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Public Lands Closures Affecting Hunters

Waterfowl Hunting Areas

It is common for waterfowl hunting areas to close periodically due to safety concerns caused by flooding. Areas that most commonly experience flood closures are: Sutter National Wildlife Refuge, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area, Delevan National Wildlife Refuge, Little Dry Creek and Howard Slough. Reservations for State-operated wildlife areas that are closed due to flooding will not be accepted at other hunting areas. Refunds will not be issued for applications submitted to areas that are closed or if reservations are not available. Closed areas may reopen later in the season if safety conditions improve.

CLOSED wildlife areas / refuges:

  • There are no wildlife area closures at this time.

link opens in new windowConditions at Imperial Wildlife Area, Wister Unit, May Impact Hunting Opportunities for Waterfowl Opener

link opens in new windowSTATUS OF POPULAR WILDLIFE AREAS (which are open or closed) (PDF)


Big Game Hunting Areas

Due to current fire conditions, fire closures and/or restrictions on public lands are expected for the 2018 hunting season.

CDFW Closures

  • Indian Valley Wildlife Area has reopened for all public use.  For information on access to the BLM properties in the area please see their link opens in new windowUkiah Field Office.
  • The east portion of Knoxville Wildlife Area (east of Knoxville-Berryessa Road) is CLOSED indefinitely due to the County Fire. The west portion of the wildlife area is open for public use.

Other Hunting Properties

If you plan to hunt USFS or BLM lands this year, it is important that you monitor the individual forest and/or resource area websites for updates on potential closures. Many private forestlands also provide public access for hunters and should be monitored for access closures. As of August 8, 2018, Sierra Pacific Industries (SPI) has closed all of its forestlands in California due to the extreme fire conditions. SPI will open their properties once conditions changes. For your convenience, we have provided links to the US Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the Incident Information System (which lists all fires):


Tag Refunds / Exchanges - UPDATED!

Deer tag exchanges are only processed at CDFW license sales offices.

Elk, pronghorn antelope, and bighorn sheep tags, can be returned to the CDFW License and Revenue Branch prior to the hunt opening day for a refund if the hunter is unable to hunt. A written request must accompany the tag surrender. If approved, the preference points used to obtain the tag will be retained and one preference point will be awarded for the species for the hunt year. ((CCR T14-708.14(k)).  

Deer tag fees are nonrefundable regardless of closures due to fire, weather or any other conditions (CCR T14-708.2).

Premium deer hunt tags cannot be exchanged, but customers unable to hunt may surrender their tag to the CDFW License and Revenue Branch prior to the season start date along with a written request. If approved, their preference points will be reinstated and one preference point will be awarded for the species for the hunt year ((CCR T14-708.14(j)). Premium tags are in those zones where the quota is met during the drawing (for example, all X zones).

Restricted and unrestricted deer tags may be exchanged at any CDFW license sales office if all of the following conditions are met (CCR T14-708.4):

  • The earliest season for the tag to be exchanged has not yet opened. In most cases this is archery season, but check season dates for confirmation.
  • The tag quota for the tag to be exchanged has not filled.
  • Tags are still available for the zone to be requested.
  • The exchange fee of $10.30 for the exchange tag accompanies your request.