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Lead-Free Hunting Takes Effect Statewide July 1

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wants to remind hunters that beginning July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition will be required when taking wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California.

CDFW strongly recommends that hunters acquire and practice with nonlead ammunition well before heading afield, particularly in advance of upcoming big game seasons, to make sure rifles are sighted in and to understand how their firearms perform with nonlead ammunition.

The nonlead ammo requirement includes hunting on public land, private property and licensed game bird clubs, and applies to rifles, shotguns, pistols and muzzleloaders in any gauge or caliber for the take of any legal species. The nonlead ammo requirement extends to the legal take of nongame birds and mammals and includes firearms used for depredation to take species causing property damage.

The requirement does not apply to hunting with pellet rifles. Since pellet rifles are not classified as firearms, the use of lead pellets is allowed. Lead ammunition is allowed for target shooting where that activity is permitted.

California will become the first state in the nation to require nonlead ammunition for all firearms-related hunting. California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting originated with state legislation signed into law in 2013. In 2015, the California Fish and Game Commission adopted regulations to phase in the requirement over time with full implementation July 1, 2019.

In recent years, with advances in technology and more states and the federal government restricting the use of lead hunting ammunition, manufacturers have responded with an increasing variety of nonlead ammunition offerings. Nonlead ammunition has been required for waterfowl hunting nationwide since 1991, and many California hunters already have made a voluntary change to nontoxic hunting ammunition due to health and environmental concerns.

The first California hunting seasons impacted by the lead ammunition ban include the general rabbit season, which opens statewide July 1, and the A Zone general deer season, which opens Aug. 10 along much of the California coast.

CDFW advises hunters to shop carefully when purchasing nonlead hunting ammunition, particularly from out-of-state-based sporting goods stores and other mass retailers that may stock their California outlets with lead hunting ammunition in advance of upcoming seasons.

All ammunition in a hunter’s possession may be inspected by wildlife officers. Hunters are encouraged to assist in confirming compliance by retaining and carrying in the field ammunition boxes or other packaging.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s Nonlead Ammunition in California webpage at For in-depth research and ballistics analysis of nonlead hunting ammunition, please visit

Media Contacts:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (209) 826-0463
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Kern River Hatchery Reopens with Mission to Raise and Plant Native Trout

The Kern River Hatchery has reopened to the public with a bold and innovative new mission: to raise the Kern River rainbow trout and stock the native fish throughout the Kern River Basin where anglers will have a chance to catch it.

New facilities recently constructed at the Kern River Hatchery in Kernville are designed to breed, rear and facilitate the planting of the Kern River rainbow trout, one of 12 subspecies of trout native to California. The goal is to plant the native strain of trout instead of other domesticated strains of rainbow trout.

The hatchery will continue to serve as a holding facility and planting base for rainbow trout reared in other hatcheries for stocking in waters from Bakersfield to the high Sierras as the new program progresses. The facility has been in operation since 1928.

Historically, warming water temperatures during summer months did not adequately allow for full hatchery operations. Utilizing groundwater to augment the hatchery’s water supply solved the problem.

“The goal is to not only provide fishing opportunity but help with the restocking of a native strain of rainbow trout to native watersheds,” said Tony Holland, Kern River Hatchery manager. “This twofold operation has the potential to increase natural reproduction while providing continued angling opportunity.”

The hatchery plays a key role in planting trout. Most of the rainbow trout planted, however, have been reared at other hatcheries and were not from strains of rainbows found in the Kern River Basin. New wells providing cool, year-round water along with the building of new facilities to hold broodstock, egg taking stations, an incubation area, deep tanks, chillers and raceways make it possible to start the new program using local native stock.

“This program integrates genetic science, hatchery management techniques and common sense,” said Gerald Hatler, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regional fisheries program manager. “It is an innovative and exciting new project.”

This summer, CDFW biologists and hatchery crews are planning to collect wild Kern River rainbow trout broodstock to start the program. Four new deep tanks to rear fish are in place. The goal is to capture 50 to 100 mature trout from the backcountry within the Sequoia National Forest. The trout will be transported to the Kern River Hatchery where genetic samples will be taken to match and define genetic pairing to produce the best offspring.

The hatchery, located in Kernville, Kern County, is open daily to the public from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.


General Trout Season Opens April 27

One of California’s most anticipated and celebrated outdoor traditions unfolds Saturday, April 27 one hour before sunrise when the state’s general trout season opens in many counties throughout California.

In the last three weeks, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) trout hatcheries have stocked more than 170,000 trout weighing nearly 95,000 pounds.

Trout fishing is available and popular year-round in many waters across the state, but the general trout season unlocks many destination waters in the Eastern Sierra that will attract thousands of anglers, rekindle friendships and renew family traditions on opening weekend.

The communities of Bridgeport and Bishop are the epicenters of the opening weekend trout fishing activity, festivities and revelry – what many anglers refer to as “Fishmas.”

Because of the popularity of this annual event with the angling public, CDFW released trout to accessible waters approved for stocking prior to the Eastern Sierra season opener. Because of heavy snow this winter, some popular high-elevation waters were inaccessible or covered in ice.

CDFW’s Hot Creek, Black Rock and Fish Springs trout hatcheries stocked several waters with catchable trout, including Bridgeport Reservoir, Convict Lake, Crowley Lake, June Lake and the West Walker River in Mono County; Pleasant Valley Reservoir and the Owens River in Inyo County; and Markleeville Creek in Alpine County.

In the Central Valley and western Sierra, CDFW prioritized stocking waters adjacent to major highway corridors such as State Routes 108/120 in Tuolumne County, State Route 168 in Fresno County and State Route 178 in Kern County. After the 2018 flooding, evacuation and subsequent repair, CDFW’s Moccasin Creek Hatchery in Tuolumne County is once again raising fish. The hatchery is expected to reach full production in 2020.

Check CDFW’s Fish Planting Schedule for the latest waters stocked with trout. CDFW also offers an online, map-based Fishing Guide and mobile app.

Most lakes, river and streams have a limit of five trout per day and 10 in possession. However, regulations differ on season opening and closing dates, bag limits, minimum and maximum size limits, and gear restrictions. Anglers are advised to check specific area regulations and opening dates in the 2019-20 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations available online or in printed booklets at most local tackle and sporting goods retailers where fishing licenses are sold. All anglers 16 and older must possess a valid California fishing license to fish within state boundaries.


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


CDFW to Hold Public Meeting on Bay Delta Region Type A Wildlife Areas

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold its annual public outreach meeting on Bay Delta Region Type A wildlife areas on Wednesday, May 22 in Davis. 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.

State wildlife areas to be discussed are the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and the Grizzly Island Wildlife Area complex. The meeting will take place 4 to 6 p.m. at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area’s conference room. The address is 45211 County Road 32B in Davis.

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.

CDFW’s Bay Delta Region covers all or parts of 13 counties in northern California and is one of seven CDFW regions in the state.

California Fish and Game Commission Meets in Santa Monica

At its April 2019 meeting in Santa Monica, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from the meeting.

The Commission assigned commissioners to committees. President Eric Sklar and Commissioner Russell Burns and were assigned to the Wildlife Resources Committee. Newly appointed Commissioner Samantha Murray and Commissioner Peter Silva were assigned to the Marine Resources Committee. Commission Vice President Jacque Hostler-Carmesin and Silva were assigned to the Tribal Committee.

The Commission voted 4-1 to draft a letter to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service opposing the proposal to delist gray wolves from the federal endangered species list. Hostler-Carmesin opposed.

The Commission adopted waterfowl hunting regulations for 2019-20, including extending the duck season closure date to January 31 and reducing the daily bag limit for pintail from two to one. It also received the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) 90-day evaluation report on a petition to list four species of bumble bee as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act (CESA). CDFW plans to present its petition evaluation report at the Commission’s June meeting in Redding to inform the Commission’s decision about whether listing may be warranted. If, in June, the Commission decides listing is warranted, CDFW will begin a year-long status review.

The Commission heard from CDFW that projections for Chinook salmon fisheries are looking better than last year. In May, the Commission will consider increasing bag and possession limits on the Klamath and Trinity rivers to a three fish bag limit with no more than two adults and nine fish possession limit with no more than six adults. On the American, Feather and Sacramento rivers in the Sacramento River Basin, the Commission is considering a two bag, four possession limit. Last year, due to lower salmon returns, anglers in the Sacramento River Basin were only allowed one bag limit with two in possession. Also in May, the Commission will consider extending fishing in the Feather River an additional two weeks, closing on October 31, and opening 10 additional miles of the Mokelumne River to fishing. The May 16 Commission meeting is via teleconference.

The Commission voted unanimously to open a short-term fishery on spring Chinook Salmon on the Klamath and Trinity rivers. Spring Chinook Salmon became a candidate for listing under CESA at the Commission’s February meeting, when emergency regulations were adopted that closed salmon fishing on the Klamath and Trinity rivers until August 15. Since February, CDFW held several meetings with the public, fishing interests, affected counties and CESA petitioners to evaluate whether a fishery could happen that would protect the salmon, allow fishing, and provide some economic relief to citizens and counties in the affected area. The Commission voted to reopen fishing on July 1 in both the lower Klamath and upper Trinity rivers with a one fish bag limit and two fish possession limit.

Commissioners received an update from CDFW staff on whale and sea turtle protections in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery, and referred discussion of the recreational fishery to the Commission’s Marine Resources Committee. Marine related items also included an update on CDFW’s transition to electronic commercial fisheries landing receipts (“E-Tix”), an update on the recreational ocean salmon and Pacific halibut seasons, and the publication of the Marine Region Year in Review.

All commissioners were present. This was Murray’s first meeting.

The full Commission agenda, supporting information and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available at An archived video will also be available in coming days.


The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.