Written by:Kristen A. Schmitt

Photo credit:California Department of Fish and Wildlife

f you had a hunt planned in California this fall, make sure you read this. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recently proposed a regulation change that will allow refunds to hunters whose seasons “were cut short or eliminated due to wildfires and forest closures.” Eligible hunters would be refunded their 2020 fees and have their preference points reinstated should the change go forward.

So far, the proposed change has been approved by the California Fish and Game Commission’s Wildlife Resources Committee, but must be approved by the full commission in December. If that happens, the change will go into effect in April 2021.

“We need to do right by these hunters who have lost most if not all of their hunting opportunity in 2020 due to these unprecedented forest closures and wildfires,” said CDFW Director Charlton H. Bonham. “These are expensive tags that can take many years – sometimes a lifetime – to draw. Refunding tag fees and restoring preference points is the least we can do for this group that does so much to fund our scientific research and conservation of these iconic California species.”

For now, CDFW asks hunters to retain their tags because they will need those to request the fee refund and point reinstatement. 

The proposed regulation change would impact 14 elk hunts and two antelope hunts. The change does not impact deer hunts because of the lower tag fee and longer season.

Per CDFW, the 14 elk hunts eligible for tag refunds are:

  • Marble Mountains either-sex apprentice (Roosevelt), Sept. 9 to 20

  • Northeastern California archery either-sex (Rocky Mountain), Sept. 2 to 13

  • Marble Mountains antlerless (Roosevelt), Sept. 9 to 20

  • Marble Mountain bull (Roosevelt), Sept. 9 to 20

  • Northwestern California antlerless (Roosevelt), Sept. 2 to 24

  • Northwestern California bull (Roosevelt), Sept. 2 to 24

  • Siskiyou antlerless (Roosevelt), Sept. 9 to 20

  • Siskiyou bull (Roosevelt), Sept. 9 to 20

  • East Park Reservoir antlerless (Tule), Sept. 5 to Oct. 1

  • East Park Reservoir bull (Tule), Sept. 5 to Oct. 1

  • Lake Pillsbury period 1 antlerless (Tule), Sept.9 to 18

  • Northeastern California either-sex apprentice (Rocky Mountain), Sept. 16 to 27

  • Northeastern California bull (Rocky Mountain), Sept. 16 to 27

  • Northwestern California either-sex (Roosevelt), Sept. 2 to 24

The two antelope hunts eligible for tag refunds are:

  • Zone 4 Lassen Period 2 general buck, Sept. 5 to 13

  • Zone 3 Likely Tables period 2 general buck, Sept. 5 to 13

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