November 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — Nimbus Fish Hatchery Free Public Webinars, 9 to 9:45 a.m., Nov. 5, 12, 19 and 25 via Zoom. These free public webinars will be broadcast live from the Nimbus Fish Hatchery for all ages to enjoy from a safe social distance. Because the Visitor Center is currently closed, we are offering everyone the opportunity to connect with wildlife and our hatchery experts. Information on each webinar and a link to register (required) will be posted to our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/nimbushatchery. For additional information, please contact stephanie.ambrosia@wildlife.ca.gov  or call (916) 358-2884.

Saturdays — Swan Tours, 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., Yuba County north of Marysville in privately owned rice fields. Led by CDFW naturalists, this is an excursion into a prime Pacific Flyway overwintering grounds. Tours focus on the majestic and ancient tundra swan, but participants are sure to see an assortment of geese, ducks, shorebirds and raptors. Sign up on Eventbrite. Tours have been modified to meet health and safety guidelines. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/regions/2/swan-tours or email genelle.treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.

1 — First Day of No Depth Limit for Recreational Boat-Based Groundfish Fishing, California-Oregon State Line to Point Arena (through Dec. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/groundfish-summary.

1 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D3-D7, D17 and D19. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.  

7 — Recreational Dungeness Crab Season Opens Statewide. Health advisory information will be posted at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/health-advisories. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/crabs.

7 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone D12. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.  

7 — Canada Goose Season Opens in the North Coast Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — Scaup Season Opens in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, Southern California, Colorado River and Balance of State Zones (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — White Goose Season Opens in the Imperial County Special Management Area (extends through Jan. 31). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

7 — Weaving Yesterdays: A Live History Series Virtual Event, 1 to 1:30 p.m. Reserve naturalists and historians will host a Facebook Live series exploring the cultural heritage of Elkhorn Slough. At 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, participants will hear the backstory of a new location around the area. Please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/weaving-yesterdays-a-live-history-series to view the series schedule and find recordings of previous installments. 

7 — Teachers on the Estuary Workshop, 9 to 11:30 a.m., Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville (95076). The reserve presents a hands-on estuarine science workshop for middle and high school teachers through a combination of virtual lessons and field work. Teachers will learn from reserve scientists, engage in inquiry-based lessons and take home new hands-on activities. For the full workshop schedule and to register, please visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/teacher-development.

8  Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Horse Mountain to Pigeon Point. Recreational ocean salmon fishing closes statewide. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon or call the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

8 — General Deer Season Closes in Zones D11, D13-D15 and X9c. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

10 — California Fish and Game Commission Marine Resources Committee Meeting, 9 a.m. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/meetings/2020.

14 — Fall Wild Turkey Season Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 13). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — General Pheasant Season Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 27). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — Late Season Dove Hunting Opens Statewide (extends through Dec. 28). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

15 — 2021 Sport Fishing Licenses Available. The 2021 sport fishing licenses become available at various sites. For more information or to purchase a license online, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/fishing.

15 — Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery South of the Sonoma-Mendocino County Line (Central Management Area) Scheduled to Open. The opening date may be delayed in some or all of this area due to elevated marine life entanglement risk or human health concerns from domoic acid. Should there be a change to the season opening date due to entanglement risk, information will be made available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and sent out through the CDFW Whale Safe Fisheries email listserv. More information on domoic acid and the crab fishery can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/crabs.

16 — California Fish and Game Tribal Committee Meeting, 1:30 p.m. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov.

18 — Brant Season Opens in the Northern Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 14). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

18 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Meeting, 10 a.m., via Microsoft Teams or teleconference. Public comment will be accepted per the agenda. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

19 — Brant Season Opens in the Balance of State Brant Special Management Area (extends through Dec. 15). For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

22 — General Deer Season Closes in Zone D16. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

29 — General Deer Season Closes in Zone D12. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

October 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.

Various Days — General Bear Season Opens in Select Deer Zones. General bear season opens concurrently with general deer season in the A, B, C, D, X8, X9a, X9b, X10 and X12 deer hunting zones. The general bear season will remain open until Dec. 27, or until CDFW determines that 1,700 bears have been taken. Tooth collection is not required this year, but all hunters must present their bear head and get their tag validated by CDFW personnel. Current bear hunting regulations, in-season updates and general black bear information can be viewed at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear.

3 — California Spiny Lobster Recreational Fishing Season Opens Statewide, 6 a.m. For more information regarding lobster and lobster management, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.

3 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Northeastern Waterfowl Zone. For more information about regulations, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.  

3 — Early Canada Goose Season Opens in the Balance of State Waterfowl Zone. For more information about regulations, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl

3 — General Deer Season Opens in Zones D19, X1, X2, X3a, X3b, X4, X5a, X5b, X6a, X6b, X7a and X7b. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

3 — Archery-Only Deer Season Opens in Zone D12. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

3 — Weaving Yesterdays: A Live History Series Virtual Event, 1 to 1:30 p.m. Reserve naturalists and historians will host a Facebook Live series exploring the cultural heritage of Elkhorn Slough. At 1 p.m. on the first Saturday of each month, participants will hear the backstory of a new location around the area. Please visit www.elkhornslough.org/events/weaving-yesterdays-a-live-history-series to view the series schedule and find recordings of previous installments. 

3-4 — Early season Junior Hunt for Quail in the Mojave National Preserve. For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

4 — Last Day of Recreational Ocean Salmon Season from Pigeon Point to the U.S./Mexico Border. All recreational ocean salmon fishing south of Pigeon Point will be closed for the remainder of the year. Recreational ocean salmon fishing remains open between Horse Mountain and Pigeon Point. For more information, please visit the ocean salmon webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/salmon or call either the CDFW Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (707) 576-3429 or the National Marine Fisheries Service Ocean Salmon Regulations Hotline at (800) 662-9825.

7 — California Spiny Lobster Commercial Fishing Season Opens Statewide. For more information regarding lobster and lobster management, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/invertebrates/lobster.

10 — General Deer Season Opens in Zones D11, D13-15 and D17. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

10 — General Bear Season Opens in the Remaining X Zones. General bear season opens for the remaining deer hunting X zones. The general bear season will remain open until Dec. 27, or until CDFW determines that 1,700 bears have been taken. Tooth collection is not required this year, but all hunters must present their bear head and get their tag validated by CDFW personnel. Current bear hunting regulations, in-season updates and general black bear information can be viewed at wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear.  

10 — Early Archery-Only Season for Pheasant Opens (extending through Nov. 1). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov.

15-30 — iNaturalist Wildlife Scavenger Hunt. Join CDFW’s Gray Lodge Wildlife Area in a biodiversity scavenger hunt in Butte, Yuba or Sutter counties. In celebration of the Virtual Yuba-Sutter Farm Day 2020, this activity offers kids a way to have outdoor fun while learning about the wildlife in their communities. It targets third graders, but all are welcome to join. Participants will follow clues while observing wildlife, capturing images and using iNaturalist to record what they find. Information and guidance will be posted in the iNaturalist “Journal.” Due to the pandemic, this is a self-led activity. Please visit www.inaturalist.org/projects/yuba-sutter-farm-days-2020-gray-lodge-wildllife-area?tab=about for more information and to sign up.

17 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone X9c. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

17 — General Season for All Quail Opens in Zone Q1 and Zone Q3 (extending through Jan. 31, 2021). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

17 — General Season for Chukar Opens Statewide (extending through Jan. 31, 2021). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

17 — General Season for Snipe Opens Statewide (extending through Jan. 31, 2021). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

23 California Wildlife Conservation Board Lower American River Conservancy Program Advisory Committee Meeting, 1 to 3 p.m., via Microsoft Teams Meeting. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov.

23 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Colorado River Waterfowl Zone. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

24 — General Duck and Goose Season Opens in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California Waterfowl Zones. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

24 — General Deer Season Opens in Zone D16. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8907

Snow geese at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. CDFW photo/Travis VanZant.

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