Category Archives: upland game

Wild Pheasant Hunting Season Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season.

Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of hunt days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2017 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 11 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 24. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 461 last year.

In an effort to address the decline, CDFW continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to a multiyear collaborative research project with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to better understand factors that limit populations. These field studies of wild pheasant survival and reproduction at locations around northern California will continue into 2018 and result in a report of findings and future management recommendations.

Preliminary results indicate that changing land use practices is one of the major drivers of wild pheasant declines on both public and private lands. An overall decline in annual acres of “unharvested cropland” correlate with pheasant declines as well as decreases in acres of planted barley, sugar beets, winter wheat and sorghum, and increases in acres of nut trees and rice. Pesticide use and increases in avian predator populations also appear to play a role.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and the first Monday (Nov. 13) during the pheasant season.
  • Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will only be open for pheasant hunting the first Monday (Nov. 13) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will only be open on the first Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 11-12) of the pheasant season.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs. For more information please see the CDFW Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the public lands regulations for 2017-18 are available on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional CDFW offices and check the CDFW website.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

CDFW Biologists Predict Good Quail Hunting Season in 2017-18

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are expecting a very good quail hunting season when the general seasons open, thanks to rebounding populations that benefitted from California’s wet fall and winter in 2016.

California’s prolonged drought reduced quail populations statewide. Biologists found overall declines of 33 percent for mountain quail, 29 percent for California quail and 17 percent for Gambel’s quail from 2005 to 2015 using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Quail populations fluctuate naturally with weather and other prevailing environmental conditions such as wildfires. Fortunately, 2016 brought a shift in weather conditions for California. The rain received was critical to the production of food and cover for quail populations. Perhaps most importantly, rains produce more insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.

Detailed information on California’s various quail hunting zones, including season dates, descriptions and a map, is available at CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage: wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds.

As a result of the same wet weather conditions, CDFW regional biologists are expecting a strong chukar hunting season as well, particularly in desert habitat that often experiences boom-and-bust population swings based on the amount of rainfall.

CDFW is offering several special quail and chukar hunting opportunities this fall and winter at ecological reserves and wildlife areas in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting opportunities on private land, is offering several quail hunts in Santa Barbara County this fall and winter. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can also apply for these hunts through the ALDS system. Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s SHARE Program webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

California is phasing in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Nonlead ammunition is required for hunting quail when on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves in California. Learn more about California’s nonlead ammunition requirements for hunting at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Media Contacts:
Katherine Miller, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-0885
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo by Stuart Itoga

Celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day by Getting Outdoors

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are joining to celebrate California’s long-standing outdoor heritage and the contributions made to wildlife conservation by hunters and anglers on National Hunting and Fishing Day.

Saturday, Sept. 23 is National Hunting and Fishing Day and California hunting and fishing seasons are in full swing. Currently deer, bear, grouse, early mountain quail, rabbit, and tree squirrel seasons are underway across the state. The high country streams, rivers and lakes are in peak form. This is prime time.

Together, CDFW and BLM are proud to promote the excellent hunting and fishing opportunities available on public lands. BLM-managed public lands in California offer a wide variety of recreational opportunities including hunting, fishing, hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, boating and backcountry exploring. Millions of acres of public land are available for hunting and thousands of miles of rivers and streams are available for fishing in California. CDFW is responsible for over 1 million acres of fish and wildlife habitat, managed through 749 properties throughout the state. These properties provide habitat for a rich diversity of fish, wildlife and plant species.

Hunters and anglers are advised to check area closures and local restrictions before heading out. Fire season is here and several large wildfires are burning currently, which may close some areas to hunting and fishing. Additionally, the severe winter damaged roads, which may account for other closures or restricted access. Information on area closures is available at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

While current target shooting restrictions are in place on some BLM-managed public lands, hunting in those areas is open with a valid hunting license. For updates on BLM restrictions visit: blm.gov/programs/public-safety-and-fire/fire-and-aviation/regional-info/california/fire-restrictions.

For the 2016 season, a record 84 percent of deer tag holders complied with California’s new mandatory deer tag reporting requirement. CDFW thanks all those who reported and hopes for increased participation following the 2017 season. The reports are vital to estimating deer populations and setting tag quotas for the coming hunting season.

California is phasing-in the use of non-lead ammunition for hunting. Lead ammunition is permitted in 2017 for hunting deer in California outside of the California condor range, state wildlife areas or ecological reserves where non-lead ammunition is required. Learn more about California’s phase-in of nonlead ammunition for hunting by visiting wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Hunters and anglers are often referred to as the original conservationists. CDFW and BLM value the many contributions they make to fish and wildlife conservation efforts in the Golden State.

For more information about California’s hunting and fishing seasons, licenses and tags, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov.

For more information about BLM lands and outdoor activities, please visit www.blm.gov/california.

Media Contacts:
Samantha Storms, BLM Communications, (916) 978-4615
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

SHARE Program to Offer Wild Pig, Waterfowl, Pheasant and Dove Hunts this Fall

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for hunting on properties in Colusa, Solano and Merced counties this fall.

SHARE is offering nine new archery-only wild pig hunts at East Park Reservoir located in Colusa County, approximately 45 minutes west of Maxwell. SHARE hunters will have access to 600 acres of oak woodland on the south side of the reservoir for these hunts. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period. The hunts will take place October 2017 through February 2018.

SHARE will also offer eight wild pig hunts from November to December at Rush Ranch, located in Solano County. Rush Ranch is a 2,070-acre open-space area bordered by the Suisun Marsh. Two permits (each good for two hunters) will be randomly drawn for each period. SHARE hunters will have access to 1,000 acres of the ranch for these hunts and will be able to camp in a designated area for no extra fee.

SHARE is also offering waterfowl, dove and pheasant hunts on the wildlife management area at the city of Merced’s Wastewater Treatment Plant. The property is located five miles south of the city of Merced and is tucked between sloughs and agricultural fields. The seasonal pond and wetland on the property provide cover and forage for waterfowl, dove and pheasant. Three hundred acres will be open to hunting. Successful applicants will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or non-hunting partner.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Application deadlines are 17 days before each hunt.

To apply for these hunts, visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/, login to your account and select Purchase Licenses. Then select 2017 – Hunting, 2017 – SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application, then select specific hunt periods.

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers private landowners liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. The goal of the SHARE Program is to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California. For more information about SHARE opportunities, please visit www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824

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 2017-2018 upland game bird stamp.

The California Upland Game Bird Stamp Art Contest is open to all U.S. residents ages 18 and over. Entries will be accepted from Oct. 30 through Nov.15.

This year’s stamp will feature the Wilson’s snipe (Gallinago delicate), a charismatic, diminutive migratory game bird. The Wilson’s snipe relies on its long, straight beak to forage for invertebrates in muddy wetlands from the coast to the high Sierra Nevada. During courtship displays, the male flies in high circles before diving repeatedly, generating a “winnowing” sound from air rushing over its tail feathers.

Entries must include at least one Wilson’s snipe, preferably in a setting representative of its natural habitat in 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 about 175,000 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.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6709
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958