cadets. The academy participants began instruction in January at Butte College near Oroville, but classes were abruptly interrupted in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this did not stop the learning process as the academy staff rose to the challenge of implementing distance learning. Online instruction was offered in place of classroom training and when deemed appropriate, required in-person training modules were conducted in accordance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

At today’s ceremony, 21 wildlife officers were pinned with the badge indicating the rank of warden.

The next training phase is the Field Training Program, which begins in November. During field training, newly sworn wildlife officers patrol with a seasoned Field Training Officer. These wildlife officers will begin to employ the skills they learned in the academy by apprehending poachers and polluters, protecting our ocean waters and beaches, responding to human wildlife conflict incidents, shutting down illegal cannabis cultivation and protecting the people of California.

A career as a California wildlife officer offers individuals interested in natural resources and law enforcement a lifetime of challenges, diverse assignments and opportunities for professional growth and career advancement. To find out more about what it takes to become a California wildlife officer, please visit https://wildlife.ca.gov/enforcement/career.

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Media Contact:
Captain Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 508-7095

Hunter retrieving a duck

CDFW Implements Wildlife Area and Refuge Check Station Safety Precautions for 2020-2021 Hunting Seasons

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning ahead to provide ample recreational hunting opportunities on wildlife areas and refuges this fall and winter, while also keeping hunters and CDFW staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDFW has established a page on its website to describe specific procedures to be implemented this year for public and staff health and safety. Wildlife areas and refuges will be open as long as visitors implement these practices.

Hunters should be aware of the following:

  • Changes have been made to in-person lottery and first-come-first-served (FCFS) operations for the 2020-21 waterfowl season, such as adjusted hours and controls to increase physical distancing between hunters and staff. To further reduce the congestion of hunters at check stations during peak use periods and minimize the potential for spread of COVID-19, hunters will be allowed to enter a lottery or FCFS list at only one state wildlife area or federal refuge prior to each shoot day for the 2020/21 waterfowl season. This limitation does not apply to reservation applications through the Automated License Data System.
  • Sanitation procedures have been put in place, including a requirement for all individuals on the property to wear masks and maintain distance from others while conducting check station business. Non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public (portable restrooms will be provided). Hunters and other visitors to CDFW lands are asked to bring hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies with them, and to carry their trash home for disposal.
  • Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be implemented to minimize contact between hunters and staff. In some locations, this could include the installation of drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards. Each hunter should carry and present their own bird strap to facilitate safe check-out procedures.
  • CDFW is accepting RV camping applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. Please contact wildlife area staff for up-to-date information on the status of RV camping.

For details, additional information and updates, please check https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/COVID-19 frequently throughout the season.

CDFW may need to update these provisions to ensure consistency with the latest state and local guidelines and directives.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Extends Land Closures Through Monday, Sept. 21

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has extended closures on 49 properties that lie within or immediately adjacent to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) boundaries through Monday, Sept. 21. The closures were put into place on Saturday, Sept. 12 due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions.

All closures are CDFW wildlife areas or ecological reserves, and they cover many parts of the state. They were closed following the USFS announcement of the temporary closure of all national forests in California.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip. The following links show up-to-date closures:

CDFW acknowledges that hunting opportunities will be impacted. Tag return and preference point eligibility requirements and additional information may be found on CDFW’s website.

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

CDFW Closes Lands Through Monday Due to Wildfires

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has closed 49 properties that lie within or immediately adjacent to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) boundaries due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions. Effective immediately, these properties are closed to the public through Monday, Sept. 14.

All closures are CDFW wildlife areas or ecological reserves, and they cover many parts of the state. They were closed following the USFS announcement of the temporary closure of all national forests in California.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip. The following links show up-to-date closures:

CDFW acknowledges that hunting opportunities will be impacted. Tag return and preference point eligibility requirements and additional information may be found on CDFW’s website.

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

California’s National Forests Temporarily Close Due to Wildfires; Hunters and Recreational Users are Urged to Stay Away

On Wednesday, Sept. 9, the U.S. Forest Service announced the temporary closure of all national forests in California due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions. These properties are closed to the public, effective immediately, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is urging hunters to follow the order and keep away.

“We know that hunting opportunities will be impacted throughout the state, but no hunting opportunity is worth a human life,” said Chief David Bess, Deputy Director and CDFW Law Enforcement Division Chief.

California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708(2)(b) prohibits CDFW from refunding deer tag application fees, but refunds may be issued for select elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep tags. Additionally, some premium deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep tags may be returned to CDFW with a request to have preference points reinstated and one preference point awarded for the species for the current hunt year. Tag return and preference point eligibility requirements and additional information may be found on CDFW’s website.

CDFW will continue to monitor and close areas as needed. National forests and evacuation zones will remain closed until authorities allow them to re-open. Because the situation is rapidly changing, CDFW strongly encourages hunters to use the following links to research closures and open areas prior to leaving for any hunt:

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