tree squirrel

General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 14

California’s 2019-2020 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020. Tree squirrels may be taken only in the open zone during the open season, from between one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. A map of the state’s tree squirrel hunt zones can be found on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website, along with the full tree squirrel regulations.

Four types of tree squirrels are game species in California. The Western gray squirrel and the Douglas squirrel are both native to California while the Eastern fox squirrel and the Eastern gray squirrel are introduced and not native to the state. These tree squirrels can be hunted in the open zone during the open season under authority of a hunting license in California. No other validations are required.

A fifth species of tree squirrel, the Northern Flying Squirrel, is not a game species and may not be taken. Flying squirrels are small, native tree squirrels that are seldom encountered due to their nocturnal nature and preference for mature forest habitats with complex canopy structure.

Tree squirrel population levels fluctuate from year to year based on prevailing weather conditions and the annual production of nuts, acorns and seeds for forage.

California received above-average rainfall during 2018-19, with a particularly wet spring season. “With a return to favorable weather patterns, and good acorn production, there should be ample opportunities to hunt tree squirrels this year,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program.

In recent years, approximately 10,000 to 15,000 hunters have reported hunting tree squirrels annually and their combined statewide bag has ranged from 50,000 to 75,000.

National forests provide some of the best opportunity to hunt tree squirrels in California. Bureau of Land Management lands and CDFW wildlife areas may also provide opportunity for squirrel hunting. Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

quail

Quail, Forest Grouse, Ptarmigan and Band-tailed Pigeon General Seasons to Open Soon

The 2019-20 general upland game bird hunting season will open in mid-September for several species in specific zones around the state, providing hunters with many opportunities to bring home some delicious table fare.

September openers include quail (Zone Q1 opens for mountain quail on Sept. 14, and Zone Q2 will be open for all quail on Sept. 28), sooty and ruffed grouse (general season will open in various northern and eastern counties on Sept. 14), white-tailed ptarmigan (which will open Sept. 14) and band-tailed pigeon (the northern hunt zone will open Sept. 21).

Please note that as of July 1, 2019, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Please plan accordingly. For more information, please see the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) nonlead ammunition page.

Zone maps and information about daily bag limits and possession limits for each game bird species can be found on the CDFW Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage. Additional information about each species can be found below.

Quail

Quail are some of the state’s most popular native game birds. There are three species of quail found in California: California quail, mountain quail and Gambel’s quail. California quail (the state bird) are common and widespread throughout the state in low to mid-elevation brushy habitats with good cover and abundant food. Mountain quail are found in higher elevation habitats. Gambel’s quail are California’s most desert-adapted species and are found in the very arid lands of southeastern California.

The early mountain quail-only season starts on Sept. 14 in Zone Q1 and continues through Oct. 18, covering much of the mountainous region of northern and eastern California. On Sept. 28, the early general quail season opens in Zone Q2 for all quail species in several north coast counties. The remainder of the state will open to quail hunting on Oct. 19 and extend through Jan. 26, 2020. Finally, an additional two-day early hunt season will be open on Oct. 5-6 in Mojave National Preserve for hunters with junior hunting licenses.

CDFW is offering fall hunts for quail (and wild chukar) throughout the state. Special drawings for public land quail and chukar hunts through the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunt Program are available in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties, and drawings for hunts on private ranches (offered through the SHARE Program) will be available in Tulare and Santa Barbara counties. Hunters can apply for these opportunities online, at CDFW license sales offices, through retail license agents or by calling (800) 565-1458.

For all quail species, the daily bag limit is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

All three native species of quail are characterized by high reproductive potential associated with adequate and well-timed winter and early spring precipitation. Northern California experienced increased precipitation this spring, benefitting quail habitat and productivity. Hunters should experience good populations of quail this fall.

All three species of quail are most active in the early morning and later afternoon and move in large coveys throughout the day. Quail have distinctive calls that can provide clues to the birds’ location. Quail are more apt to run than flush, making them a more challenging game bird to hunt. Hunting dogs can be useful for locating, flushing and retrieving birds in the field.

Quail can be successfully hunted with legal gauge shotguns. A modified or improved cylinder choke is recommended to avoid damage to the bird. Because of the dense brush habitats where they are usually hunted, downed quail can be hard to find. Despite this challenge, CDFW reminds hunters that wasting game is both unethical and illegal.

Forest Grouse

California has two species of native forest-dwelling grouse: the sooty grouse and the ruffed grouse. Sooty grouse occur in the Sierra Nevada, Cascade and northern Coast ranges while the ruffed grouse is restricted to the northwestern part of the state. The general hunting season for both species extends from Sept. 14 to Oct. 14 this year. For sooty and ruffed grouse, the daily bag limit is two (both of one species or mixed species) and possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Although they are fairly large birds, grouse camouflage themselves well and generally hold tight to their location even when hunters are nearby. They flush quickly and fly off in a zigzag pattern, requiring a quick and accurate response from a hunter. Dogs are useful companions to help hunters find, flush and retrieve bagged grouse.

Ptarmigan

The white-tailed ptarmigan is a non-native grouse that was introduced by CDFW to the Sierra Nevada in the early 1970s. This is the smallest species of ptarmigan and the only one found in California. They inhabit the high elevation alpine habitats at low densities from Sonora Pass in Tuolumne County to Kings Canyon National Park.

Hunting these birds can be challenging because of the high elevation and steep terrain. Hunting is permitted from Sept. 14-22. The daily bag limit is two per day and the possession limit is two per season. Hunters should prepare for difficult hiking conditions and be familiar with the area before heading out after this game bird.

Band-tailed Pigeon

The band-tailed pigeon is California’s only native pigeon and is a close relative of the extinct passenger pigeon. They look similar to the introduced domestic or rock pigeons that frequent urban areas. Band-tailed pigeons are often found in mountainous terrain throughout the state, using coniferous forests as well as oak woodlands, but populations are migratory and movements can be unpredictable.

The northern California hunt zone season runs from Sept 21-29. The daily bag limit is two and the possession limit is triple the daily bag. The southern hunt zone does not open until December.

CDFW reminds hunters that an upland game bird stamp is required for licensed adult hunters (18 years and older) but not for hunters with a valid junior hunting license. A HIP validation is also required to hunt band-tailed pigeons.

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Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

mourning dove

Special Dove Hunting Opportunities Available for 2019 Season

California’s dove hunting season is rapidly approaching, and the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for dove hunts throughout the state on both public land and private ranches.

Hunters are reminded that nonlead ammunition is now required for hunting doves and taking wildlife anywhere in California with a firearm.

The first half of the split dove season will be open statewide from Sept. 1-15, 2019. The second half will be open statewide from Nov. 9 through Dec. 23, 2019.

For mourning dove and white-winged dove, the daily bag limit is 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged doves. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There is no limit for spotted dove or ringed dove, but the season dates are the same as for mourning dove and white-winged dove. Eurasian collared-dove is the only dove species that can be hunted year-round, with no bag or possession limit.

Several dove hunting opportunities are available by drawing only throughout California for the upcoming dove season as part of CDFW’s Upland Game and SHARE programs.

Special drawings for public land dove hunting opportunities through the Upland Game Bird Hunting program will be available at the following locations:

  • Merced and Stanislaus counties: North Grasslands Wildlife Area (China Island and Salt Slough units), Los Banos Wildlife Area
  • Sacramento County: Cosumnes River Preserve
  • Fresno County: Pilibos Unit of the Mendota Wildlife Area
  • San Diego County: San Felipe Wildlife Area
  • San Luis Obispo County: North Chimineas Ranch, Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve

Drawings for limited public access to private lands through the SHARE Program will be available at the following locations:

  • Santa Barbara County: Harrington Farms, Jones Ranch and Sleepy Creek Ranch
  • Tulare County: Hart Ranch

Hunters can apply for these opportunities online, at CDFW license sales offices, through retail license agents or by calling (800) 565-1458.

Additional information can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds/hunts and www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.

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Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 322-6709
Victoria Barr, CDFW SHARE Program, (916) 445-4034
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

 

Smith River elk herd

SHARE Program Offers Elk Opportunities for Adult and Junior Hunters

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will be offering 47 elk hunting opportunities through the Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program this fall. Applications for SHARE elk hunts will be available for purchase as of Sunday, June 16.

New additions to the program include 24 elk tags, 16 hunts and three properties. A total of 72 elk tags will be available during 47 hunts, with six of those tags going to junior hunters.

SHARE elk hunts will occur at various times between Aug. 15 and Dec. 24, 2019 on 31 select properties in Colusa, Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Shasta and Siskiyou counties. Specific details for all 47 elk hunts can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share#elk. Applications will be accepted through Wednesday, July 24.

All elk tags will be distributed through a random draw process. While hunters may take only one elk per year in California, hunters may apply for more than one SHARE hunt. These hunts offer additional opportunities to apply for an elk tag if you were unsuccessful in the elk tag opportunities provided through the general Big Game Drawing. SHARE hunt applications can be purchased by anyone 12 years of age or older, with a valid 2019 California Hunting License from any CDFW license office or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales.

An $11.88 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt application. Applicants may look up their draw results and download their hunt packets on July 29 by entering their customer information on CDFW’s website at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales.

The SHARE program was created to provide additional hunting, fishing and other recreational access on private lands in California by offering incentives to private landowners. Participating landowners receive liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034

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

SHARE Program to Offer Wild Pig, Waterfowl, Turkey and Quail Hunts on Three New Properties

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) program will provide public access for hunting on three new properties in Plumas, Tehama and Tulare counties this winter.

For the first time, SHARE will offer waterfowl hunts in Sierra Valley, Plumas County. The Feather River Land Trust is opening 500 acres of the Sierra Valley Preserve to 10 SHARE hunters during five hunts from November through January. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period.

SHARE is also offering four turkey and six quail hunts at River Ridge Ranch in Tulare County. The 722-acre ranch is located in the Sierra Nevada foothills and includes oak woodland and the Tule River. Camping and cabins are available on the property through Hipcamp. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period.

Lastly SHARE will offer two fully guided wild pig hunts at Dye Creek Preserve in February and March 2019. Dye Creek Preserve is 37,540 acres of blue oak woodland, volcanic buttes and rolling fields located in Tehama County. Western Wildlife Adventures will provide guide services, two nights of lodging, food and transportation for each hunt. CDFW will randomly draw one permit (good for two hunters) for each hunt period.

Hunters with a valid California hunting license may apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). An $11.62 non-refundable application fee will be charged for each hunt choice. Application deadlines are 17 days before each hunt.

To apply for these hunts, please visit www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales, log in to your account and select Purchase Licenses. Then select 2018 – Hunting, 2018 – SHARE Hunts Multi Choice Application, then choose specific hunt periods.

These opportunities are made possible by the SHARE Program, which offers private landowners liability protection and compensation for providing public access to or through their land for wildlife-dependent recreational activities. 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.

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Media Contacts:
Victoria Barr, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-4034
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 651-7824