The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) must delay opening day of waterfowl season on Type-A state and federal hunting areas in the Sacramento Valley. Due to a delayed rice harvest, opening day will be Oct. 29, one week later than the rest of the Balance of State Zone.
The areas affected by this delay in opening day are Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, Little Dry Creek Wildlife Area, Llano Seco Wildlife Area, Howard Slough Wildlife Area, Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Delevan NWR, Sutter NWR and Colusa NWR.
This year’s rice harvest is unusually late because wet weather delayed the spring planting and a mild summer slowed maturation. The harvest is expected to continue into late October this year in the Sacramento Valley.
DFG reached the decision to delay the waterfowl season in consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and representatives from the agricultural community in the Sacramento area. The delayed refuge opener is intended to minimize crop depredation consistent with Lea Act requirements and the purpose of some state and federal areas. The Lea Act of 1948 provided funds for the acquisition of federal lands and for the state to acquire matching acreage to attract waterfowl away from adjacent agricultural lands.
Delayed refuge openers were common from the late 1940s to the early 1980s but advancements in farming technology have produced rice crops that mature earlier, minimizing the need for delay. There have been only three delayed refuge openers for waterfowl hunting in the last 26 years, the last of which was during the 2006-07 waterfowl hunting season.
Hunters should familiarize themselves with the regulations on the Fish and Game Commission website at www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/waterfowlregs.aspx.