CALIFORNIA'S ONLY SPORTSMAN'S NEWS SINCE 1953

Carrie Wilson's Blog


DFG Q & A
WONews Column by Carrie Wilson

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.
What’s required when packing out game?
Question: What are the laws on deboning a bear or deer to pack out the meat? I don’t know of any laws saying I cannot debone a deer or bear as long as I am able to prove that the quarters and heads are all part of the same animal. I'm just looking for clarity as I am heading into X9A for my first time and I plan on hiking into deep country on foot. (Brad P.)

clearlakemuledeer
MULE DEER AROUND
Clear Lake. USFWS PHOTO

Answer: This is a legal practice as long as you can verify what animal the meat belongs to. The only problem that may arise is when people are packing out multiple animals at the same time. If that’s the case, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) asks that hunters keep each animal separate to avoid any misunderstandings.


For deer, you must pack the antlers out with the meat to verify the sex, and the antlers must be tagged. With bears, you must pack the whole head out with the meat so that we can extract a tooth for aging purposes. You are not required to prove the sex of bears.


In addition, all hunters must comply with Fish and Game Code, section 4304, which prohibits needless waste of any portion of the meat that is usually eaten by humans.


Nontraditional measurement devices?


Question: I am aware that a person must be able to judge the size of their take, but are there any regulations saying what types of devices the person must carry? For example, I recently observed a group that were crabbing and their only means of measurement was a cut zip tie, but it was indeed the correct minimum length. (Katlyn G., Sausalito)


Answer: It varies, but for crab, the only requirement is that  the device be capable of accurately measuring the minimum size of the species (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05(c)). But, sometimes the regulations are very specific about the type of measuring device that is required. Persons taking abalone, for example, “shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fixed opposing arms of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(f)).


An object such as a ruler is capable of accurately measuring rock crab because size limits are “measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part.” For Dungeness crab though, the measurement is “five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).” Because of the curvature of the Dungeness carapace, and the need to measure the straight line distance across a curved surface between the points, a measuring device such as a ruler or zip tie is not accurate. CDFW recommends using a fixed or adjustable caliper for Dungeness crab. It does not have to be commercially purchased and we have seen devices cut out of wood or plastic that work fine.


Sale of valley quail during the offseason?


Question: Is it legal to sell pen-raised valley quail during the offseason to be used to train dogs? The pen-raised valley quail will have CDFW tags that I think only cost a few cents each. (Matthew W., Santa Rosa)


Answer: Interesting question since very few people raise California quail and instead raise bob white. However, the answer is yes, they can be sold if they were bred and raised under the authority of a CDFW Domesticated Game Breeder License (see Fish and Game Code, section 3201). The birds will need to be marked with game bird tags to differentiate them from wild birds. These tags are sold to game bird breeders through our License and Revenue Branch for less than four cents each.


Spearfishing with scuba before free diving for abalone?


Question: If I’m out spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone? (Anonymous)


Answer: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear together while on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip for abalone.


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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Antibiotics in hatchery fish?
Question: I would like to fish at a local stocked pond. Do the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fish that are stocked there have antibiotics in their systems? Are they fed antibiotics on a routine basis or even on an occasional basis? I just want to be sure any fish I’m catching will be safe to eat. (Connie S., Big Pine)

carrie_troutplanting
CDFW HATCHERY STAFF planting fish. CDFW PHOTO

Answer: CDFW hatchery fish are treated with antibiotics when it is necessary to save their lives. According to Dr. William Cox, CDFW Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, this is done on an as-needed basis and using only antibiotics that are approved and registered by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for diseases listed on the label and in fish species approved. This is all done under veterinary prescriptions by CDFW veterinarians. To be approved by the FDA, there are many hurdles to prove human food safety, animal safety and environmental safety. These are all met in the process of becoming registered. So to answer your basic question, none of CDFW’s stocked fish have antibiotics when they are stocked for anglers. They are perfectly safe to eat.


Steel shot for chukars?


Question: A friend told me that we are now required to use steel shot when hunting chukars (Red-legged Partridge). Is this a new regulation? Since these are introduced non-native birds, why shouldn't they be treated similar to the Eurasian doves? Please let me know because I would not want to get a ticket. (Chris J.)


Answer: As you may know, we are in the middle of a transition to nonlead ammunition for all hunting in California. As of July 1, 2016, nonlead ammunition is now required for all hunting on CDFW wildlife areas and ecological reserves and when taking upland game birds with a shotgun, except for dove, quail, snipe and any game birds taken on licensed game bird clubs. In addition, nonlead shot is required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, furbearing mammals, nongame mammals, nongame birds and any wildlife under the authority of a CDFW depredation permit.


In regards specifically to chukar (which are related to Red-legged Partridge but a different species), you are required to use nonlead shot when hunting them with a shotgun from this season on unless you are hunting at a licensed game bird club.


According to CDFW Upland Game Bird Senior Environmental Scientist Karen Fothergill, there is no species-related or ecological reason for the manner in which we are phasing-out lead ammunition. Rather, in order to implement the nonlead legislation in a way that is least disruptive to hunters, we coordinated question and answer sessions at sportsmen’s shows, held meetings with hunting organizations, hosted a series of public workshops throughout the state and sent letters to major ammunition manufacturers before we finalized the implementation plan.


For more information on the phase-out of lead ammunition in California, please visit our website.


Filleting sheephead at sea


Question: I was recently told that I could not fillet a sheephead aboard my vessel since they do not have a minimum fillet length but do have a size limit of 12 inches (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.65).


My question is whether it still applies for a large sheephead if the fillet was longer than the 12-inch size limit? I am assuming the reason for not allowing sheephead to be filleted aboard a vessel is because it is difficult to determine the overall size of the fish from the fillet. However, if the fillet is greater than the minimum size limit for the species, it would seem like there should be some type of exception to the no fillet rule, or perhaps there is another reason I’m not considering?


Answer: Only those species listed as allowed to be filleted may be filleted on a vessel. Since California sheephead have a minimum size limit of 12 inches total length but no fillet length specified in the regulations, they may not be filleted while on any boat or brought ashore as fillets, steaks or chunks (CCR Title 14, section 27.65).


If you think this regulation for California sheephead should be revised to allow for a minimum fillet length allowance, you are welcome to bring a proposal before the California Fish and Game Commission for consideration.


Use of blue tarp with decoys


Question: Can I use a blue tarp and place dove decoys around it? I'm hoping the doves will think the blue tarp is water and will be attracted to fly over or land near the decoys. (Anonymous)


Answer: Sure, you can give it a try!


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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Tracking Wounded Game with an Electronic Device?
Question: Archery season is starting and before we go out I would like to know if it’s legal to use an electronic tracking device that attaches to an arrow to help track our game. The tracking device separates from the arrow as the arrow contacts the target animal and then enables the hunter to better follow the wounded animal. Are these legal to use? Thanks for any help. (Jared T., Red Bluff)

muledeerinhazeCALIFORNIA MULE DEER. CDFW photo

Answer: No, unfortunately, they are not legal to use. The regulation below restricts the use of computerized or telemetry types of devices to track big game mammals. Because of this, the device you describe is not legal to use in California at this time.


“No person shall pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile. Additionally, no person shall use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area. No person shall use at any time or place, without Department approval, any computer, telemetry device or other equipment to locate a big game mammal to which a tracking device is attached. ” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251).


Recorded abalone harvest data wrong on abalone report card


Question: After abalone diving in Mendocino last weekend, I didn’t realize until too late that when I tagged my abalone I mistakenly recorded my abalone catch incorrectly on my abalone report card. I recorded them out of order in the wrong column and then used the corresponding wrong tags. This meant I skipped three of the lower numbered tags. The tags are still on the report card and corresponding recording fields on the report card are still empty. Can I go back and use those missed tags for my next trip? (Atsu I.)


Answer: No, the law requires that “Tags shall be used in sequential order, and shall not be removed from the report card until immediately prior to affixing to an abalone. Any tags detached from the report card and not affixed to an abalone shall be considered used and therefore invalid” (CCR Title 14, section 29.16(b)(4)). You are also required to write “Void” on the Abalone Report Card in the spaces you skipped and then dispose of the three corresponding tags. This is because the law also says, “…(5) No person shall possess any used or otherwise invalid abalone tags not attached to an abalone shell.”


Permit required for fishing contests?


Question: Our club would like to hold a halibut derby in San Francisco Bay and we need information on permits. When and where are they needed and what are the requirements? Do we need a permit for a halibut derby in the Bay or are permits only needed for bass fishing? (Mark S.)


Answer: Permits are not required for saltwater fishing contests. Waters of the Pacific Ocean include all of San Francisco and San Pablo Bays west of the Carquinez Bridge (CCR Title 14, section 27.00). As long as all fishing is done in waters west of the Carquinez Bridge, you will not need a fishing contest permit.

Fishing contest permits are required for various fishing contests in freshwater. For information on the requirements when holding fishing contests in inland waters, how to obtain fishing contest permits and for the actual permit application forms, please visit our Fishing Contests, Tournaments and Derbies website.


Do fishing boat passengers need fishing licenses if not fishing?


Question: As an avid fisherman on a private vessel at a slip, I often take friends out hoop netting or fishing. Often these friends are perfectly happy to operate my boat while I tend the fishing line(s) or hoop nets. Do these companions need to have a fishing license as long as we follow the bag limits and limits on nets and lines in the water for a single fisherman? It is often a spur of the moment decision to go out, and sending my guest off to get a license for one or two hours of fishing is inconvenient at best. (Jack Z.)

Answer: It is legal to take non-licensed passengers along to observe you while fishing or hoop netting as long they do not engage at all in any of the actual sport fishing activities. It is only in the commercial fishing industry where those who assist with the boat handling and other tasks need to have their own commercial fishing license.


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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Hunters should use caution with wild rabbits
Question: I’d like to try some rabbit hunting but hear they may carry some kind of disease. Is this true? If so, is this anything to be concerned about and what precautions should I take? (Jeff J., Stockton)

cottontail
HUNTERS SHOULD USE caution when field dressing wild rabbits.

Answer: You may be referring to “tularemia,” a bacterial disease that wild rabbits occasionally carry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares and rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals and ingestion of contaminated water. Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.”


To be safe, hunters should take precautions by wearing latex gloves when field dressing their rabbits to minimize exposure to the disease. Be sure to properly cool the animal after field dressing it, and to always cook it thoroughly. Tularemia is named after the place where it was discovered – Tulare.


Booyah Boo Rig


Question: I would like to use a Booyah Boo Rig in coastal ocean waters and possibly for stripers in the Sacramento River. It has five places for flashers or grubs but only one will have a hook. The others are just attractants. Would this be ok? Here is a photo of it. (Dave K.)

Answer: As long as the rig does not exceed the allowable number of hooks (which generally is three hooks or three lures with up to three hooks each for inland waters), it is legal.


Ocean regulations are less restrictive. Generally, any number of lines and hooks may be used but bear in mind that there are hook/line restrictions for some fish species in both inland and ocean waters, so you’d need to read the regulation for each specific species to know for sure.


Are boat owners liable for their passengers’ fishing violations?


Question: I'm a small recreational boat owner (ocean fishing). If somebody on my boat violates any Fish and Wildlife laws (e.g. hook barb not completely removed for salmon fishing), am I liable in any way for this infraction? What are my legal "game law" responsibilities for my boat guests? (John S.)


Answer: In ocean waters, boat limits apply to all persons on board. “All persons aboard a vessel may be cited where violations involving boat limits are found, including, but not limited to the following violations: A-Overlimits: B-Possession of prohibited species: C-Violation of size limits: D-Fish taken out of season or in closed areas” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60). If the issue is illegal gear, the officer will try to determine which person was using it.


Hunting for small game with pellet guns


Question: I am 21 years old and am wondering if I need a license or any type of permit to carry an air rifle? Do I need a permit or license to hunt small game or for target shooting? To be honest, I don't like real guns. I just want to go target shooting with my dad and maybe some hunting for small game with my friends. I plan to go camping this summer with some friends to celebrate my 22nd birthday. It would be great to know what the laws are regarding carrying and hunting with pellet guns. Can you please let me know? (Adeh M.)


Answer: You may use a pellet gun for target practice in areas where shooting is allowed. This includes gun ranges, some public lands (e.g. Forest Service or BLM), and private lands where you have permission to be. Many cities and counties do not prohibit the use of pellet guns but you should check in with the local sheriff’s department to be sure.


Resident small game mammals and birds may be taken with air rifles if you first obtain a California hunting license. In order to get a hunting license, you must first pass a Hunter Education course. Some species like upland game birds require an upland game bird validation on your license.


After obtaining a hunting license, you will need to become familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to small game hunting. These regulations are contained in the current Waterfowl and Upland Game Hunting Regulation booklet. The regulations pertaining to the take of small game regulations begin on page 26. A summary of these regulations can also be found on our website.


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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Can minors legally hunt alone?
Question: I am 16 years old and have my hunter education certification. I was wondering if it is legal for me to hunt by myself with a firearm. I have not found anything saying one way or another whether I can legally do this. If it is legal, do I need to carry written consent from my parents with me? (Jonah A.)

teenshooter
COURTESY OF DFW

Answer: If you have a valid junior license, you may hunt by yourself with a firearm. However, if you are using a HANDGUN, then you either need to be accompanied by a parent or a responsible adult, or have the written permission of a parent.


Firearms laws are contained in the California Penal Code. A good reference guide to California firearms laws can be obtained by visiting the California Department of Justice, Firearms Bureau website (click on “Firearms Summary” on the right-hand side).


Here’s an excerpt from the publication relating to minors in possession of firearms:


Possession of a Handgun or Live Ammunition by Minors


It is unlawful for a minor to possess a handgun unless one of the following circumstances exists:


• The minor is accompanied by his or her parent or legal guardian and the minor is actively engaged in a lawful recreational sporting, ranching or hunting activity, or a motion picture, television or other entertainment event;


• The minor is accompanied by a responsible adult and has prior written consent of his or her parent or legal guardian and is involved in one of the activities cited above; or


• The minor is at least 16 years of age, has prior written consent of his or her parent or legal guardian, and the minor is involved in one of the activities cited above (Pen. Code, §§ 29610, 29615.)


It is unlawful for a minor to possess live ammunition unless one of the following circumstances exists:


• The minor has the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to possess live ammunition;


• The minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian; or


The minor is actively engaged in, or is going to or from, a lawful, recreational sport, including, competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching, or hunting activity (Pen. Code, §§ 29650, 29655.)


On state wildlife areas, any visitor 16 or 17 years of age presenting a valid resident or non-resident hunting license issued in his or her own name will be issued an entry permit and may hunt independently (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550.5(c)(9)).


Are trail cameras legal to use on National Forest lands?


Question: Are there any regulations that prohibit the use of trail cameras on National Forest lands? I ask because a friend was on National Forest land and was told by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel that trail cameras constitute harassment and are illegal. He was then told he must remove them. I’m trying to find out which National Forest it was. If this is true, wouldn’t ALL wildlife photography be illegal, including photographing birds? (Brian K.)


Answer: This is not a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regulation. I suggest you find out which specific area of National Forest your friend was in when this happened. Afterward, contact the USFS office in that area for more details.


Salmon and groundfish fishing


Question: Is it legal to fish for both salmon and ground fish by boat on the same day? If so, are there any restrictions on gear that may be used? I'm interested in the Bodega Bay area. (Dan P.)


Answer: No more than two single point, single shank barbless hooks shall be used in the ocean north of Point Conception (34o27'00” N. lat.) when salmon fishing or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board (CCR, Title 14 section 27.80(a)(2)).


It is legal to fish for both salmon and rockfish on the same day and have them on your boat. If you fish for salmon first or have any salmon on your boat, you would be restricted to fishing for groundfish with barbless hooks thereafter. If you fish groundfish first, you may use barbed hooks (no more than two) for groundfish and then switch to barbless gear once you target salmon. And once you have rockfish onboard, you are also held to the groundfish depth constraints.


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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at Carrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


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