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Putting The Focus On Helping The Butterflies
California Outdoors
cal out butterfly
Monarch Butterfly recovery efforts are being assisted through some programs of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Photo By Hillary Sardinas

Monarch Butterflies

Q: What is CDFW’s role in helping conserve monarch butterflies?

A: The Western population of migratory monarch butterflies has seen staggering declines over the past 20 years, from over 4 million in the 1980s to fewer than 2,000 individuals in the most recent census conducted in winter 2020-21. In California, monarchs are designated by CDFW as a terrestrial invertebrate of conservation concern and as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need.

To help kick-start recovery efforts, CDFW is enhancing over 1,700 acres of our properties throughout the state, with funding received to support the Governor’s Biodiversity Initiative as well as the Wildlife Conservation Board. Monarch caterpillars can only use milkweed as their host plant; therefore, we are focusing on creating breeding habitat by planting regionally appropriate milkweed species. Western monarchs overwinter in groves of trees along the California coast, migrating to breeding sites throughout the west in the spring. CDFW is also adding flowering plants which provide the nectar that helps fuel this long-distance migration.

Because they are highly mobile, monarchs are widespread in the state: present in urban, natural and agricultural areas. We need an “all-hands-on-deck” approach to help save the species in the west. While it is prohibited to remove monarchs from the wild in California, there are many ways for the public to get involved in recovery efforts. We encourage planting native milkweed species and native flowering plants, especially those that bloom in the early-spring or late fall. You can also contribute to community science projects Western Monarch Milkweed Mapper and the Western Monarch Count to help researchers gather data that can inform our conservation decisions.


Non-Lead Ammo Waiver

Q: I’m a long-time hunter who has transitioned to using nonlead ammunition. In case anyone hasn’t noticed, there’s a nationwide shortage right now. I’m trying to find simple .30-06 nonlead ammo, and it doesn’t seem to be available anywhere. Someone told me that the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s director could waive the non-lead ammo requirement. Is that a possibility for the upcoming big game seasons? (Brad)

A: We share your frustration because yes, nonlead ammunition is difficult to find, especially right now. However, the director for California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not have the authority you are asking about. California Fish and Game Code section 3004.5 (j)(1) authorizes CDFW’s director to temporarily suspend the nonlead requirement for a specific hunting season and caliber upon a finding by the director that nonlead ammunition of a specific caliber is not commercially available from any manufacturer because of federal prohibitions relating to armor-piercing ammunition pursuant to Chapter 44 (commencing with Section 921) of Title 18 of the United States Code. When AB 711 was enacted, the law that required implementation of the nonlead ammunition requirement for hunting, there was concern that the ammunition met the definition of armor piercing due to its design. That concern turned out to be legally unfounded, but regardless, that provision of the law does not apply to your stated concern.

So where does that leave us as big game hunters? As the big game seasons approach, ammunition manufacturers tend to ramp up production of ammunition needed for hunting and there should be some available by that time. However, you should continue to periodically check your local stores for it. Whenever and wherever you look for nonlead hunting ammunition and they don’t have it, we advise you to notify the staff of what you need to make sure it remains a priority for them.

For more information see CDFW’s Non-Lead Ammunition and Certified Non-Lead Ammunition webpages.


Sidearms While Hunting

Q: My friends and I are planning a turkey and pig hunt in Madera County, D7. Can I carry a sidearm with lead ammo? Two of my friends won’t be hunting—can they carry sidearms?

A: As you may know, nonlead ammunition is required when taking any wildlife with a firearm anywhere in California. Prohibition on the use of lead ammunition for taking wildlife is covered in California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 250.1(c). The regulation does not prohibit the possession of concealable firearms containing lead ammunition provided the firearm is possessed for personal protection and is not used to take or assist in the take of wildlife. It’s important to note that with the exception of ammunition for concealable firearms possessed for personal protection, hunters may not possess lead ammunition along with a firearm capable of firing that ammunition when nonlead ammunition is required. With regard to your friends, they may carry a sidearm as long as neither is a felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing firearms, per California Penal Code Section 29800. Finally, note that this response only addresses CDFW laws specific to the hunting scenario you described. Be sure to familiarize yourself with general firearm laws related to concealed weapons, transportation, storage, etc.


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