Waterfowl Hunting Regulations
- Summary of Waterfowl Regulation Changes for 2022-2023
- Early Canada goose season in Balance of State Zone reduced to 3 days to allow for a 2-day late season in the same zone. • Most duck season lengths increased to 102 days.
NONLEAD AMMUNITION IS REQUIRED WHEN TAKING ANY WILDLIFE WITH A FIREARM ANYWHERE IN CALIFORNIA.
- Nonlead ammo regulations are in full effect, to understand the limitations fully please go to CDFW News Nonlead.
- The nonlead ammo requirement extends to the legal take of nongame birds and mammals and includes firearms used for depredation to take species causing property damage.
- Lead ammunition is allowed for target shooting where that activity is permitted.
- California is the first state in the nation to require nonlead ammunition for all firearms related hunting. Other states are further and further restricting use of lead ammunition.
- All ammunition in a hunter’s possession may be inspected by wildlife officers.
- CDFW strongly recommends that hunters acquire and practice with nonlead ammunition well before heading afield, particularly in advance of big game seasons, to make sure rifles are sighted in and to understand how their firearms perform with nonlead ammunition.
- Nonlead ammunition has been required for waterfowl hunting nationwide since 1991, and many California hunters already have made a voluntary change to nontoxic hunting ammunition due to health and environmental concerns.
- For more information, please visit CDFW’s Nonlead Ammunition in California webpage.
IT IS UNLAWFUL TO:
- Trespass while hunting. (FGC 2016)
- Litter in or within 150 feet of state waters or place the litter where it can pass into state waters. This includes empty shotgun shells going into state waters and not retrieved. (FGC 5652)
- Hunt or discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling (safety zone) without permission of the owner or the person in control of the property. (FGC 3004)
- Take waterfowl or resident small game with a shotgun capable of holding more than 3 shells. (CCR T14-311(a), 507)
- Transport game birds without fully feathered head or wing attached. (CCR T14-251.7)
- Waste the carcass of any game bird or mammal. (FGC 4304) • Hunt over bait. (CCR T14-257.5, 509)
- Hunt on a state or federal wildlife area without the proper permit when required. (CCR T14-550, 551)
- Use an electronic calling device when taking waterfowl. (CCR T14-507)
- Use live decoys when hunting waterfowl. (CCR T14-507)
- Transfer any license, tag, stamp, permit, application or reservation to another person. (FGC 1052)
- Shoot unauthorized nongame birds. (FGC 3800)
- Use any mammal (except a dog) or an imitation of a mammal as a blind in approaching or taking game birds. (FGC 3502)
- Use or possess any license, tag, stamp, permit, application or reservation that was not lawfully issued to the user; or alter, mutilate deface, duplicate or counterfeit any license, tag, stamp, permit, application or reservation. (FGC 1052)
- Fail to exhibit upon demand to any peace officer, all licenses, tags, and wildlife and devices capable of being used to take wildlife. (FGC 2012)
- Prohibit a Warden from inspecting any boat, market, or receptacle where fish or wildlife may be found. (FGC 1006)
- Hunt without your hunting license in possession. (CCR T14-700)
- Use a fishing or hunting license that is not completely filled out.
- Possess fish or wildlife taken unlawfully. (FGC 2002)
- Take fish or wildlife in violation of any section of law. (FGC 2000)
- Import into the state any dead animal taken in hunting or fishing without completing Form DFW 901 Declaration of Importation (CCR T14-712/5)
INTERSTATE WILDLIFE VIOLATOR COMPACT
The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement between 44 states, which allows for the reciprocal recognition of hunting, fishing and trapping license suspensions. If your license privileges have been suspended by another state, the suspension may be recognized here in California. For example, if your sport fishing, hunting or trapping privileges have been suspended in Colorado for five years, your privileges may also be suspended for five years in California or any of the states participating in the IWVC. The purchase of licenses or tags during the term of the suspension is a violation of the law and may result in prosecution.
STATEWIDE AND ZONE WATERFOWL REGULATIONS
502. Waterfowl, Migratory; American Coot and Common Moorhen (Common Gallinule).
- Dark geese. Dark geese include Canada geese, cackling geese, Aleutian geese and white-fronted geese (“specklebelly”).
- Large Canada geese. Large Canada geese include western Canada geese (“honker”) and lesser Canada geese (“lessers”).
- Small Canada geese. Small (about the size of a mallard) Canada geese include cackling geese and Aleutian geese. Both are white-cheeked geese nearly identical in appearance to Large Canada geese. Aleutian geese have a thin white neck ring and Cackling geese have dark breasts. Both species have a high-pitched cackle as opposed to the deeper “honking”.
- White geese. White geese include Ross’ geese, snow geese and blue phase of both species.
(b) Waterfowl Hunting Zones.
- Northeastern California Zone: In that portion of California lying east and north of a line beginning at the intersection of Interstate 5 with the California-Oregon state line; south along Interstate 5 to its junction with Walters Lane south of the town of Yreka; west along Walters Lane to its junction with Easy Street; south along Easy Street to the junction with Old Highway 99; south along Old Highway 99 to the point of intersection with Interstate 5 north of the town of Weed; south along Interstate 5 to its junction with Highway 89; east and south along Highway 89 to Main Street in Greenville; north and east to its junction with North Valley Road; south to its junction of Diamond Mountain Road; north and east to its junction with North Arm Road; south and west to the junction of North Valley Road; south to the junction with Arlington Road (A22); west to the junction of Highway 89; south and west to the junction of Highway 70; east on Highway 70 to Highway 395; south and east on Highway 395 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line; north along the California-Nevada state line to the junction of the California- Nevada-Oregon state lines west along the California-Oregon state line to the point of origin.
- Southern San Joaquin Valley Zone: All of Kings and Tulare counties and that portion of Kern County north of the Southern California Zone.
- Southern California Zone: In that portion of southern California (but excluding the Colorado River zone) lying south and east of a line beginning at the mouth of the Santa Maria River at the Pacific Ocean; east along the Santa Maria River to where it crosses Highway 101-166 near the City of Santa Maria; continue north on 101- 166; east on Highway 166 to the junction with Highway 99; south on Highway 99 to the junction of Interstate 5; south on Interstate 5 to the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains at Tejon Pass; east and north along the crest of the Tehachapi Mountains to where it intersects Highway 178 at Walker Pass; east on Highway 178 to the junction of Highway 395 at the town of Inyokern; south on Highway 395 to the junction of Highway 58; east on Highway 58 to the junction of Interstate 15; east on Interstate 15 to the junction with Highway 127; north on Highway 127 to the point of intersection with the California-Nevada state line.
- Colorado River Zone: In those portions of San Bernardino, Riverside, and Imperial counties lying east of the following lines: Beginning at the intersection of Nevada State Highway 95 with the CaliforniaNevada state line; south along Highway 95 through the junction with Highway 40; continue south on Highway 95 to Vidal Junction; south through the town of Rice to the San Bernardino-Riverside county line on a road known as “Aqueduct Road” also known as Highway 62 in San Bernardino County; southwest on Highway 62 to Desert Center Rice Road; south on Desert Center Rice Road/Highway 177 to the town of Desert Center; continue east 31 miles on Interstate 10 to its intersection with the Wiley Well Road; south on this road to Wiley Well; southeast along the Milpitas Wash Road to the Blythe, Brawley, Davis Lake intersections; south on the Blythe Ogilby Road also known as County Highway 34 to its intersection with Ogilby Road; south on this road to Highway 8; east seven miles on Highway 8 to its intersection with the Andrade-Algodones Road/Highway 186; south on this paved road to the intersection of the Mexican boundary line at Los Algodones, Mexico.
- Balance of State Zone: That portion of the state not included in Northeastern California, Southern California, Colorado River or the Southern San Joaquin Valley zones.
- Special Management Areas
- North Coast. All of Del Norte and Humboldt counties.
- Humboldt Bay South Spit (West Side). Beginning at the intersection of the north boundary of Table Bluff County Park and the South Jetty Road; north along the South Jetty Road to the South Jetty; west along the South Jetty to the mean low water line of the Pacific Ocean; south along the mean low water line to its intersection with the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park; east along the north boundary of the Table Bluff County Park to the point of origin.
- Klamath Basin. Beginning at the intersection of Highway 161 and Highway 97; east on Highway 161 to Hill Road; south on Hill Road to N Dike Road West Side; east on N Dike Road West Side until the junction of the Lost River; north on N Dike Road West Side until the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway; east on Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway until N Dike Road East Side; south on the N Dike Road East Side; continue east on N Dike Road East Side to Highway 111; south on Highway 111/Great Northern Road to Highway 120/Highway 124; west on Highway 120/Highway 124 to Hill Road; south on Hill Road until Lairds Camp Road; west on Lairds Camp Road until Willow Creek; west and south on Willow Creek to Red Rock Road; west on Red Rock Road until Meiss Lake Road/ Old State Highway; north on Meiss Lake Road/Old State Highway to Highway 97; north on Highway 97 to the point of origin.
- Sacramento Valley. Beginning at the town of Willows; south on Interstate 5 to the junction with Hahn Road; east on Hahn Road and the GrimesArbuckle Road to the town of Grimes; north on Highway 45 to its junction with Highway 162; north on Highway 45-162 to the town of Glenn; west on Highway 162 to the point of beginning.
- Morro Bay. Beginning at a point where the high tide line intersects the State Park boundary west of Cuesta by the Sea; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line at the end of Mitchell Drive in Baywood Park; northeasterly to a point 200 yards offshore of the high tide line west of the Morro Bay State Park Boundary, adjacent to Baywood Park; north to a point 300 yards south of the high tide line at the end of White Point; north along a line 400 yards offshore of the south boundary of the Morro Bay City limit to a point adjacent to Fairbanks Point; northwesterly to the high tide line on the sand spit; southerly along the high tide line of the sand spit to the south end of Morro Bay; easterly along the Park boundary at the high tide line to the beginning point.
- Martis Creek Lake. The waters and shoreline of Martis Creek Lake, Placer and Nevada counties.
- Northern Brant. Del Norte, Humboldt and Mendocino counties.
- Balance of State Brant. That portion of the state not included in the Northern Brant Special Management Area.
- Imperial County. Beginning at Highway 86 and the Navy Test Base Road; south on Highway 86 to the town of Westmoreland; continue through the town of Westmoreland to Route S26; east on Route S26 to Highway 115; north on Highway 115 to Weist Rd.; north on Weist Rd. to Flowing Wells Rd.; northeast on Flowing Wells Rd. to the Coachella Canal; northwest on the Coachella Canal to Drop 18; a straight line from Drop 18 to Frink Rd.; south on Frink Rd. to Highway 111; north on Highway 111 to Niland Marina Rd.; southwest on Niland Marina Rd. to the old Imperial County boat ramp and the water line of the Salton Sea; from the water line of the Salton Sea, a straight line across the Salton Sea to the Salinity Control Research Facility and the Navy Test Base Road; southwest on the Navy Test Base Road to the point of beginning.
Waterfowl Consumption Health Warnings
The California Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) determines whether a public health hazard may exist from consumption of waterfowl taken from certain locations in California based on laboratory testing data. The following advisories have been issued. The guidelines are based on risk estimates that assume long-term consumption; thus, occasional intake of duck meat slightly above the recommended quantitative limits is not expected to produce a health hazard.
GRASSLANDS AREA (Western Merced County)
Because of elevated selenium levels, no one should eat more than 4 oz. of duck meat from the Grasslands area in any two-week period. No one should eat livers of duck from the area.
SUISUN BAY (Contra Costa and Solano counties)
Because of elevated selenium levels, no one should eat more than 4 oz. per week of (greater and lesser) scaup meat or scoter meat in any two-week period. No one should eat livers of duck from the area.
SAN PABLO BAY (Contra Costa, Marin, Solano, Sonoma counties)
Because of elevated selenium levels, no one should eat more than 4 oz. per week of greater scaup or scoter meat in any two-week period from the bay. No one should eat livers of duck from the area.
SAN FRANCISCO BAY (Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara counties)
Because of elevated selenium levels, no one should eat more than 4 oz. per week of greater scaup meat from the central bay, or more than 4 oz. per week of greater scaup meat from the south bay in any two-week period. No one should eat livers of duck from the area.
The use of live birds as decoys is prohibited.
506. SHOOTING HOURS.
Shooting hours for migratory game birds, including mourning doves, white-winged doves, band-tailed pigeons, American coots, common moorhens, common snipe (jacksnipe), and waterfowl for all of California shall be from one- half hour before sunrise to sunset.
EXCEPTION: In areas open to hunting on, over or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County, the shooting time shall be from 7:00 a.m. to sunset.
507. PROVISIONS RELATED TO THE TAKING OF MIGRATORY GAME BIRDS [as defined in Section 502 but also includes mourning doves, white-winged doves, band-tailed pigeons, and snipe.]
(A) Authorized Methods Only the following methods may be used to take migratory game birds:
- Bow and Arrows or Crossbows. Only arrows or crossbow bolts with flu-flu fletching may be used except that conventionally fletched arrows may be used to take waterfowl sitting on the water from scullboats or similar watercraft.
- Muzzle-loading Shotguns.
- Shotguns 10 Gauge or Smaller. Shotguns 10 gauge or smaller using shot shells only and incapable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined may be used, except no shotgun larger than 12 gauge shall be used in areas open to hunting on, over or adjacent to the waters of Morro Bay, San Luis Obispo County. If a plug is used to reduce the capacity of a magazine to fulfill the requirements of this section, the plug must be of one piece construction incapable of removal without disassembling the gun. Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than T shot in steel or other nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. All shot shall be loose in the shell.
(B) Use of Dogs. Dogs may be used to take and retrieve migratory game birds.
(C) Prohibition on Electronically operated Devices. Electronic or mechanically-operated calling or sound-reproducing devices are prohibited when attempting to take migratory game birds. It is unlawful to use devices that are either electronically-powered, or activated by anything other than natural wind, to directly or indirectly cause rotation of decoy wings or blades that simulate wings, when attempting to take waterfowl between the start of the season and November 30th.
(D) Live Decoy Prohibition. The use of live decoys is prohibited when attempting to take migratory game birds.
507.1 NONTOXIC SHOT REQUIREMENT FOR WATERFOWL, AMERICAN COOT AND COMMON MOORHEN HUNTING.
Only bismuth-tin, steel, copper-plated steel, nickelplated steel, tin-plated steel, zinc-plated steel, zinc chloride-plated steel, zinc chromate plated steel, iron-tungsten, iron-tungsten-nickel, tungstenbronze, tungsten-iron-copper-nickel, tungstenmatrix, tungsten-polymer, tungsten-tin-iron, tungsten-tin-bismuth, tungsten-tin-iron-nickel, and tungsten-iron-polymer or other nontoxic shot approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may be used or possessed for waterfowl, American coot and common moorhen hunting statewide.
NOTE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reviews and may approve applications for other types of non-toxic shot throughout the year. Other non-toxic shot types that may have been approved after the publication of this booklet may be found at: FWS Approved Shot Types
507.5. SCULL BOATS.
Migratory game birds may not be taken by a scull boat or similar watercraft while under motorized power. The motor shall be removed from its mountings before any take or approach is attempted. This section shall not prohibit shooting migratory game birds from scull boats or similar watercraft with motor attached if beached or anchored; nor shall it prohibit the use of a motor for the sole purpose of picking up dead or injured birds.
509. CONCURRENCE WITH FEDERAL REGULATIONS.
(A) The regulations adopted by the United States through its Secretary of Interior under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, as amended annually in Part 10, subparts A and B, and Part 20, Title 50, Code of Federal Regulations, are hereby adopted and made a part of this Title 14 except where said federal regulations are less restrictive than the provisions of Chapter 7 of this Title 14 (sections 500-509), the provisions of Chapter 7 prevail.
(B) Any violations of the regulations adopted pursuant to subsection (a) are violations of this section.
(C) It shall be unlawful for any person aged sixteen years or older to take any migratory waterfowl unless at the time of such taking the person carries in his or her immediate possession an unexpired Federal migratory-bird hunting and conservation stamp validated by his or her signature written by him or herself in ink across the face of the stamp or an unexpired Federal migratory-bird hunting and conservation electronic stamp, issued in his or her name prior to any taking of such birds.