Tag Archives: Recreation

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

CDFW Biologists Predict Good Quail Hunting Season in 2017-18

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists are expecting a very good quail hunting season when the general seasons open, thanks to rebounding populations that benefitted from California’s wet fall and winter in 2016.

California’s prolonged drought reduced quail populations statewide. Biologists found overall declines of 33 percent for mountain quail, 29 percent for California quail and 17 percent for Gambel’s quail from 2005 to 2015 using data from the North American Breeding Bird Survey, which monitors the status and trends of North American bird populations.

Quail populations fluctuate naturally with weather and other prevailing environmental conditions such as wildfires. Fortunately, 2016 brought a shift in weather conditions for California. The rain received was critical to the production of food and cover for quail populations. Perhaps most importantly, rains produce more insects, which are a vital food source for young quail.

Detailed information on California’s various quail hunting zones, including season dates, descriptions and a map, is available at CDFW’s Upland Game Bird Hunting webpage: wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds.

As a result of the same wet weather conditions, CDFW regional biologists are expecting a strong chukar hunting season as well, particularly in desert habitat that often experiences boom-and-bust population swings based on the amount of rainfall.

CDFW is offering several special quail and chukar hunting opportunities this fall and winter at ecological reserves and wildlife areas in Kern, San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles and San Diego counties. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can apply for these hunts through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s Upland Game Wild Bird Hunts webpage at wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Upland-Game-Birds/Hunts.

CDFW’s SHARE Program, which provides public hunting opportunities on private land, is offering several quail hunts in Santa Barbara County this fall and winter. Hunters with a valid California hunting license can also apply for these hunts through the ALDS system. Hunt descriptions are available at CDFW’s SHARE Program webpage: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/SHARE.

California is phasing in the use of nonlead ammunition for hunting. Nonlead ammunition is required for hunting quail when on state wildlife areas or ecological reserves in California. Learn more about California’s nonlead ammunition requirements for hunting at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Nonlead-Ammunition.

Media Contacts:
Katherine Miller, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-0885
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

CDFW photo by Stuart Itoga

Sonoma County Couple Named Hunter Education Instructors of the Year

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) named Sonoma County husband and wife Tom and Sharon Henderson as 2017 Hunter Education Instructors of the Year. This is the first time the honor has been awarded to two instructors.

“The Hendersons are an amazing team who have dedicated so much to the Hunter Education Program. It would have been impossible not to recognize them both,” said Lt. Bart Bundesen, who coordinates California’s Hunter Education Program on the North Coast.

The Hendersons teach an average of 25 classes a year at the Rancho Adobe Fire Department in Cotati. In 2016 alone, they taught 633 students. Those students and their parents offer frequent accolades about the instructors.

“I get a regular stream of compliments about the job that the Hendersons do,” Bundesen said. “Their ability to help younger students understand the important lessons of the course is one of their greatest assets.”

CDFW Wildlife Officer Tiffany Wolvek said, “Without them, many would likely not make it out to the field as they would struggle to find a class. More importantly, I have confidence in the students who have taken their class to become ethical, conscientious hunters.”

The Hendersons have mentored many new instructors and they take the time to ensure those instructors leave confident in their ability to teach a class. They are an incredible asset to new hunters and CDFW.

CDFW is always recruiting new instructors. If you have a passion for California’s outdoors and passing on the hunting tradition, please visit CDFW’s Become A Hunter Education Instructor webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunter-Education/Become-an-Instructor and check out the hunter education instructor recruiting video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4ezEs7jT5g.

Media Contacts:
Lt. Chris Stoots, CDFW Law Enforcement, (916) 651-9982
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908