|DGIF friends and supporters,|
During this difficult time, we at DGIF want to remind you and your families to stay safe. As always, exercise caution and be responsible, and remember to social distance yourselves as much as you can. Some things to remember regarding the COVID-19 virus can be found on the Commonwealth’s website.
Currently, our staff continue their work (while observing safe practices); however, in the interest of safety, all DGIF offices (as well as fish hatcheries) are closed to public walk-in traffic until further notice. This includes our headquarters office in Henrico and our regional offices around the state.
Fortunately, our online portal, gooutdoorsvirginia.com, remains available for all your licensing and registration needs. Hunters, anglers, boaters and wildlife enthusiasts can do most transactions online. Remember, all license requirements still apply.
While promoting the well-being of our staff and constituents, the agency continues to operate, and we want to keep you informed as to what we are doing to help maintain your natural resources. The outdoors still remain available, and can provide an excellent escape from current pressures when enjoyed safely and responsibly.
This is the time of year when we all think about hitting Virginia’s waterways, and we want you to know that our lakes and access points remain open to you at this time. Please observe good practices at our access points—social distancing and avoiding crowds not only promotes everyone’s safety, but also helps boats get launched faster and avoids tangled lines!
You can find all information pertaining to freshwater fishing rules and regulations in our Freshwater Fishing in Virginia Digest, or on our website. As always, remember to practice boating safety, follow boating rules and regulations, and observe best practices to avoid promoting spread of the virus while you are out on the water or headed to or from an access point.
Trout stocking is always a key topic of interest this time of year. We will continue our stocking program, with the only changes being those that we feel necessary in order to avoid crowds at stocking sites in the interest of social distancing. Currently, those changes are:
- Heritage Day, scheduled for April 4 has been canceled.
- Stockings for Urban Program Waters and the Youth-Only Stocked Trout Program will be rescheduled and will no longer be pre-announced. All waters will still receive their full allotment of trout stockings for the season.
- Additionally, trout stockings at the Department’s three Fee Fishing Areas (Clinch Mountain, Crooked Creek, and Douthat Lake) will not begin in early April as planned. Stockings at the Fee Areas will resume as soon as it is advisable.
Information on daily trout stockings can be found on the DGIF website or by calling the Trout Line at 434-525-3474.
In addition to fishing and boating opportunities, hunting opportunities are still out there. Of special interest this time of year, Spring Turkey season (including Youth and Apprentice Weekend) remains on schedule, and as many of you are probably seeing, the birds are already out and about across the Commonwealth. And if you’re not aware, there are still deer hunting opportunities in some parts of the state—in the form of urban archery seasons. All of the information that you see in our Hunting and Trapping Digest pertaining to hunting seasons and rules and regulations remains applicable.
If you’re home and wondering how you’re going to do your hunter or boater education since in person classes have been canceled, don’t worry, you can do those online! Through our partner, Kalkomey, they have graciously offered up 1000 courses to ensure students have the option for online education while at home. To obtain the complementary hunter education certificate, go to hunter-ed.com/virginia and use the code G1VirginiaHE2020. You must register by April 14, 2020 for the free course.
Our WMAs remain open, and we encourage you to take advantage of them while practicing social distancing. Check out our website for more information. We’ll update this accordingly should things change. While the outdoors provide an escape and an opportunity for social distancing, current concerns have led us to need to cancel public events, as others have done. As excited as we were for The Merrimac Farm WMA Bluebell Festival scheduled for April 11, we’ve had to cancel. Visitors may still enter the WMA on their own to view the Virginia Bluebells found throughout the Cedar Run floodplain.
If you’re stuck indoors because the weather isn’t nice, you can always take a look at our Shad Cam or, if you want some entertainment, watch the Falcon Cam! The falcons have been stirring up all kinds of trouble this year so I’m sure you’ll be entertained! If you’re indoors because you’re a teacher or a parent learning to home-school, we have some great resources for you online!
Remember, we’re all in this together and DGIF wants to help you experience the outdoors while promoting your safety. Before you venture out, check our website and COVID-19 page for updates. If you have any questions regarding DGIF services or activities, please give us a call (804-367-1000) and we will help with your needs as best we can.