Pheasant, Wild Turkey, Second Dove Seasons Set to Open Nov. 9

The holidays begin early for many California hunters with the Saturday, Nov. 9 openers for pheasant, wild turkey and the second dove season.

Ring-necked Pheasant

The pheasant opener on the second Saturday of November remains a strong tradition for many families. The flush of a wild, cackling, rooster pheasant is one of nature’s most thrilling moments.

The good news is that some of the best pheasant habitat in California is found on state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges open to public hunting.

Several CDFW Type A wildlife areas are especially popular with wild pheasant hunters, including Upper Butte Basin, Yolo Bypass, Los Banos, North Grasslands, Grizzly Island and Gray Lodge. These areas are all open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the pheasant season.

In addition, all three units of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area – Little Dry Creek, Howard Slough and Llano Seco – along with Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be open to a special pheasant hunt the first Monday of the pheasant season – Veterans Day, Nov. 11 – to provide additional hunting opportunities.

Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley – Los Banos, Mendota and North Grasslands – will be open for pheasant hunting only on waterfowl hunt days during the pheasant season.

Several federal wildlife refuges are also popular destinations for pheasant hunters, including the Sutter, Colusa, Delevan and Sacramento national wildlife refuges. These refuges are open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl hunt days during pheasant season. Additionally, Colusa, Delevan and Sacramento national wildlife refuges will be open to a special pheasant hunt in their spaced waterfowl blind and assigned pond areas the first Monday of pheasant season.

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Merced County will open a portion of its Freitas Unit to pheasant hunting on opening weekend only, Nov. 9 and 10. The spaced blind area within the Kesterson Unit will open for a special one-day wild pheasant hunt on Monday, Nov. 11. Pheasant hunting is permitted in the free roam area of the San Luis Unit on the regular Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the duration of the wild pheasant season.

At the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, hunting is not permitted on Sundays. Pheasant hunting at this refuge is available on the free roam waterfowl hunt areas on Saturdays and Wednesdays beginning Nov. 9 and continuing through the duration of pheasant season.

The Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern California are home to some of the most robust wild pheasant populations in the state. They are open daily for pheasant hunting throughout the season.

The 2019 general pheasant season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 22. 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.

Wild Turkey (Fall Season)

The chance to provide a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is strong motivation for many fall turkey hunters. The fall season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 8, and – unlike in the spring season – both males and females may be taken. The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex with a season and possession limit of two birds.

For the first time, fall turkey hunting will be available to the public at several northern California national wildlife refuges.

Turkey hunters have several new opportunities in 2019 as the Sutter, Sacramento, Delevan and Colusa national wildlife refuges will open to fall turkey hunting for the first time. Turkey hunting will be permitted in the waterfowl free roam and pheasant hunting areas only at the refuges during their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the turkey season.

Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Second Dove Season

California’s second dove season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Monday, Dec. 23. The second dove season offers cooler weather, fewer crowds and the chance for a mixed bag of species – quail and rabbit, for example – that often share the same habitat.

Limits remain the same as the early season: Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit of 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared dove is legal year-round and there is no limit. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

In addition to public hunting opportunities available at state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges, CDFW offers special hunts at the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts page and through the SHARE program, which provides public hunting access to private land or other landlocked properties. New hunters should visit CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage for additional pheasant hunting opportunities.

Additional Requirements

Both a valid hunting license and upland game bird validation are needed to hunt pheasant, turkey and dove. An upland game bird validation is not required for junior license holders, but all hunters are required to have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation when hunting migratory game birds such as mourning dove and snipe. A wildlife area hunting pass is required for adults to hunt on a Type A state-operated wildlife area and national wildlife refuge. Please check with the individual property for specific details and regulations on each area.

Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Hunters need to plan accordingly. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

 

California kingsnake infected with Snake Fungal Disease

Snake Fungal Disease Detected in California

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the state’s first case of Snake Fungal Disease (SFD) in a California kingsnake (Lampropeltis californiae) from Plymouth, Amador County. The snake, which was emaciated and suffering from severe skin disease, was found by a member of the public on the side of the road and submitted for rehabilitation to Tri County Wildlife Care. Given its poor prognosis and the potential presence of SFD, the snake was humanely euthanized by CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory and sent to the University of Illinois, where post-mortem examination and testing confirmed it was infected with the Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola fungus that causes SFD. In addition, this week the fungus was detected on the skin and in tissues from a Florida watersnake (Nerodia fasciata pictiventris) found deceased and collected by CDFW from Folsom, Sacramento County, suggesting the original case was not isolated.

SFD is a newly emerging disease in snakes. Cases may be mild to life-threating. Visible signs may include scabs, skin ulcers or nodules, crusted scales, discolored scales, cloudy eyes and a swollen or disfigured face. The infection may cause the upper layer of infected skin to shed repeatedly. Affected snakes are often emaciated, possibly due to decreased ability to capture prey, and often rest in open, unprotected areas where they are exposed to adverse weather and predators.

The Ophidiomyces ophiodiicola fungus lives in soil and can be transmitted to snakes through skin abrasions or through direct contact with other infected snakes. SFD can also be passed from mother to offspring at birth in some species. Snake species that share dens may be at higher risk than solitary species.

First characterized in 2008, SFD has been detected in more than 30 snake species in the U.S. and Europe. The fungus is present in at least 23 states, primarily in eastern states and the Midwest, although in 2018 it was also detected in Idaho and in southern Ontario, Canada. This detection in California is the furthest west the disease has been confirmed.

Although SFD has caused significant mortalities in species of conservation concern, such as the Timber Rattlesnake (Crotalus horridus) and federally threatened Eastern Massasauga (Sistrurus catenatus), other species may only exhibit mild infections.

It is unknown if SFD will impact snake populations in California. CDFW will be working with wildlife rehabilitators, academic and agency partners, and others who work with snakes to increase surveillance for SFD in California and implement appropriate precautions to minimize risk for human-caused spread among snakes. There is no evidence that SFD is transmittable from snakes to humans.

Although members of the public should avoid directly handling or disturbing snakes, they can assist CDFW’s efforts by reporting sightings of snakes with skin sores or unusual behavior.

As a reminder, releasing any animals that have been in captivity, even temporarily, requires prior written approval by CDFW.

More information on SFD is available at:

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Media Contacts:
Laura Patterson, CDFW Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 341-6981

Dr. Deana Clifford, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-2378
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Offering Free Tundra Swan Tours This Fall and Winter

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering free swan tours in Yuba County near Marysville on Saturdays beginning in November and extending through January.

Co-hosted by local rice farmers, the naturalist-led tours will focus on tundra swans in one of the premier locations for viewing swans in California. Ducks, geese, ibis, shorebirds, herons, egrets and raptors are also commonly seen in this area, which contains 23,000 acres of flooded rice fields.

Tours will be held on Saturdays from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. and from 1 to 3 p.m, beginning Nov. 16. The driving tours also involve walking short distances. Carpooling is encouraged.

Pre-registration is required at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours. Up to 30 people may register for each tour.

The tours are part of CDFW’s wildlife viewing services program, which includes outdoors opportunities at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Woodbridge Ecological Reserve and the North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve.

For more information, please call (916) 358-2869 or email interpretiveservices@wildlife.ca.gov.

Also mark your calendar for the 2019 California Swan Festival Nov. 8-10 in Yuba City. For more information, please visit www.yubasutterchamber.com/swan-festival.html.

Media Contacts:
Laura Drath, CDFW North Central Region, (916) 591-1161
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

CDFW Reminds Residents to Wildlife-Proof Homes for the Winter

With winter around the corner and temperatures dropping, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) urges the public to winterize homes and other buildings to prevent wildlife from taking up residence.

This time of year, wild animals are busy preparing for the colder months to come. Bears are looking for dens to hibernate and smaller animals, such as raccoons, are seeking warm and dry places to nest such as attics, under decks, porches, chimneys and even drainpipes.

In bear country, crawl spaces under homes make a great bear den, but bears can damage insulation, wiring and pipes, posing a hazard both to themselves and to the human residents. Female bears often give birth to cubs while denning, and a family group of three or four bears could end up living under a single house. It would be difficult to evict and move them to a suitable location in their natural habitat.

Wildlife require food, water and shelter, just as people do, but it is best to keep them in their natural habitat and not under your house or in your attic. Here are a few tips to help winterize your home:

  • Inspect entire foundation of homes and other buildings for the smallest of openings.
  • Secure all crawl spaces, doors and openings that provide open access for wildlife.
  • If the dwelling will be unoccupied for the winter, remove all food – even canned goods and spices.
  • Clean the floors, counters and cabinets of unoccupied dwelling with ammonia-based products before closing for the winter.
  • Secure pet doors at night. Close for the winter if unoccupied.
  • Remove trellises, vines, shrubs and tree limbs that may give wildlife access to the roof and attic.
  • Repair shingles on the roof and repair holes near eaves.
  • Cover your chimney with heavy mesh wire to prevent access into the house or nesting in the chimney.

For more information, please visit CDFW’s new Living With Wildlife webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Lesa Johnston, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 322-8933
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

CDFW Offering Waterfowl Hunts at East Bay Ecological Reserve

One hundred hunters can soon participate in no-fee waterfowl hunts amid restored salt ponds at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward. Access to ELER will be open to 100 hunters on a first-come, first-served basis on the following dates:

2019 hunts:

  • Saturday, Nov. 23: Check-in at 5 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 3: Check-in at 5 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 7:Check-in at 5 a.m.
  • Thursday, Dec. 12: Check-in at 5 a.m.
  • Tuesday, Dec. 17: Check-in at 5 a.m.
  • Saturday, Dec. 21: Check-in at 5 a.m.

2020 hunts:

  • Saturday, Jan. 4: Check-in at 5:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 9: Check-in at 5:30 a.m.
  • Saturday, Jan. 18: Check-in at 5:30 a.m.
  • Thursday, Jan. 23: Check-in at 5:30 a.m.

“Eden Landing waterfowl hunts are unique in that there are no fees charged and hunting is offered on some Tuesdays and Thursdays when many public waterfowl hunting areas are closed,” said ELER Manager John Krause. ”These hunts produced a three-bird average last season, with northern shoveler and American wigeon being the most commonly taken.”

Improvements have been made to ELER including a boat launch on Mount Eden Creek allowing access to tidal areas. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching as mud flats can subject vessels to hidden underwater hazards during low tides.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field and nonlead ammunition is required when taking wildlife anywhere in California. A small boat, canoe or other floatation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds. A hunting dog is recommended for retrieving birds. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

To access ELER from Interstate 880: Exit at Alvarado Boulevard; continue west and turn right on Union City Boulevard; left on Bettencourt Road (look for Union Sanitary District sign); left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street; right on Veasy Street. Enter at the yellow gate and proceed to the check station.

Adult hunters must have a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp, state duck stamp and Harvest Information Program validations. Junior hunters must have a junior license and, if 16 or older, also possess a federal duck stamp. Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older (hunter or non-hunter).

Formal plans for public access opportunities at the reserve in addition to hunting are being developed as part of the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project. More information is available at www.southbayrestoration.org.

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Media Contacts:

Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (415) 454-8050