Drought Forces Closure of Shasta Valley Wildlife Area to Waterfowl Hunting; Other Northeastern Waterfowl Properties Impacted by Water Shortages
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has announced that the Shasta Valley Wildlife Area in Siskiyou County will be closed to waterfowl hunting for the entirety of the 2022-23 season as a result of lost wetlands and waterfowl habitat due to ongoing drought conditions.
The Northeastern Zone waterfowl season runs from October 1, 2022, through January 11, 2023. The Shasta Valley Wildlife Area closure includes the preseason Northeastern Zone Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days scheduled for September 17-18, 2022, and the postseason Veterans and Active Military Personnel Waterfowl Hunting Days scheduled for January 14-15, 2023.
The 4,700-acre Shasta Valley Wildlife Area typically provides important seasonal wetlands for migrating waterfowl supplied by three reservoirs on the property. Two of those reservoirs – Steamboat Lake and Bass Lake – are completely dry and a third reservoir – Trout Lake – is at approximately 25 percent of capacity. Closing the wildlife area to all waterfowl hunting is necessary to protect the waterfowl using what limited habitat remains.
The Shasta Valley Wildlife Area will be open for upland game bird hunting for dove, quail, snipe and pheasant as regulations permit. Pheasant hunting is allowed only on Sundays during the season and will be by reservation only with no walk-ins, sweat line or refills. A Type A Season Pass or Type B Season Pass is required for all non-Junior Hunting License holders. Reservation applications for Sunday pheasant hunts are available at CDFW’s Online License Sales and Services website. Shasta Valley’s annual apprentice pheasant hunt for Junior Hunting License holders will take place Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. The area will be closed to all hunting Sunday, December 25, 2022, in observance of the Christmas holiday.
Waterfowl hunting opportunities will vary at other Northeastern Zone state and federal lands popular with duck and goose hunters. Hunters are strongly advised to call ahead in preparing for any Northeastern Zone waterfowl hunt. Other popular public waterfowl hunting areas in the Northeastern Zone include:
Ash Creek Wildlife Area
A bright spot among Northeastern Zone public hunting areas, Ash Creek expects its wetlands to be mostly flooded for waterfowl season due to its combination of spring-fed creeks and groundwater supplies. Reservations are required to hunt the opening weekend, October 1-2, along with a Type A or Type B Season Pass for all non-Junior Hunting License holders. Ash Creek also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. No reservations or other check-in procedures required. (530) 294-5824.
Butte Valley Wildlife Area
Butte Valley began pumping groundwater in July to flood its seasonal wetlands in time for the Northeastern Zone waterfowl opener. Butte Valley expects to have 600 or 700 acres flooded by opening day. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend along with a Type A or Type B Season Pass for all non-Junior Hunting License holders. Butte Valley also will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis. (530) 398-4627.
Honey Lake Wildlife Area
Another option for youth hunters, the Honey Lake Wildlife Area Fleming Unit will be open for the preseason Youth Waterfowl Hunting Days on a walk-in basis though hunters will find far fewer wetlands than in 2021-22. The Dakin Unit will be dry this upcoming season – though still open to dry field waterfowl hunting and upland game bird hunting. The Fleming Unit will see just about 25 percent of its seasonal wetlands flooded by the October 1 season opener. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B Season Pass is required of all non-Junior Hunting License holders. (530) 254-6644.
Willow Creek Wildlife Area
This 2,700-acre wildlife area north of Susanville in Lassen County expects 250 acres of huntable, flooded wetlands by the Northeastern Zone season opener Oct. 1. Reservations are required to hunt opening weekend. A Type A or Type B Season Pass is required of all non-Junior Hunting License holders. No preseason youth hunt will take place. (530) 254-6644.
Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
Water conditions have improved at the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge outside of Alturas and the refuge will once again welcome youth waterfowl hunters Sept. 17-18 after having to cancel its youth hunt last season. The youth waterfowl hunt at Modoc is only open to reservation holders. The refuge’s Northeastern Zone general season opener is also on schedule but with a reduced quota of 50 hunters for opening weekend. Opening weekend Oct. 1-2, like the youth shoot before it, is only open to reservation holders. After opening weekend, Modoc is open to waterfowl hunting on a walk-in, self-registration basis. Shoot days are Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. (530) 233-3572.
Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has announced that the Tule Lake and Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuges will be closed to all public upland game bird and waterfowl hunting during the fall and winter 2022-23 hunting seasons. Beginning September 17, 2022, and continuing through March 10, 2023, the closure applies to all upland game bird seasons, the entirety of the Northeastern Zone waterfowl season, and special group waterfowl hunts, including youth, veterans and women’s hunts, and late-season duck and goose hunts. The decision to close the hunt season was based on the ongoing and severe drought conditions and the lack of available habitat, including food, water and shelter to support upland game birds and migratory water birds. For more information, please call the USFWS Hunter Hotline at (458) 232-6123.
CDFW Photo: Youth hunter at the Modoc National Wildlife Refuge.
Steve Burton, CDFW Northern Region, (530) 340-0104
Peter Tira, CDFW Communications, (916) 215-3858