Monday, January 25, 2016

California Deer Tag Numbers May Drop By 70,000

SACRAMENTO—On Jan. 8 the California Fish and Game Commission issued a proposed regulatory action that will change the number of deer tags issued in California. Instead of a set number of tags per zone, there is now a range of tag numbers, all of them except the B Zone far lower than currently allowed.

Currently, 196,980 deer tags are issued for the A, B, C, D and X zone general hunts in the state. The new figures allow for lowering that number to 127,000, or 69,980 fewer tags. That means the state is expecting deer herds to plummet.

"These ranges are necessary at this time because the final number of tags cannot be determined until spring herd data are collected in March/April. Because various environmental factors such as severe winter conditions can adversely affect herd recruitment and over-winter adult survival." Among those "environmental factors", although not mentioned, are depredation, especially by wolves as they spread across the state.

Elk tag numbers will also be managed the same way, the notice said. "In order to achieve appropriate harvest levels and maintain hunting quality it is necessary to annually adjust quotas (total number of tags) in response to dynamic environmental and biological conditions," read the notice. Those "dynamic" conditions being wolf packs in California combined with uncontrolled predation by mountain lions, bears and coyotes.

With such small elk herds in California already, they can be expected to be severely depleted or eliminated entirely as wolf numbers increase. Bighorn sheep tags will also be allocated as a "range" from a low number to a maximum high.

All of the archery and "additional hunt" tag allocations also fall into the new "range" system, and all of them are also far lower than currently allowed.

—Bill Karr
Western Outdoor News