Hunt Headlines: New duck regs possible in 2025-26, cougar sightings and a fatal bear attack

DFW photo

New Pintail harvest strategy approved

By Tim E. Hovey

SACRAMENTO – After decades of pintail restrictions, waterfowl hunters may see a change in pintail bag limit regulations in the 2025-2026 waterfowl hunting season. The Service Regulations Committee approved the opportunity for a 3-bird bag, up from one pintail.

Responding to input from hunters, advocacy groups and California Waterfowl Association (CWA) members, the new strategy can be considered a huge win for waterfowl hunters and conservationists. For many years, the CWA has been lobbying federal officials to increase the pintail bag limit, citing that three decades of restrictive regulations on pintail have not resulted in a significant boost in the pintail population.


It was originally thought the number of pintail harvested by hunters was the reason for the declining numbers. However, waterfowl advocates point towards changing farming practices in grain fields in the Midwest and Canada, favored by nesting pintail, as the main factor limiting pintail numbers not hunters. Additionally, waterfowl surveys conducted in California throughout the hunting season, in the Central Valley and Klamath Basin, show a majority of the ducks surveyed are pintail.

Despite the strict restrictions on hunters, pintail numbers stay strong, a clear indication that hunter advocates and hunters themselves were part of the solution and not the problem. Jake Messerli, CEO of California Waterfowl said, “This positive development is a testament to the collective efforts of our members, partners, and passionate duck hunters across the country”.

CWA believes a huge part of the success of these regulation changes rests with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and their guidance at leading the pintail working group during regulation discussions.

CWA will review the new pintail model when it becomes available to the public.



Mountain Lion sightings on the rise in one California neighborhood

By Tim E. Hovey

THOUSAND OAKS – The California Department of Fish and Wildlife has reported an increase in mountain lion sightings from the city of Thousand Oaks in Southern California. Several residents have reported seeing a young cougar on their doorbell cameras roaming the neighborhood in the early morning hours. Several have stated that the young animals observed appear hungry and searching for food.

These reports come following the death of a 21-year-old El Dorado man killed by a mountain lion in March in northern California. He was out shed hunting with his brother when the attack occurred. That animal was tracked down and killed. This attack represents the first fatal attack on a human by a mountain lion in California in twenty years.

The National Parks Service monitors mountain lion movement throughout the Santa Monica Mountains area. On their website, they estimate that any one time, between 10-15 mountain lions live in the area, with the number of cubs or younger individuals unknown.

Residents are encouraged to report mountain lion sightings to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and to stay alert while hiking or walking their pets in the area.


Human fatality by a black bear; a first in California

By Tim E. Hovey

DOWNIEVILLE, Calif – Responding to a welfare check back in November, Sierra County sheriff’s office found Patrice Miller, 71 deceased in her Downieville, California home. The state of her body indicated that Ms. Miller had a black bear encounter sometime close to her death. It was originally reported that the bear had entered her home and mauled her postmortem. As with any physical huma/animal interaction, DNA samples were taken at the scene.

Shortly after the discovery, the sheriff requested a depredation permit from California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), so the bear responsible for entering Ms. Miller’s home could be trapped and euthanized. Agency representatives were originally reluctant to issue a permit, but ultimately relented. Two days after a trap was set by a U.S. Department of Agriculture trapper, a bear was trapped and euthanized. DNA was also taken from the trapped bear.

A pathology report released in mid-May, indicates that the bear that entered the Miller residence was responsible for her death. The Placer County Coroner stated that their findings indicate that Ms. Miller’s death was the result of a black bear entering her home and mauling her, finding that the previously reported postmortem interaction with the bear was incorrect. This is the first recorded human fatality by a black bear in California.

The recently released pathology report comes following additional aggressive bear activity in the Downieville area. An aggressive bear had been terrorizing homes, breaking into occupied houses and entering school grounds while class was in session. The sheriff’s office was able to declare the bear a risk to public safety and the animal was shot and killed.

An analysis of the DNA samples collected at the Miller household and from the trapped bear, concluded that the bear trapped several days after Ms. Miller was found, was the bear responsible for her death.