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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 to notify a game warden of a concealed weapon
Question: A while back, I was fly fishing for steelhead on the Klamath River. While on the river, I was approached by a boat of wildlife officers and asked to present my fishing license and steelhead punch card, and to show that my flies were not barbed. All was good, and the officers were very friendly and professional.

carrie_gamewarden

IT’S ALWAYS A good practice to verbally notify any law enforcement officer that you are carrying a firearm. CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton


At the time, I was also carrying a concealed, unloaded pistol (with rounds in the magazine but not chamber) in my fishing vest (as allowed under Cali­fornia Penal Code, section 25640). I was not asked by the wardens whether I was carrying any firearms, nor did I disclose that I was. I do not have a concealed carry weapon permit, but do carry concealed in accordance with PC 25640.


Here are my questions:


— Am I required by law to notify the officers that I am carrying a concealed weapon when stopped?


— If I am required by law to notify an officer of a concealed weapon, is there a preferable way for me to do so (e.g., immediately upon engagement)?


— If I am not required to notify the warden(s) of my concealed firearm, is it just smart, regardless of the law, to do so anyway?


I have a lot of respect for California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) officers and appreciate the important work they do. Thank you. (J. Wellington)


Answer: Although it is not required by law, it is always a good practice to notify any law enforcement officer verbally that you are carrying a firearm. This should be done with your hands visible. Tell the officer where the firearm is located, and understand that the officer will likely remove it from you during the contact, and return it to you when the contact is over. Never make any movement toward the firearm, and never conceal your hands.


Selling framed abalone shells?


Question: I’ve been diving for abalone for years. After I get them home, I clean and polish the whole red abalone shell, and they are absolutely beautiful once the process is done. I like to give them away as gifts to friends, family, neighbors and strangers. I know that I cannot profit from any California game/wildlife. I want to build frames out of old barn wood and drift wood, and then put the abalone in the middle of the frame. Instead of a painting of a shell in a frame, it would be an actual shell. My question is whether I can sell the frames for money and then gift the shell to the buyer? If I can do this, how do I do it legally for both parties? Thank you for your time and services in the office and out in the field. (Tom M.)


Answer: Great question, but the answer is no. You cannot sell an abalone shell, even if you say you are only selling the frame and not the attached shell.



“Sell” includes offer or possess for sale, barter, exchange, or trade (Fish and Game Code, section 75). According to CDFW Lt. Dennis McKiver, the only way you could sell the frames legally, is if, when you are selling the frame, the person buying the frame has no idea that you are offering an abalone shell to go with it. If the person has been made aware that, if he buys a frame, you will give him an abalone shell to go with it, then you would be guilty of selling abalone shells.


How many hooks allowed when ocean bass fishing?


Question: I live in Ventura County and do a lot of ocean fishing. I recently saw a fishing program on TV, and the captain of the sport boat was throwing an Alabama rig. This rig had five leadhead jigs on it, and each one had a hook. He was fishing around kelp beds and catching calico bass with the rig.


Is that type of rig legal in the ocean, and how many hooks can you fish with? I know you can only use two hooks when fishing rockfish, but how many hooks can you use to fish for ocean bass? (Randy)


Answer: There is currently no limit on the number of hooks that can be used to take kelp (calico) bass. The number of hooks that can be used in the ocean is restricted when rockfish and salmon fishing (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65), or when salmon or rockfish are aboard. If you happen to catch a rockfish, greenling, cabezon or lingcod while fishing for calico bass, it would not be legal to keep them. If you already had any of these species on board, it would also not be legal to fish with more than two hooks.


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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.


Moving Turtles and Other Wildlife Due to Drought
Question: I live in San Luis Obispo and have a quick question regarding relocating three baby turtles. My wife and I have visited this small pond for quite some time, and due to the drought we are afraid that the turtles will die due to the pond getting smaller and smaller. We know that the California turtle is in danger to become extinct due to the red-eared turtle influx here in California. I need to know if I need a permit to move them off of state land. (Kevin M., SLO)


Answer: While it’s natural to want to help, moving animals is not only illegal, it is potentially detrimental, and your good intentions could have very bad consequences. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Statewide Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson, many animals, including some turtles, have a natural homing instinct and will not stay where they are transplanted. They may be carrying diseases or parasites that could impact the animals at the release site.


In addition, transplanted animals may be genetically different, and interbreeding with the existing population could produce offspring less adapted to local conditions. At the very least we know that in times like these with very limited resources, they will now compete with the animals already existing at the site, resulting in even worse overcrowding and potentially lowering survival and reproductive success even more than would have happened from the drought conditions.


By law you can take only non-native turtles with a California sport fishing license (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.6), but release into the wild or relocation of an animal (native or non-native) requires a permit from CDFW. In the case of aquatic turtles, the law says it is unlawful to place, plant or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this state, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the state, without first submitting it for inspection to, and securing the written permission of, the department (Fish and Game Code, section 6400).


The situation you describe is very unfortunate, but all of California is experiencing a severe to exceptional drought, and many ponds and creeks have already gone dry or are expected to dry by summer’s end throughout the state. This is affecting the state’s wildlife, including many native species that are listed as endangered or threatened under state or federal law.


Abalone and scuba gear


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.


Shooting across a public road with a bow and arrow?


Question: The law says that you cannot shoot across a public road with a firearm or hunt within 150 yards of another home or building without permission, but what about archery? What about target shooting with archery? If there is no law in your community, or unincorporated area of a county that prohibits or limits use of archery, and you want to shoot archery for target practice, does the same distance law apply? (James S.)


Answer: The same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this case – you may not shoot across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings – even if just target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). In addition to shooting across a roadway, this section also makes it unlawful for any person to intentionally release any arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public roadway open to the public in an unsafe manner. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.


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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.


Why don’t some deer shed their antlers?
Question: I recently heard about a few Southern California bucks that seem to carry their antlers year round. One person I heard from insisted they were mountain biking and repeatedly saw the same deer in January and in May with a 4x3 rack. While I disagreed with the person telling me this, I admitted I am no biologist and didn't know what they were seeing. Do some deer out here not shed their antlers? I was under the impression that even though nutrition, water and climate might affect when they shed, that deer always shed their antlers. Can you share some info or point us in the right direction to learn more about the antler shedding process here in SoCal? (Al Q.)


Answer: Deer that don't shed their antlers are commonly called "stags". This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles. Testosterone plays a role in both antler development and shedding, so injuries can really affect the types of antlers they have. Weird looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet ... but those kind usually fall off normally and are replaced the next year with "normal" antlers.


So, this proves there are indeed exceptions to every rule — even biological ones!


Incidental take while spear fishing?


Question: What happens if a spearfishing diver spots a large fish and shoots and spears it without realizing until too late that it’s a giant (black) sea bass or another prohibited species? Then after the fish is speared and brought to the surface, the spearfisher identifies they have a fish they can’t take or possess and promptly returns it to the ocean. Has the spearfisher violated any laws?


A fisherman (angler) who catches a prohibited species while fishing for other species can argue that the take was unintentional/incidental. Could the spearfisher successfully make a similar argument? (Steve H.)


Answer: Spear fishermen are responsible for identifying their targets before they pull the trigger and can be held accountable for shooting a prohibited species. They are also responsible for ensuring that any fish they shoot meets the minimum size limit requirements for that species, again, before they pull the trigger.


A short lingcod or illegal giant sea bass, for example, is unlikely to survive after being shot by a spear fisherman who has the ability to select his target carefully; a short or illegal fish is much more likely to survive being hooked and released by an angler fishing from a boat, who cannot selectively target which individual fish he wishes to catch.


If a diver is unsure about the size or identity of the fish he/she’s aiming at, he/she should choose a different target. Shooting a fish that you’re unsure of could be illegal, and we believe that many spear fishermen would consider it unethical, as well.


All of these same principles also apply to hunters. No one with a rifle, shotgun, spear gun or even bow should pull the trigger unless absolutely 100 percent sure that their intended target is of legal size, species, gender, etc. An accurate (or even lucky) shot made, but with an error in judgment, isn’t worth the repercussions of breaking the very laws enacted to protect the state’s fish and game.


Why the health warnings for brown trout?


Question: In the fishing regulations there are safe eating guidelines for Donner Lake. I am trying to figure out why there are different recommendations for brown trout compared to rainbow trout. The guidelines suggest people eat only one serving of browns vs. seven servings of rainbows. Why? (Tim W.)


Answer: The recommendations in our regulation booklet are from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The recommendations are probably from actual studies done by OEHHA of mercury levels in edible flesh from these two species from Donner Lake.


According to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, we do not plant brown trout in Donner and so those fish are essentially wild and older in the system. Therefore, they have been on natural diets and accumulating mercury from the naturally occurring insects and aquatic life that comprises their food chain.


CDFW does plant rainbow trout in Donner as part of what we call a “put-and- take” fishery. For most of their lives those fish are not eating natural feeds, and are generally not piscivorous like the brown trout, so they accumulate much less mercury. Humans, especially children and women of child bearing ages, need to limit their intake of mercury because it can have serious health effects, including death.


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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.


Ingenious or Illegal?
Question: I am going over abalone laws again for any details that I may have missed and I have one quick question.

Measuring devices: You must have a fixed-arm measuring gauge, capable of spanning an abalone’s shell. It is a violation to take an abalone when not in possession of a gauge, even if the abalone is legal-sized.


As you can see in this picture, the gauge is part of the ab iron. Since it has a fixed-arm that is capable of measuring abalone, I assume this gauge is legal. I just wanted to confirm since I am hearing that people are being approached for this type of gauge. Thanks. (Jerry)


abirongauge


Answer: This gauge does not meet the requirements of a legal abalone gauge and therefore would not be legal by itself. It’s ok for a preliminary measurement, but the abalone fisherman would have to have an additional legal gauge in their possession while taking abalone.


According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Dennis McKiver, every person taking abalone “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” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(f)).


These abalone irons with attached, short, one inch arms are not “capable of accurately measuring” because the arms are not “of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell.” So, anyone using one of these will need to also have an additional legal abalone gauge in their possession.


All divers must carry an abalone gauge that measures seven inches and remember that any abalone removed from the rock that measures seven inches or more must be retained (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(d)). Wildlife officers frequently find people trophy hunting with only nine or 10 inch gauges in their possession and they end up citing many of these individuals for high grading because they are detaching and replacing abalone that are less than nine or 10 inches, but are otherwise legal to take.


Slingbow for game hunting


Question: Is it legal in California to hunt small and big game with a slingbow, provided it can cast an arrow legal for the game being hunted at least 130 yards? Referring to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354, slingbows do have flexible material (the band), and a string connecting its two ends (of the band) as the nock, to satisfy the legal definition. (Jason L.)


Answer: These slingshot-style bows would not be legal because bows are defined only as longbow, recurve or compound bow (under CCR Title 14, section 354(a)). This product falls under the definition of a crossbow (CCR Title 14, section 354(b)) “or cured latex band” and could be used for hunting under crossbow regulations.


Trout fishing with “dough balls”?


Question: While living back east, we used to use “dough balls” for trout. We made them out of corn meal, flour and water or fish meal, flour and water. Is this a legal bait for trout in California? (Mike)


Answer: Processed foods may be used in California’s inland waters where bait is legal. Where bait is legal, dough balls would be legal.


Resident sport fishing license still legal after moving out of state?


Question: If I bought a California fishing license earlier in the year but then moved out of state, can I still legally fish with that resident license even if I now have an Idaho address? I’ll be coming back and forth during the year to visit family and am hoping this license will be good at least through the end of the year. (James F., Boise, ID)


Answer: Your resident California sport fishing license is valid through Dec. 31, 2014, even if you move out of state.


“Resident” is defined as: Any person who has resided continuously in the State of California for six months or more immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit, any person on active military duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or auxiliary branch thereof, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps established pursuant to Section 2883 of Title 29 of the United States Code (Fish and Game Code, section 70).


“Nonresident” is defined as: Any person who has not resided continuously in the State of California for six months immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit (FGC, section 57.)


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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.


Protecting wildlife via highway game fences
Question: I have been hunting deer and elk out of state for years. Every western state I have hunted has installed game fencing adjacent to highways where big game frequents and/or migrates. Why in the heck doesn't California do this? I live in Grass Valley and Interstate Highway 49 is always being widened, but never does the work include game fencing or game "underpasses." I have never seen or read any information coming from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommending game fencing along California highways. (Sven O.)


tuleelkatsanluis

GAME FENCES ARE primarily installed along traditional deer and elk migratory routes. TULE ELK PHOTO COURTESY OF USFWS


Answer: We do install game fencing but don't do it everywhere. Because game fences are expensive, they are primarily installed just along the major migration routes. If designed incorrectly, they can do much more damage than good. Keep in mind that California has more than 2.3 million miles of paved road and it would be impossible to fence all of that no matter how much funding we had available.


According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, CDFW has instead focused primarily on routes that migratory deer move through as they are highly traditional and tend to move through the same areas year after year. Then once we identify where those areas are (mostly by finding road kills, but we can also identify through tracks in the snow and/or telemetry data), we work with CalTrans to mitigate those losses. CDFW has found lots of traditional migratory route areas in the state.


Some good examples of this kind of game fencing work include the miles of fencing and under crossings on I-395 from Bordertown up to the Inspection Station just south of the intersection of 395/89, fencing and undercrossings on I-395 in the Bass Hill Wildlife Area just south of Susanville, the work done in the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd area and the work we completed last year in the I-280 area (in conjunction with Caltrans and UC Davis). Our job on that one was simply to catch the deer, which we did. Caltrans engineers and wildlife experts from UC Davis analyzed the movement data of those deer in an effort to modify roadside fencing and existing undercrossings to cut down the number of deer hit on I-280. Regardless of location, it is a very expensive and time-consuming effort, not only to determine where to install the fencing and/or undercrossings, but also to build them.


Underwater camera to find trout?


Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)


Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Keeping a skunk for a pet?


Question: I live in Alameda and want to know if it is legal for me to keep a pet skunk? We will, of course, have the stink glands removed for obvious reasons. (Beatrice V.)


Answer: No. Wildlife must remain wild and cannot be owned. Generally, animals found in the wild in California can never be kept as pets. Only people who qualify for a restricted species permit may possess wild animals, like skunks. Keeping wildlife is prohibited by Fish and Game laws (CCR title 14, section 671) and California health laws due to a high incidence of rabies in skunks in California. All wildlife, even skunks, belong to the citizens of California and cannot be held, domesticated…or have their scent glands surgically removed!


Trolling for salmon


Question: This last weekend while fishing/trolling with my husband for salmon, we had three fish on board and needed one more for the two of us to have limits. My question is - do we need to fish/troll with just one rod as one of us has a limit, or may we fish with two rods until we catch one more fish? (Donna S.)


Answer: You can use two rods until you catch your final fish because boat limits apply in ocean waters. Boat limits are defined as: “When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel…, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel” (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)).


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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.




Photo captions and credit:



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