Category Archives: Depredation

Why Problem Deer Are Not Relocated

Mule deer (USFWS photo)

Mule deer (USFWS photo)

Question: I live in the Christian Valley area above Auburn. The deer are overpopulated but they are protected in the area. The deer are starving and eat everything in sight. I’ve bought deer-resistant plants and cover them at night, but then they rip off the covering and devour my plants. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars to try to keep plants on my property. I’ve even bought coyote packets to scare them away, but they tear them off and go right by them. I try to chase these deer away but they are so domesticated now that they have charged me and kicked my dog. I need help! How can I get Fish and Wildlife to transfer the deer to a higher location? I love animals but the deer here are destroying all I’ve put out. (Mary N., Auburn)

Answer: Unfortunately, because most of the deer in your area are migratory, moving them up the hill won’t help as they will soon be moving back because of snow and forage availability anyway. More than that though, according to Game Species Conservation Program Manager Craig Stowers, it is the policy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to not move depredating deer. There are several reasons for this:

1)     Several studies (including one of our own) have indicated the survival rates for these animals are extremely low.

2)     The benefits from all wildlife captures must be weighed against the risks of injury/death to the individual animals and personnel involved. Since the survival rates are so low in these instances, the benefits most definitely do not outweigh the risks.

3)     There is a very real potential for introducing new diseases and/or parasites when moving animals from one area to another without health testing, and the only way that can effectively be done is through a quarantine process. Unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities for that and couldn’t take care of the deer long enough for test results to come back.

4)     Physical deterrence is the only proven long-term solution (fencing or some type of barrier). Even if we could move a large number of deer, there are others which would eventually move in to replace them.

As California becomes more urbanized, these types of problems will continue to increase in frequency. Traditional methods of managing wildlife populations are becoming increasingly unavailable to us, primarily because of public safety issues and changing societal values. CDFW has implemented a pilot project in the San Jose area to address a very similar problem and we are hopeful it can turn into something we can use in the future as these problems are only going to continue.


Cotton destruct for crab pots

A sport crab pot with a cotton destruct line that will eventually rot to allow the trap lid to open in the event the trap becomes lost (Photo courtesy of Captain Tom Mattusch of the F/V Huli Cat)

Breakaway lines on crab pots?
Question: Are cotton breakaway lines required on sport Dungeness crab pots? (Clinton M., Petaluma)

Answer: Breakaway lines are not required on sport crab pots, but using cotton twine to secure escape rings and crab pot doors is a very good idea. On lost pots, the cotton eventually rots away and opens the pot so that crabs and other marine life can more easily escape. Without the destruct device (such as rotten cotton or cotton twine), the pot essentially becomes a self-baiting trap). We encourage you to use traps with self-destructing components. Rotten cotton also works well on the elastic or rubber between the band and the hook. When the cotton breaks, the hook falls away and the door opens. The majority of sport crab pots do not have removable escape rings, so cotton between the hook and the elastic is better for the resource.


Duck hunting youth on refuge
Question: I am a minor (17 years old) but possess an adult hunting license. Can I transport a shotgun in my vehicle for duck hunting on one of the California refuges where you only have to be 16 years of age to hunt by yourself? (James M., Modesto)

Answer: Yes, as long as your shotgun is unloaded. Persons 16 or 17 years of age in possession of a valid resident or nonresident hunting license will be issued entry permits and may hunt by themselves, but may not be accompanied by apprentice hunters (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 551(h)).


Second rod stamp required for youth?
Question: My son is 11 years old. When I take him fishing at the lake and he fishes from shore, can he fish with two rods or must he stick with one rod only? (H. Tran)

Answer: Your son can fish with two rods. However, once he turns 16 he will need a fishing license and a second rod stamp in order to fish with two rods.

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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 CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Target Shooting Directly Next to a Wetland

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I was walking the Yolo Bypass Levee north of I-80 this weekend and saw a group shooting from the levee at some targets that were placed right next to the slough and adjacent wetlands to the east. If waterfowl hunters are required to use nonlead shot to prevent incidental lead poisoning, shouldn’t target shooters firing where their shot will enter the wetland also have to use nonlead shot?

It was also disappointing to see a lot of spent shells, clay target debris and glass left all over the ground. Is there any particular regulation prohibiting this? Thanks, (Beckye S.)

Answer: California Fish and Wildlife laws don’t prohibit the use of lead ammunition for target shooting, but they do prohibit people from depositing garbage, shells, glass, etc. within 150 feet of state waters (Fish and Game Code, section 5652.) If you see this again, please call CalTip at 888-334-2258 and report it.


Legal to drop Dungeness crab traps the day/night before 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.)

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 2 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.


Looking for a fishing guide
Question: We are planning a trip to Oakland in December. Since I will be in meetings every day, my husband would love to go fishing. How can I find an honest and reputable fishing guide? (Christy L.)

Answer: A list of licensed fishing guides can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/ (click on “Lists” and then “Fishing Guides (PDF).” Other than this, your best bet is to do a Google search for the different guides around San Francisco Bay, and investigate feedback from customers, which is also likely available online.


Donating game for fundraising dinners?
Question: Can pigs taken by hunters as well as pigs taken under depredation permits be donated for use at a fund-raising dinner? (Mike H.)

Answer: Yes, as long as those donating the animals receive no compensation for their donations and as long as the patrons are not paying for the dinner itself. It is illegal for animals taken under the authority of a hunting license or depredation permit to be bought, sold, traded or bartered.


Chumming
Question: Can you help settle a debate please? Is intentionally chumming or blood baiting from shore or the pier permissible in California ocean waters? What specific regulations or laws apply? (Heather H.)

Answer: Yes, chumming in ocean waters is permitted statewide (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.05).


Fish trapping from a pier
Question: I don’t have a fishing license because I know I am allowed to fish and catch some crab from a public pier. I am wondering though if I am allowed to use a trap to catch fish. The trap would be a mesh cage made of nylon (or another type of durable material). It would have an opening, be attached to a float to keep it about five feet beneath the surface of the water, and have a main line going back up to the pier where I will have the rope tied down to the railing. I am targeting fish, like mackerel. Does this plan all sound alright? (Dave L.)

Answer: No. Taking mackerel or most other finfish in a trap under a sport fishing license is not permitted. Only a handful of baitfishes (shiner surfperch, longjaw mudsuckers, Pacific staghorn sculpin) may be taken by traps that meet certain dimensions in certain areas of the coast. For details, please see Section 28.75 on pg. 46 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, which is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, at local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices or wherever sport fishing licenses are sold.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Can Fish Food Attract Bears?

Black bear (Photo: USFWS)

Black bear (Photo: USFWS)

Question: I have a question regarding a fish pond at the house we recently purchased in Tahoe. We aren’t up there all the time so I was thinking about tossing in a time-release fish feeder but do not want to attract bears. It would basically be the flake stuff in a compressed block form. The four goldfish occupying the pond seem to do fine for long periods without food and even survived for several months before we bought the house. They must have been eating bugs, algae or whatever. I’d hate for them to have struggled to survive all that time, and then I come along and think I’m doing a good thing by feeding them, and end up attracting bears.

The house is definitely in bear territory and only a block away from forest area. The fish are located in a pond in the front yard. My question is whether or not a bear is able to smell a time-release Tetramin fish feeder. Is this something to worry about? Any information you can provide would be much appreciated! Thanks. (Liz C., Lake Tahoe)

Answer: Regarding bears’ ability to smell and potentially be attracted to your automatic feeder, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Black Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, the answer is yes. Bears can smell fish food and are attracted to it. What’s worse is if they are attracted to the pond by the smell of the feed, then they may decide to snack on your fish in addition to the fish food.

Kenyon recommends feeding your fish with time-release pellets (feeding blocks). He has done this with his aquarium fish while away on vacation or out in the field, and he claims it worked well for him. These pellets are little disks that you toss into the pond, and over time water dissolves the material that holds it together. This process works slowly, and depending on the size of the pellet, it could last for about a month or two. The benefit to this approach is that because they are submerged, they do not put off any odor into the air, and thus bears won’t be attracted to your pond.


Boat limits with multiple trips
Question: An interesting question came up at the fish cleaning station concerning an actual trip. This was sport fishing, not commercial or commercial passenger. There is one boat that holds three people, including the captain. The scenario is the captain goes out ocean fishing with fisherpersons A and B, and returns with full limits of salmon (6). The captain drops off both people and picks up fisherperson C. Can the boat still fish with two rods under the boat limits rule, or are they limited to one rod as the captain has already caught his fish earlier in the day? The consensus at the table was he would be at risk of a violation. (David G.)

Answer: No. They can both fish until the last fisherman’s bag limit is filled (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)). While the skipper can still only take one bag limit per day, under a boat limit, the skipper is not done until the fishing trip is completed when he returns for the day. Boat limits apply to all species except sturgeon.


How to follow the number of tags currently sold?
Question: Is there a way to follow how many bear and deer tags have currently been sold? Can you tell me how many have been sold so far this year? Is there a public record or data somewhere? (Norm G.)

Answer: Yes, the deer tag seasons and tag quotas adopted by the Fish and Game Commission are posted online at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/tags/index.html. In addition, a daily list of the current available deer tags is posted at: www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/. There is no bear tag quota, but the season is monitored by the number of bears reported taken. Bear season runs through Dec. 29, or until 1,700 bears are reported taken. If 1,700 bears are harvested before Dec. 29, CDFW will immediately close the season early. For daily updates on the number of reported bear harvested, please visit our website at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/bear/harvest.html.


Garden destroyers
Question: I have cottontail rabbits, gophers and rats that are destroying my garden and property. Do I need a license to shoot them on my private property? (Rodger D.)

Answer: Landowners and their tenants are not prohibited from taking cottontail rabbits, gophers or rats that are damaging their crops, gardens or ornamental plants (Fish and Game Code, section 4186 and CCR Title 14, section 472(a)). However, you should check with your local police department or sheriff to determine whether you may discharge a firearm where you live.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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