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.
How well can waterfowl see?
Question: How well can ducks actually see? Can they see color? I know deer see different shades of gray, but what about ducks and geese? (David V.)

woodduck
WOOD DUCK (Photo © Carrie Wilson)

Answer: Waterfowl can control the curvature of both the lens and cornea (mammals, including humans, only control the lens). This is basically how birds can see extremely well while flying and while in the act of diving/feeding. In addition, their eyes act independently and they use one at a time to allow for depth-perception since nearly all waterfowl have monocular, not binocular, vision (they can’t stare forward at objects).


Another unique thing about waterfowl is they can see in almost all directions. A few ducks are the exception to the rule, but usually the eye placement allows them to view in many different directions at the same time. Secondly, waterfowl have a very high number of cones (which dictates color vision in humans) which allows them to see sharp images and have color vision where colors are more vivid than humans’ ability. The breadth of color vision is much wider than our own since UV light can be observed by waterfowl (UV light is absorbed by lenses in humans). This allows waterfowl to fly at night or feed in the dark or at low light conditions.


Diving in MPA reserves with game onboard?


Question: If I am on a commercial sport diving boat and we have legally caught lobster on board, may we go into a marine protected area (MPA) to dive and be assured that we will not get a ticket if we are boarded? We would of course have lobster report cards all properly filled out and the lobsters would be of legal size and taken beforehand in a legal area. Can the boat operator be assured that he will not be cited as well? (Rusty B., Montclair)


Answer: If you have lobsters on board your vessel, you may not dive in a marine reserve with gear that can be used to catch lobster (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, Section 632 (a)(7) and (8)). A person can't have their "fishing gear" deployed in the water when anchored or transiting through a marine reserve or other MPA that prohibits fishing for the species you have on board. Thus, if a diver dives with a game bag and gloves, then it could be argued they have their lobster "fishing gear" in the water. If divers really want to dive in a marine reserve off their boat with catch on board, they should do everything possible to ensure it does not appear they will be pursuing/taking lobster. This would include stowing their completed lobster report card, along with the lobster and dive bags. A diver wearing gloves and diving with a game bag, or anything else that could be used to take fish, lobsters or abalone (a large dive knife or long stick with a hooked device, etc.) would appear to have another purpose in mind besides sightseeing. It would then be up to the wildlife officer to determine the appropriate action.


Are rules for selling on eBay different?


Question: From my understanding, it is illegal to sell deer skulls, deer antlers or deer mounts in the State of California. I know that eBay is based in California and they allow the sale of deer antlers, mounts and deer taxidermy. Obviously, they are receiving money from the online sale of deer parts so how did that come about, and has there been special legislation to cover it? Was this a decision allowed by the California government, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or has it just happened this way? (Nate H.)


Answer: Just because eBay is selling these things or allowing them to be sold, doesn't mean it's legal. Fish and Game Code, section 3039 generally prohibits selling or purchasing any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. Complete antlers, whole heads with antlers, antlers mounted for display or antlers in the velvet may not be sold or purchased at any time. However, shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically reared animals that have been manufactured into products or handcrafted items, or that have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted, may be purchased or sold. Deer hides can also be sold.


Who can validate big game tags?


Question: I have a question regarding who can validate big game tags. In the regulations booklet there is a list of persons who may validate/countersign big game tags, but I noticed there is no mention of County Agricultural Standards Inspectors. Each county has Agricultural and Standards Inspectors and/or Agricultural Biologists and Standards Inspectors who enforce the laws and regulations of California. Would a hunter be within their legal right to have their big game tag countersigned by such a person? (Andy R., Escondido)


Answer: No. Only those people listed in the regulations booklet are authorized to validate big game tags (CCR, Title 14, section 708.6).


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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.


How are sturgeon weathering the drought?
Question: I have a question about sturgeon. Are they being negatively affected by the drought? Since sturgeon have been around millions of years, they must have endured many droughts and so hopefully this drought will not hit them as hard as maybe some other species that are less hardy and more sensitive to changes. Is this true? (Anonymous)

sturgeon
WHITE STURGEON. CDFW Photo

Answer: That's an excellent question, but the answer is complicated. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras, plenty of sturgeon in California will likely outlive this drought because of the state’s adaptive management of white sturgeon harvest (green sturgeon is a threatened species so harvest is illegal) and protection from poaching.


Sturgeon and salmon are anadromous species, but salmon mature and then die in just two to three years. By comparison, female sturgeon typically mature after 15-plus years, can spawn more than once (though not annually) and can live many decades. These characteristics mean that sturgeon are resilient, but it also means they can easily be overfished. California’s sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953 due to overfishing. Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is illegal and recreational harvest is now managed through area closures, bag limits, size limits and gear restrictions.


Most sturgeon spawn in the Sacramento River and young-of-the-year fish migrate downstream to rear in the San Francisco Estuary. Large numbers of young sturgeon survive the migration only in years with nearly flooding Sacramento River flows during both winter and spring. For sturgeon it is as though 2014 is the eighth straight year of drought. Although a relatively-good “cohort” of white sturgeon spawned in 2006 will soon be harvestable, we expect the fishery to decline substantially.


Adaptive management of California's white sturgeon through predictable ebbs in abundance is key to conservation of the species and its fishery.


Deer tag validation required from private property?


Question: If I take a legal buck on my own property, then tag and process it on site, do I need to get the tag validated since it will require me to transport the carcass off my property? (Ruth W.)


Answer: Yes. All deer must be validated even when taken on private property. Remember, wildlife belong to the people of the State of California, not to the owners of land where animals live. The law states the animal’s tag must be validated regardless of where taken and may not be transported initially except for the purpose of taking it to be validated (Fish and Game Code, section 4341).


Dorado limits higher in California?


Question: I went fishing out of San Diego twice this fall. The first time we fished in California waters off San Clemente Island and the second time we fished in Mexican waters. I understand the daily bag limit for Dorado in Mexico is two fish, but can't find it in the regulations booklet for California. What is it? (Chuck K.)


Answer: Dorado do not have a specific bag limit in California and so they fall under the general bag limit of 10 fish of any one species with no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60(a)).


When cancer treatment threatens premium draw deer hunt?


Question: I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in April and have had chemo for four months. I am doing great and am in good shape to go hunting, but I just found out I must have a bone morrow transplant and it looks like it will be around the time of the premium draw tag hunt. Can I return this tag and still get my points back? Doctors at Stanford are trying to let me go hunting but it may not happen. (Dennis S.)


Answer: So sorry to hear about your cancer and the treatments you’re going through! In order to return the tag without penalty, I suggest you contact our License and Revenue Branch at (916) 419-7573 immediately. You must return the tag before the season begins along with a letter explaining why you can’t complete the hunt. With some tag drawings there will be an alternate list available with hunters standing by in case of a cancellation. No alternate lists are established for premium deer tags though, so your tag will not be reissued to anyone else. There is a preference point appeal process available. Please go to CCR, Title 14, section 708.14 for the details. And best wishes that your upcoming cancer treatments go well.


Motorized turkey decoys?


Question: Are there any restrictions on using motorized or string motion decoys while turkey hunting in California? (Scott C.)


Answer: No.


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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.


Local Gooseneck Barnacles on the Menu?
Question: I have a question about gooseneck barnacles. In the Fish and Game regulations it states that gooseneck barnacles cannot be taken or possessed at any time. Can you tell me why? I have spoken with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists and they did not know why but suggested I contact you. Currently, the only legal way you can obtain them is by purchasing them in a dish at a high-end restaurant. The barnacles sold in these dishes are imported from Spain. I collect mussels in season and the barnacles are nearly as prolific as the mussels, and in the same locations as the mussels. (Curt H., San Francisco)

gooseneckbarnaclesnoaa
CLOSE UP OF gooseneck barnacles (Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA Collections)

Answer: I suspect that as with so many of our regulations, goosenecks were not included with the inverts that can be taken because no one spoke up when the list was made to say, “Hey, people eat goosenecks!” California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05 lists those animals that may be taken within the intertidal zone, and no barnacles (including gooseneck barnacles) are included. These regulations are reviewed and often amended every two years and the Fish and Game Commission could consider adding barnacles to those animals that can be taken. Feel free to contact the Commission with your request (www.fgc.ca.gov/). They would ultimately decide if goosenecks could be added.


Can my estate sell my hunting gear as furniture?


Question: Can my estate sell my collection of all of my old hunting gear that I have collected over the years as a piece of furniture? I have an old hat rack with the following items on it: My father’s old hunting hat and his brother’s old hunting hat, my father’s old hunting coat and his duck strap. On the coat are some old hunting licenses (1930’s and 1940’s), various duck pins, plus 1920 and 1942 Ducks Unlimited pins, and collections of duck bands on a cord. There are also some old pheasant tags/permits in one of the pockets from this same era.


What I’m most proud of is the duck strap that contains nine different species of mounted ducks hanging by their necks. They include: hen shoveler, blue wing teal, gadwall drake, pintail drake, widgeon drake, green wing teal drake, wood duck drake, ring necked duck drake and a small cross-bred duck.


I am aware that you can’t sell mounted birds by themselves, but as they are part of the piece of furniture, can they be part of the total value and all sold together? All of this vintage hunting stuff belonged to my father and uncle, but I know once I pass on, no one else in my family will have any interest in keeping the stuff. I hope my estate will be able to sell this whole collection of treasures as a piece of furniture so as to not have to break it all up and lose the duck mounts. (Bob S., Modesto)



bobstewart350
HUNTING COLLECTION OF Bob S.’s from Monterey

Answer: What a great collection!! Unfortunately, as you suspected, you cannot sell the ducks. Your best bet would be to sell the other items and donate the ducks. You could perhaps take the ducks out of the collection all together but then donate the strap of birds to the person who buys the other items.


Mobile deer stand?


Question: I have a deer stand that lifts up and down using a hydraulic ram mounted in the back of my truck. Is this legal in the state of California? The only way to use it is if the truck is on flat ground and not moving. (Anonymous)


Answer: Unless you qualify for a disabled hunting license, the law prohibits shooting any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (Fish and Game Code, section 3002). This provision also applies to a vehicle-mounted deer stand. A legal alternative might be if the stand could be mounted onto a trailer that could then be detached from the vehicle.


Sibiki rig for bait while rock fishing


Question: While fishing for rockfish we would like to have a small rod set up with a sibiki rig to catch bait fish. Do we need to remove the extra hooks and only use two hooks when fishing for bait with rockfish on board? Thanks (Dave P.)


Answer: Yes, when rockfish, lingcod, cabezon or kelp or rock greenling are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.55, 28.27, 28.28 or 28.29, respectively.)


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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.


How to measure abalone correctly to avoid a ticket?
Question: I know a guy who was abalone diving off his kayak recently and took three nice abalone that all measured around nine inches. He was diving for the big abs and so was using a 9-inch gauge, but had his required 7-inch gauge in his goody bag on the kayak. When he finished up and got back to the beach with his tagged abalone and his gauges in his goody bag, there was a wildlife officer waiting there who had been watching him and wrote him a ticket for using a 9-inch gauge instead of a 7-inch gauge. Why did he get a ticket? (Tim S.)


measuringabalone
ABALONE MUST BE measured with a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (CDFW STAFF PHOTO)

Answer: Abalone divers are required to “… carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15[f]) and are required to retain any legal-sized abalone they detach and add them to their bag (CCR Title 14, section 29.15[d].) It is fine to use a gauge larger than the required 7-inch gauge to measure over-sized abalone when trophy hunting. The problem occurs when a diver detaches and brings an abalone to the surface, measures it with only a 9-inch gauge, and then rejects it for being smaller than their personal target size even though the abalone may still be of the minimum legal size (seven inches or larger). This practice puts the diver in violation of the above sections and this practice is considered “high-grading.”


To avoid this kind of ticket, divers should not return any abalone before first measuring with a 7-inch gauge to be sure they are smaller than legal size. A 7-inch gauge should be in the immediate vicinity of where the diver surfaces (in hand, float tube or kayak) so that the abalone can be readily measured, and if they then turn out to be short, the diver can then return it to the same location where originally taken. The violation occurs when divers detach and then reject legal-sized abalone because they are seeking only the oversized ones.


Disabled wheelchair-bound hunters


Question: My dad used to hunt ducks with me every weekend. The last few seasons he had to miss due to becoming disabled and wheelchair-bound. Recently he has talked about hunting the refuges with me this coming season, and has bought an electronic chair. My question is will the electronic chair be allowed onto free roam Type A/B or on Type C areas? Or will it be considered an ATV (which it is not)? He would only be able to do levees or gravel roads. Thanks. (James)


Answer: Many of our wildlife refuges have disabled hunter blinds that would allow your father and one able-bodied hunter to still enjoy waterfowl hunting and accommodate his need for an electronic chair or regular wheelchair. But while he would probably be allowed to free-roam hunt, most refuges with their levees and gravel roads may not be easy to get around in via a wheelchair. ATVs are prohibited. It might be best to call ahead to the refuge where you’d like to hunt to inquire about the conditions available.


Can I hunt with an arrow rifle?


Question: I have an arrow rifle that’s powered by CO2 high pressured gas that I’ve had for the last 15 years. It’s not a crossbow. I’ve heard it was made for SWAT teams, but I’m not sure. I just think it would be cool to hunt with it but didn’t see anything in your regulations about it. What do you think? Would it be legal? (Wes H.)


Answer: No. The weapon you describe would not be legal for taking fish or wildlife in California.


Bringing black bear claws in from out of state


Question: I recently purchased black bear claws from a licensed store/vendor in Idaho and would like to know if it is legal to bring them back into California. (Anonymous)


Answer: If you buy them legally in another state and have documentation to prove it, you can legally bring them back here so long as you declare their entry into California (Fish and Game Code, section 2353). Assuming they are from a black bear, you cannot sell them once in California though. Even if you decide to later sell them and plan to do so over the Internet … don’t! You could then be charged with a hefty federal Lacey Act violation. Buying or selling black bear parts within California is strictly forbidden, even if the bear was taken out of state.


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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.


Dropping crab traps before the opener?
Question: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I’ve heard it’s legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn’t find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved? (Fred S.)


dungenesscrabsDUNGENESS CRABS. CDFW photo by Christy Juhasz

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 1 at 12:01 a.m. (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.85(a) and the definition of take in Fish and Game Code section 86.) Anyone setting gear prior to this date and time may be cited for attempting to take crab out of season.


Electronic spinning decoys for doves?


Question: I have contacted you before and you have always been very helpful on hunting and fishing questions. This time I have one regarding dove hunting as a friend of mine wants to purchase a battery-powered spinning decoy for dove hunting for the next dove opener. Is it legal to use that type of a powered decoy for doves? They don't seem to be the smartest of birds and may be too easily attracted to that decoy. Thanks for your help. (Joe A., Antioch)


Answer: There are NO prohibitions on electronic spinning decoys for dove hunting. The prohibitions for electronic vs wind-driven decoys are only for waterfowl from the beginning of the waterfowl season through Nov. 30.


So, tell your buddy he has the thumbs-up to go out and buy a battery-powered spinning decoy to use for dove hunting. Eurasian collared-doves are now open all year with no limits. The season for mourning, white-winged, spotted and ringed turtle doves reopens Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 22.


Kite fishing?


Question: I live in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region and was wondering if there are any Fish and Game restrictions regarding "kite fishing." We would like to use these specially modified kites to help us get our lines out farther than the distance we could normally cast them. Outside of local ordinances regarding powerlines and second rod licensing, is there anything that would prevent me from using a kite to get my line further away from the shore into deeper water? (Neil N.)


Answer: There are no specific regulations prohibiting the use of a kite or other windborne device (a helium-filled balloon, for example) to help you to get your line out to where the fish are.


Littering is a concern, however. Anglers have been cited for using a balloon and then releasing the balloon when a fish is hooked, or when the line reaches the desired distance from shore.


As long as you are not releasing (or losing) your kite in the process, there is nothing in Fish and Game regulations that would prevent you from using a kite in this manner. There may be local (city or county) ordinances that pertain to this, however, so please check with local authorities.”


Shotgun hunting for upland game during archery-only deer season?


Question: I have located a number of good band-tailed pigeon roosts in a remote area where I hunt with my A31 late season archery tag. It's so remote that this year I plan to backpack in and camp in the area. If a friend wants to come with me who does not bow hunt but wants to take their shotgun to take a band-tailed pigeon, would I be allowed to use their shotgun to take band-tail if I left my A31 tag and bow back at camp for a morning? I feel confident this would be legal if we were "car camping" but I am not sure how this would be viewed legally as I will still technically be "in the field" on an archery hunt. (Stephen M.)


Answer: This would be fine once the season for band-tailed pigeons reopens unless you in an area of Los Angeles County where firearms might be prohibited.


Collecting sea palm that’s washed up on the beach?


Question: If I find some sea palm washed up on shore, can I keep it? I know you can't pick sea palm recreationally, but since this was already dead, I see no harm in gathering. But is it legal? I know you can keep bull kelp when it washes up, so I was wondering if this was similar. (Hank S.)


Answer: The law prohibits cutting or disturbing sea palm (CCR Title 14 section 30.10). While possession of dead sea palm is technically not prohibited, removing live sea palm from the water would likely result in a citation.


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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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