Changes To California Regs — Antelope Tags Slashed
The state Fish and Game Commission has approved addition of a new north coast elk hunt, eliminated the bear tag sales quota, and altered the deer seasons in northern zones B6 and X1.

The DFG said a telephone conference vote by commissioners finalized the new mammal hunting and trapping regulations for July 1, 2000, through June 30, 2002.

For the north state's Region 1, the commission voted to add a third north coast Roosevelt elk hunt to be hosted by Simpson Timber Company in the Big Lagoon area. All three hunts are on Simpson property and one of the three also includes land owned by Stimpson Redwood Company.

Hunters will be able to apply for the new hunt — to be held August 30 through September 8 — by reaching the DFG's license office in Sacramento with their applications no later than June 2. The deadline is the same for all drawing hunts, including high-demand deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep hunts.

New 2000-2001 hunting licenses, deer tags and applications for all special big game hunts are available at DFG offices. The licenses and applications also may be obtained from license agents.

A new deer tag drawing system this year will pit first-choice applicants against only other first-choice applicants during the first round of tag selections. The new process makes it highly unlikely that a hunter who writes in a high-demand deer zone or special hunt as a second or third choice will be drawn for the hunt, the DFG said.

In addition to approving the new coast elk hunt, the state commission voted Thursday to take the 18,000-tag cap off the sale of black bear hunting tags. Regardless of the number of bear tags sold, the annual fall bear hunting season closure is triggered when the reported kill reaches 1,500 bears.

In the deer hunting arena, commissioners agreed to cut a week off the end of the western Siskiyou County B6 deer season because of a sub-par ratio of bucks to does over the past three years. They also voted to shift the nearby X1 deer season so it coincides with northeastern zones X2-X6b. This year that season is October 7-22.

To the south of Region 1, deer hunters will be able to hunt in zones D3 through D5 with a new "D3-D5" tag, the latest DFG recommendation in keeping with the trend toward combining zones with similar herds under one tag. The "one-tag-fits-all" concept, Fish and Game said, is designed to provide hunters as much geographic freedom as possible while maintaining herd management goals.

The Region 1 office said commissioners approved a slight reduction in tag quotas for the nine northeastern X zones and a sizable cut for this year's special northeastern pronghorn antelope hunt. No doe tags will be issued for the antelope hunt this year, in part because the herds have not yet rebounded from the 1993 winter kill.

Quotas for the northern B and C zones, including the late G1 hunt in Tehama County's zone C4, remain virtually the same as they were in 1999, with a total of 71,0000 tags available, compared with 71,500 last year. The X-zone tag totals for this year will be 5,850, down 210 from the 1999 total.

On the pronghorn side of the ledger, cuts have been more severe. In addition to eliminating any doe kill this year, the quotas provide for a reduction to 193 buck tags — 185 rifle and eight archery — for this year's season. Last year, the program offered a total of 548 tags, including 352 for bucks and 35 archery tags.

Hunters last year bucked average odds of 40 to 1 in attempting to draw a tag for one of the four Region 1 special Roosevelt elk hunts. For the northeastern antelope hunts, average odds against drawing a buck tag for rifle season were 29 to 1.

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