tree squirrel

General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 14

California’s 2019-2020 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

California received above-average rainfall during 2018-19, with a particularly wet spring season. “With a return to favorable weather patterns, and good acorn production, there should be ample opportunities to hunt tree squirrels this year,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program.

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

###

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

quail

Quail, Forest Grouse, Ptarmigan and Band-tailed Pigeon General Seasons to Open Soon

The 2019-20 general upland game bird hunting season will open in mid-September for several species in specific zones around the state, providing hunters with many opportunities to bring home some delicious table fare.

September openers include quail (Zone Q1 opens for mountain quail on Sept. 14, and Zone Q2 will be open for all quail on Sept. 28), sooty and ruffed grouse (general season will open in various northern and eastern counties on Sept. 14), white-tailed ptarmigan (which will open Sept. 14) and band-tailed pigeon (the northern hunt zone will open Sept. 21).

Please note that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

Zone maps and information about daily bag limits and possession limits for each game bird species can be found on the CDFW Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage. Additional information about each species can be found below.

Quail

Quail are some of the state’s most popular native game birds. There are three species of quail found in California: California quail, mountain quail and Gambel’s quail. California quail (the state bird) are common and widespread throughout the state in low to mid-elevation brushy habitats with good cover and abundant food. Mountain quail are found in higher elevation habitats. Gambel’s quail are California’s most desert-adapted species and are found in the very arid lands of southeastern California.

The early mountain quail-only season starts on Sept. 14 in Zone Q1 and continues through Oct. 18, covering much of the mountainous region of northern and eastern California. On Sept. 28, the early general quail season opens in Zone Q2 for all quail species in several north coast counties. The remainder of the state will open to quail hunting on Oct. 19 and extend through Jan. 26, 2020. Finally, an additional two-day early hunt season will be open on Oct. 5-6 in Mojave National Preserve for hunters with junior hunting licenses.

CDFW is offering fall hunts for quail (and wild chukar) throughout the state. Special drawings for public land quail and chukar hunts through the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunt Program are available in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and drawings for hunts on private ranches (offered through the SHARE Program) will be available in Tulare and Santa Barbara counties. Hunters can apply for these opportunities online, at CDFW license sales offices, through retail license agents or by calling (800) 565-1458.

For all quail species, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

All three native species of quail are characterized by high reproductive potential associated with adequate and well-timed winter and early spring precipitation. Northern California experienced increased precipitation this spring, benefitting quail habitat and productivity. Hunters should experience good populations of quail this fall.

All three species of quail are most active in the early morning and later afternoon and move in large coveys throughout the day. Quail have distinctive calls that can provide clues to the birds’ location. Quail are more apt to run than flush, making them a more challenging game bird to hunt. Hunting dogs can be useful for locating, flushing and retrieving birds in the field.

Quail can be successfully hunted with legal gauge shotguns. A modified or improved cylinder choke is recommended to avoid damage to the bird. Because of the dense brush habitats where they are usually hunted, downed quail can be hard to find. Despite this challenge, CDFW reminds hunters that wasting game is both unethical and illegal.

Forest Grouse

California has two species of native forest-dwelling grouse: the sooty grouse and the ruffed grouse. Sooty grouse occur in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and northern Coast ranges while the ruffed grouse is restricted to the northwestern part of the state. The general hunting season for both species extends from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14 this year. For sooty and ruffed grouse, the daily bag limit is two (both of one species or mixed species) and possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Although they are fairly large birds, grouse camouflage themselves well and generally hold tight to their location even when hunters are nearby. They flush quickly and fly off in a zigzag pattern, requiring a quick and accurate response from a hunter. Dogs are useful companions to help hunters find, flush and retrieve bagged grouse.

Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan is a non-native grouse that was introduced by CDFW to the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. This is the smallest species of ptarmigan and the only one found in California. They inhabit the high elevation alpine habitats at low densities from Sonora Pass in Tuolumne County to Kings Canyon National Park.

Hunting these birds can be challenging because of the high elevation and steep terrain. Hunting is permitted from Sept. 14-22. The daily bag limit is two per day and the possession limit is two per season. Hunters should prepare for difficult hiking conditions and be familiar with the area before heading out after this game bird.

Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is California’s only native pigeon and is a close relative of the extinct passenger pigeon. They look similar to the introduced domestic or rock pigeons that frequent urban areas. Band-tailed pigeons are often found in mountainous terrain throughout the state, using coniferous forests as well as oak woodlands, but populations are migratory and movements can be unpredictable.

The northern California hunt zone season runs from Sept 21-29. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. The southern hunt zone does not open until December.

CDFW reminds hunters that an upland game bird stamp is required for licensed adult hunters (18 years and older) but not for hunters with a valid junior hunting license. A HIP validation is also required to hunt band-tailed pigeons.

###

Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

San Bernardino kangaroo rat

CDFW Seeks Information Related to San Bernardino Kangaroo Rat

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is seeking information relevant to a proposal to list the San Bernardino kangaroo rat (Dipodomys merriami parvus) as an endangered species under the California Endangered Species Act.

In March 2019, the Endangered Habitats League submitted a petition to the California Fish and Game Commission to formally list the San Bernardino kangaroo rat as endangered under the California Endangered Species Act. The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation described a variety of threats to the survival of the species in California. These include direct and indirect impacts associated with habitat loss, habitat fragmentation, habitat degradation, small and fragmented subpopulations, loss of ecological processes maintaining habitat suitability, low genetic diversity and climate change. CDFW recommended and the Commission voted to advance the species to candidacy on Aug. 7, 2019. The Commission published findings of this decision on Aug. 23, 2019, triggering a 12-month period during which CDFW will conduct a status review to inform the Commission’s decision on whether to list the species.

As part of the status review process, CDFW is soliciting information from the public regarding the San Bernardino kangaroo rat’s ecology, genetics, life history, distribution, abundance, habitat, the degree and immediacy of threats to reproduction or survival, adequacy of existing management 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: Scott Osborn
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA 95811

Comments may also be submitted by email to wildlifemgt@wildlife.ca.gov. If submitting comments by email, please include “SBKR” in the subject heading.

All comments received by Sept. 27, 2019 will be evaluated prior to submittal of the CDFW status review report to the Commission. Receipt of the report will be placed on the agenda for the next available meeting of the Commission after delivery and the report will be made available to the public at that time. Following the receipt of the CDFW report, the Commission will allow a 30-day public comment period prior to taking any action on CDFW’s recommendation.

The listing petition and CDFW’s petition evaluation for the kangaroo rat is available at
https://fgc.ca.gov/cesa#sbkr.

###

Media Contacts:
Scott Osborn, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 324-3564
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Pronghorn Season Set to Open in Northeastern California

Sagebrush flats, rolling hills, wide-open skies and crisp mornings characterize California’s general pronghorn antelope season, which opens Saturday, Aug. 24 in northeastern California.

While thousands apply for the opportunity each year, only a small group of Californians will get the chance to escape the late-summer heat gripping most of the state to hunt pronghorn the last week in August in the remote reaches of northeastern California.

Only 245 pronghorn tags are awarded through CDFW’s Big Game Drawing, and the season lasts just nine days, ending Sept. 1 in most of the six pronghorn hunt zones. Archery hunters got a jump on their rifle-toting counterparts with an early season that began Aug. 10 and ended Aug. 18.

While the odds of drawing a California pronghorn tag are long, the hunter success rate is high. Hunters reported taking 201 pronghorn in 2018. Hunter success across the six northeastern hunt zones and season dates in 2018 averaged about 86 percent for rifle hunters and about 48 percent for archery hunters.

The high success rates help explain why more than 18,000 hunters applied for a tag in 2018. Another 8,700-plus hunters applied for a preference point to improve their chances of drawing a pronghorn tag in future years. Only one pronghorn tag is awarded to a nonresident each year.

North America’s fastest land animal, pronghorn can reach speeds exceeding 50 miles per hour. Unlike deer and many other big-game animals, pronghorn prefer wide-open areas with little cover. They are usually found in flat to rolling open country, using their excellent eyesight and speed to maintain a safe distance from any perceived threats.

Once found throughout California’s Central Valley, pronghorn today are most numerous in northeastern California. Through their tags and application fees, hunters are funding important pronghorn research and management that includes a trapping and collaring program underway in Siskiyou County.

Successful hunters are asked to submit two front teeth from their pronghorn for age analysis. Successful tag reporting allows CDFW to better understand and manage pronghorn herds for continued population growth, expansion and hunting opportunity.

Over the decades, CDFW has made efforts to re-establish herds in suitable habitat across the state. Pronghorn today roam the Carrizo Plain grasslands in San Luis Obispo County as a result of the translocation of animals from Lassen County herds in the1980s.

CDFW biologists have seen recent evidence of pronghorn naturally expanding their range as well.

A small herd of pronghorn visits the Bodie Hills area of Mono County, spending much of the year in Nevada. Biologists believe some of these animals have origins back to Yellowstone National Park and translocation efforts decades ago by both Nevada and California wildlife agencies.

A herd that may have originated in Lassen County or perhaps Nevada may be colonizing parts of Sierra and Plumas counties. Research is currently in the planning stages to investigate these potential range expansions.

Media Contacts:
Kristin Denryter, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-9992
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW Steps in to Protect Animals at Wildlife Waystation

On August 11, 2019, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was notified by the Wildlife Waystation, a wild animal refuge that houses exotic and domestic animals in Sylmar, that their Board of Directors had voted to surrender the facility’s CDFW permit voluntarily and to close the facility. CDFW has implemented an incident command structure to handle daily operations and assist with the placement of animals.Wildlife Waystation 2

As of this morning, CDFW is on site, actively ensuring that daily operations remain smooth at the facility, and is working with animal welfare organizations to place the animals into other facilities. CDFW will maintain oversight of the facility until all animals are placed appropriately.

CDFW’s primary concern is for the health and welfare of the animals. CDFW is working collaboratively with Wildlife Waystation staff to ensure the best possible care during this transition.

The Wildlife Waystation was founded in 1976 and has been operating with a current permit issued by CDFW. The aging facility was extensively damaged in the 2017 Creek Fire and again in flooding in early 2019. Wildlife Waystation leadership is unable to repair the facility to current standards.

Media and the public are asked to please refrain from traveling to the property. The property is closed until further notice and access will not be granted. There is very limited road access and no cellular reception.

CDFW is contacting its network of local and national animal welfare organizations both for assistance and expertise in care of the animals as well as assistance in finding permanent placement for the more than 470 animals at the facility.

CDFW Deputy Director Jordan Traverso will be available for media interviews at the command center at the Hanson Dam Ranger Station at 10965 Dronfield Ave., Sylmar, Calif. until 3:30 p.m. She can also be reached at (916) 654-9937.

###