California's Huge Elk Zone
Hunters lucky enough to draw one of 15 tags this year will be able to roam over 8 million acres of northeastern California habitat in pursuit of an elk, according to mammal hunting regulations approved by the state Fish and Game Commission.

By far the geographically largest elk hunting zone in the state, the new territory for the Northeastern California elk hunt — generally between the Oregon state line and Burney and between Nevada and Interstate 5 — will mark the first time in state history that legal elk hunting will take place in the northeastern corner of the California.

The Department of Fish and Game's Region 1 office said approval of the new hunt was voted by the state Fish and Game Commission during adoption, via telephone conference call, of new mammal hunting regulations for the coming two hunt seasons.

The new rules will be effective from July 1, 2002, through June 30, 2004, the DFG said. Fish and Game offices and license agent outlets are now equipped with new hunting licenses, with applications for bear, deer, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep hunting and with direct-buy deer tags.

Resident costs this year are $31 for a hunting license, $19.95 for a one-deer tag application and $25.20 for a second-deer application. Deadline for reaching the DFG's Sacramento license office with applications for high-demand deer hunts and for antelope, elk and bighorn hunts is June 3.

The DFG's Region 1 office said the Northeastern California elk hunt, a greatly expanded version of the former Shasta elk hunt, will be one of seven individual elk hunts within the eight-county region scheduled during August and September. Commissioners also expanded the territory and tag numbers of the Marble Mountains elk hunt, one of the seven, the DFG said.

Approved for the Northeastern elk hunt are 10 either-sex rifle tags for a September 18-29 hunt and five either-sex archery tags for a September 4-15 hunt. The Marble Mountains hunt tag quota will be bumped from 30 to 40 either-sex permits.

Fish and Game said the large Northeastern California hunt area contains about 750 elk, including both Rocky Mountain and Roosevelt subspecies. Although not uniformly distributed over the hunt zone, the animals have been expanding their northeastern range in recent years, biologists report.

Commission action also established a new, single archery-only tag that must be used to hunt the early archery seasons for north-central deer zones C1-C4. The usual separate, generic "C" tag will be required for hunters pursuing deer during the general rifle seasons.

A quota of 2,500 was established for the C-zones archery tags, to be labeled "A1" tags. The rifle quota remains at 11,500 tags.

In other action, commissioners approved:

• An increase from 1,500 to 1,700 for the statewide kill quota that triggers closure of the California bear hunting season when hunters reach the quota.

• A change in the structure of the special Big Lagoon elk hunt in Humboldt County, this year offering 12 bull and 13 antlerless tags instead of 25 either-sex tags and providing additional hunting territory.

• Making the first business day after August 1, rather than the current first business day after September 1, the date upon which Fish and Game may accept second-application deer hunter requests for leftover C, D and "additional hunt" tags from the DFG's license office.

• Elimination of both the mandatory orientation attendance for the J4 Shasta-Trinity junior deer hunt and the statewide requirement that a chaperon 18 or older who accompanies a junior hunter be a "licensed, non-hunting adult."

The DFG's Region 1 office said Commission action resulted in slight modifications in tag quotas for region deer zones, with cuts in zones X3a through X6b in the northeast and increases in X1 and X2. There is no change for the B or C zones or hunt G1.

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