Good News for Duck Hunters: Season Extends to Jan. 31, 2020, in Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California Zones

California’s 2019-20 duck season will be extended five additional days this season, closing on Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, at the end of legal shooting hours in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones that cover most of the state.

The California Fish and Game Commission last April unanimously approved Jan. 31, 2020, as the duck season end date for the three zones as opposed to the traditional closure the last Sunday in January. The five additional days are intended to provide more hunter opportunity at the end of the season when waterfowl hunting is often at its best.

The extended season maximizes duck hunting opportunity while staying within the federal waterfowl management regulatory framework. It also provides incentive to keep managed wetlands flooded for just a bit longer to the benefit of waterfowl and a host of other wetland species.

State-operated wildlife areas will be open for hunting on Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2020, to accommodate the extended season.

The extension does not include goose hunting in the Balance of State Zone, which means the regular season for dark and white geese will close Sunday, Jan. 26, at the end of legal shooting hours. The waterfowl season in the Southern San Joaquin and Southern California zones will extend to Friday, Jan. 31, 2020, for both ducks and geese. A map of California’s waterfowl zones is available on the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) website.

A late season goose hunt for white-fronted and white geese will open Saturday, Feb. 8 in the Balance of State Zone and extend for five days, ending Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020, except in the Sacramento Valley Special Management Area where the white-fronted goose season will remain closed.

California’s Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days, open to those possessing a valid Junior Hunting License and Harvest Information Program validation, will take place Saturday, Feb. 8 and Sunday, Feb. 9, 2020, in the Balance of State, Southern San Joaquin Valley and Southern California zones.

Several – but not all – state-operated wildlife areas will be open to accommodate youth hunters that weekend. Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. A Federal Duck Stamp or E-Stamp is required for hunters 16 years of age and older. Daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2019-20 waterfowl season. The regulations are available on CDFW’s Waterfowl Hunting web page.

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

End of Drought Brings Stocked Trout Back to Crystal Lake

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has once again stocked Crystal Lake in Los Angeles County with rainbow trout, restoring angling opportunities after several years. CDFW stopped stocking this popular fishing area because years of drought led to low lake levels and poor water quality.

“It’s exciting to be able to bring back this opportunity for anglers in the San Gabriel Mountains,” said Inland Fisheries Environmental Scientist Jennifer Pareti. “Prior to the drought, Crystal Lake was stocked by CDFW for more than 70 years. People often share with me their memories of catching fish as kids at Crystal Lake.”

Pareti said recent rainfall, along with efforts by Angeles National Forest to improve the lake’s water quality and habitat, were major factors in the decision to stock the lake again. The fish were supplied by CDFW’s Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County.

“Crystal Lake is a wonderful gem for Los Angeles County. It offers a great opportunity for people to enjoy our local forest and fish this natural lake,” Pareti said.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Pareti, CDFW Inland Fisheries Program, (562) 342-7173
Tim Daly, CDFW Communications, (916) 201-2958

Pheasant, Wild Turkey, Second Dove Seasons Set to Open Nov. 9

The holidays begin early for many California hunters with the Saturday, Nov. 9 openers for pheasant, wild turkey and the second dove season.

Ring-necked Pheasant

The pheasant opener on the second Saturday of November remains a strong tradition for many families. The flush of a wild, cackling, rooster pheasant is one of nature’s most thrilling moments.

The good news is that some of the best pheasant habitat in California is found on state wildlife areas and federal wildlife refuges open to public hunting.

Several CDFW Type A wildlife areas are especially popular with wild pheasant hunters, including Upper Butte Basin, Yolo Bypass, Los Banos, North Grasslands, Grizzly Island and Gray Lodge. These areas are all open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the pheasant season.

In addition, all three units of the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area – Little Dry Creek, Howard Slough and Llano Seco – along with Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be open to a special pheasant hunt the first Monday of the pheasant season – Veterans Day, Nov. 11 – to provide additional hunting opportunities.

Type A wildlife areas in the San Joaquin Valley – Los Banos, Mendota and North Grasslands – will be open for pheasant hunting only on waterfowl hunt days during the pheasant season.

Several federal wildlife refuges are also popular destinations for pheasant hunters, including the Sutter, Colusa, Delevan and Sacramento national wildlife refuges. These refuges are open to pheasant hunting on their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl hunt days during pheasant season. Additionally, Colusa, Delevan and Sacramento national wildlife refuges will be open to a special pheasant hunt in their spaced waterfowl blind and assigned pond areas the first Monday of pheasant season.

The San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Merced County will open a portion of its Freitas Unit to pheasant hunting on opening weekend only, Nov. 9 and 10. The spaced blind area within the Kesterson Unit will open for a special one-day wild pheasant hunt on Monday, Nov. 11. Pheasant hunting is permitted in the free roam area of the San Luis Unit on the regular Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the duration of the wild pheasant season.

At the Kern National Wildlife Refuge, hunting is not permitted on Sundays. Pheasant hunting at this refuge is available on the free roam waterfowl hunt areas on Saturdays and Wednesdays beginning Nov. 9 and continuing through the duration of pheasant season.

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

The 2019 general pheasant season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 22. 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.

Wild Turkey (Fall Season)

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. 9 through Sunday, Dec. 8, 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.

For the first time, fall turkey hunting will be available to the public at several northern California national wildlife refuges.

Turkey hunters have several new opportunities in 2019 as the Sutter, Sacramento, Delevan and Colusa national wildlife refuges will open to fall turkey hunting for the first time. Turkey hunting will be permitted in the waterfowl free roam and pheasant hunting areas only at the refuges during their normal Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday waterfowl shoot days during the turkey season.

Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Second Dove Season

California’s second dove season runs from Saturday, Nov. 9 through Monday, Dec. 23. The second dove 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.

In addition to public hunting opportunities available at 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.

Additional Requirements

Both a valid hunting license and upland game bird validation are needed to hunt pheasant, turkey and dove. An upland game bird 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 such as mourning dove and snipe. A wildlife area hunting pass is required for adults to hunt on a Type A state-operated wildlife area and national wildlife refuge. Please check with the individual property for specific details and regulations on each area.

Please note that nonlead shot is now required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Hunters need to plan accordingly. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

 

Registration Now Open for San Joaquin County Sandhill Crane Tours

Each September, more than 10,000 sandhill cranes descend upon the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta where they spend five months roosting and foraging in a protected wetlands area just west of Lodi.

During their stay at the Woodbridge Ecological Reserve and surrounding areas, the birds captivate onlookers with expressive song and unique social behavior, including a “dance” thought to be connected with courtship and bonding.

Registration is now open for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour, which offers guided tours of sandhill cranes in their fall-winter habitat. Guided tours, which begin Oct. 5, are offered mid-to-late afternoon during the first three weekends of each month from October through February.

“The sandhill cranes’ fly-in around sundown can be nothing short of spectacular. It’s a very worthwhile tour,” said CDFW Interpretive Services Supervisor David Moore.

Registration and additional information can be found at the CDFW Bay Delta Region’s Sandhill Crane Wetland Tour page.

The Woodbridge Ecological Reserve is also accessible at any time for self-guided tours. A series of informative displays are located at the reserve’s southern unit at 11154 W. Woodbridge Road in Lodi. Reserve staff recommend that guests stay through sunset to witness the sights and sounds of groups of sandhills returning to their roosting spots for the evening.

Please note that visitors who are age 16 or older must purchase a one-day Lands Pass or have a current hunting or fishing license in possession in order to access the reserve. Proceeds from Lands Pass purchases (which are less than $5) go toward wildlife conservation.

CDFW is also proud to co-sponsor the Lodi Sandhill Crane Festival from Nov. 1-3.

Media Contacts:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958
David Moore, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 766-8380

 

Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County Closed to All Public Use Aug. 10-16 for Special Lottery Deer Hunt

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife wants to remind the public that the Knoxville Wildlife Area in Napa County will be closed to all public use during the first week of the A Zone general deer season, Aug. 10-16, to accommodate a special lottery draw deer hunt.

Deer hunt permit holders will be the only ones allowed on the wildlife area during the first week of the A Zone deer season. No other public use is permitted. The area reopens to all users Saturday, Aug. 17.

The special lottery draw deer hunt was initiated for the first time this year to limit the number of hunters on the popular public hunting area for safety purposes and to improve the quality of the hunting experience for permit holders.

Only hunters whose names are listed on the hunt permit may participate in the hunt.  Anyone not listed specifically on the hunt permit, including non-hunters, helpers and assistants, will not be permitted on the wildlife area during the hunt period.

Media Contacts:
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay-Delta Region, (707) 576-2836