Pacific Southwest Region
California, Nevada and Klamath Basin

Hunters Look Forward to a Good Waterfowl Season on Refuges in 2011-2012

Aug 23, 2011

August 24, 2011                                                                                  

Erica Szlosek, 916-978-6159, 
Sarah Swenty, 916-414-6571,

Waterfowl Hunters Look Forward to a Good Season on Refuges in 2011-2012

SACRAMENTO -- Waterfowl hunting season is almost here, and signs point to a good year on national wildlife refuges.

The preliminary 2011 North American waterfowl survey, released by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in late July, totaled 45.5 million, up 12 percent from last year’s 40.8 million. These counts are based on aerial surveys of breeding waterfowl conducted annually since 1955, and each year the information helps determine the hunting regulations on season length, dates and bag limits.

Several hundred of the country’s 553 national wildlife refuges welcome waterfowl hunting as a traditional recreational use and wildlife management tool under the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997. Many hunters in the west name refuges such as the Sacramento and Lower Klamath in California among their favorite waterfowl hunting destinations.

At scenic Lower Klamath Refuge, established as the nation’s first waterfowl refuge in 1908, hunt program coordinator Stacy Freitas says it’s easy to see the refuge’s appeal to hunters. “We are one of the first stops in the Pacific Flyway when birds return in the fall from nesting areas in Canada,” says the biological science technician. Ducks and geese flock to the refuge’s marshes and grain fields located in the shadow of 14,000-foot Mt. Shasta. Some hunters take aim from refuge pit blinds and free-roam areas; Freitas and her husband prefer to shoot from a layout boat. “For most hunters, it’s not just about shooting birds,” she says. “It’s about watching the sunrise, listening to nature, the whole experience. You kind of feel one with nature, but hopefully you get dinner out of the process.”

At the Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge Complex near Willows, huntable species include canvasback, redheads, scaup, pintails and shovelers, as well as greater white-fronted geese and Canada geese. American coot and moorhens are also common game during duck season. The hunting areas on Sacramento and Delevan National Wildlife Refuges are divided into two portions -- a spaced hunting area and a free roaming area. Colusa and Sutter National Wildlife Refuges are divided into two portions -- an assigned pond area and a free roaming area. Hunting areas can be reached by foot or by boat. An accessible hunt blind is available for hunters with a disability.

All waterfowl hunters, 16 years of age and older, must buy a $15 federal duck stamp each year; the proceeds support wetland conservation. Hunters also need a current state license and, in some cases, a refuge hunting permit. Hunters must use non-toxic, lead-free shot.

Your Guide to Hunting on National Wildlife Refuges can help you find a hunt location and the conditions you want.

Wildlife refuges popular with waterfowl hunters in California include:

Clear Lake National Wildlife Refuge
Colusa National Wildlife Refuge
Delevan National Wildlife Refuge
Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Humboldt Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Kern National Wildlife Refuge
Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge
Merced National Wildlife Refuge
Modoc National Wildlife Refuge
Sacramento National Wildlife Refuge
Sacramento River National Wildlife Refuge
Salinas River National Wildlife Refuge
San Luis National Wildlife Refuge
San Pablo Bay National Wildlife Refuge
Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge
Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge
Sutter National Wildlife Refuge
Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge

More 2011 waterfowl hunting information is available from the Division of Migratory Bird Management and the Office of Law Enforcement websites.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants, and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals, and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit Connect with our Facebook page, follow our tweets, watch our YouTube Channel, and download photos from our Flickr page.

-- FWS --