Wildlife Policies

DEER MANAGEMENT

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission to:

Conserve, restore, maintain and utilize California's wild deer populations. Such conservation shall be in accordance with the principles of conservation of wildlife resources set forth in Section 1801 of the Fish and Game Code and in accordance with the objectives and elements stated in "A Plan for California Deer, 1976".

Management Program:

  • I. The Department shall designate deer herd management units. Such units may encompass a single deer herd or group of deer herds having similar management and habitat requirements and characteristics. Boundaries of such units, unless appropriate, need not follow county boundary lines.
  • II. The Department shall develop and submit plans for all deer herd management units to the Commission by December 1, 1985. The goals of such plans shall be the restoration and maintenance of critical deer habitats to perpetuate healthy deer herds in the wild state as set forth in the appropriate deer herd management plans and to provide for high quality and diversified use of deer as a renewable resource in California. Specific objectives shall be stated in each management plan designed to achieve these goals, including objectives relating to the long-term protection of critical seasonal habitat located on both privately owned and public lands. Such objectives shall be the standards for determining if land use plans (including general plans reviewed pursuant to the Commission's Land Use Policy), proposed development projects and other agencies' plans and programs adequately address deer needs.
  • III. Management plans shall contain elements that provide the following kinds of information:
    • A. Document available information on the deer and their critical seasonal habitats and implement efficient and objective programs to obtain deer herd and habitat inventory information.
    • B. Provide a range of biologically feasible alternatives for habitat capacities, herd size and harvest strategies for each herd; then after review, select the preferred alternative as the basis for plan objectives and implementation programs.
    • C. Develop programs to maintain and increase the quality of critical seasonal deer habitats as officially designated in a herd management plan. Such programs will emphasize cooperative action between the Department and appropriate land management entities, both public and private. For critical deer habitats located on public and privately-owned lands, a strategy shall be developed for the preservation of habitat as directed in the Commission's Land Use Policy.
    • D. Develop programs which assess the current status of deer habitat and land use and plans to conduct research needed to complement that information, so that the objectives for deer management may be achieved.
    • E. Develop programs including predator control to reduce natural mortalities where such reduction may be critical to meeting deer herd plan objectives.
    • F. Develop diversified recreational use programs, including both hunting and nonhunting uses, consistent with the basic individual deer herd management unit capabilities.
  • IV. Deer herd management unit plans shall be reviewed annually and shall be the basis for Department recommendations to the Commission.
  • V. The Department shall determine each year its proposed recommendations to the Commission, including its recommendations as to whether any antlerless or either sex deer hunts should be ordered. The recommendations of the Department shall include the number, if any, of antlerless deer that should be taken in units, whether the permits should be for either sex deer, the proposed dates for each such taking and the number of permits proposed for each unit. The Department shall apprise the Commission of the best biological information available, any social, economic or political impacts its proposals are likely to have, and shall apprise the Commission of alternatives which may respond to such concerns.

If the Department recommendations are based on considerations in addition to biological data, those considerations will be fully explained to the Commission.

Notify the Commission prior to adoption, if possible, but as soon as feasible, when a federal, state or local general or special plan, or a proposed project authorized by such a plan, is determined to be in conflict with Commission policy or the Department's management plans and programs and would have a significant adverse impact on fish or wildlife resources. In the case of local agency plans or special projects where changes are made late in the review and comment period or at an adoption hearing, notification of the Commission will be within 30 days following the receipt by the Department of the text of the approved plan or project. The Department shall include with such report its determination of the significance of the potential impact of the amendment or project on the deer herd or herds affected and the alternative remedial measures available to the Commission and Department which may be taken to minimize or eliminate such impacts.

(Amended 11/13/84)

DEPREDATION CONTROL

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that:

All wildlife species shall be maintained in harmony with available habitat whenever possible. In the event that some birds or mammals may cause injury or damage to private property, depredation control methods directed toward offending animals may be implemented. Should such depredation be upon wildlife species being intensively managed, the Department may institute appropriate depredation control methods directed towards the offending animals.

ELK

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission to:

Maintain elk herds for scientific, educational and diversified recreational uses. Management will be consistent with the habitat needs of other wildlife species and in recognition of potential conflicts with land uses such as agriculture and forestry. Elk habitat shall be protected and managed in cooperation with both public agencies and private land owners. Natural forage conditions shall be the primary consideration in regulating elk numbers. Surplus animals may be harvested by hunting, or when suitable relocation sites are available, translocated to alleviate damage and other conflicts.

  • I. Tule Elk
    This subspecies shall be managed to establish healthy, free-roaming populations in suitable historic areas. Each herd will be managed as prescribed in Department management plans developed in cooperation with other appropriate agencies.
  • II. Roosevelt Elk:
    This subspecies shall be managed on the basis of habitat carrying capacity and compatibility with the requirements of other wildlife, agriculture, forestry and recreation. Hunting will generally be used to harvest excess animals. Animals may be translocated to establish new populations within historic Roosevelt elk range if suitable sites are available.
  • III. Rocky Mountain Elk:
    This subspecies shall be managed on the basis of habitat carrying capacity, avoidance of any conflict or hybridization with native species and compatibility with the requirements of other wildlife, agriculture, forestry and recreation. Hunting will be used to harvest excess animals.

(Amended 11/4/93)

RAPTORS

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission to:

  • I. Recognize that raptors, including vultures, hawks, eagles, falcons, kites, ospreys and owls, are part of California's native fauna, are integral to their ecosystems, and have intrinsic, ecological, scientific, educational, economic and recreational values.
  • II. It is the intent of the Commission to insure that raptor populations and their habitats shall be identified, monitored, maintained, restored and enhanced through research, management and protection by the Department and to insure that the utilization of or impacts to any population of raptor species will not contribute to its depletion in the wild.

In instances where depredation by raptors occurs, reasonable measures shall be taken by the landowner to protect his/her property before permission may be obtained to take depredating animals as authorized by federal law. However, taking of endangered or threatened species and the indiscriminate take of raptors shall not be permitted.

The Commission recognizes falconry, as authorized in the Fish and Game Code, as a legitimate use of this wildlife resource. The Commission recognizes that captive raptor breeding programs may be an important management tool in the re-establishment of endangered or threatened species in the wild.

Species found to be endangered or threatened shall receive maximum protection and management effort to ensure their survival.

(Amended 12/3/93)

UPLAND GAME

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission to:

Conserve, restore, maintain and enhance upland game habitat and to maintain Upland game populations at optimum levels on public and private lands within California. The Department's Upland Game Program shall be aggressively carried out in a manner that is consistent with Section 1801 of the Fish and Game Code and in accordance with the objectives and elements stated in each of the appropriate "Upland Game Species Management Plans" required below.

  • I. Species Plans: Management plans developed for each of the state's upland game species shall be updated periodically. Annual summaries for each year's accomplishments should be prepared to facilitate updating and to track plan task schedules. The goals of these plans include the restoration, maintenance and enhancement of upland game populations at the highest levels of diversity, distribution and density commensurate with the optimum management opportunities on both public and private lands. The plans shall include the following kinds of information:
    • A. Compilation of available scientific information on distribution and identification of critical habitats, as well as recommendations for implementing objective programs for obtaining updated population status indices.
    • B. A comprehensive prioritized list of biologically feasible proactive management alternatives with cost estimates which, when implemented, would provide for the restoration of upland game population to optimum levels in suitable habitats statewide.
    • C. Specific recommendations for an aggressive program to encourage and assist the private sector and state, federal, county and local land management agencies and districts in the development and maintenance of upland game habitat, and to provide increased public hunting opportunities.
  • II. Programs
    • A. The Department shall continue the process of reviewing the current upland game management opportunities on lands under its control. The management of the Department's lands should be an example and be a model for what can be done to maximize habitat development opportunities and upland game populations.
    • Where and when feasible, habitat on Department-controlled lands shall be managed for upland game species to maximize upland game hunting opportunities. This shall include the use of "put and take hunting programs" where feasible, as well as the prudent use of naturally produced birds.
    • B. The Department shall provide the public with timely information through news releases, publications, etc., on upland game hunting opportunities on Department-controlled lands.
    • C. The Department shall encourage and work closely with state, federal, and local public land management agencies and districts in the development and maintenance of upland game habitat and hunting opportunities.
    • D. Where and when feasible, the Department shall provide wild trapped upland game birds to public and private land management agencies and districts and individuals for release in broodstock purposes on lands that will be open to public hunting or for Department relocation programs when self-sustaining populations have been established.
      The Department shall provide the Commission with an annual report regarding implementation of this policy.
  • III. Game Bird Heritage: To better assist the Department's Regions in the direction and scope of upland game projects, opportunities and educational programs, the Regional Offices would submit proposals to the GBH Advisory Subcommittee for an informal review before GBH funds are allocated. This will provide partners to assist the Department with projects and help GBH managers to rate projects for funding.

(Adopted 6/23/1989, Amended 12/3/1993, 12/2/2004)

WILD PIGS

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It is the policy of the Fish and Game Commission that:

The wild pig population of the State must be controlled to minimize the threat of increasing damage to California's native plant and animals, to agricultural operations and to park and recreational activities from the foraging habits of the animals.

Consistent with State law and regulations, the Department will prepare and recommend to the Commission regulations which enhance recreational hunting and facilitate the issuing of depredation permits and/or other legally available means to alleviate this problem.

(Amended 12/3/93)