DGIF Updates Related to COVID-19

DGIF Updates Related to COVID-19

DGIF & VMRC Encourage You To Be Safe While Outdoors

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) is taking the COVID-19 virus very seriously and wants to make sure our staff and constituents are taking all necessary precautions. DGIF encourages everyone in the Commonwealth to utilize the online option, gooutdoorsvirginia.com for all of your licensing and registration needs. Hunters, anglers, boaters and wildlife enthusiasts can do most transactions online.

As you may have seen circulating around social media, DGIF has not canceled any hunting seasons or fishing opportunities. All access points are open. ALL LICENSE REQUIREMENTS AND REGULATIONS ARE STILL FULLY ENFORCEABLE. YOU MUST HAVE A LICENSE WHEN YOU ARE HUNTING AND FISHING. Please follow all rules and regulations.

The upcoming turkey season, including youth and apprentice weekend, are still on schedule. For more information on turkey season and other open seasons, visit our website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Are DGIF offices still open?

Until further notice, all DGIF offices will be closed to walk-in traffic.

Q: Are the woods and waters still open?

Yes, Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and DGIF lakes and rivers are still open. However, please check with your local county and city for any additional closures of parks, lakes, or piers.

Every person who is required to have a license to fish, hunt, and/or trap must carry such license with them (electronic copy, printed paper, or annual hard card) and show the license immediately upon request of any officer whose duty it is to enforce the game and inland fish laws, or upon the demand of any owner or lessee, or any employee or representative of such owner or lessee, upon whose land or water such person may be hunting, trapping, or fishing. DGIF also requires visitors to obtain an an Access Permit for department-owned Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) and public fishing lakes, who are age 17 and older, unless they possess a valid Virginia hunting, freshwater fishing, or trapping license, or a current Virginia boat registration, or are otherwise waived. Please see Access Permit Waiver Guidance.

Q: Is DGIF still stocking trout?

All waters will still receive their full allotment of trout stockings for the season, but stockings will not be announced ahead of time and we will no longer be updating trout stockings on the website or the trout line. All stockings are still planned to occur. We encourage you to continue to get outdoors and abide by the Governors orders of social distancing. Please note the following changes:

Q: Are sighting-in ranges closed?

Since the WMAs are open, the ranges are open. However, the ranges are normally only open from September 1 through March 31, so they will close at the end of the regular season on March 31.

Q: Where can I buy a fishing/hunting license?

You can utilize our online option — Go Outdoors Virginia — or visit one of our license agents throughout the Commonwealth. If choosing a license agent, please ensure that the agent’s location is open and follow all requirements for social distancing.

Q: Can I still take my boat out?

Outdoor activities, including boating, are a great way to relax and enjoy nature. Social distancing guidelines still apply. If you need to register your boat or renew your boat registration, visit Go Outdoors Virginia.

Other Changes, Cancellations, and Closures

Due to ongoing safety concerns, the swinging bridge access over the Maury River at Goshen and Little North Mountain WMA has been closed to the public until further notice. This bridge is the public access point to the southern portion of the Little North Mountain WMA and the only access point to VDCR Division of Natural Heritage’s Goshen Pass Natural Area Preserve.

The Department of Game and Inland Fisheries’ parking area and boat launch at Burke Lake will be closed until further notice. This coincides with the Fairfax County Park Authority’s decision to close Burke Lake Park in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following changes have been made to the 2020 Trout Stocking Program:

  • Heritage Day, scheduled for April 4, has been canceled.
  • All pre-announced stockings including Urban Program Waters and the Youth-Only Stocked Trout Program will be rescheduled and will no longer be announced before hand.  All waters will still receive their full allotment of trout stockings for the season but stockings will not be announced ahead of time.
    • Additionally, trout stockings at the Departments 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 possible.
  • Due to large crowds of anglers at some waters, the US Forest Service has requested that daily trout stockings of national forest waters no longer be announced until further notice.
  • Information on daily trout stockings can be found on the DGIF website or by calling the Trout Line at 434-525-3474.

All DGIF fish hatcheries have been closed to the public until further notice.

The following changes have been made to hunter education classes:

  • All in-person Hunter Ed classes have been postponed until at least the end of April, but are still available online.
  • Kalkomey, the provider of hunter-ed.com, has donated 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.

The following event changes have been made:

  • The Merrimac Farm WMA Bluebell Festival scheduled for April 11 has been canceled. Visitors may still enter the WMA to view the Virginia Bluebells found throughout the Cedar Run floodplain.

The following other changes have been made:

  • Due to the COVID-19 health risk and the Governor’s order, the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries is suspending all dog field trial permits for field trials with more than 10 participants and cancelling those events until further notice

Further Resources

Follow DGIF on Social Media and Subscribe to Email Updates with Notes from the Field:

DGIF asks that if you or someone you have been in contact with has a known connection to COVID-19, please stay at home so that you do not spread the virus and/or germs. DGIF will keep working diligently with other agencies to make sure we do our part to help prevent the spread of he virus.

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.