California hunters are gearing up for the start of waterfowl season around the state. The general opening dates are as follows:
- Northeastern Zone opened Oct. 8 for ducks and geese.
- Balance of State and Southern California zones open Oct. 22 for ducks and geese.
- Southern San Joaquin Zone opened Oct. 8 for ducks and will open Oct. 22 for geese.
- Colorado River Zone opens Oct. 21 for ducks and geese.
- Scaup season is only 86 days in most zones.
Hunters should visit the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) website (www.dfg.ca.gov/hunting) for specific opening dates for various species (such as scaup) for the location they desire to hunt.
In 2010, more than 50,000 hunters took advantage of the state’s wetlands and other waterfowl habitats, including agricultural lands, to try to bag ducks and geese.
DFG’s game conservation and management programs provide both recreational opportunities for hunters and long-term benefits to game and nongame animals on nearly a million acres of habitat for wildlife around the state.
“Though these major hunting seasons last only a few months, our wildlife and habitat managers work hard year-round for wildlife and habitat conservation,” said Eric Loft, DFG’s Wildlife Branch Chief. “We monitor populations of game species to make sure the hunting regulations are appropriate and allow as much opportunity as possible, while still conserving the game populations. Our wildlife area staff throughout the state work to develop excellent habitat conditions and hunting opportunities.”
Many of the state-owned or operated waterfowl hunting areas are accessible to hunters through a reservation system. Last year more than one million applications were submitted by hunters wanting to hunt on one of these areas during the three-month-long waterfowl season. To find a license agent near you, purchase items online or apply for waterfowl reservations, please visit DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/ols. Please note that hunters must carry a hard copy of their license while in the field. If the license was purchased online, a printout should be in the hunter’s possession.
California offers a wide variety of hunting opportunities in every county – from deer hunting in the sierra and coastal mountain ranges to setting decoys for ducks and geese in marshes on state-operated waterfowl areas from the Salton Sea to Modoc County. Regardless of the species hunted, all California hunters are required to pass a hunter safety course prior to purchasing a hunting license. The safe hunting practices stressed in these courses have made hunting one of the safest of outdoor activities in California, according to statistics collected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Strict hunting regulations are also enforced to ensure that wildlife resources are properly managed and protected for future generations. On the opening day of major seasons, DFG wardens typically make a higher than normal number of contacts. In 2009, DFG wardens made more than 440,000 contacts on a variety of resource-related issues ranging from simple license checks to arresting felons who were illegally in possession of firearms.