Tag Archives: big game

General Deer Seasons to Open in California on Sept. 17

California’s 2016 general deer season will open in zones B1-B3, B5, B6, C1-C4, D6, D7, X9A, X9B and X12 on Saturday, Sept. 17. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds hunters to pay close attention to the occurrence of wild fires in their favorite hunting spots. Current information on forest closures can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

In addition to monitoring forest closures, CDFW recommends hunters scout potential hunting areas prior to the day of the hunt. Deer can sometimes be difficult to locate, and pre-existing knowledge of deer feeding and bedding areas will provide valuable insight and help maximize chances of success.

Hunters are reminded that as of July 1, 2015 nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Lead ammunition may still be used to hunt deer on Bureau of Land Management (BLM), national forest and private lands until July 1, 2019.

Deer tags are still available for many of the state’s most popular zones. Hunting licenses and tags can be purchased online, at one of CDFW’s license sales offices or through a license sales agent. For more information on deer hunting zones and seasons, see the 2016 Big Game Hunting Digest. Specific zone maps and information are also available online.

Every purchaser of a deer tag must report their harvest, even if they were unsuccessful. For successful hunters, the report must be made within 30 days of harvesting a deer or by Jan. 31, whichever date is first. Unsuccessful hunters, and those who purchased a tag but did not hunt, must report by Jan. 31. Harvest reports may be submitted online or by U.S. mail to CDFW Wildlife Branch, P.O. Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

Hunter harvest numbers are an important component of CDFW’s annual population analysis, and are key to ensuring sustainable deer populations and hunting opportunities for future generations. Studies have shown that the most accurate harvest estimates are obtained from hunter-generated reports. Yet historically, only 30 percent of hunters have submitted mandatory harvest reports.

In order to improve hunter reporting rates and collect better hunter harvest data, non-reporting fees were instituted in 2016. Tag holders who fail to report will be charged a non-reporting fee of $21.60, which will be added to license purchases beginning with the 2017-2018 season.

The sale of hunting licenses and tags provides approximately $25 million every year to CDFW to fund research and management of California’s wildlife, including the enforcement of fish and wildlife laws, crucial habitat conservation, post-wildfire forest restoration and wildlife migration and population studies.

# # #

Media Contacts:
Stuart Itoga, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3652
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Sportsmen’s Dollars Support Research on Desert Bighorn Sheep

Thanks to California’s big game hunters, wildlife biologists studying Desert Bighorn Sheep will have new technology and tools to help them study deadly diseases that affect these icons of the desert.

In 2013, Desert Bighorn sheep populations in the Mojave Desert near Old Dad Peak suffered a die-off. In an effort to learn more about the spread of disease and survival, scientists from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), Mojave National Preserve and Oregon State University launched an ongoing joint study of adult sheep. They have captured and radio-collared about 150 adults to date, but important data about lamb mortality is still missing.

Now, in the third year of the study, a grant will enable researchers to collect the data that will unlock the mystery. Beginning this winter, scientists will capture and radio collar bighorn ewes. As they are captured, ultrasounds will be conducted, and ewes that are found to be pregnant will be implanted with special vaginal implant transmitters, the purchase of which will be funded by the $190,000 grant. When the lamb is subsequently born, the transmitter will be pushed out and send an alert signal. Project researchers can then go to the birth site and put a miniature radio transmitter on the lamb.

If the lamb subsequently dies, a mortality signal will be transmitted and the body will be recovered by researchers quickly enough to pinpoint the cause of death. This real-time information gathering technique will hopefully provide answers to the mystery behind unexplained bighorn mortality — why the 2013 disease outbreak was so widespread, what factors contributed to the spread of the disease and what management efforts can be instituted to help prevent future outbreaks.

Spearheaded by the nonprofit California Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation and Oregon State University, the study will greatly benefit from the addition of the new technology, made possible by the purchase of big game tags by California hunters.  It is one of many project funded by the Big Game Grants Program, which allots about $800,000 each year to support studies such as this one.

Joint projects are particularly critical to fund, because they help target wildlife management issues which are often beyond the normal scope of CDFW manpower, expertise or financing.

“Funds in the Big Game Grants Program support a wide range of wildlife studies and projects,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW Big Game Program Manager. “We have a responsibility to see that the funding generated by hunters goes toward preserving wildlife populations. This sheep study is a great example of how hunters play a role in solving complicated and challenging research needs.”

This new phase of study is hoped to produce critical information unavailable until now.

“The desert environment is harsh and expansive. Until now, it’s been almost impossible to find and collect dead lambs in a timely manner, which is necessary in order to determine the cause of mortality,” said Daniella Dekelaita, a doctoral student and researcher at Oregon State University. “We know there have been significant lamb losses in some herds and this will give us accurate and timely information on what was the cause.”

###

Media Contacts:
Regina Abella, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3728

Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (208) 220-1169

SHARE Program Offers Big Game, Upland Hunts in Santa Barbara County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for big game and upland game hunts this fall at several locations in Santa Barbara County.

For the fourth year, fall hunts for deer, bear, turkey, quail and dove at Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch will be offered to the hunting public. These remote ranches in West Cuyama Valley encompass 1,000 acres between them and will offer separate hunting opportunities. The terrain offers miles of trails through oak savannah, riparian, juniper-sage woodland and chaparral habitats. The ranches are adjacent to public lands, providing additional hunting opportunities not easily accessible to other hunters.

For the first time, Baeke Ranch will offer deer, quail and wild pig hunts. Overlooking the Santa Ynez Valley just northwest of Solvang, Baeke Ranch is located in Ballard Canyon Ranches, known locally as “Hog Valley.” The property is approximately 20 acres surrounded by open space and encompasses maze of game trails winding through chaparral scrub and coyote brush with large oak and pine cover.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales. An $11.37 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Successful applicants for each property will be allowed to bring a hunting partner or a non-hunting partner depending on the hunt.

These opportunities were made possible by the SHARE program, which offers incentives to private landowners who allow wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities on their property. Participating landowners receive monetary compensation and liability protection for providing limited public access to or through their land. 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) 445-4035

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Big Game Grants Program Awards $1.1 Million for Wildlife

Hunters’ Dollars to Fund Big Game Conservation and Management Projects

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has awarded $1.1 million in grants for big game conservation projects in Fiscal Year 2016-2017.

The Big Game Grant Program (BGGP), which allocates funds generated by big-game hunters through the purchase of tags for sheep, bear, deer, pronghorn antelope and wild pig, identified 15 proposals for projects that will benefit big-game populations and the habitats upon which they depend.

“This year we are funding some exceptional studies that will broaden our knowledge and understanding of the unique needs of elk and sheep,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Big Game Program Manager. “Other projects will help restore crucial habitat for deer and other wildlife, and provide water sources necessary for their survival. All of these proposals have been identified as an appropriate use of hunter dollars. Their funding goes directly to benefit and sustain the wildlife populations they hunt.”

The projects are selected and budget approved by a public advisory committee. Funded proposals must reflect the grantees’ dedication to big game conservation and management and meet a series of criteria, including increased hunting opportunity. Awards approved for 2016-2017 include:

  • Three grants totaling $277,000 to Oregon State University and the California chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation for several studies on the effects of pneumonia and respiratory disease in Desert Bighorn Sheep.
  • A $29,000 grant to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep to develop water sources for wildlife on isolated parcels of land in the Mojave Desert.
  • A $205,000 grant to Humboldt State University to study Roosevelt elk populations in Humboldt and Del Norte counties.
  • Four grants totaling $127,000 to the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation to study elk populations in Modoc and Siskiyou counties.
  • A $27,000 grant to the Society for the Conservation of Bighorn Sheep to refill dried-up water guzzlers for wildlife in rural areas.
  • Two grants totaling $160,000 to the Mendocino County Blacktail Association to remove fir trees and improve forage and cover for deer in Mendocino, Glenn and Humboldt counties.
  • A $54,000 grant to CalFauna to conduct a prescribed burn in the Stanislaus National Forest and to document revegetation that will benefit wildlife.
  • An $81,000 grant to the Mule Deer Foundation to restore riparian meadows near Little Rattlesnake Creek in the Stanislaus National Forest.
  • A $150,000 grant to the California Deer Association to reconstruct and maintain watering devices for wildlife in the northern part of the state.

Grant monies awarded to the California chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation will allow the continuation of an ongoing study of the spread and consequences of respiratory disease for bighorn sheep in the eastern Mojave Desert. In addition to conserving and enhancing wild sheep populations, the nonprofit is committed to educating the public about sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting.

“We could not have funded this three-year sheep study without the support from the Big Game Management Account,” said Kyle Meintzer, an avid outdoorsman and bow hunter who serves on the Board of Directors for the Wild Sheep Foundation. “The BGGP shows the importance and value of hunters and the dollars their licenses and tags provide for wildlife management and conservation.”

The Big Game Management Account and BGGP were created by the California Legislature in 2010 (currently Fish and Game Code, section 3953). Since the inception of the BGGP, more than $5 million has gone to such projects. More information about the BGGP can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/grants/big-game.

###

Media Contacts:
Craig Stowers, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3553
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8911

Big Game Drawing Deadline Approaches

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for the 2016 Big Game Drawing. Applications for elk, antelope, bighorn sheep, premium deer tags and fundraising drawing tags may be submitted anywhere California fishing or hunting licenses are sold. Applications must be submitted before midnight on June 2, 2016.

The following resources are available to assist hunters in applying for the big game drawing:

  • The 2016 California Big Game Hunting Digest includes proposed seasons, application instructions and drawing statistics. The digest is available online at wildlife.ca.gov/publications/hunting-digest.
  • Big Game Tag Quotas can be found on the species webpages located at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting.
  • Online Licenses Sales and Service, www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, enables hunters to purchase licenses, apply for the big game drawing, review existing applications and preference points or find a local license agent.
  • Telephone License Sales transactions, including purchasing all licenses and submitting drawing applications, can be conducted by calling (800) 565-1458.

Junior Hunters
Any hunter who is under 18 years of age on July 1 of the license year qualifies for a junior hunting license. Junior hunters who are 12 years of age or older on July 1 may apply for apprentice deer, elk and antelope hunts. Hunters must be at least 16 years of age on July 1 to apply for bighorn sheep tags.

Fundraising Random Drawing Opportunities
Any person who will be 12 years of age or older on July 1 may apply for fundraising random drawing tags, except that applicants for bighorn sheep tags must be 16 years of age on July 1. Applicants may apply as many times as they wish. The application fee is $5.97 per entry and deadline to apply is midnight on June 2, 2016. Applicants do not need a valid hunting license to apply, but a hunting license must be purchased prior to issuing the tag. Fundraising tags will be issued at no additional cost. For 2016, four fundraising random drawing tags will be available:

  • Open Zone Deer Tag allows the hunter to hunt during the authorized season dates of any hunt, using the specific method and meeting any special conditions of the tag for that hunt.
  • Grizzly Island Bull Elk Tag is valid in the Grizzly Island hunt zone, with any legal method of take. The hunt dates are from Aug. 6, 2016 to Sept. 4, 2016.
  • Northeastern California Pronghorn Antelope Tag allows the hunter to hunt in any of the Northeastern antelope zones (Mount Dome, Clear Lake, Likely Tables, Lassen, Big Valley and Surprise Valley) with any legal method. The hunt dates are from July 30, 2016 to Sept. 18, 2016.
  • Old Dad and Kelso Peak Bighorn Sheep Tag is valid only in the Old Dad and Kelso Peak hunt zone. If drawn, the hunter must attend a mandatory orientation to receive the tag. The hunt dates are from Nov. 5, 2016 to Feb. 5, 2017.

New for 2016 – Harvest Reporting Now Mandatory for Deer Hunters
Any person who is issued a deer tag must submit a harvest report for that tag, even if they did not hunt, or if they did not harvest a deer. Deer hunters who fail to submit a harvest report for any 2016 deer tag by January 31, 2017, will be assessed a $21.60 non-reporting fee when purchasing a deer tag drawing application or deer tag in the 2017 license year.

Hunters have two methods to submit their harvest reports.

  • Submit a report for each deer tag you are issued at wildlife.ca.gov/tagreporting. When you have successfully submitted your report online, you will receive a confirmation number. You must write the confirmation number on the harvest report card and retain the harvest report card until March 1, 2017. Tags reported online must be surrendered to the CDFW upon demand.
  • By mail. Any person who does not report a deer tag online must return the report card portion of each deer tag by Jan. 31, 2017 to CDFW – Wildlife Branch, PO Box 944209, Sacramento, CA 94299-0002.

 #  #  #

Media Contacts:
Kim Shepherd, CDFW License and Revenue Branch, (916) 928-6886
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988