2020-21 Hunting Licenses and Big Game Drawing Applications Now Available

California hunters can now purchase hunting licenses for the 2020-21 season, as well as apply for the Big Game Drawing online. Californians have many options to harvest wild protein, and at this time, the current COVID-19 pandemic is not expected to lead to the closure or delay of any hunting seasons. 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest cover

The deadline to apply for the Big Game Drawing is June 2, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. The 2020 California Big Game Hunting Digest, which includes information about hunts, tag quotas, season dates and the Big Game Drawing, can be downloaded online at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=178428&inline. Printed copies will be mailed to all those who applied to last year’s Big Game Drawing. California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website is the most reliable source for the Big Game Digest.

New this year, per Fish and Game Code, section 3031, a resident or nonresident must be under 16 years of age on July 1, 2020 in order to be eligible for a 2020-21 Junior Hunting License. The previous law, which allowed youth up to 18 years old to purchase a Junior Hunting License, has sunset.

“Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to practice physical distancing,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “This means avoiding crowded trails, parking lots and campgrounds. If you find that your favorite hunting spot is crowded, do not risk your health and the health of others. Please remember all seasons, limits, license, private property restrictions, and other laws and regulations still apply. Be smart and stay safe.”

CDFW also wants to remind hunters of the change that went into effect on July 1, 2019 requiring nonlead ammunition when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Nonlead ammunition is now required for all hunting in California.

Due to changes in the penal code regarding the purchase or transfer of ammunition, CDFW recommends purchasing ammunition well in advance of hunting and practicing with it in order to ensure firearms are sighted-in appropriately before heading into the field.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

Convicted Poacher Fined $17,500 For Unlawful Take of Deer Over Bait

A Granite Bay man has been convicted of poaching a trophy class deer with the use of bait, and will pay an enhanced penalty. A tenacious investigation by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and prosecution by the El Dorado County District Attorney’s office made the conviction possible.

Wildlife officers conducting surveillance over the course of the 2018 deer hunting season observed archery hunter Myron Barry Woltering, 66, repeatedly adding food to a bait pile on a property he owns in Pilot Hill, El Dorado County. Woltering was unlawfully using alfalfa, corn, other grains and salt licks for the purpose of attracting deer. Using a combination of surveillance, a review of mandatory hunting report records and search warrants served at Woltering’s home, business and the property where the baiting took place, wildlife officers were able to prove that Woltering had poached a very large trophy class 6×4 buck over the bait.

On Feb. 21, 2020, Woltering pled no contest in El Dorado Superior Court to one misdemeanor count of taking deer over bait. Because the buck was of “trophy” size, the penalties for the crime were enhanced. Woltering will serve three years’ probation, during which time he will be prohibited from hunting. He stipulated to the forfeiture of all seized items and paid a fine of $17,500.

The Pope and Young Club, one of North America’s leading bowhunting and wildlife conservation organizations, defines “fair chase” as the ethical, sportsmanlike and lawful pursuit of free-ranging wild game animals in a manner which does not give the hunter an improper or unfair advantage over the animal.

“California hunters have long considered baiting for deer a violation of fair chase principles,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “The Legislature and Fish and Game Commission enacted laws and regulations to prohibit the act, then took it a step further to enhance the penalties associated with conviction of baiting trophy class deer.

“As more and more would-be poachers see poaching convictions with these enhanced penalties, we hope they will be deterred from poaching the largest deer out of these local herds,” Bess continued.

If you witness a poaching or polluting incident or any violation of fish and wildlife laws, or if you have information about such a violation, please call the toll free CalTIP number, (888) 334-2258, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Other reporting options include texting or using the CalTIP app. Please visit CDFW’s CalTIP web page for details.

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Media Contacts:
Capt. Patrick Foy, CDFW Law Enforcement Division, (916) 508-7095

CDFW Expands Statewide Sampling for Chronic Wasting Disease

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is increasing the scope of its monitoring and testing efforts for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in California’s deer and elk herds.

“While California has never had a report of CWD, increased testing is needed to establish with a high degree of certainty that there are no deer with CWD in California,” said CDFW Wildlife Veterinarian Brandon Munk. “Keeping this disease out of our state is a top priority, both for wildlife managers and for hunters.”

CWD is always fatal to deer and elk, and is an ongoing concern for hunters and managers throughout the country. Once CWD enters a herd, it is nearly impossible to eradicate. Although there are no known cases of CWD being transferred to humans, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends not consuming meat or organs from any animal that tests positive for CWD.

CDFW’s Wildlife Investigations Laboratory has set an ambitious goal to test 600 deer statewide during this year’s hunting seasons and increasing that number to 2,000 statewide in the upcoming years.

Continued hunter cooperation will be key to achieving the CWD deer testing goals. CDFW will set up check stations during the various deer seasons, and hunters will be asked to bring their deer in for the quick removal of a lymph node for testing. CWD testing of hunter-taken deer is voluntary, and no meat is taken.

Information about specific locations and times of operation of CWD check stations in each of the state’s deer zones and control hunt areas will appear on CDFW’s website. Hunters can also contact regional CDFW offices to get check station schedules. Some offices may also offer onsite deer testing.

Some professional meat processors and butchers throughout the state are also partnering with CDFW to take samples from deer at the hunter’s request. Hunters who may be unable to visit a check station or CDFW regional office for sampling are encouraged to ask their butcher ahead of time if sampling is available at the time of processing.

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Media Contacts:
Brandon Munk, CDFW Wildlife Investigations Lab, (916) 358-1194
Nathan Graveline, CDFW Big Game Program, (916) 445-3652
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

General Deer Seasons Set to Open; Hunters Advised to Check Wildfire-Related Closures

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wants to remind deer hunters to check for wildfire-related closures before heading to their favorite hunting spots for the general deer season, which is set to open in many parts of the state Saturday, Sept. 15.

Deer season is already underway in California’s A and B4 zones along the coast and many coastal deer hunters have had to improvise and find new spots this season as a result of wildfire-related closures that upended hunting plans.

Please visit CDFW’s forest fire related closure page for information and resources.

The majority of California’s general deer hunting zones – B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, D6 and D7 – open Saturday, Sept. 15, along with premium hunting zones X9a and X9b in Mono and Inyo counties along the eastern Sierra. Several other general deer hunting zones – D3, D4, D5, D8, D9 and D10 open the following week, on Saturday, Sept. 22, as does premium hunting zone X8 in Alpine County.

“California has experienced several very large wildfires this summer, many of which are in popular deer hunting zones,” said David Casady, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Deer Program. “Hunting will be challenging this year – particularly in the B zones and the northern parts of the A zone – but the range should respond positively and hunting should be productive in the next three to five years.”

California’s deer population is generally stable with small year-to-year fluctuations. Current estimates put the population at approximately 533,000 deer statewide. California hunters harvested 29,394 deer in 2017 with an overall hunter success rate of 16 percent.

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

California is phasing-in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting which will be required for all wildlife harvest beginning July 1, 2019. While nonlead ammunition is currently not required for hunting deer in California in 2018 outside of the California condor range, if you will be hunting on a CDFW wildlife area or ecological reserve, nonlead ammunition is required. For more information, please see CDFW’s nonlead ammunition page.

Additional deer hunting information, including hunt zone descriptions, maps and special hunts, is available at CDFWs deer hunting page.

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Media Contacts:
David Casady, CDFW Deer Program, (916) 445-3705
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

California Elk Plan Draft Now Available for Public Comment

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a draft of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan for public review and comment. The plan provides guidance and direction to help set priorities for elk management efforts statewide.

“This draft plan is an important milestone for many of our wildlife program staff, and we’re pleased to be one step closer to completion,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis. “Public feedback is a critical part of shaping this effort, which emphasizes the sharing of resources and collaboration with all parties interested in elk and elk management. These are essential for effective management of California’s elk populations.”

The overarching plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and tule elk in California. The plan also includes subsections that are specific to each of the 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) in California. These areas collectively comprise the currently known distribution of elk in California. Each subsection includes a description of the EMU and information about elk distribution and abundance, management goals, objectives and actions, herd viability and a summary of annual harvests in that unit.

The plan also outlines management actions that emphasize maintenance and improvement of habitat conditions on both public and private land.

All public comments should be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. Comments may be submitted online at ElkManagementPlan@wildlife.ca.gov, or can be mailed to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Branch, Attn: Joe Hobbs
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA  95811

Comments received by the deadline will be reviewed by CDFW, and appropriate changes will be incorporated into the final document prior to its anticipated release in early 2018.

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Media Contacts:
Joe Hobbs, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-9992
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 212-7352