Tag Archives: ducks

Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey Shows Improving Numbers in 2016

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual survey of waterfowl breeding pairs. Biologists found that after a three-year decline in mallards and total duck species (meaning all species combined), both categories have increased this year.

The breeding population of mallards increased from 173,865 to 263,774 (an increase of 52 percent) and total ducks increased from 315,577 to 417,791 (an increase of 32 percent).

“The late, abundant spring rains were a real boost to the habitat this year,” noted Melanie Weaver, a CDFW waterfowl biologist who participated in the survey. “We expect good production and a larger fall flight this year because of it.”

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

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

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Coming Up at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward. The reserve includes former salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity waterfowl habitat and areas restored to full tidal action. For the 2015-2016 hunting season, hunters will be also able to enjoy recent improvements at ELER, including a new boat launch into Mt. Eden Creek that allows access into tidal areas on specified hunt days.

Access to ELER for waterfowl hunting will be open for 100 hunters on a first-come, first-served basis for each hunt only on the dates listed below. There is no fee for these hunts.

2015 hunts (check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates):
• Saturday, Nov. 21
• Tuesday, Dec. 1
• Saturday, Dec. 5
• Thursday, Dec. 10
• Tuesday, Dec. 15
• Saturday, Dec. 19

2016 hunts (check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates):
• Saturday, Jan. 2
• Thursday, Jan. 7
• Thursday, Jan. 14
• Saturday, Jan. 23

All hunters must check in with CDFW staff on the morning of the hunt with a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp and state duck and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult hunter or non-hunter 18 years or older. Vehicles are only allowed on the hunt dates specified above; drivers must stay on designated levees and use approved parking areas. Hunters are advised to use caution and should be aware of soft mud, swift currents, tidal fluctuations and unmarked hazards.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field, and hunters must use nonlead ammunition. (As of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.)

A small boat, canoe or other flotation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs and for game retrieval. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching and should be aware that extensive mud flats may be exposed and even shallow draft vessels can be subject to hidden underwater hazards during low tides.

A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieval of birds. Hunters will receive additional information, including area rules and regulations and maps, upon check-in.

To access ELER from I-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard and continue west. Turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (at the sign for the Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Please enter at the yellow gate to check in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

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 (www.southbayrestoration.org).

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Media Contacts:
John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (415) 454-8050
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5544
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon — Drought Conditions May Limit Opportunities

As California’s 2015-2016 waterfowl hunting season approaches, hunters may find that wildlife areas may have limited space, particularly early in the season.

Mallard drake about to land at a grassy refuge
Mallard drake comes in for a landing at Colusa National Wildlife Refuge. Mike Peters photo

Most years, quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). With the ongoing drought, some areas will have significantly reduced amounts of water available while others will have normal to near normal water conditions.
Some wildlife areas and refuges may be closed, while others may open later in the season or have a reduced hunter quota. State-operated waterfowl hunting areas that will be affected for the opener include Sutter National Wildlife Refuge and Kern National Wildlife Refuge, both of which will likely open late in the season.

Opening and closing dates vary by zone. This information is included in the 2015-2016 Waterfowl Regulations booklet.
Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

CDFW is striving to only offer reservation applications for areas that will be open for hunting. However, last-minute closures may occur due to uncertain water availability and refunds cannot be issued for applications submitted to areas that close due to a lack of water.

Waterfowl hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which are expected to fluctuate frequently. Hunters can also follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.

In an ongoing effort to expand public access, CDFW is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement Program (SHARE) at the Merced Wildlife Management Area in Merced County. For a description of the hunts offered and application instructions, please visit CDFW’s SHARE webpage.

A valid California hunting license, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement annually.

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Set for 2015-2016 Season

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the 2015-16 waterfowl hunting regulations on Aug. 5. The season length for brant in the Northern Brant and Balance of State Brant special management areas was increased to 37 days and the canvasback daily bag limit was increased to two per day.

ducks and geese at Gray Lodge
Ducks and geese at Gray Lodge. CDFW photo by Lori Deiter.

Duck Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 10, 2015 through Dec. 6, 2015, and from Dec. 26, 2015 through Jan. 22, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 31, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • Seven ducks per day, which includes no more than two hen mallards (or Mexican-like ducks in the Colorado River Zone), two pintail, two canvasback, two redheads and three scaup (which may only be taken during the 86-day scaup season).

Geese Seasons

  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 24, 2015 through Jan. 31, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted and white geese from Feb. 13-17, 2016.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for Early Large Canada geese from Oct. 3-7, 2015.
  • Northeastern Zone will be open for dark geese from Oct. 10, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016 and for white geese from Nov. 7, 2015 through Jan. 17, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white geese from Feb. 7, 2016 through Mar. 10, 2016.
    • Northeastern Zone will also be open for Late Season white-fronted geese from Mar. 6-10, 2016.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 16, 2015 through Jan. 24, 2016.

Bag Limits

  • 25 total geese per day, which may include 15 white geese.
  • 10 dark geese, including no more than two large Canada geese in the Northeastern Zone, no more than three dark geese in the Southern California Zone and no more than four dark geese in the Colorado River Zone.

The complete regulations can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Waterfowl.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717

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

2014-2015 California Duck Stamp Art Contest Winner to be Chosen at Judging Event

The winning design for California’s 2014-2015 Duck Stamp will be selected at a judging event scheduled June 24 in Davis. Fourteen artists from around the country submitted original art for consideration for the stamp.

The contest, sponsored by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), required entrants to paint, draw or sketch the species chosen by the California Fish and Game Commission, which this year is the scaup.

The contest will begin at 10:30 a.m. at the CDFW Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Headquarters, 45211 County Rd 32B (Chiles Road) in Davis. The judges’ panel, which will consist of experts in the fields of ornithology, conservation, art and printing, will choose first, second, and third place winners and an honorable mention.

Since 1971, the California Duck Stamp Program’s annual contest has attracted top wildlife artists from around the country. All proceeds generated from stamp sales go directly to waterfowl conservation projects throughout California.

In past years, hunters were required to purchase and affix the stamp to their hunting license. California has moved to an automated licensing system and hunters are no longer required to carry the stamps in the field because proof of purchase prints directly onto the license. However, CDFW will still produce the stamps, which can be requested by interested individuals on CDFW’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/collectorstamps/.

Contacts:
Kyle Orr, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717