Wildfire Scars, Wilderness Areas Hold Promise as California’s General Deer Season Opens Sept. 21 Across Much of the State

California’s general deer season dawns across much of the state Sept. 21, and hunters would do well to scout and hunt those areas scarred by wildfires two to five years ago.

“These wildfires often are devastating for us as people, but from a deer’s standpoint, they like young, new growth that comes in after a fire. That is some of the best habitat for deer,” said Nathan Graveline, big game supervisor for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

Burn scars that are two to five years old provide the best combination of forage for deer and optimal hunting conditions. The open canopy that allows sunlight to reach the forest floor and generate the young, nutritious growth favored by deer, also helps hunters move more easily through the habitat and spot deer.

“It only takes about five or six years for the brush to come back to the point where you can’t see very well,” Graveline said. “And while the deer are still doing well in those areas, it just makes the hunting tougher.”

Hunters can check for past burns at the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection incidents webpage. Information on any current or future wildfire-related closures is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

Deer season is already underway in California’s A and B4 hunting zones along the coast, but the majority of general zones available to rifle hunters – B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6 and D7 – open Saturday, Sept. 21.

A limited number of rifle hunters also get the first opportunities at mule deer along the eastern Sierra as the premium X9a, X9b and X12 zones in Inyo and Mono counties – tags available only through CDFW’s Big Game Drawing – open Sept. 21.

Several other popular deer hunting zones – D3-5 and D8-10 – open the following week, on Saturday, Sept. 28, as do the premium eastern Sierra hunt zones X8 and X10.

Hunters are reminded that nonlead ammunition is now required for hunting deer and taking wildlife anywhere in California with a firearm. Deer hunters are strongly encouraged to re-zero their rifles with nonlead ammunition before they go hunting.

Detailed information on California’s various deer zones, including season dates, descriptions and maps, is available at CDFW’s Deer Hunting webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

Biologists estimate California’s deer population at 459,450.

While resident mule deer and coastal black-tailed deer numbers are generally holding steady and increasing in some places – particularly in suburban and foothill areas and along the river corridors of the Central Valley – California’s migratory mule deer herds in the eastern part of the state are down as a result of increasing human activity, development, habitat deterioration and predation.

Eastern Sierra deer herds also have yet to fully recover from severe winter and spring weather in 2016 and 2017 that resulted in significant mortality of both fawns and adults.

With a limited deer population and increasing human recreation and activity in deer country in the fall, deer hunters are encouraged to explore new tactics and new country.

For hunters that need to or want to stick close to roads, Graveline suggests using pullouts to glass nearby slopes.

“Many hunters I talk to are moving too fast, whether on foot or in a vehicle,” Graveline said. “Slowing down and using your optics will greatly increase your odds of seeing deer.”

Backcountry hunting is gaining in popularity, particularly with improvements in clothing and equipment the last 10 to 15 years.

“Hunting the high country provides a great opportunity to experience incredible wilderness areas,” Graveline said.

Hunters are reminded that deer tag reporting is mandatory – even for hunters who are unsuccessful or those tag holders who don’t have a chance to hunt at all. CDFW has produced a video on how to properly complete, attach and report your deer tag.

Commission Announces New Executive Director

The California Fish and Game Commission announced today that Melissa Miller-Henson has been selected to serve as its executive director.

Ms. Miller-Henson has worked for the Commission for the last seven years as the program manager, deputy executive director and, over the last year, acting executive director.

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“We’re very pleased that Ms. Miller-Henson is willing to serve this historic Commission in a new capacity,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “She has a passion for the work of the Commission and brings a forward-thinking, innovative and collaborative approach to the job. She has demonstrated skill in working with diverse groups of stakeholders to address complex issues that she will continue to apply to the benefit of the state.”

Prior to the Commission, Ms. Miller-Henson directed the California Fish and Wildlife Strategic Vision Project, managed the Marine Life Protection Act Initiative and served under five secretaries of the California Natural Resources Agency.

“We look forward to Ms. Miller-Henson’s continuing guidance at the dais,” said California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham. “She has the trust of many stakeholders and understands the Commission’s vast authorities. She brings expertise in collaborative problem-solving and has a strong vision for the future of the Commission.”

Ms. Miller-Henson officially begins in her new capacity on September 10.

Media Contacts:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937
Eric Sklar, President, California Fish and Game Commission

September 2019 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

Various Days — Guided Wetland Tours, by Reservation, at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley (95948). A wildlife naturalist will lead any group, school or organization on a half-mile route through the diverse wetlands of the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. General information includes wildlife identification, behavior patterns and conservation efforts. The experience can be customized to include requested information. The minimum group size is 18 people. For more information, please call (530) 846-7505 or email lori.dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.

Various Days — Ecological Reserve Tours at Elkhorn Slough, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Volunteers lead walks every Saturday and Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Binoculars and bird books are available for the public to borrow at no cost. The visitor center and main overlook are fully accessible. The day use permit fee is $4.12 per person, ages 16 and older (permits may be purchased on site). Groups of five or more should please notify staff that they are coming and groups of 10 or more can request a separate tour. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/elkhorn-slough-er.

Various Days — General Bear Season Opening in Select Deer Zones. General black bear season will open concurrently with the general deer hunting season in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 and extend through Dec. 29. Deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 have different deer season opening dates depending upon the deer zone. General season for black bears opens in deer hunting zones X-1 through X-7b on Oct. 12, and extends through Dec. 29. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear or call toll free (888) 277-6398. Please visit www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.aspx for a description of the current mammal hunting regulations.

Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadlines for Multiple Hunting Opportunities. Wild pig, deer, bear, turkey, dove and quail hunts are available through the SHARE program. A $11 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

First Through Third Saturdays and Sundays of the Month — Sandhill Crane Wetland Tours at Woodbridge Ecological Reserve, 7730 W. Woodbridge Road, Lodi (95242). Online registration has begun for those wishing to participate in these guided tours, which run October through February. Registration is available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour. A one-day Lands Pass must be purchased to attend and instructions are available on the same website. Tours fill fast and registration may be done as much as six weeks in advance. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/3/crane-tour.

1 — Early season for Mourning Dove, White-winged Dove, Spotted Dove and Ringed Turtle Dove opens. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

2 — Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from the Oregon-California State Line to Horse Mountain. Recreational ocean salmon fishing remains open between Horse Mountain and Pigeon Point. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at www.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  California Fish and Game Commission Teleconference Meeting, 10 a.m. The agenda includes a discussion about appointing a new Executive Director of the Commission. For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.

4 & 5  California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group, Santa Rosa. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will meet in Santa Rosa. Interested members of the public may observe the discussion in person or listen via a conference line; however, there will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting. Feedback can be shared directly with the Department via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

6 & 7  Volunteer Days, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., rain or shine. Come spend a fun day outdoors and help us keep the Friant Interactive Nature Site (FINS) looking great. Please park in the lot at Parker Street and Friant Road. Heading north on Friant Road, turn left on Parker Street and meet at the picnic tables down the trail. If you are under 18, please bring a signed parent permission slip. For more information, contact Deona Mitchell at (559) 243-4017 ext. 245.

7 — California Biodiversity Day, the first official celebration of an annual event created last year to celebrate the state’s exceptional biodiversity and encourage actions to protect it. All Californians are encouraged to get out and explore nature – including state parks, wildlife areas and ecological reserves – as part of a biodiversity open house on September 7-8, 2019. Go to www.wildlife.ca.gov/biodiversity to find more information about that weekend’s biodiversity open house event, including a bioblitz -that will take place in partnership with the California Academy of Sciences and iNaturalist, a popular nature app that helps identify plants and animals around you. iNaturalist is a collaboration between National Geographic and the California Academy of Sciences.

9 — Lower American River Conservancy Program, American River Parkway Tour, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.  For more information, please visit https://wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

10 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, 8:30 a.m., Justice Joseph A. Rattigan Building, Conference Room 410 (Fourth Floor), 50 D St., Santa Rosa (95404). For more information, please visit https://fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2019.

10 — CDFW Conservation Lecture Series, 1-3 p.m., Natural Resources Building, First Floor Auditorium, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento (95814). Dr. Lisa Micheli presents “Report from a Russian River field station in the heart of the 2017 wildfire zone: Pepperwood’s integrated approach to evaluating and advancing landscape resilience.” In October 2017, more than 90 percent of Pepperwood’s 3,200-acre research reserve burned in the Tubbs Fire, providing an incredible opportunity to leverage nearly a decade of weather, hydrology and ecology data collection to improve our empirical understanding of fire in California’s Coast Ranges. While the organization regroups to rebuild critical facilities lost in the inferno, their ecologists are inventorying the impacts of the fire and scaling up what they are learning to inform resilience strategies across California as a whole. This presentation will highlight some early findings, share how Pepperwood will serve as a living laboratory for fire recovery and habitat restoration and highlight successful collaborations focused on building a knowledge base to support climate and fire resilience strategies in California’s inner Coast Ranges and beyond. Attendance is free. To register and for more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/lectures.

14 — Sooty (Blue) and Ruffed Grouse General Season Opens. Season extends through Oct. 14. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — White-tailed Ptarmigan General and Archery Season Opens Statewide. White-tailed ptarmigan general and archery season opens statewide Sept. 14 and extends through Sept. 22. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — Mountain Quail Season Opens in Zone Q1. Season extends through Oct. 18. The general season for Sooty (Blue) Grouse opens (extending through Oct. 14). The general and archery seasons for White-tailed Ptarmigan open (extending through Sept. 22). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 —Tree Squirrel General Season Opens. Season extends through Jan. 26, 2020. For more information on small game seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/small-game.

16 — Feather River Fish Hatchery Ladder Opening, 5 Table Mountain Blvd., Oroville (95965). The ladder will open and salmon spawning will begin the following week and continue through approximately mid-November. The hatchery is open from sunrise to sunset. For more information, please call (530) 538-2222 or visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/hatcheries/feather-river.

21 — General Deer Season Opens. General deer season opens in the general zones D6-7, the restricted zones B1-B3 and B5-B6, and the premium zones C1-C4, X9a, X9b and X12. Hunters should check for area closures and restrictions before heading to their destination. Information on closures is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts. Tag reporting is required as the reports are vital to estimating populations and tag quotas. Please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin for information on reporting. Tag holders may also submit reports by mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002. For general information on deer zones, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer#54774-zones–hunts.

21 — Coastal Cleanup Day 2019, 9 a.m. to noon, Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Volunteers will remove trash from the road bordering the reserve to keep the habitat clean and safe. Elkhorn Slough Reserve will provide materials and refreshments. All ages are welcome but those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Please keep in mind this cleanup is conducted along an active road. For more information, please contact Ariel Hunter at ariel.hunter@wildlife.ca.gov

21 — Band-tailed Pigeon Season in the North Zone Opens. Season extends through September 29. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

21 & 22 — Youth Waterfowl Hunt Days for Northeastern California Zone. In order to participate, hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. People should contact the wildlife area or national wildlife refuge they wish to hunt for details. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

28 — General Deer Season Opens. General deer season opens in the general zones D3-5, D8 and D10, and the premium zones D9 and X8. Hunters should check for area closures and restrictions before heading out to their hunting destination. Information on closures is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts. Tag reporting is required as the reports are vital to estimating populations and tag quotas. Please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin for information on reporting. Tag holders may also submit reports by mail at CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002. For general information on deer zones, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer#54774-zones–hunts.

28 — Elkhorn Slough Reserve Open House and Native Plant Fair, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). Activities include guided walking tours, an opportunity to meet scientists, face-painting, and nature-themed arts and crafts. Visitors can also explore and take home a plant during the Native Plant Fair (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). The annual event is free to the public. For more information, please contact Virginia Guhin at (831) 728-2822 or visit www.elkhornslough.org.

28 — Early Season for Large Canada Geese in the Balance of State Zone Opens. Season extends through Oct. 2. For more information, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

28 — Quail Season Opens in Zone Q2 (all quail).  Season extends through Jan. 26, 2020. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

28 — 25th Annual Oroville Salmon Festival, Feather River Fish Hatchery, 5 Table Mountain Blvd., Oroville (95965), 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and in downtown Oroville, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The event will feature tours to view salmon spawning, informational booths, educational displays and vendor booths. For more information, please visit www.salmonfestoroville.org.

28 — General Deer Season Opens. General deer season opens in premium zone X10. Hunters should check for area closures and restrictions before heading to their hunting destination. Information on closures is available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.Tag reporting is required as the reports are vital to estimating populations and tag quotas. Please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin for information on reporting. Tag holders may also submit reports by mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002. For general information on deer zones, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer#54774-zones–hunts.

29 — California Spiny Lobster Recreational Fishing Season Opens Statewide at 6 a.m. For more information regarding lobster and lobster management, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.

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Media Contacts:
Sarah Guerere, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8974
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

2018-2019 Upland Game Bird Stamp image

Artists Sought for California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is conducting an art contest to select the design for the state’s 2019-2020 upland game bird stamp.

The California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest is open to all U.S. residents ages 18 and older. Entries will be accepted from Nov. 18 through Dec. 6.

This year’s stamp will feature the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus). These medium-bodied forest dwellers are the only member of the genus Bonasa, and have a range extending across North America. In California, they inhabit riparian and conifer forests in the northwestern portion of the state. Ruffed grouse have intricately barred or variegated plumage in shades of brown and gray, depending on environmental variables, with a conspicuous neck “ruff” and dark tail banding which they use to attract mates. Their most notable courtship ritual, however, is their “drum display” – a low-frequency booming sound created by beating their wings against their bodies.

Contest entries must include at least one ruffed grouse, preferably in a habitat or setting representative of California. Entries will be judged on originality, artistic composition, anatomical accuracy and suitability for reproduction as a stamp and a print.

The contest will be judged by a panel of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing. The winning artist will be selected during a public judging event, with the date and location to be announced later.

An upland game bird validation is required for hunting migratory and resident upland game birds in California. The money generated from stamp sales must be spent on upland game bird-related conservation projects, education, hunting opportunities and outreach. CDFW sells over 150,000 upland game bird validations annually. Any individual who purchases an upland game bird validation may request their free collectable stamp by visiting www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/collector-stamps. For collectors who do not purchase a hunting license or upland game bird validation, or for hunters who wish to purchase additional collectible stamps, an order form is also available on the website.

For contest information and entry forms, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/upland-game-bird-stamp.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6709
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

CDFW Seeks Information Related to Listing of Northern California Summer Steelhead

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to the proposed listing of Northern California Summer Steelhead as an endangered species.

Northern California Summer Steelhead occupy a relatively small geographic range in Humboldt and Mendocino counties that includes Redwood Creek and the Mad, Eel, Van Duzen and Mattole rivers. They fill a unique ecological niche, entering freshwater in the spring and early summer and then holding for many months in deep pools high up in the stream systems while waiting to spawn.

In September 2018, the Friends of the Eel River submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission requesting to list Northern California Summer Steelhead as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). The petition described threats impacting the survival of the fish, specifically emphasizing habitat loss, alteration and degradation as a result of human impacts.

CDFW recommended that Northern California Summer Steelhead be advanced to candidacy for CESA listing and the Commission voted in favor of this recommendation on June 12, 2019. The official findings of this decision were published on June 28, 2019, which triggered the start of a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct a status review intended to inform the Commission’s ultimate decision on whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding Northern California Summer Steelhead ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management measures, and recommendations for management of the species. Comments, data and other information can be submitted in writing to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Attn: Vanessa Gusman
830 S St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by e-mail to Vanessa.Gusman@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by e-mail, please include “NC Summer Steelhead” in the subject heading.

All comments received by Sept. 22, 2019, will be evaluated prior to the submittal of CDFW’s final status review report to the Commission. Once CDFW submits the final status review report to the Commission, it will be placed on the agenda for discussion at the next available Commission meeting. Comments will also be made available to the public at that time.

Following receipt of CDFW’s status review report, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendations.

The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for Northern California Summer Steelhead is available at https://fgc.ca.gov/cesa#ncss.

Media Contacts:
Vanessa Gusman, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-1921
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908