2020 CDFW Wildlife Area Operational Changes due to COVID-19

Spending time in the outdoors is beneficial to our overall health and wellness. Now more than ever, we understand the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature. As a result, the Department plans to operate wildlife areas and refuges to provide recreational opportunities for the 2020 hunting seasons while keeping hunters and Department staff safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We intend to keep areas open as long as visitors implement required health and safety practices.

As the 2020 hunting season takes place, the Department will implement the following procedures for public and staff health and safety. Please remember the Department may need to update these provisions to ensure consistency with the latest state and local guidelines and directives.

Health and Safety/Sanitation

  • Please consider conducting a home health screening (link opens in new windowSymptom Screener) before visiting a wildlife area/refuge for hunting or other recreational purposes.
  • All staff and members of the public are required to wear masks and maintain a minimum of six feet distance from others while conducting check station business and participating in recreational programs, including hunting.
  • Staff and the public are encouraged to practice appropriate link opens in new windowhand hygiene.
  • Most non-portable restrooms will be closed to the public. Portable restrooms will be provided.
  • Handwashing and/or hand sanitizer stations will be provided near all restrooms. Please bring your own supplies for use in areas where stations are not available.
  • Please consider bringing your own cleaning supplies to pre-clean and post-clean portable restrooms and blinds
  • Please plan to carry out your own trash

Hunting Reservations and Lotteries

The Department does not anticipate changes to the current system of applying for and receiving reservations to hunt on wildlife areas and federal refuges through the Automated License Data System (ALDS). To fill vacancies created by reservation holders who are absent at check-in the morning of a shoot day, the Department utilizes in-person lotteries or first-come-first-served (FCFS) waiting lists. The Department will implement the following changes to in-person lottery and FCFS procedures for the 2020-21 waterfowl season:

  • Hunters will be allowed to apply for only one in-person lottery/FCFS list per shoot day.
  • Lottery hours may be adjusted and coordinated to facilitate this change across all regional check stations.
  • At most areas, all hunters in a party will be required to apply for a lottery or FCFS entry in-person.
  • Controls will be established in the check station area and parking lots to increase physical distancing among hunters and staff. Controls may include parking markers, directional signage, requiring hunters to remain in vehicles, plexiglass barriers, extended counter tops, ground markers, etc.
  • To allow for slower processing times, check-in for hunters holding reservations and for lottery or FCFS opportunities may begin earlier than usual.
  • Hunters should contact wildlife area staff for site-specific information not found on this web page.
  • To minimize the number of hunters congregating around the check stations, lottery and FCFS check-in will begin at a set time as opposed to immediately after reservation-holders are checked in (e.g. 1.5 hours before shoot time).
  • Hunters will be asked to remain in their vehicles until called by staff to check in or check out by number.

In the Field and Check-out

  • Controls for hunter/visitor check-out will be in place to minimize contact between hunters and staff, which may include drop boxes for collecting permits and harvest report cards.
  • Staff inspecting harvested birds will wear masks and gloves and maintain appropriate distance from hunters.
  • Each hunter should carry and present their own bird strap to facilitate safe check-out procedures.
  • These measures may result in delayed posting of harvest results.

RV Camping

  • CDFW will accept RV Camping applications, where applicable, for the 2020-2021 hunt season. However, a final decision about whether to allow RV camping has not yet been made. If the decision is made to cancel camping, applicants will be contacted in advance of the season.
  • If RV camping is allowed, visitors with camping reservations will be contacted before their scheduled arrival to confirm their reservation and to ask if they or someone in their household is exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. If the visitor answers in the affirmative their reservation will be rescheduled or canceled.
  • RV Camping operations, if allowed, will be consistent with local, state, and federal public health guidelines.