What happened to premium big game tags?

Photo Credit: CDFW

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Q: Last year, hunters could apply for a draw for several premium big game tags that aren’t usually available to the public. This year, I haven’t heard anything about that opportunity. Did the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) stop doing this? What happened to the premium fundraising tags?

A: CDFW has authority to make special big game tags for deer, elk, desert bighorn sheep and pronghorn antelope available for the purpose of raising funds for programs and projects that benefit big game species. These fundraising tags have historically been available through two processes: auctions conducted by nonprofit organizations to raise funds on behalf of CDFW, and through random draw raffle in the CDFW licensing system.

Nonprofits compete for the tags made available through a solicitation by submitting an application to CDFW. The nonprofits that are awarded tags can then auction or raffle the tags to raise funds on behalf of CDFW for projects and programs that benefit big game species. These tags are very popular at their fundraising dinners and other events, often drawing many bidders and bringing in many thousands of dollars. The nonprofit is allowed to retain five percent of the amount. The remainder is returned to CDFW and deposited into the Big Game Management Account to support big game conservation.

Several of these premium fundraising tags have also been made available to members of the public through the CDFW licensing system, through purchase of a random draw opportunity. Last year, the application fee for an opportunity to win one of the fundraising tags was $7.01. In 2021, the number of fundraising tags available through CDFW was unprecedented because of nonprofits having to cancel events due to the pandemic.

This year, all the fundraising tags were made available to nonprofits who are returning to normal operations and scheduling their in-person fundraising events to support their conservation work. Although the direct-to-the-public option is not available this year, we recognize that there is much interest in bringing this option back. CDFW is looking into this possibility and feasibility to make it a regular, annual option.

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