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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.
Residential varmint trapping
Question: I live in Chico across the street from Bidwell Park. Lately I have been plagued with raccoons and skunks on my property. They have been wreaking havoc on my garden, crapping all over my deck and carport, and I think they have been using the pool (WITHOUT a lifeguard on duty which is COMPLETELY UNSAFE!).

I contacted a gentleman who is employed by the USDA and he told me he has been contracted by the County of Butte to trap and euthanize or relocate problem varmints. He explained to me that I can either perform these tasks myself or, for a fee, he will remove and eliminate any problem varmint that I trap on my property. I am located within the City limits of Chico in the County of Butte.


I am writing to you to make sure that I am in compliance with all laws. The last thing I want is to get cited and fined because of a raccoon or a skunk. If the information I received from this person is incorrect, then it would seem that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the USDA employee contracted by Butte County need to have a chat and come up with a final call on a situation like this so everyone is reading the same book and getting on the same page. I didn’t know who to go to with this before I acted on it, but you have never steered me wrong in the past. (Dave)


Answer: This USDA employee is giving you good information, Dave. Your other option is to hire a private pest control company, with the appropriate licensing from the state, to perform the trapping for you. They would need a hunting license and a trapper’s permit to do so just like anyone else.


Collecting fish donations to donate to local food banks?


Question: I was wondering if it would be possible (i.e. legal) to put a freezer at boat landings to collect fish donations from anglers on sport and private boats? Donations would be given to local food banks and shelters. (Will E.)


Answer: Although this sounds like a nice idea, existing law doesn’t allow for overlimits of fish, and it would be very difficult for wildlife officers to separate an angler with an overlimit from a person transporting the freezer contents to a food bank. Potential criminal liability would also arise if people deposited fish that were undersized or out of season. A better option might be to post information at the landing encouraging anglers to donate fish directly to the food banks and shelters.


Is it legal to have a firearm onboard while fishing for sturgeon?


Question: We’d like to do some casting and blasting and are interested in shooting target skeet while fishing for sturgeon. Is it legal to possess a firearm, or rather, to have a firearm on my boat while sturgeon fishing? I am not a hunter or a gun guy and I know it is illegal to use a firearm to land a sturgeon. What about having just a pellet gun in the cuddy cabin for non-hunting target practice? Is this legal? (Scott E.)


Answer: There are no CDFW regulations prohibiting you from simply having a firearm on the boat while sturgeon fishing. Your only concerns will be to make sure you won’t be violating any county or city ordinances by possessing firearms and shooting skeet in whatever area you intend to do this.


Scouting for abalone out of season


Question: I belong to a small group of diving enthusiasts and we recently had a debate come up where there are varying opinions on the subject of gauging abalone. One portion of the group is stating that it is perfectly legal to freedive with an abalone gauge out of season and measure abalone with the intent of coming back during the season to retrieve the abs. I believe this would be pursuing or hunting abalone and would be against the rules. I pointed out that the new 8 a.m. rule specifically states you can enter the water but not “be searching for” abalone prior to 8 a.m. This leads me to believe if it is illegal to search for abs during a time when “take” is not permitted, then it would be illegal out of season as well. Can you help us settle this debate? (Brian M., Antioch)


Answer: Yes, it would be legal to dive with an abalone gauge as long as you don’t dive with an abalone iron or other means to detach abalone. As long as there is no attempt to take the abalone, and it is not handled or detached from the rocks, it would be legal.


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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.


USDA checks of wild waterfowl
Question: On the last day of hunting at Modesto Reservoir we had a lady from the United States Department of Agriculture that swabbed our ducks and geese for parasites, etc. I asked her why she was doing this, and she smiled at me. So then I said, “Is it that Foster Farms has been having problems with viruses?” She just smiled again and nodded her head.

I can't help but wonder what Foster Farms is up to but can bet they are up to no good for hunters. They had problems with their chickens in Livingston and other places so I can't help but wonder if they are trying to tie this to our waterfowl. I think there is a good story here for somebody who wants to take the time to make the phone calls and dig it out! (Ron W.)


auswsbiologist300
A USFWS BIOLOGIST swabbing a goose to test for avian influenza. USFWS PHOTO

Answer: While this is an interesting question, Ron, there’s no conspiracy going on here against waterfowl hunters. I asked Krysta Rogers, Avian Specialist and Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and here’s what she had to say:


“In response to the recent detections of avian influenza in Washington in December 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Geological Survey, in coordination with state wildlife agencies, initiated active surveillance through swab sampling of hunter-harvested waterfowl in several states, including California. Avian influenza viruses naturally circulate in wild bird populations, primarily in species that are associated with an aquatic habitat. Therefore, monitoring wild waterfowl for avian influenza activity is one of the most efficient surveillance tools for determining what viruses are circulating worldwide. Between 2006 and 2011, CDFW participated in similar surveillance efforts to aid in the detection of avian influenza viruses. As with the previous surveillance, state and federal wildlife agencies do not foresee any impacts to wild waterfowl populations or to hunting.


“Recently, in the western United States, two main viruses have been detected, H5N2 and H5N8. Both viruses have previously been found in other parts of the world. While these viruses are not known to cause significant disease in wild waterfowl, they can cause high mortality in domestic poultry. Surveillance of hunter-harvested waterfowl has resulted in additional detections of these viruses in California, Oregon, Utah and Idaho. The H5N2 virus has been detected in backyard poultry flocks in Washington and Idaho while the H5N8 virus has been detected in a backyard poultry flock in Oregon and a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County, California.”


Managing multiple fishing rods on the Sacramento River?


Question: If two anglers are anchored on the Sacramento River bait fishing for sturgeon and both have second rod validations allowing them to fish with four rods collectively, if one person then hooks up, is it legal for the other person to reel in the other three rods while that person is fighting the fish? In other words, is it legal for the person not trying to reel the fish in to clear the other three rods? (Monty R.)


Answer: Yes, provided the anglers are fishing in a location where the second rod validation is operative. Legally, since each fisherman is only authorized to fish with up to two fishing poles, the fisherman trying to bring in the other three poles would have to first secure one of his fishing rods so that it is no longer being used to fish. That would leave two fishing poles to reel in, which would be within the angler’s legal authority to do.


Dead heads


Question: I've been up shed hunting and have recently found a couple mountain lion kills. Can I legally take the dead heads? How do I prove it’s a dead head and not a poached deer? (Brice R.)


Answer: You should avoid picking up anything that is fresh but it is not illegal for someone to pick up bleached antlers. In addition, you can sell sheds that you have found but they must have been manufactured into products or handcraft items, or have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted. You cannot sell whole antlers with heads attached (Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c)).


Selling sea urchin jewelry


Question: Is it legal to use legally harvested/farmed California uni biproducts for jewelry to be sold in retail? I have a local fish market that sells large amounts of the purple urchins they obtain from Catalina Seafood. I obtain the eaten shells and use the spikes for crafts. Is it legal to sell them in California as well as globally? (Alexandra F.)


Answer: Commercially-taken sea urchin spines can be sold in jewelry, but sport-harvested marine resources may not be sold, bartered, traded, etc.


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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 atCarrie.Wilson@wildlife.ca.gov.


Deer chow at the feed store?
Question: I was at my local feed store today and was astounded to find bags of Purina Deer Chow for sale, and another feed for wild pigs. I know it is illegal in California to feed big game animals, including deer, bear, elk, wild pigs and pronghorn. So why is it okay to sell deer food? I asked the proprietor and they said that it was not illegal to sell the food and that their customers wanted the product. Isn't this a little bit like saying it is okay to sell drugs, even if it is illegal to use them? What is the rationale for allowing the sale of a product when its use is banned? (Roy "Confused in Caspar" Falk)

whitetaileddeer
EVEN IF YOU find deer chow for sale in your local feed store, it is not legal to use to feed deer or any big game in California. PHOTO BY USFWS

Answer: Although feeding deer or any big game species is prohibited in California, deer are allowed to be fed in other states. Hunters are even allowed to bait them in some states, probably even with this feed. The deer picture that they show on the package is of a white-tail deer which we don't have here in California. Feeding deer unnaturally concentrates the animals in a very confined location and increases the potential spread of disease. It also makes them more vulnerable to predation by mountain lions and coyotes who quickly figure out where to find concentrated numbers of deer. CDFW has investigated many cases of deer feeding that inadvertently attracted mountain lions which killed the deer the people were trying to feed.


You're right to feel confused and I've asked the same question. It doesn't seem right since it sends the wrong message to the customers, but the Fish and Game Code generally doesn’t regulate the products that feed stores and pet stores may carry. Many also sell ferret food, and those animals are illegal to possess in California.


Why do fishing and hunting license fees increase every year? 


Question: Why do fishing and hunting license fees and various cards and tags increase in price every year? This concerns my friends and me as we are of the older population of California and are on fixed incomes. Hunting and fishing are some of the only pleasures we have to enjoy in our old age, but it is becoming so costly we won’t be able to afford it if you keep raising prices. (Bill D.)


Answer: California law establishes fishing and hunting license fees each year, not the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The base fee for sport fishing licenses is established in Fish and Game Code, section 7149 and the fees for stamps and most report cards are established in other sections of the Fish and Game Code or California Code of Regulations, Title 14.


According to CDFW License Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, the Fish and Game Code, section 713 requires license fees to be adjusted in response to increases (or decreases) in costs of goods and services using an index called the “Implicit Price Deflator.” This index is a gauge of the change in the cost of goods and services from year to year.


For example, as hatchery, law enforcement and wildlife management costs have increased, license fees needed to increase to keep pace with these rising costs. Essentially, license fees are adjusted to compensate for inflation. If license fees were not adjusted for inflation, then funding for fish and wildlife management and protection would actually decrease because the “buying power” of a dollar has declined over the years.


License fee increases over the past five years have ranged from a low of 1.2 percent in 2013 to a high of 2.8 percent in 2011. The average index over the past five years has been 1.91 percent. For 2014, the cost of goods and services increased by 1.3 percent and 2015 license fees increased accordingly. If the cost of goods and services were to decrease, then license fees would actually decrease the same percentage. However, when is the last time the cost of living actually decreased?


Although fishing and hunting license fees have increased throughout the years, the increase ensures that the CDFW has adequate funding to manage California’s diverse fish and wildlife resources and provide the public with enjoyable fishing and hunting experiences.


Javelin hunting


Question: I just tried javelin throwing for the first time and it sparked an idea that I could hunt with this for big game mammals. But I can’t find it specified anywhere in the mammal hunting regulations booklet. Does this mean that since it isn’t mentioned it’s illegal to use to take down an animal? (Brent L.)


Answer: Yes, you are correct. Hunting by spear or javelin is not a legal method of take for big game, or for anything in California!


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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.


Accidental catches
Question: I fly fish for calico bass using barbless hooks in the kelp beds off Catalina Island and the coast, and it’s all strictly catch and release. Garibaldi are abundant in this habitat and are very aggressive. When I can see them I can usually avoid catching them. However, rarely one will take my fly inadvertently. Since they are only lightly hooked through the lip, they survive the accidental catch and release. However, it is illegal to "take" garibaldi. Is this considered illegal if caught by accident and then released? How can one avoid catching them? (Rick B.)

garibaldi
GARIBALDI, CALIFORNIA’S state marine fish, are illegal to take (CDFW photo by Dan Gotshall)

Answer: No, it is not considered an illegal action to accidentally catch a prohibited species as long as it is immediately released back into the waters it came from. Intentionally targeting a prohibited species IS illegal, but you do not seem to be doing that.


As for how to avoid catching them, that’s a tricky question. About the only thing you can try would be to use a larger hook (that the garibaldi might have problems taking into their small mouths), but fly fishing generally doesn't allow for use of larger hooks. You may need to employ a bit of ingenuity to figure out how to reduce the number of garibaldi you end up hooking.


What to do with banded waterfowl? 


Question: This past weekend a banded speckled-belly goose was taken at my duck club. I’d like to report this banded bird to the authorities. The time, date and place, as well as the tag number seem obvious to report. Is there any other information needed, and who should I report this band to? (Larry L.)


Answer: Since waterfowl are migratory, the U.S. Geological Survey has the responsibility of collecting and analyzing all banding information. Government and private sector scientists and waterfowl managers tag and monitor migratory waterfowl every year. This banding information helps them to assess population numbers and track their movement patterns. You may also be asked to provide information about weather and any other waterfowl the goose was flying with when taken. Please go to www.reportband.gov to report banded birds.


Capturing largemouth bass for a home aquarium? 


Question: One of my friends has a large aquarium and is interested in putting some largemouth bass in it. I would like to know what the regulations are for catching a largemouth bass in a local lake and then transporting it live to his tank. It would never be released into a different body of water, and it would be taken legally. (Azure C.)


Answer: Transporting fish alive from the water where they are taken is prohibited (California Code of Regulations, section 1.63). Laws allowing certain species of live fish to be maintained alive in closed-systems do not authorize possession in home aquariums. Your friend can legally buy bass for his or her aquarium from a licensed aquaculturalist, as long as he or she does not release it into the wild.


Qualifications for a disabled access hunting site?


Question: I have always enjoyed duck hunting but now after several orthopedic surgeries on my hips and knees, I have considerable difficulty in walking. In the outdoors I must use a staff and can go about 100 yards on a level surface before resting. I am not currently confined to the use of a walker, crutches or a wheelchair, however, in the light of my walking disability, would I be eligible to apply for a disabled access hunting site? I have a permanent disabled person parking card and I hold a Lifetime License. (Vivian N., Marysville)


Answer: Yes, you qualify because you possess a permanent disabled parking placard. To hunt at a disabled accessible hunting site, you must have one of the following:


— a permanent disabled parking placard, and the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles showing that the placard was issued to you;


— a disabled veteran license plate and the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles showing that the plate was issued to you; or


— a mobility impaired disabled persons motor vehicle hunting license.


You might also be interested in the special hunts for disabled persons conducted through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) during pheasant season. Information about these hunts can generally be found on our website in the fall prior to the season opener, at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/DFGSpecialHunts/Default.aspx.


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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.


Hunting Sea Ducks
Question: I would like to hunt sea ducks and target surf scoters this waterfowl season. Is this legal? If so, how does one know where it is legal to hunt from shore? Also, if hunting from a boat, I know the motor must not be utilized except to retrieve birds. What other guidelines are there for hunting from a boat? (Scott S.)

surfscoter
SURF SCOTER. PHOTO COURTESY OF DUCKS UNLIMITED

Answer: Surf scoters and other sea ducks are found along the entire coast but hunting for them is more popular north of the Golden Gate Bridge in northern California (such as Humboldt Bay) and in Oregon and Washington. Hunting from shore is legal provided that the shoreline is not private (unless you have permission to be there). It also must not be in an area covered by one of the numerous ecological reserves, marine reserves, state parks, etc. along the California coast (see Fish and Game Code, section 2016, for the parameters).


The best thing for you to do is select an area you’re interested in hunting and then contact some local hunting clubs or stores for specific tips and recommendations. Be sure the area allows for discharging of firearms and that you will not be hunting on private property or in one of the parks or reserves that do not allow for hunting.


As far as hunting from a boat, you may not hunt or kill birds while “under power.” In order to legally hunt from a boat, the boat may not be moving due to the influence of the motor.


In general, hunting from navigable waters is legal, as long as the person stays in the boat. Exceptions to this would be the same as the legal closures I listed that cover shoreline hunting.


Multi-day permits


Question: I have a multi-day fishing permit to use on my personal boat. What is considered a 24-hour day for meeting my daily bag/catch limit? For example, if I am lobster fishing and I catch my limit of seven lobsters before 12:00 am, does a multi-day permit qualify me and everybody onboard my boat at 12:01 am to continue fishing through the night to catch our next day’s limit of lobsters? If not, is a day of lobster fishing considered one complete night so that the next limit of seven lobsters can only be taken the following night? Also, do the same rules apply for fishing, and are all daily bag limits on a 24 hour rotation ending at 12:00 am? If not, then when do they end? (Chris P.)


Answer: A Declaration for Multi-Day Fishing Trip requires that the trip is continuous and extends for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip. If you were fishing or diving for lobster for 12 hours or more before midnight (12:00 a.m.) on the first day of your trip, then you would be able to take your second day's limit after midnight, as long as your trip extended for at least 12 hours on the second day as well.


The multi-day fishing permit is intended to allow persons fishing offshore, on a trip that lasts multiple days, to catch and keep up to three daily limits of finfish, lobster and rock scallops (in Southern California). In addition, no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.15).


Rod and reel and crab fishing at the same time?


Question: Can you set crab pots from a boat, and once finished, fish with a pole as long as the fish are in season? Thanks for your help on this question (Craig J.)


Answer: Yes, there's no fishing regulation that prohibits rod and reel fishing while you're soaking your crab pot.


Is it legal to post signs on land you do not own?


Question: I’ve been finding some of my favorite hunting areas now have “No Hunting” signs hung on the fence lines. The problem is these signs are being posted by people who don’t even own the land! This has got to be illegal but I’m not sure what the regulations actually say here. Can you offer us some help? (Jack L.)


Answer: It is illegal for someone to post any sign prohibiting trespass or hunting on any land unless authorized by the owner or the person in lawful possession of the property. By the same token it is also unlawful for any person to maliciously tear down, mutilate or destroy any sign, signboard or other notice forbidding hunting or trespass on land (ref. FGC Section 2018.)



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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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