CDFW Accepting Applications for Deer and Pig Hunting in Western Merced County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting applications for a limited number of deer and pig hunting permits for opening weekend of the A Zone general season, Aug. 8–9, 2020. This is not a special hunt, but rather a drawing to control the number of hunters on popular public land during opening weekend.

Locations for this hunt include Upper and Lower Cottonwood Creek and the San Luis Reservoir wildlife areas. Reservations are required to access the wildlife areas during opening weekend and only 30 permits will be issued for each day, Saturday, Aug. 8 and Sunday, Aug. 9. Hunters can download the application online at wildlife.ca.gov/lands/places-to-visit/cottonwood-creek-wa. Hunters can also request an access permit application by calling CDFW’s Los Banos office at (209) 826-0463 between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Applications may be submitted via email to ryan.jones@wildlife.ca.gov or mailed to CDFW’s Los Banos office at 18110 W. Henry Miller Avenue, Los Banos, CA 93635.

Only official applications will be accepted and must be received before 4 p.m. on July 3. Reservations will be selected by a computerized drawing at 11 a.m. on July 6. The drawing will be open to the public. Successful applicants will be notified by mail within five working days of the drawing. Results will not be given over the phone.

Up to three people may apply for the hunt as one party by including all required information on the 2020 Zone A application form. Junior license holders who are 12 years of age or older may also apply if accompanied by an adult hunter.

Applicants may apply for a one-day hunt on one area only. An individual’s name may appear in the drawing only once and additional or duplicate applications will be disqualified from the drawing.

All hunters are required to use non-lead ammunition when hunting with a firearm anywhere in California.

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Media Contacts:
Ryan Jones, CDFW Los Banos Wildlife Area, (209) 826-0463
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

girl wearing Hunter Education sweatshirt studying mobile device

California Temporarily Authorizes Completion of Hunter Education Courses Online

In response to the delay of in-person California hunter education classes due to COVID-19, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily allowing new hunters to complete their education requirements entirely online.

Prior to COVID-19, California offered a traditional in-person course or a hybrid online/in-person class with a certified Hunter Education Instructor (HEI). Because all classroom instruction opportunities have been suspended, California will temporarily waive the in-person requirement, allowing students to complete the full course of instruction online.

“Online-only certification is a temporary solution to allow Californians the ability to fulfill their hunter education requirements and obtain a hunting license during these unique times,” said David Bess, CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of the Law Enforcement Division. “We don’t want anyone to miss out on the chance to earn their certification before the fall hunting seasons, so we believe this is a reasonable solution, given the circumstances.”

When deemed safe to do so, CDFW intends to return to the prior system, including a minimum level of in-person instruction with a certified HEI. “We value our 1,000 extremely dedicated volunteer instructors enormously, and we’re anxious to see them back in front of students as soon as possible,” Bess added.

Effective immediately, prospective hunters may earn their hunter education certification online. More information is available at  https://wildlife.ca.gov/hunter-education. The cost for the course is $24.95. Successful prospective hunters who complete and pass the online course will be able to immediately print a paper Hunter Education Completion Certificate, which will qualify them to purchase a hunting license.  Their CDFW online license profile will automatically be updated with their Hunter Education Certification within two days.

Prospective hunters are advised that the deadline to apply for California’s Big Game draw is June 2, 2020. CDFW advises new hunters to set a goal of completing the online certification by May 31, to allow time for the automatic update of their CDFW license profile. CDFW license profiles can also be updated by presenting the paper certificate to a CDFW License Agent.

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May 2020 California Department of Fish and Wildlife Calendar

All calendar items are subject to change as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

1 — Recreational Groundfish Season Opens for All Boat-based Anglers for the Northern and Mendocino Management Areas (Oregon-California State Line to Point Arena). Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Groundfish webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/groundfish.

1 — Recreational Pacific Halibut Fishery Opens. The fishery will be open May 1 to Oct. 31 or until the quota is reached, whichever is earlier. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/pacific-halibut.

1  Recreational Ocean Salmon Season Opens from Horse Mountain to U.S./Mexico border. Anglers are reminded to abide by all state and local health guidelines regarding non-essential travel and physical distancing. Staying home in order to stay healthy is still the best way to keep yourself and others safe. Anglers are also advised to check with local authorities on the status of harbor services and access points as many site closures and access restrictions exist and may change daily. For more information, please visit the Ocean Salmon web page at wildlife.ca.gov/oceansalmon 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.

1 — Deadline for California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. Youths in grades 2 to 12 can submit entries for the California Invasive Species Action Week’s Youth Art Contest. This year’s theme is “Be a Habitat Hero.” Create an original piece showing the actions a “Habitat Hero” can take to protect your community by stopping the spread of invasive species. Examples include: a poster encouraging pet owners not to release pets; a public service announcement on a particular species; a video or brochure with instructions for cleaning your boats, boots or gear. Be creative! All types of media are welcome and encouraged: drawings, paintings, animations, comic strips, videos, public service announcements or campaign posters. Entries must include a completed entry form and be received by May 1. For more information, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/cisaw.

4 — Archery Only Spring Wild Turkey and Additional Junior Spring Turkey Seasons Open (extending through May 17). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.

4 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Wildlife Corridor and Fish Passage, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) Opens. PSN priorities include projects to construct, repair, modify, or remove transportation infrastructure or water resources infrastructure to improve passage for wildlife or fish. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/habitat-enhancement.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board Final Agenda for May 20 Board Meeting Released.

7 — California Wildlife Conservation Board, Forest Conservation Program, Proposal Solicitation Notice (PSN) closes. PSN priorities include meadow restoration, post-fire habitat recovery and aspen stand restoration as well as acquisitions that protect meadows, migration corridors or habitat connectivity. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/forest.

9 — World Migratory Bird Day Virtual Celebration with Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Celebrate the diversity of birds migrating through Elkhorn Slough Reserve with a naturalist-led exploration, live from the Reserve Visitor Center. Explore avian-themed crafts, games and hands-on activities free to download. To find out more, visit the event calendar at www.elkhornslough.org.

11 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the May 15 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

13 — Refugio Beach Oil Spill Virtual Open House to Discuss Draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan, 1 to 3 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. This online event will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with state and federal representatives from the Refugio Beach Oil Spill Trustee Council to learn more about the restoration projects and provide feedback. The draft Damage Assessment and Restoration Plan was released on April 22, and can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/ospr/nrda/refugio. If you are interested in attending one of the virtual open houses, please register at https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/5071390037067886094.  

13 — Lower American River Conservancy Program Advisory Committee Meeting, 1 p.m., via Skype or teleconference. For more information, please visit wcb.ca.gov/programs/lower-american-river.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Teleconference, time to be determined. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

14 — California Fish and Game Commission Wildlife Resources Committee Meeting, time to be determined, teleconference/webinar only. For more information, please visit fgc.ca.gov/Meetings/2020.

15 Commercial Dungeness Crab Fishery to Close South of the Sonoma/Mendocino County Line. All commercial Dungeness crab fishing gear must be removed from ocean waters south of the Sonoma-Mendocino county line by 11:59 p.m. on May 15, 2020. Additional information is available at wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/whale-safe-fisheries and wildlife.ca.gov/crab.

15 Risk Assessment and Mitigation Program Regulations Anticipated Public Comment Period. CDFW anticipates releasing proposed regulations to assess and respond to risk of marine life entanglement in the commercial Dungeness crab fishery on or around May 15, 2020. Rulemaking documents, including information about how to submit public comments and the public hearing date, will be available at wildlife.ca.gov/notices/regulations.

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

26 — California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group. The California Dungeness Crab Fishing Gear Working Group will hold a public meeting to provide information about their assessment of marine life entanglement risk, including any Working Group recommendations to the CDFW Director regarding the June 1 risk determination. There will not be a designated opportunity for public comment during the meeting, however feedback can be shared directly with CDFW via email to whalesafefisheries@wildlife.ca.gov. An agenda will be posted on www.opc.ca.gov/whale-entanglement-working-group. For additional details about the meeting, please contact info@cawhalegroup.com or ryan.bartling@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Media Contact:
Amanda McDermott, CDFW Communications, (916) 817-0434

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

CDFW Closes License Sales Counters, Visitors Centers to Help Slow Spread of COVID-19

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is temporarily closing areas of high public use including visitor centers and license counters to help slow the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus).

While many business functions will continue during this time, some may be temporarily modified. Before heading to a CDFW facility, please contact the regional headquarters office to determine if that facility is open.

Information on purchasing licenses, permits, tags and other entitlements, can be found on the CDFW website.

Outdoor areas will remain open and available for the public to enjoy. CDFW is responsible for over one million acres of public lands that will remain open. These lands include Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves that provide an opportunity to recreate and explore the rich diversity of fish, wildlife and habitats that California has to offer. CDFW recommends that all visitors follow guidance for social distancing (of at least 6 feet) when visiting our public lands. To explore the outdoor opportunities on CDFW public lands, please visit wildlife.ca.gov/Lands.

As the situation continues to change, please check with your local public health agency and adhere to guidance they provide. Please stay healthy and safe.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937