Waterfowl Regulation Updates for 2022-2023 Season

Changes in Goose and Duck Seasons

  • The Early Canada goose season in the Balance of State Zone has been shortened to three days, facilitating a new two-day late season in the same zone.
  • Extension of most duck season durations to 102 days from previous lengths.

Mandatory Use of Nonlead Ammunition in California

Comprehensive Nonlead Ammo Requirement

  • Statewide, all wildlife harvesting with firearms mandates nonlead ammunition.

Understanding the Regulations

  • To comprehend the full scope of nonlead ammo laws, refer to the CDFW News Nonlead section.

Applicability of Nonlead Ammo

  • The regulation encompasses the taking of all nongame species and use in depredation scenarios.
  • Nonlead ammunition must be used for hunting, but lead ammo remains permissible for target shooting where allowed.

National Context and Enforcement

  • California leads as the first U.S. state requiring nonlead ammunition for all firearm hunting.
  • Wildlife officers may inspect all ammunition carried by hunters.

Recommendations for Hunters

  • Hunters should practice with nonlead ammunition before hunting to ensure proper firearms sight and performance familiarization.
  • The transition to nonlead ammo is a response to health and ecological considerations and aligns with existing waterfowl regulations since 1991.

For additional details on nonlead ammunition guidelines, visit the CDFW's Nonlead Ammunition in California webpage.

California Hunting Legal Prohibitions

Trespassing and Environmental Violations

  • Hunting on private property without consent is illegal. (FGC 2016)
  • It is against the law to litter near state waters or where it might enter them, including discarded shotgun shells. (FGC 5652)

Safety and Hunting Equipment Regulations

  • Discharging firearms within 150 yards of homes without permission is prohibited. (FGC 3004)
  • Hunting waterfowl or small game with shotguns that hold more than three shells is unlawful. (CCR T14-311(a), 507)
  • Transporting game birds without a head or wing with feathers is illegal. (CCR T14-251.7)
  • Game birds or mammal carcass waste is forbidden. (FGC 4304)

Hunting Practices and Permits

  • Baited hunting is prohibited. (CCR T14-257.5, 509)
  • Hunting without required permits in wildlife areas is a violation. (CCR T14-550, 551)
  • Electronic calling devices are not allowed for waterfowl hunting. (CCR T14-507)
  • Using live decoys in waterfowl hunting is illegal. (CCR T14-507)

Licensing and Transfer Violations

  • It is illegal to transfer or exchange hunting licenses/tags/permits. (FGC 1052)
  • Shooting non-permitted nongame birds is prohibited. (FGC 3800)
  • Using mammals (except dogs) or imitations as blinds for game birds is not permitted. (FGC 3502)
  • Altering or using licenses/tags/permits not lawfully issued to the user is a violation. (FGC 1052)

Inspection and Hunting License Requirements

  • Failure to show all hunting-related licenses and tags upon request to any peace officer is unlawful. (FGC 2012)
  • Obstructing a Warden's inspection rights is prohibited. (FGC 1006)
  • Hunting without possession of your license is illegal. (CCR T14-700)
  • Using an incomplete hunting or fishing license is a violation.

Possession and Importation

  • Possessing unlawfully taken fish or wildlife is illegal. (FGC 2002)
  • Violations of any law regarding taking of fish or wildlife are prohibited. (FGC 2000)
  • Importing any dead animal obtained via hunting/fishing without completing a Declaration of Importation form is against the law. (CCR T14-712/5)

Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) Agreement

Reciprocal License Suspension

  • The IWVC enables cross-state recognition of license suspensions related to hunting, fishing, and trapping among 44 participating states.

Impact of Out-of-State Suspensions

  • Suspensions from other states can carry over to California. For instance, a five-year suspension in Colorado means the same in California and other IWVC states.

Legal Consequences

  • Acquiring licenses or tags during a suspension period constitutes a legal violation, potentially leading to prosecution.

Waterfowl Hunting Laws and Regulations

502. Waterfowl, Migratory; American Coot and Common Moorhen (Common Gallinule).

(a) Definitions.

  1. Dark geese. Dark geese include Canada geese, cackling geese, Aleutian geese and white-fronted geese (“specklebelly”).
  2. Large Canada geese. Large Canada geese include western Canada geese (“honker”) and lesser Canada geese (“lessers”).
  3. Small Canada geese. Small (about the size of a mallard) Canada geese include cackling geese and Aleutian geese. Both are white-cheeked geese nearly identical in appearance to Large Canada geese. Aleutian geese have a thin white neck ring and Cackling geese have dark breasts. Both species have a high-pitched cackle as opposed to the deeper “honking”.
  4. White geese. White geese include Ross’ geese, snow geese and blue phase of both species.

(b) Waterfowl Hunting Zones.

  1. Northeastern California Zone: In that portion of California lying east and north of a line beginning at the intersection of Interstate 5 with the California-Oregon state line; south along Interstate 5 to its junction with Walters Lane south of the town of Yreka; west along Walters Lane to its junction with Easy Street; south along Easy Street to the junction with Old Highway 99; south along Old Highway 99 to the point of intersection with Interstate 5 north of the town of Weed; south along Interstate 5 to its junction with Highway 89; east and south along Highway 89 to Main Street in Greenville; north and east to its junction with North Valley Road; south to its junction of Diamond Mountain Road; north and east to its junction with North Arm Road; south and west to the junction of North Valley Road; south to the junction with Arlington Road (A22); west to the junction of Highway 89; south and west to the junction of Highway 70; east on Highway 70 to Highway 395; south and east on Highway 395 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line; north along the California-Nevada state line to the junction of the California- Nevada-Oregon state lines west along the California-Oregon state line to the point of origin.
  2. Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone: All of Kings and Tulare counties and that portion of Kern County north of the Southern California Zone.
  3. Southern California Zone: In that portion of southern California (but excluding the Colorado River zone) lying south and east of a line beginning at the mouth of the Santa Maria River at the Pacific Ocean; east along the Santa Maria River to where it crosses Highway 101-166 near the City of Santa Maria; continue north on 101- 166; east on Highway 166 to the junction with Highway 99; south on Highway 99 to the junction of Interstate 5; south on Interstate 5 to the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains at Tejon Pass; east and north along the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains to where it intersects Highway 178 at Walker Pass; east on Highway 178 to the junction of Highway 395 at the town of Inyokern; south on Highway 395 to the junction of Highway 58; east on Highway 58 to the junction of Interstate 15; east on Interstate 15 to the junction with Highway 127; north on Highway 127 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line.
  4. Colorado River Zone: In those portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties lying east of the following lines: Beginning at the intersection of Nevada State Highway 95 with the CaliforniaNevada state line; south along Highway 95 through the junction with Highway 40; continue south on Highway 95 to Vidal Junction; south through the town of Rice to the San Bernardino-Riverside county line on a road known as “Aqueduct Road” also known as Highway 62 in San Bernardino County; southwest on Highway 62 to Desert Center Rice Road; south on Desert Center Rice Road/Highway 177 to the town of Desert Center; continue east 31 miles on Interstate 10 to its intersection with the Wiley Well Road; south on this road to Wiley Well; southeast along the Milpitas Wash Road to the Blythe, Brawley, Davis Lake intersections; south on the Blythe Ogilby Road also known as County Highway 34 to its intersection with Ogilby Road; south on this road to Highway 8; east seven miles on Highway 8 to its intersection with the Andrade-Algodones Road/Highway 186; south on this paved road to the intersection of the Mexican boundary line at Los Algodones, Mexico.
  5. Balance of State Zone: That portion of the state not included in Northeastern California, Southern California, Colorado River or the Southern San Joaquin Valley zones.
  6. Special Management Areas
    1. North Coast. All of Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
    2. Humboldt Bay South Spit (West Side). Beginning at the intersection of the north boundary of Table Bluff County Park and the South Jetty Road; north along the South Jetty Road to the South Jetty; west along the South Jetty to the mean low water line of the Pacific Ocean; south along the mean low water line to its intersection with the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park; east along the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park to the point of origin.
    3. Klamath Basin. Beginning at the intersection of Highway 161 and Highway 97; east on Highway 161 to Hill Road; south on Hill Road to N Dike Road West Side; east on N Dike Road West Side until the junction of the Lost River; north on N Dike Road West Side until the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway; east on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway until N Dike Road East Side; south on the N Dike Road East Side; continue east on N Dike Road East Side to Highway 111; south on Highway 111/Great Northern Road to Highway 120/Highway 124; west on Highway 120/Highway 124 to Hill Road; south on Hill Road until Lairds Camp Road; west on Lairds Camp Road until Willow Creek; west and south on Willow Creek to Red Rock Road; west on Red Rock Road until Meiss Lake Road/ Old State Highway; north on Meiss Lake Road/Old State Highway to Highway 97; north on Highway 97 to the point of origin.
    4. Sacramento Valley. Beginning at the town of Willows; south on Interstate 5 to the junction with Hahn Road; east on Hahn Road and the GrimesArbuckle Road to the town of Grimes; north on Highway 45 to its junction with Highway 162; north on Highway 45-162 to the town of Glenn; west on Highway 162 to the point of beginning.
    5. Morro Bay. Beginning at a point where the high tide line intersects the State Park boundary west of Cuesta by the Sea; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line at the end of Mitchell Drive in Baywood Park; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line west of the Morro Bay State Park Boundary, adjacent to Baywood Park; north to a point 300 yards south of the high tide line at the end of White Point; north along a line 400 yards offshore of the south boundary of the Morro Bay City limit to a point adjacent to Fairbanks Point; northwesterly to the high tide line on the sand spit; southerly along the high tide line of the sand spit to the south end of Morro Bay; easterly along the Park boundary at the high tide line to the beginning point.
    6. Martis Creek Lake. The waters and shoreline of Martis Creek Lake, Placer and Nevada counties.
    7. Northern Brant. Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
    8. Balance of State Brant. That portion of the state not included in the Northern Brant Special Management Area.
    9. Imperial County. Beginning at Highway 86 and the Navy Test Base Road; south on Highway 86 to the town of Westmoreland; continue through the town of Westmoreland to Route S26; east on Route S26 to Highway 115; north on Highway 115 to Weist Rd.; north on Weist Rd. to Flowing Wells Rd.; northeast on Flowing Wells Rd. to the Coachella Canal; northwest on the Coachella Canal to Drop 18; a straight line from Drop 18 to Frink Rd.; south on Frink Rd. to Highway 111; north on Highway 111 to Niland Marina Rd.; southwest on Niland Marina Rd. to the old Imperial County boat ramp and the water line of the Salton Sea; from the water line of the Salton Sea, a straight line across the Salton Sea to the Salinity Control Research Facility and the Navy Test Base Road; southwest on the Navy Test Base Road to the point of beginning.

§505. Decoys.

The use of live birds as decoys is prohibited.

Amendment filed 10-5-81; effective 11-4-81.

§506. Shooting Hours.

The shooting hours for migratory game birds, including mourning doves, white-winged doves, band-tailed pigeons, American coots, common moorhens, common snipe (jacksnipe), and waterfowl for all of California shall be from one-half hour before sunrise to sunset.

Exception: In areas open to hunting on, over or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, the shooting time shall be from 7:00 a.m. to sunset.

Amendment without regulatory effect 8/8/2019.

§507. Provisions Related to the Taking of Migratory Game Birds.

  • (a) Authorized Methods. Only the following methods may be used to take migratory game birds:
    • (1) Falconry.
    • (2) Bow and Arrows or Crossbows. Only arrows or crossbow bolts with flu- flu fletching may be used except that conventionally fletched arrows may be used to take waterfowl sitting on the water from scullboats or similar watercraft.
    • (3) Muzzle-loading Shotguns.
    • (4) Shotguns 10 Gauge or Smaller. Shotguns 10 gauge or smaller using shot shells only and incapable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined may be used, except no shotgun larger than 12 gauge shall be used in areas open to hunting on, over or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County. If a plug is used to reduce the capacity of a magazine to fulfill the requirements of this section, the plug must be of one-piece construction incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than T shot in steel or other nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All shot shall be loose in the shell.
  • (b) Use of Dogs. Dogs may be used to take and retrieve migratory game birds.
  • (c) Prohibition on Electronically or Mechanically-operated Devices. Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are prohibited when attempting to take migratory game birds. It is unlawful to use devices that are either electronically-powered, or activated by anything other than natural wind, to directly or indirectly cause rotation of decoy wings or blades that simulate wings, when attempting to take waterfowl between the start of the waterfowl season and November 30.
  • (d) Live Decoy Prohibition. The use of live decoys is prohibited when attempting to take migratory game birds.

Amendment filed 6/29/2020; operative 7/1/2020.

§507.1. Nontoxic Shot Requirement for Waterfowl, American Coot and Common Moorhen Hunting.

Only bismuth-tin, steel, copper-plated steel, nickel-plated steel, tin-plated steel, zinc-plated steel, zinc chloride-plated steel, zinc chromate-plated steel, iron-tungsten, iron-tungsten-nickel, tungsten-bronze, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, tungsten-matrix, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-tin-iron, tungsten-tin-bismuth, and tungsten-tin-iron-nickel or other nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used or possessed for waterfowl, American coot and common moorhen hunting statewide.

Change without regulatory effect filed 7-12-2006.

§507.5. Scull Boats.

Migratory game birds may not be taken by a scull boat or similar watercraft while under motorized power. The motor shall be removed from its mountings before any take or approach is attempted.

This section shall not prohibit shooting migratory game birds from scull boats or similar watercraft with motor attached if beached or anchored; nor shall it prohibit the use of a motor for the sole purpose of picking up dead or injured birds.

New section filed 8-24-71, effective 8-24-71.

§509. Concurrence with Federal Regulations.

  • (a) The regulations adopted by the United States through its Secretary of Interior under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as amended annually in Part 10, subparts A and B, and Part 20, Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, are hereby adopted and made a part of this Title 14 except where said federal regulations are less restrictive than the provisions of Chapter 7 of this Title 14 (sections 500-509), the provisions of Chapter 7 prevail.
  • (b) Any violations of the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (a) are violations of this section.
  • (c) It shall be unlawful for any person aged sixteen years or older to take any migratory waterfowl unless at the time of such taking the person carries in his or her immediate possession an unexpired Federal migratory-bird hunting and conservation stamp validated by his or her signature written by him or herself in ink across the face of the stamp or an unexpired Federal migratory-bird hunting and conservation electronic stamp issued in his or her name prior to any taking of such birds.

Amendment filed 7/30/2019; effective 7/30/2019.

Waterfowl Consumption Health Advisories in California

Health Risk Assessments

  • OEHHA evaluates potential health hazards stemming from consuming waterfowl harvested from specified areas in California, using lab test data.

Issued Consumption Advisories

  • Advisories are in place to alert the public about potential risks associated with the long-term consumption of waterfowl from impacted regions.

Consumption Guidelines

  • The recommendations are premised on the risk associated with regular consumption; therefore, infrequent consumption exceeding the limits is not likely to pose significant health risks.

Selenium Consumption Advisory for Grasslands Area

Duck Meat Intake Restriction

  • Individuals should limit their consumption of duck meat from the Grasslands area in Western Merced County to a maximum of 4 ounces every two weeks.

Liver Consumption Warning

  • The consumption of duck liver from the Grasslands area is advised against due to high selenium levels.

Selenium Exposure Advisory for Suisun Bay

Scaup and Scoter Meat Consumption Limit

  • Residents and visitors should restrict their intake of (greater and lesser) scaup and scoter meat from Suisun Bay to no more than 4 ounces per week, within any given two-week timeframe.

Duck Liver Consumption Health Warning

  • It is recommended to completely avoid consumption of duck liver from Suisun Bay due to alarmingly high selenium levels.

Elevated Selenium Levels Advisory for San Pablo Bay

Consumption Restriction on Waterfowl Meat

  • Individuals are advised to consume no more than 4 ounces per week of greater scaup or scoter meat from San Pablo Bay across a period of two weeks.

Duck Liver Consumption Warning

  • The public should completely abstain from eating duck liver from San Pablo Bay due to high selenium content.

Health Advisory for San Francisco Bay Due to Selenium

Waterfowl Meat Consumption Guidance

  • A maximum consumption limit of 4 ounces per week of greater scaup meat from the central and south areas of San Francisco Bay is recommended over any two-week period.

Warning Against Duck Liver Consumption

  • All consumption of duck liver from San Francisco Bay is advised against due to the elevated selenium concentrations detected.

Sourced from: Waterfowl Hunting Regulations (ca.gov)

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