California Outdoors Q&A

What happened to premium big game tags?
  • May 19, 2022
hunter in camouflage looking through binoculars

Fundraising tags

Q: Last year, hunters could apply for a draw for several premium big game tags that aren’t usually available to the public. This year, I haven’t heard anything about that opportunity. Did the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) stop doing this? What happened to the premium fundraising tags?

A: CDFW has authority to make special big game tags for deer, elk, desert bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope available for the purpose of raising funds for programs and projects that benefit big game species. These fundraising tags have historically been available through two processes: auctions conducted by nonprofit organizations to raise funds on behalf of CDFW, and through random draw raffle in the CDFW licensing system.

Nonprofits compete for the tags made available through a solicitation by submitting an application to CDFW. The nonprofits that are awarded tags can then auction or raffle the tags to raise funds on behalf of CDFW for projects and programs that benefit big game species. These tags are very popular at their fundraising dinners and other events, often drawing many bidders and bringing in many thousands of dollars. The nonprofit is allowed to retain five percent of the amount. The remainder is returned to CDFW and deposited into the Big Game Management Account to support big game conservation.

Several of these premium fundraising tags have also been made available to members of the public through the CDFW licensing system, through purchase of a random draw opportunity. Last year, the application fee for an opportunity to win one of the fundraising tags was $7.01. In 2021, the number of fundraising tags available through CDFW was unprecedented because of nonprofits having to cancel events due to the pandemic.

This year, all the fundraising tags were made available to nonprofits who are returning to normal operations and scheduling their in-person fundraising events to support their conservation work. Although the direct-to-the-public option is not available this year, we recognize that there is much interest in bringing this option back. CDFW is looking into this possibility and feasibility to make it a regular, annual option.

Native plants

Q: What kind of work does CDFW’s Native Plant Program do?

A: The Native Plant Program is a component of CDFW’s Habitat Conservation Planning Branch. The program coordinates CDFW’s statewide plant conservation efforts, issues scientific, educational and management permits for state-listed plants, manages grants for plant research and conservation through the Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund (section 6) of the federal Endangered Species Act, evaluates petitions to protect plant species under the California Endangered Species Act and provides education and outreach regarding California’s native plants.

Mussel stickers

Q: I went to renew my boat registration for an upcoming fishing trip on the Delta and found out I had to pay an extra $16 for a new invasive mussel sticker. What gives?

A: Neither the sticker nor the fee is new. What is new is the process for acquiring the Mussel Fee Sticker to place on your boat.

Prior to September 2021, boat owners simply purchased their Mussel Fee Sticker either from the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or a third party and within the same transaction as their boat registration renewal. Beginning in September 2021, the Mussel Fee Sticker must be purchased directly from DMV and through a separate transaction. This process was changed to align with federal requirements. Boat owners can purchase the Mussel Fee Sticker directly from DMV’s website at or through their local DMV office.

The Mussel Fee Sticker – also known as the Quagga Sticker – funds statewide quagga and zebra mussel prevention efforts. Recreational boat owners are required to purchase and display a current sticker if their boat will be used in fresh water. This includes inland waterways, rivers, lakes, reservoirs, wetlands and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. DMV will provide two stickers at the time of purchase, one for each side of the boat’s hull. Unless used exclusively in marine (salt) waters or specifically exempted by law, owners of motorized recreational vessels used in freshwater are mandated to display a current sticker.

Quagga and zebra mussels pose serious risks and costs to you as a recreational boat owner. The mussels can block your boat’s engine and cause overheating, increase the drag on the bottom of your boat and jam your boat’s steering equipment. The spread of these invasive freshwater mussels also threatens aquatic ecosystems and the fisheries so many anglers enjoy.

In addition to purchasing the Mussel Fee Sticker, boaters can contribute to prevention efforts by making sure to clean, drain and dry their vessels. For more information, please see CDFW’s news release on boat registration and mussel stickers. California State Parks’ Division of Boating and Waterways has a helpful Frequently Asked Questions document online about the new process.


Categories: General

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