Tag Archives: waterfowl

Waterfowl Hunting Seasons Opening Soon; Closure Information Available Online

As California’s 2016-2017 waterfowl hunting season approaches, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises hunters to stay informed about the status of wildlife areas. Limited opportunities or closures in the areas where they plan to hunt are likely to occur again this year given limited water supplies in some regions of the state early in the season.

It is also common for waterfowl hunting areas to close periodically throughout the season due to safety concerns caused by flooding. Areas that most commonly experience flood closures include Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Waterfowl hunters should keep informed about current reservation and quota numbers, which are expected to fluctuate frequently. Reservations for state-operated wildlife areas that are closed due to flooding will not be accepted at other hunting areas, and refunds will not be issued for applications submitted to areas that are closed or if reservations are not available.

Hunters can follow the Twitter tag #cawildlifeareaclosures for updates on state-operated wildlife area closures.

Opening and closing dates vary by zone. These dates, along with detailed information about daily bag and possession limits, can be found in the 2016-2017 Waterfowl Regulations booklet.

Quality public hunting access can be found on more than two dozen national wildlife refuges and wildlife areas and ecological reserves managed by CDFW. Please note that nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

A valid California hunting license, appropriate validations and a signed federal waterfowl conservation stamp must be obtained before entering the field. In addition, a wildlife area pass is required to hunt on many state-operated wildlife areas. Licenses, validations and passes are not sold at wildlife areas, so hunters must purchase these items in advance.

California hunters are required to complete a hunter education training course before purchasing a hunting license for the first time in California. Approximately 30,000 students complete this requirement annually.


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

Waterfowl Breeding Population Survey Shows Improving Numbers in 2016

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has completed its annual survey of waterfowl breeding pairs. Biologists found that after a three-year decline in mallards and total duck species (meaning all species combined), both categories have increased this year.

The breeding population of mallards increased from 173,865 to 263,774 (an increase of 52 percent) and total ducks increased from 315,577 to 417,791 (an increase of 32 percent).

“The late, abundant spring rains were a real boost to the habitat this year,” noted Melanie Weaver, a CDFW waterfowl biologist who participated in the survey. “We expect good production and a larger fall flight this year because of it.”

CDFW biologists and warden pilots have conducted this annual survey using fixed-wing aircraft since 1948. The population estimates are for the surveyed areas only, which include the majority of the suitable duck nesting habitat in the state. Surveyed areas include wetland and agricultural areas in northeastern California, throughout the Central Valley, the Suisun Marsh and some coastal valleys.

The full Breeding Population Survey Report can be found at www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/birds/waterfowl.

The majority of California’s wintering duck population originates from breeding areas surveyed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in Alaska and Canada. Those survey results should be available in July. CDFW survey information, along with similar data from other Pacific Flyway states, is used by the USFWS and the Pacific Flyway Council when setting hunting regulations for the Pacific Flyway states, including California.


Media Contacts:
Melanie Weaver, CDFW Wildlife Branch, (916) 445-3717

Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

CDFW Offers Junior Apprentice Waterfowl Hunt at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering a special junior apprentice duck hunt at Grizzly Island Wildlife Area on Wednesday, Dec. 30. Spaced blinds on Pond 11 and the Crescent Unit of the wildlife area will be closed to the general public and available only to junior apprentice hunt participants and their chaperones.

An adult chaperone (18 years of age or older) is required to accompany and supervise each junior apprentice hunter. The adult may hunt with the junior apprentice hunter and must possess the required 2015-2016 California hunting license, the California Duck Validation, federal waterfowl stamp and the free Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. Junior license holders between the ages of 16 and 18 must have a Federal Waterfowl Stamp and the free HIP validation to hunt waterfowl.

All available blinds can accommodate two persons. Non-toxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is required for waterfowl hunting. A minimum of 12 duck decoys are required at all blind sites and chest waders are recommended.

To apply for a reservation, please mail a standard-sized post card to:

Grizzly Island Wildlife Area
Junior Apprentice Duck Hunt
2548 Grizzly Island Road
Suisun, CA 94585

Applicants must include the following information:

• Junior Apprentice hunter’s name
• Junior hunting license number
• Mailing address and phone number
• Name of chaperone

Each hunter may apply only once. Application cards must be received by close of business on Friday, Dec. 18. Junior apprentice hunt reservations will be filled by a random drawing conducted on Monday, Dec. 21. There will be 23 reservations issued for this date. All successful applicants will be notified by mail or email. Grizzly Island Wildlife Area will also accept junior apprentice hunters on a first-come, first-served basis on the day of the hunt to use the free roam areas and to fill any no-shows from the reservations. As a reminder, all chaperones who wish to hunt must have either a Type A One-Day, Two-Day or Season Pass, and these must be purchased prior to arriving at the check station through either a license sales agent or a CDFW license sales office, or online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/online-sales (please allow two weeks’ mailing time if ordering online).

CDFW would also like to encourage use of the West Family Unit, which is available only to junior apprentice hunters. Hunt days are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on a first-come, first-served basis throughout the open season. The gate will be opened approximately two hours before shoot time. An adult chaperone is required and five double blinds, including one mobility-impaired blind and one three-person blind, are available. The unit is north of Benicia on Goodyear Road; from Highway 680 take the Marshview Road exit and turn right onto Goodyear Road from the off-ramp. The hunt area will be on the left.


Media Contacts:
Patrick Graham, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 425-3828
Orlando Rocha, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 425-3828
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Waterfowl Hunting Opportunities Coming Up at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is offering waterfowl hunting opportunities at Eden Landing Ecological Reserve (ELER) in Hayward. The reserve includes former salt ponds now managed by CDFW as low-salinity waterfowl habitat and areas restored to full tidal action. For the 2015-2016 hunting season, hunters will be also able to enjoy recent improvements at ELER, including a new boat launch into Mt. Eden Creek that allows access into tidal areas on specified hunt days.

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.

2015 hunts (check-in at 5 a.m. on each of the following dates):
• Saturday, Nov. 21
• Tuesday, Dec. 1
• Saturday, Dec. 5
• Thursday, Dec. 10
• Tuesday, Dec. 15
• Saturday, Dec. 19

2016 hunts (check-in at 5:30 a.m. on each of the following dates):
• Saturday, Jan. 2
• Thursday, Jan. 7
• Thursday, Jan. 14
• Saturday, Jan. 23

All hunters must check in with CDFW staff on the morning of the hunt with a valid California Hunting License, federal duck stamp and state duck and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validations. Hunters will also be required to check out upon leaving and allow inspection of game to evaluate hunter success and collect harvest data.

Junior hunters must be accompanied by an adult hunter or non-hunter 18 years or older. Vehicles are only allowed on the hunt dates specified above; drivers must stay on designated levees and use approved parking areas. Hunters are advised to use caution and should be aware of soft mud, swift currents, tidal fluctuations and unmarked hazards.

There is a 25-shell limit in the field, and hunters must use nonlead ammunition. (As of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. For more information, please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.)

A small boat, canoe or other flotation device is highly recommended to access ponds and blinds, navigable sloughs and for game retrieval. 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.

A hunting dog is also recommended for retrieval of birds. Hunters will receive additional information, including area rules and regulations and maps, upon check-in.

To access ELER from I-880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard and continue west. Turn right onto Union City Boulevard, left onto Bettencourt Road (at the sign for the Union Sanitary District), left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, then right on Veasy Street. Please enter at the yellow gate to check in. Hunters are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

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 (www.southbayrestoration.org).


Media Contacts:
John Krause, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (415) 454-8050
Conrad Jones, CDFW Bay Delta Region, (707) 944-5544
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

CDFW Offers Upland Game Hunting and Waterfowl Clinics in Solano County

Duck hunting with dogThe California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Advanced Hunter Education program is offering two advanced hunting clinics in Solano County in August.

“These clinics are designed to educate both new and experienced hunters in specific types of hunting and to provide the experience necessary to be an ethical and more successful hunter. You will learn about hunting techniques and how to apply them to become that successful hunter,” said Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education Program Coordinator.

Upland Game Hunting Clinic: The Upland Game Hunting Clinic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Hastings Island Hunting Preserve in Rio Vista. The clinic will include information about the history of pheasant, quail and chukar hunting in California, bird habitat, food and range, maps, equipment and hunting with or without a dog. There will be dog demonstrations with both pointers and flushers.

Waterfowl Hunting Clinic: The Waterfowl Hunting Clinic will be held on Saturday, Aug. 22 at Grizzly Island near Suisun. Topics will include hunter safety, decoy placement, blind design, ballistics, calling, duck identification and game care, as well as information about hunting on State and Federal Waterfowl Management Areas. The clinic is co-sponsored by the California Waterfowl Association and the Pacific Coast Hunter Education Association.

Registration Information: The cost for each clinic is $45. The clinic hours are: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Space is limited to 25 people, so please register early. To register or get more information, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/advanced or contact Lt. Alan Gregory at (916) 653-1235.

Although the clinics are sponsored by the Advanced Hunter Education program, participants of all skill levels (from beginner to advanced) are welcome. Clinics focus on the basics of hunting with the goal of developing ethical, conservation-minded, successful hunters.


Media Contacts:
Lt. Alan Gregory, CDFW Advanced Hunter Education, (916) 653-1235
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988
Kristi Matal, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-9811