Tag Archives: Recreation

Wild Pheasant, Fall Turkey, Second Dove Seasons Set to Open Nov. 10

California’s fall hunting season hits full stride Saturday, Nov. 10 with openers for wild pheasant, fall turkey and the second dove season.

Combined with hunting seasons already open for quail, chukar, snipe, waterfowl, tree squirrel and rabbits, California hunters have plenty of options to pursue some spectacular game species and equally stellar table fare. Few states can match the sheer variety of hunting opportunities available to California hunters in the fall.

Both a valid hunting license and upland game bird stamp/validation are needed to hunt pheasant, turkey and dove. An upland stamp/validation is not required for junior license holders but all hunters are required to have a Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation when hunting migratory game birds.

Ring-necked Pheasant

Since 2012, CDFW has funded scientific research into California’s wild pheasant decline using money from the purchase of upland game bird stamps/validations. The latest findings point to a combination of factors that include changing agricultural crops, upland habitat loss, predation, competition from other species, warming temperatures and pesticides as contributing to the pheasant decline in recent years.

Still, the wild pheasant opener on the second weekend of November remains a popular tradition for many families and an important economic event for some rural communities.

The good news is that some of the best remaining wild pheasant habitat in California is found on state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges open to public hunting. Bagging a wild rooster pheasant requires dedication, knowledge and skill, but the end reward makes unmatched table fare.

Several CDFW Type A wildlife areas are especially popular with wild pheasant hunters, including Upper Butte Basin, Gray Lodge, Grizzly Island, Yolo Bypass, Los Banos and North Grasslands.

These areas are all open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl hunt days. The Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area and the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will remain open the first Monday of the pheasant season – Nov. 12 – to provide additional hunter opportunities.

Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley – Los Banos, Mendota, North Grasslands and the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge – will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays only during the pheasant season.

Three popular northern California federal refuges – Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge – and one San Joaquin Valley federal refuge – Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge – will be open to pheasant hunting the first Monday of the season in addition to their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday shoot days.

The Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge and the Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge in northeastern California, home to some of the most robust wild pheasant populations in the state, are open daily to pheasant hunting throughout the season.

Please check with the individual property for specific details and regulations on each area.

The 2018 general pheasant season runs from Saturday, Nov. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 23. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Nonlead ammunition is required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs.

Fall Turkey

The chance to provide a wild turkey for Thanksgiving dinner is strong motivation for many fall turkey hunters. The fall season runs from Saturday Nov. 10 through Sunday, Dec. 9, and – unlike in the spring season – both males and females may be taken. The daily bag limit is one turkey of either sex with a season and possession limit of two birds.

Three subspecies of wild turkeys can be found in California – Rio Grande, Merriam’s and eastern – with Rio Grande being the most widespread. Wild turkeys inhabit most counties in California. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Nonlead ammunition is required when hunting turkeys anywhere in the state unless the turkey is taken on the grounds of a licensed game bird club.

Second Dove Season

California’s second dove season runs from Saturday, Nov. 10 through Monday, Dec. 24. Although lacking the fanfare and tradition surrounding the Sept. 1 opener, the second season offers cooler weather, fewer crowds and the chance for a mixed bag of species – quail and rabbit, for example – that often share the same habitat.

Limits remain the same as the early season: Mourning dove and white-winged dove have a daily bag limit of 15, up to 10 of which may be white-winged dove. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. There are no limits on spotted dove and ringed turtle dove. Hunting for Eurasian collared dove is legal year-round and there is no limit. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Lead ammunition is permitted for hunting doves in 2018. Nonlead ammunition, however, is required when hunting on all CDFW lands. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

In addition to public hunting opportunities available at CDFW state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges, CDFW offers special hunts at the Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts page and through the SHARE program, which provides public hunting access to private land or other landlocked properties. New hunters should visit CDFW’s Apprentice Hunts webpage for additional pheasant hunting opportunities.

Media Contacts:
Scott Gardner, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 801-6257
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Registration Now Open for Fall Sandhill Crane Tours in San Joaquin County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is now accepting online reservations for docent-led tours of sandhill cranes and their wetland habitat at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, just west of Lodi in San Joaquin County.

The late-afternoon tours run from Oct. 6 through February 2019. They are offered the first, second and third Saturdays and Sundays of each month for the five-month duration of the cranes’ fall-winter stay. Online registration is required and is available as early as eight weeks prior to tour dates.

Registration began in mid-August for October tour dates. November tour dates will become available starting Sept. 15. Registration and additional information is available at the CDFW Bay Delta Region’s Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour page. Please note that purchase of a one-day Lands Pass for a nominal fee is required with registration.

“We are very pleased to offer public tours at the reserve and to showcase the benefits of the restored wetlands,” said CDFW Bay Delta Region Manager Gregg Erickson. “These natural resources belong to everyone. All of us have a part in taking care of them as well as enjoying them.”

The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve is accessible at any time for self-guided tours. A series of informative, interpretive panels are located at the reserve’s southern unit at 11154 W. Woodbridge Road, Lodi, CA  95242. Staying through sunset is recommended to witness the sights and sounds of “fly-over” as groups of sandhill cranes return to roosting spots for the evening.

CDFW is also proud to co-sponsor the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival scheduled for Nov. 2-4. Information about festival tours and activities is available at www.cranefestival.com/index.php.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
David Moore, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 766-8380

Wild Pheasant Hunting Season Opener Nears

The second weekend of November brings a popular tradition for many families in California – the opening of pheasant season.

Although the overall wild pheasant population has been decreasing in recent years and the number of hunt days has been reduced on some wildlife areas, opportunities are still available on state-managed lands.

The 2017 general pheasant season will open Saturday, Nov. 11 and extend through Sunday, Dec. 24. The daily bag limit is two males per day for the first two days of the season and three males per day thereafter. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit. Shooting hours are from 8 a.m. to sunset.

Native to Asia, the ring-necked pheasant was introduced to California as a game bird species in the late 1800s. Though they flourished in California for decades, numbers have been dropping since the most recent high in the late 1990s. Total pheasant harvest on public areas in the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys declined from a high of 4,828 roosters in 1998 to 461 last year.

In an effort to address the decline, CDFW continues efforts to restore and enhance upland habitat on public areas. This is in addition to a multiyear collaborative research project with Pheasants Forever and the United States Geological Survey to better understand factors that limit populations. These field studies of wild pheasant survival and reproduction at locations around northern California will continue into 2018 and result in a report of findings and future management recommendations.

Preliminary results indicate that changing land use practices is one of the major drivers of wild pheasant declines on both public and private lands. An overall decline in annual acres of “unharvested cropland” correlate with pheasant declines as well as decreases in acres of planted barley, sugar beets, winter wheat and sorghum, and increases in acres of nut trees and rice. Pesticide use and increases in avian predator populations also appear to play a role.

In 2010, CDFW reduced the number of days that certain wildlife areas will be open for pheasant hunting due to a decline in the number of hunters targeting pheasant and the cost to operate check stations during the first week of the season. For the upcoming season, hunters should be aware of the following restrictions on wildlife areas:

  • Type A wildlife areas in the Sacramento Valley (Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area and Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area (Little Dry Creek, Llano Seco and Howard Slough units) will be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesdays and the first Monday (Nov. 13) during the pheasant season.
  • Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area and Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley (Los Banos Wildlife Area, Mendota Wildlife Area, North Grasslands Wildlife Area, Volta Wildlife Area and San Luis National Wildlife Refuge free roam area) will only be open for pheasant hunting on Saturdays, Sundays and Wednesdays during the pheasant season.
  • The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge Kesterson Unit blind area will only be open for pheasant hunting the first Monday (Nov. 13) and a special zone of the Freitas Unit will only be open on the first Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 11-12) of the pheasant season.
  • The Wister Unit of Imperial Wildlife Area in Imperial County and San Jacinto Wildlife Area in Riverside County will continue to be closed to pheasant hunting this year.
  • Type C wildlife areas will remain open as normal.

Nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting pheasants anywhere in the state, except on licensed game bird clubs. For more information please see the CDFW Nonlead Ammunition webpage.

All hunters must carry a current California hunting license in their possession. Adult hunters (18 or older) must also have an upland game bird validation. The full upland game bird hunting regulations and a summary as well as the public lands regulations for 2017-18 are available on CDFW’s website.

The modifications of the shoot days on Type A wildlife areas are pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(i)(1).

For more information on specific hunting opportunities, hunters should contact their regional CDFW offices and check the CDFW website.

Media Contacts:
Matt Meshriy CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 322-6709
Brad Burkholder, CDFW Lands Program, (916) 445-1829
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

 

 

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Available Soon at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve in Alameda County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at the Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward during the 2017-18 season.

The reserve includes former commercial salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity water bird habitat and areas restored to full tidal action. 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.

2017 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Nov. 18
  • Tuesday, Nov. 28
  • Thursday, Dec. 7
  • Saturday, Dec. 16
  • Thursday, Dec. 21
  • Saturday, Dec. 30

2018 Hunt Dates (Check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates)

  • Saturday, Jan. 6
  • Thursday, Jan. 11
  • Saturday, Jan. 20
  • Thursday, Jan. 25

All adult hunters must possess a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp, state duck and HIP validations. Junior hunters must have a junior license and, if 16 or older, must also possess a federal duck stamp. Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult 18 years or older (hunter or non-hunter).

Vehicles may only drive on designated levees, must use approved parking areas and are allowed only on the hunt dates specified above. To participate, hunters must check in with CDFW staff and provide the above licenses, stamps and validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Improvements have been made to ELER, including a boat launch on Mount Eden Creek allowing access to tidal areas on specified hunt days. 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, including rip-rap at the launch.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field. Non-toxic ammunition is required for hunting waterfowl and when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves.

A small boat, canoe or other floatation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs, and for game retrieval. A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieving birds. Be aware that water depths can be shallow and pond bottoms are soft. Hunters may request additional information, including area rules, regulations and maps, at the time of check-in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

To get to ELER from Interstate-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard, continue west on Alvarado Boulevard, turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (sign for Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Enter at the yellow gate to the check station.

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. More information is available at www.southbayrestoration.org.

 Media Contacts:
John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region (415) 454-8050
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo courtesy of Stuart Itoga.

Invasive New Zealand Mudsnails Found in Carmel River – Residents and Visitors Urged to Help Prevent Further Spread

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has confirmed the presence of New Zealand mudsnails in Monterey County’s Carmel River.

The highly invasive, nonnative snails have been detected by the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District at multiple locations in the lower river, including near the Highway 1 crossing, the Valley Greens Drive bridge, and Mid Valley nearly 8 miles upstream from the mouth of the river at the Carmel River State Beach along the Pacific Ocean. No mudsnails were found in locations upriver from Red Rock to the base of Los Padres Dam.

CDFW urges visitors and those in the community to “clean, drain and dry” all recreational and fishing gear in order to prevent the further spread of the snails. It is illegal to import, possess or transport the mudsnails without a permit and offenders can be cited.

Despite their small size, New Zealand mudsnails are a problematic aquatic species. Only 4 to 6 millimeters long on average, dense populations of New Zealand mudsnails can displace and out-compete native species, sometimes by consuming up to half the food resources in a waterway. The snails have been linked to reduced populations of aquatic insects, including mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies, chironomids and other insect groups upon which trout and steelhead populations depend.

The Carmel River is home to a fragile population of threatened steelhead listed under the federal Endangered Species Act. Boaters, anglers and others who may visit the Carmel River, within or outside infested areas, are asked to decontaminate their equipment and follow the “clean, drain and dry” best practices with all equipment used in the river:

  • If you wade, freeze waders and other gear overnight (at least six hours).
  • After leaving the water, inspect waders, boots, float tubes, paddleboards, kayaks or any gear used in the water. Remove any visible snails with a stiff brush and follow with rinsing. If possible, freeze or completely dry out any wet gear.
  • Never transport live fish or other aquatic plants or animals from one body of water to another.

An informational flier on the “clean, drain and dry” directive is available for download at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/FileHandler.ashx?DocumentID=3866&inline.

To date, low numbers of New Zealand mudsnails have been identified in two other locations in Monterey County (the Salinas and San Antonio rivers).

In the coming weeks, CDFW will launch a public outreach and education effort, including distribution of information cards, brochures and signage posted at the Carmel River State Beach and at other access points along the Carmel River.

For more information on the New Zealand mudsnail, please visit CDFW’s Invasive Species website at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Conservation/Invasives/Species/NZmudsnail.

The current distribution of mudsnails in California and throughout the United States can be viewed at the U.S. Geological Survey’s interactive map, https://nas.er.usgs.gov/viewer/omap.aspx?SpeciesID=1008.

Media Contact:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908