Tag Archives: hunting seasons

General Hunting Seasons for Bear, Elk and Bighorn Opening Soon

Big game hunters throughout California are eagerly anticipating the 2018 general hunting seasons. While deer are by far the most frequently hunted big game species in California, many hunters also enjoy fair chase of bear, elk and bighorn. Some of the seasons for these species are already underway, but the majority will open over the next month. The upcoming general season opening and closing dates vary by zone and can be found by following the links below.

Hunting for wild pigs is growing in popularity and can be done year-round. Most seasons for pronghorn, another California big game species, concluded in August.

Californians enjoy some of the widest ranges of habitat and hunting conditions in the nation. While California has its fair share of privately owned land, there are vast swaths of national forest, timber lands, state wildlife areas and other lands accessible to the public that provide excellent hunting opportunities. CDFW administers public hunts on private lands through its SHARE Program. Other opportunities for access to private lands are available through the Private Lands Management Program.

A valid California hunting license and appropriate tag(s) for each zone and/or species pursued must be obtained before entering the field. There are still many deer tags available for purchase. Hunting license and tags can be purchased online or through a CDFW office or license sales agent.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course, pass a comprehensive equivalency test, or provide a valid hunter’s safety certificate before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Each year approximately 30,000 students complete the state’s hunter education course.

Hunters always have the responsibility to be familiar with state game laws before entering the field. All regulations can be found online.

Given the exceptionally dry conditions this year, it is even more important that everyone does their part to prevent wildfires. One less spark means one less wildfire. Learn more here.

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Media Contacts:
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-1829
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

California’s General Tree Squirrel Season to Open Sept. 8

The 2018-2019 general tree squirrel season will be open from Saturday, Sept. 8 through Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019. 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 and can be hunted 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.

“Given favorable mast (acorn) production years in 2016 and 2017, we anticipate that population levels and opportunities for hunting should be good in 2018,” said Matt Meshriy, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Upland Game Program. “We continue to see numbers of invasive Eastern fox squirrels and Eastern gray squirrels increasing as these species have expanded their range in and adjacent to urban centers. The native Western gray squirrels and Douglas squirrels are often displaced where they overlap with invasive eastern species, but the native squirrels are better adapted to California’s forest and woodland habitats.”

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 required when taking tree squirrels and all resident small game mammals 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

 

Waterfowl Hunting Regulations Set for 2018-19 Season

The California Fish and Game Commission adopted the 2018-19 waterfowl hunting regulations at their regularly scheduled meeting on April 19. The pintail daily bag limit has returned to two, and there have been some changes to accommodate a longer late season for white-fronted geese in the Northeastern Zone. The Commission also created a Special Management Area in the Klamath Basin, which is exempt from this change.

The following is a summary of the regulations:

Duck Seasons

  • Northeastern Zone will be open for ducks from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Oct. 6, 2018 through Dec. 2, 2019, and from Dec. 22, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019.
  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 20, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 19, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019. Scaup season will be open from Nov. 3, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.

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).
  • The possession limit for ducks is triple the daily bag limit.

Goose Seasons

  • In the Northeastern Zone, the season will be open for white geese and white-fronted geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Dec. 2, 2018, and Jan. 5-18, 2019 (except in the new Klamath Basin Special Management Area). The season will be open for large Canada geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 13, 2019. In the Klamath Basin Special Management Area, the season will be open for white geese and white-fronted geese from Oct. 6, 2018 through Jan. 18, 2019.
  • Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones will be open from Oct. 20, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for early large Canada geese from Sept. 29, 2018 through Oct. 3, 2018 (except in the North Coast Special Management Area).
    • Balance of State Zone will also be open for late season white-fronted and white geese from Feb. 9-13, 2019.
  • Colorado River Zone will be open from Oct. 19, 2018 through Jan. 27, 2019.

Bag Limits

  • Northeastern Zone, 30 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and 10 dark geese, of which only two may be large Canada geese.
  • Balance of State and Southern San Joaquin Valley zones, 30 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and 10 dark geese.
  • Southern California Zone, 23 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and three dark geese.
  • Colorado River Zone, 24 total geese per day, which may include 20 white geese and four dark geese.
  • The possession limit for geese is triple the daily bag limit.

 

 

 The complete regulations will be posted 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                                                                       

 

 

Sage-Grouse Hunting Suspended for 2017 Season

On June 21, the California Fish and Game Commission (Commission) voted unanimously to reduce sage-grouse hunting permits to zero for the 2017 season. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommended this action to the Commission based on spring lek (breeding ground) surveys that showed significantly fewer sage-grouse in all four hunting zones.

Although managed hunting, in and of itself, is not considered a risk to the species, five years of drought conditions, the large-scale Rush Fire of 2012 and heavy storms in winter 2016-17 have all contributed to habit loss and degradation of the sagebrush ecosystem. Scientists found that sage-grouse population counts have decreased between 47 percent and 62 percent in the four hunt zones over the last five years.

CDFW bases its population estimates on extensive scientific data collected in the field. However, heavy winter snow hampered biologists’ access to sage-grouse leks this spring, and some sage-grouse that were present in the survey area may not have been accounted for in the survey. CDFW thus took a precautionary approach in making its recommendation to the Commission.

Sage-grouse populations fluctuate naturally based on weather and habitat conditions. By this fall, California’s sage-grouse population is projected to be 1,341 on the low end and 2,145 on the high end.

The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies coordinates conservation efforts across the 11 western states and two Canadian provinces where sage-grouse live. Leaders from dozens of participating state and federal agencies meet quarterly to work toward achieving shared conservation goals.

In 2015, a proposal to list the sage-grouse under the federal Endangered Species Act was determined by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be not warranted, following review of stakeholder-developed conservation plans and amendments to federal land use plans throughout the species range, including California.

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Media Contact:
Clark Blanchard, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 591-0140

 

CDFW Hunter Education Courses Offered for Eastern Sierra Youths

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a series of hunter certification classes in Inyo and Mono counties for teenagers who would like to learn to hunt. Students who successfully complete a class will earn a lifetime hunter education certificate, necessary for purchasing a hunting license.

“Last year we brought the hunter education to several schools in the Eastern Sierra and every one of them asked us to come back this year,” said Lt. Bill Daily, CDFW supervising warden for the area. “It’s very encouraging to see how many of the students took an interest in not only the hunting but the conservation as well.”

The courses will be offered at no charge for seventh and eighth graders in Bishop, Big Pine, Round Valley, Mammoth Lakes and Coleville schools. Parental or guardian approval is required for all students.

In addition to serving as a prerequisite to purchasing a hunting license, hunter education programs are a valuable education tool for beginning hunters to learn about firearm and hunting safety. The hunter education program produces responsible, knowledgeable and involved citizens – young men and women who understand the importance of complying with hunting laws, behaving ethically and wildlife conservation.

The one- or two-hour daily classes are taught by CDFW officers during the regular school day or immediately afterward. Classes will be offered at the following locations:

  • Jan. 6-17 at Mammoth Lakes Middle School
  • Jan. 21-Feb. 2 at Big Pine Middle School
  • Jan. 27-Feb. 7 at Bishop Middle School
  • Feb. 4-21 at Round Valley Middle School
  • Feb. 24-March 7 at Coleville Middle School

Youth interested in attending the classes must attend seventh or eighth grades at a participating school. Parents may register their child through the school administration office.

Media Contacts:
Bill Dailey, CDFW Law Enforcement, (661) 203-6380
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944