Hunter retrieving a duck

CDFW Implements Wildlife Area and Refuge Check Station Safety Precautions for 2020-2021 Hunting Seasons

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is planning ahead to provide ample recreational hunting opportunities on wildlife areas and refuges this fall and winter, while also keeping hunters and CDFW staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.

CDFW has established a page on its website to describe specific procedures to be implemented this year for public and staff health and safety. Wildlife areas and refuges will be open as long as visitors implement these practices.

Hunters should be aware of the following:

  • Changes have been made to in-person lottery and first-come-first-served (FCFS) operations for the 2020-21 waterfowl season, such as adjusted hours and controls to increase physical distancing between hunters and staff. To further reduce the congestion of hunters at check stations during peak use periods and minimize the potential for spread of COVID-19, hunters will be allowed to enter a lottery or FCFS list at only one state wildlife area or federal refuge prior to each shoot day for the 2020/21 waterfowl season. This limitation does not apply to reservation applications through the Automated License Data System.
  • Sanitation procedures have been put in place, including a requirement for all individuals on the property to wear masks and maintain distance from others while conducting check station business. Non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public (portable restrooms will be provided). Hunters and other visitors to CDFW lands are asked to bring hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies with them, and to carry their trash home for disposal.
  • Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be implemented to minimize contact between hunters and staff. In some locations, this could include the installation of drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards. Each hunter should carry and present their own bird strap to facilitate safe check-out procedures.
  • CDFW is accepting RV camping applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. Please contact wildlife area staff for up-to-date information on the status of RV camping.

For details, additional information and updates, please check https://wildlife.ca.gov/Lands/COVID-19 frequently throughout the season.

CDFW may need to update these provisions to ensure consistency with the latest state and local guidelines and directives.

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Media Contact:
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 804-1714

CDFW Extends Land Closures Through Monday, Sept. 21

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has extended closures on 49 properties that lie within or immediately adjacent to U.S. Forest Service (USFS) boundaries through Monday, Sept. 21. The closures were put into place on Saturday, Sept. 12 due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions.

All closures are CDFW wildlife areas or ecological reserves, and they cover many parts of the state. They were closed following the USFS announcement of the temporary closure of all national forests in California.

Fire danger is extreme in California currently. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip. The following links show up-to-date closures:

CDFW acknowledges that hunting opportunities will be impacted. Tag return and preference point eligibility requirements and additional information may be found on CDFW’s website.

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Media Contact:
Jordan Traverso, CDFW Communications, (916) 654-9937

Knoxville Wildlife Area, Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area, Putah Creek Wildlife Areas Remain Closed Due to LNU Lightning Complex Fires

view of hill with dry grass and oak tree

Knoxville and Cedar Roughs wildlife areas, both in Napa County, and Putah Creek Wildlife Area in Solano County, have been closed until further notice by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) due to the proximity of the Hennessy and LNU Lightning Complex fires.

To ensure public safety and to allow CDFW to fully evaluate the effects of the wildfire, the wildlife areas will be closed to all public uses including hunting and hiking.  The closure will remain in effect through the remainder of the year, which will include A Zone deer hunt season, dove hunt season and the fall wild turkey hunt season. 

When the wildlife areas are considered safe for public use, CDFW will issue a press release announcing their re-opening.

The updated list of CDFW land closures can be found at wildlife.ca.gov/closures.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

CDFW Soliciting Recommendations for Bay Delta Wildlife Areas

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will hold an online public outreach meeting to solicit comments and recommendations from licensed hunters on hunting programs in the Bay Delta Region. State lands that will be discussed include Grizzly Island and Yolo Bypass wildlife areas.

The meeting will be accessible via Microsoft Teams on Thursday, Aug. 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. To attend the online presentation, please RSVP to Joe.Hobbs@wildlife.ca.gov and a link will be sent with instructions on how to submit comments and questions.

Staff will provide updates on habitat conditions, availability of water for wetlands and possible impacts to hunter access on public lands resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. The presentation will also cover CDFW’s statewide plan to keep hunters and department staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic and continued efforts to provide recreational opportunities.

California Fish and Game Code, section 1758, states CDFW shall annually provide an opportunity for licensed hunters to comment and make recommendations on public hunting programs including anticipated habitat conditions in the hunting areas on Type A Wildlife Areas, as defined under the commission’s regulations, through public meetings or other outreach. In compliance with this section, CDFW may hold regional meetings on its hunting programs for several different wildlife areas.

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Media Contact:
Ken Paglia, CDFW Communications, (916) 825-7120

California Fish and Game Commission Meets Remotely

On the second day of its April remote meeting, the California Fish and Game Commission took action on a number of issues affecting California’s natural resources. The following are just a few items of interest from today’s part of the meeting (see information from yesterday).

The Commission acknowledged robust public participation using remote technology.FGC Logo

“While we all are learning this remote world together, this meeting proved that government can continue with public input,” said Commission President Eric Sklar. “Governor Newsom recently said we expect a mid-May peak of COVID-19. I implore Californians to stay healthy and stay home to help save lives.”

The Commission approved the mammal hunting regulations and increased the number of elk tags in the northwest management unit. This increased hunting opportunity for the state’s hunting public, based on the best-available scientific data, is due to robust elk populations in this part of the state. The recovery of these elk is a great success story in California wildlife conservation.

The Commission approved the waterfowl daily and seasonal limits for ducks and geese for the 2020-21 hunting season. The northern pintail limit will remain at one pintail per day due to the current status of the population. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to improve the models to address the public’s concerns that pintail limits are too low.

The Commission adopted proposed regulations for public use on CDFW lands, including wildlife areas and ecological reserves. The regulations designate one new wildlife area and seven new ecological reserves, remove areas from the regulations where CDFW no longer has management authority, authorize site-specific public uses and make minor changes to clarify the regulations.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of the Shasta snow-wreath may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by CDFW.

The Commission voted unanimously that listing of an evolutionarily significant unit of mountain lions may be warranted. This commences a one-year status review by the CDFW.

Commission President Sklar, Commission Vice President Samantha Murray, and Commissioners Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Russell Burns and Peter Silva participated in the call.

The full Commission agenda for this meeting along with supporting information is available at fgc.ca.gov. An archived audio file will be available in coming days. The next meeting of the full Commission is a teleconference scheduled for May 14, 2020.

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The California Fish and Game Commission was the first wildlife conservation agency in the United States, predating even the U.S. Commission of Fish and Fisheries. There is often confusion about the distinction between the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the Commission. In the most basic terms, CDFW implements and enforces the regulations set by the Commission, as well as provides biological data and expertise to inform the Commission’s decision-making process.