CDFW Offering No-Fee Waterfowl Hunts At East Bay Ecological Reserve

Hunters in Northern California will soon have the opportunity to participate in no-fee waterfowl hunts in the restored salt ponds of the Congressman Pete Stark Ecological Reserve at Eden Landing, located in Hayward. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is opening access to the ecological reserve for up to 100 hunters on specific dates.

The hunts are scheduled for the following dates in 2023:

  • Saturday, Nov. 11
  • Tuesday, Nov. 21
  • Saturday, Dec. 2
  • Thursday, Dec. 7
  • Saturday, Dec. 16
  • Thursday, Dec. 21

In 2024, hunters can participate on the following dates:

  • Saturday, Jan. 6
  • Thursday, Jan. 11
  • Saturday, Jan. 20
  • Thursday, Jan. 25

These hunts, known for their unique no-fee policy, are available on select Tuesdays and Thursdays, offering opportunities when other public waterfowl hunting areas are closed. According to CDFW Lands Manager John Krause, these hunts typically yield an average of three birds per season, with northern shoveler and American wigeon being the most common harvest.

To participate, adult hunters must possess a valid California hunting license, a signed Federal Duck stamp, California Duck Validation, and Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation. Youth hunters under the age of 16 will require a valid Junior Hunting License and HIP validation. Junior Hunting License holders who have turned 16 must also have a signed Federal Duck Stamp.

Hunters should note that a 25-shell limit applies in the field, and nonlead ammunition is mandatory for all wildlife hunting in California. It is recommended to have a hunting dog for retrieving birds, as well as a small boat, canoe, or other flotation device for accessing ponds and blinds. Pete Stark Ecological Reserve offers a boat launch on Mount Eden Creek, providing access to tidal areas. Boaters are advised to consult local tide charts before launching, as low tides can expose vessels to hidden underwater hazards on mud flats.

Hunters should be aware of potential temporary restrictions on vehicle access to some areas of Pete Stark Ecological Reserve due to ongoing levee maintenance, and they are responsible for avoiding closed areas.

For those interested in accessing Pete Stark Ecological Reserve, take Interstate 880, exit at Alvarado Boulevard, continue west, turn right on Union City Boulevard, then left on Bettencourt Road (look for the Union Sanitary District sign). Afterward, turn left on Whipple Road, right on Horner Street, and right on Veasy Street. Enter through the yellow gate and proceed to the check station.

Aside from hunting, the reserve offers additional public access opportunities. More information can be found on the CDFW website and the South Bay Salt Ponds Restoration Project website.

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