Tag Archives: waterfowl hunting

Registration Now Open for Waterfowl Hunting Clinic in Merced County

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education Program is offering a Waterfowl Hunting Clinic on Saturday, Sept. 29, 2018 at the San Luis National Wildlife Refuge in Los Banos. The clinic hours are 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and there is no cost to attend.

Hunters of all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, will take something away from this clinic. Topics that will be covered include hunter safety, duck calling, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, game care, regulations, and hunting opportunities available at state and federal waterfowl management areas.

The clinic’s lead instructor will be Lt. Shawn Olague of CDFW’s Hunter Education Program. Olague is a veteran wildlife officer and lifelong waterfowl hunter with years of experience hunting in the grasslands area around Los Banos.

Participants can register for the clinic online or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at alan.gregory@wildlife.ca.gov for more information.

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Media Contacts:
Lt. Alan Gregory
, CDFW Law Enforcement, (209) 274-9923

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8958

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                                                                       

 

 

Young Hunters, Mentors Enjoy Successful Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days

Nearly 1,000 young hunters took to the fields on Feb. 4-5 this year, as Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days opened to clearing skies and the ducks and geese were plentiful. These special two days of waterfowl hunting were open only to junior license holders age 17 or younger, and their non-hunting adult mentors.

Various hunts were conducted on 21 wildlife areas and national wildlife refuges where the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) operates waterfowl hunting programs. Private waterfowl clubs and conservation organizations, including the California Waterfowl Association and individual chapters of Ducks Unlimited, hosted twice this number of young hunters statewide.

The main objective of Youth Waterfowl Days is to provide young hunters with a special opportunity to learn more about waterfowl hunting and provide a mentored experience.

youth-with-honker-2
Colby Fritter, 11, earned his hunter education certificate and bought his license on the first of two Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days.

“This year CDFW staff worked at opening previously flooded areas like the Little Dry Creek Wildlife Unit, since Grizzly Island and Yolo Bypass Wildlife Areas were closed due to flooding,” said Craig Stowers, an environmental program manager with CDFW’s Wildlife Branch Game Management Program. “Not only did the young hunters have some great experiences, but they also did very well, averaging nearly three birds each on Saturday.”

One of the top-producing areas was Colusa National Wildlife Refuge, where young hunters averaged 5.4 birds on Saturday. On many of the other state-managed properties, such as Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, youths averaged approximately three birds each. Numerous private duck clubs and organizations with waterfowl properties throughout the state opened their doors to young hunters as well. Some, like the Cameron Duck Club in East Nicolaus, provided guided hunts for youths.

Eleven-year-old Colby Fritter of Chico completed his Hunter Education Course on Saturday. He secured his license at 3 p.m., just in time to go to a private duck blind for an afternoon shoot. On his first hunt, with his first shot, he took a Canada goose with his Youth Model Remington 870 20-gauge.

“He lit up like a Christmas tree,” said his father, Scott Fritter. “He worked and studied hard to pass the hunter education course and exam and it really paid off. It was an experience and opportunity of a lifetime.”

At the Little Dry Creek Unit in the Upper Butte Basin Wildlife Area, staff cleaned up flood debris to prepare for the 63 youth hunters who hunted the first day.  Each of the young hunters was directed to a blind or free-roam area deemed safe to hunt. Upon completing their hunt, they were invited to dine on hot dogs, chips and bottled water. It was the first time the unit was open since Jan. 7, and provided exceptional opportunities for the young hunters.

Waterfowl hunting results, including results for each state-managed Youth Hunting Days hunt, are available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl#877772-hunt-results.

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Media Contact:
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 323-1478

Youth Waterfowl Days Coming Up February 4-5

Youth hunters have a special opportunity coming up the weekend of Feb. 4-5. Youth Waterfowl Days will provide young licensed hunters an extra weekend to hunt after the regular season ends. Each year, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) opens many of their wildlife areas for these special hunt days, as allowed under federal regulations.

Last year an estimated 2,000 youth hunters took to the field to try their luck waterfowl hunting on state, federal and private lands.

Federal regulations require that hunters must be 17 years of age or younger and accompanied by a non-hunting adult 18 years of age or older. All hunters must have a valid license and stamps as required by state and federal law. The daily bag and possession limits apply along with all other waterfowl regulations for the 2016-17 waterfowl season. The regulations can be found online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/waterfowl.

This year, some state and federal areas normally open for the Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days may be closed due to flooding. The main portion of Grizzly Island Wildlife Area is closed, though the Island Slough and Gold Hills units remain open. Some refuges may limit the number of young hunters being admitted for each day of hunting. Many private clubs normally hosting youths on this hunt also face water problems. For updated information on state and federal land closures, please see www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/area-alerts.

“This is a great opportunity for young hunters to have the fields and marshes to themselves, learn skills and techniques from their mentors and share a wonderful experience,” said Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program biologist.

This is only one of the special Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days and Junior Waterfowl Hunts held during the 2016-17 season. The Northeastern Zone Federal Youth Waterfowl Hunt days were held Sept. 24-25, and Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges have held special junior hunts where all blinds were reserved for junior hunters. Private organizations like the California Waterfowl Association, chapters of Ducks Unlimited and private clubs provide special youth hunting opportunities throughout the season.

“Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days are something California Waterfowl really looks forward to as a chance to pass on the tradition of waterfowl hunting to another generation,” said the California Waterfowl Association’s Vice President of Conservation Jake Messerli.

In the Central Valley, Delevan, Colusa and Sacramento National Wildlife Refuges are scheduled to be open for the youth hunt days while Sutter National Wildlife Refuge will remain closed. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area will be completely open. Little Dry Creek will have a limited quota if no new flooding occurs. Each of these hunt areas are part of the CDFW reservation system and may fill for the opening Saturday. Gray Lodge Wildlife Area is not expected to fill by reservation and will offer walk-on opportunities. Last year at Gray Lodge, 55 young hunters averaged four ducks each.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Harry Morse, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8908

Habitat Restoration Projects to Help California’s Wintering Waterfowl

State Duck Stamp Dollars Support Waterfowl Population at Beginning of Their Life Cycle

It might seem incongruous for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to fund a habitat restoration project located somewhere outside of California. Yet, doing so is a very important part of biologists’ efforts to protect and manage the approximately 5 million waterfowl that winter in our state annually – and is a very important use of the conservation dollars provided by waterfowl hunters.

“The goal is to ensure the long-term security of the northern pintail and other duck species that winter in the Central Valley of California,” said Craig Stowers, CDFW’s Game Species Program Manager. “In order to do that, we need to consider their entire life cycle, and trace their migration all the way back to their origin. That’s why legislation and the best available science both support the use of California Duck Stamp dollars and funding through the North American Wetland Conservation Act to secure and restore additional habitat for breeding waterfowl in Canada.”

In an average year, CDFW sells almost 70,000 state duck stamps, generating about $1.3 million for waterfowl-related projects. The number of stamps sold has been relatively consistent since 1991. The majority of wetland enhancement and restoration projects supported through the state Duck Stamp Fund occur here in California, on public lands open to hunting. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, that includes more than $1 million allocated for habitat restoration and enhancement projects at Honey Lake Wildlife Area, Butte Valley Wildlife Area, Modoc National Wildlife Refuge, Upper Butte Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge, Napa-Sonoma Marshes Wildlife Area, Kern National Wildlife Refuge, Imperial Wildlife Area and Morro Bay Estuary.

But few hunters realize $2.25 of every duck stamp sold is allocated by law (California Fish and Game Code, section 3704) for the purposes of restoring habitat in those areas of Canada from which come substantial numbers of waterfowl migrating to, or through, California.

In 1972, the State Legislature implemented a mandate to use duck stamp funds in Canada in order to conserve critical waterfowl habitat in North America’s breeding grounds. This legislation looked to the future of waterfowl populations and directed CDFW (then known as the California Department of Fish and Game) to spend these moneys wisely and seek out matching funds to get as much conservation work done as possible. Those matching funds come both from CDFW’s conservation partners and the federal government via the North American Wetlands Conservation Act.

This year, duck stamp dollars marked for Canadian wetland and upland conservation projects will go to the King Conservation Easement in Alberta. This is a key breeding area for pintail and is in need of wetland and upland habitat protection. The Duck Stamp Fund will contribute $155,000, with the rest provided via federal match, to protect approximately 48 acres of wetlands and 592 acres of uplands. This particular easement is key because it is adjacent to other conservation easements that together form a habitat range of more than 15,000 acres.

In addition to wetland restoration projects, duck stamp funds also support species-specific projects. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, these projects will include:

  • A pintail banding project that will help biologists study harvest and survival rates ($35,000)
  • A mallard banding project that will provide data critical to the establishment of annual duck hunting regulations ($23,000)
  • A tule greater white-fronted goose study that will use radio transmitters to collect data about this special-status species’ population, habitat use and distribution ($7,000)
  • A waterfowl food study to determine the amount of calories provided by post-harvest rice and corn, and how these food sources affect waterfowl ($51,890)

Any projects that are supported by duck stamp funds are approved only with the input and analysis of waterfowl conservation groups such as the California Waterfowl Association and Ducks Unlimited. And, unlike nearly all other hunter-generated funds, state duck stamp projects must be first approved by the California Fish and Game Commission, which adds another important layer of accountability and transparency.

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Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Waterfowl Program, (916) 445-3717
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988