The final month of the year features a variety of programs, activities and meetings put on through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Following are some of those events.
As a reminder, all calendar items are subject to change as a result of the changing conditions and guidance related to the COVID-19 pandemic. CDFW asks residents to please continue to adhere to all safety protocols including physical distancing, wearing masks and frequent hand washing. For information on how to get vaccinated in California, visit myturn.ca.gov.
Wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other properties may be closed due to wildfires or wildfire damage. Hunters and outdoor enthusiasts are strongly encouraged to check for closures before leaving on any recreational trip.
Various Days — Shared Habitat Alliance for Recreational Enhancement (SHARE) Access Permit Application Deadline for Hunting Opportunities. There are still opportunities available for pig, waterfowl and upland game hunting through February. An $11.50 non-refundable application fee (plus handling fees) is charged for each hunt choice. For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/share.
Weekends — Ecological Reserve Tours at Elkhorn Slough, 10 a.m. and 11 a.m., 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. Volunteers lead walks highlighting the natural history of the Elkhorn Slough every Saturday and Sunday. Capacity is limited due to physical distancing requirements and individuals must sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Groups of six or more should call ahead at (831) 728-2822 to reserve a tour. For more information, visit www.elkhornslough.org/esnerr/tours.
Weekends — Guided Wildlife Tours at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area, 12:30 p.m., 3207 Rutherford Road, Gridley. This hour-and-a-half tour will stroll a third of a mile to an elevated viewing deck where participants will have a bird’s-eye view of wildlife. Visitors often encounter hawks, rabbits, herons, turtles, cormorants, swallows and much more. This is one of the premier birding spots in northern California, as migratory ducks and geese usually take the spotlight. Tours are canceled in heavy rain. This land is part of the CDFW Lands Pass Program and associated fee-for-use requirement. There is no additional cost for the tour. To sign up, visit Eventbrite. To purchase a Lands Pass, visit wildlife.ca.gov/licensing/lands-pass. There is a limit of 12 people per tour. COVID-19 guidelines will be followed, which may include masking and/or physical distancing. Come prepared and be respectful of other visitors. For more information, call (530) 846-7505 or email Lori.Dieter@wildlife.ca.gov.
Saturdays — Swan Tours. Celebrate the bird migration on the Pacific Flyway this fall and winter. CDFW’s free and popular Swan Tours are set for selective Saturdays through January. Held in partnership with Mathews Rice Operation, the tours traverse flooded rice fields north of Marysville. This area boasts the largest overwintering population of tundra swans in the Central Valley, as well as abundant geese, ducks, shorebirds and raptors. Mandatory health and safety protocols are in place. To register, email Genelle.Treaster@wildlife.ca.gov.
Various Days — Discover the Flyway School Program, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis. Discover the Flyway is an outdoor education program for kindergarten through 12th grade students that meets Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and Common Core Standards. Its goal is to offer children a meaningful outdoor experience that will give them an appreciation for the wetlands, agriculture and wildlife of the Central Valley and contribute to a lifetime of healthy outdoor activities and development of a land stewardship ethic. This school year, Yolo Basin Foundation is offering teachers three options: the chance to bring students to a field trip held at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, the opportunity to have our educators and docents bring the program to their classroom or the option to participate from school or home in a live, virtually led activity. Teachers can learn more and register at www.yolobasin.org/schoolprograms.
Thursday, Dec. 9 — Nimbus Fish Hatchery Public Webinar: Salmon Dissection, 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., via Zoom. Explore the fascinating physiology of spawning Chinook salmon by watching the dissection of male and female specimens. Each program will include time for live questions from our audience. To register, visit the Zoom webinar registration page.
Saturday, Dec. 11 — Tour of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 9 a.m. to noon, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis. December is a wonderful month to come out to the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. Join Yolo Basin Foundation’s docent on a fantastic tour that is appropriate for all levels of outdoor enthusiasts and birders. View seasonal and permanent wetlands, native grasslands and young riparian forests. Look for migrating and resident waterfowl, geese, swans, raptors and wading birds. Registration is required to attend. For more information and to register, visit www.yolobasin.org/wetlands-tours.
Teachers on the Reserve Workshop at Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. This free teacher workshop is an introduction to the habitats and wildlife on the Elkhorn Slough Reserve. Participants will deepen their understanding of estuaries, wetlands, watersheds and conservation issues facing the Elkhorn Slough through informative presentations and topical field activities. All teachers leave prepared to lead meaningful, NGSS aligned field trips at the reserve. For more details and to register, visit www.elkhornslough.org/education-program/tor-application.
Tuesday, Dec. 14 — California Fish and Game Commission Tribal Committee Meeting, scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, visit fgc.ca.gov.
Wednesday and Thursday, Dec. 15 and 16 — California Fish and Game Commission Meeting, scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. December 15 and 8:30 a.m. December 16. The meeting is to be held via webinar/teleconference due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19. For more information, visit fgc.ca.gov.
Saturday, Dec. 18 — Garden Days at Elkhorn Slough Reserve, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., 1700 Elkhorn Road, Watsonville. Learn about native plant gardening and help the reserve maintain its new demonstration gardens. Participants will spend time exploring topics in native plant gardening and then spend time working in the gardens. Work changes with the season and may involve weeding, planting or collecting native seeds. All ages and abilities are welcome, but those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. For more details and to register, visit www.elkhornslough.org/calendar.
Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area Pop-up Information Booth, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Parking Lot A, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, 45211 County Road 32 B, Davis. Come visit the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area during this time of magical migrations. Waterfowl, geese, swans and more are making their way south along the Pacific Flyway. Every third Saturday of the month, Yolo Basin Foundation will have a pop-up information booth in Parking Lot A of the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area. If you’ve never visited the area or have questions, it is a great time to visit since volunteers will provide maps of the auto tour route and hiking trails, provide information about what to keep an eye out for and answer questions as visitors set out to explore local wildlife. For more information about the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, visit www.yolobasin.org/yolobypasswildlifearea.
General Season for Band-tailed Pigeons in the Southern Hunt Zone Opens (extending through Dec. 26). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.
Sunday, Dec. 26 — Black Bear Season Ends Statewide (or earlier if CDFW determines that 1,700 black bears have been reported taken). For more information, visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/bear. Successful hunters must have their tag validated. All hunters are required to submit a report on their bear tag, whether they hunted for bear or not. Tags can be mailed to the address on the tag or reported online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/customersearch/begin.
Monday, Dec. 27 — Archery Only Pheasant Season Opens (extending through Jan. 23, 2022). For more information on upland game bird seasons and limits, visit wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/upland-game-birds.