Category Archives: Depredation

Releasing Sea Creatures Back to the Wild?

DFG photo

Question: Instead of taking life by the act of fishing or eating sea creatures, I want to save the lives of those creatures from seafood markets that are about to be killed for food by buying them and releasing them back to the ocean. Please let me know what kind of live sea creatures (crabs, oyster, shrimp, fish, etc.) are allowed to be legally released back to the ocean. I don’t want to do anything illegal, so please let me know of any restrictions I may need to know. (Justin)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is illegal to release any ocean finfish or shellfish from captivity back into ocean waters (Fish and Game Code, section 6400). Animals living in a fish tank or captive environment may have been exposed to foreign diseases and/or parasites and now carry them. To protect the natural ocean environments and prevent captive finfish and invertebrates from introducing these foreign diseases and/or parasites to healthy wild stocks, it is illegal to move or reintroduce them to the wild.


Shooting a nuisance bear?
Question: I have a buddy who lives near Lake Arrowhead. They have a bear that has been vandalizing their property (like getting into trash cans), threatening animals and making them on edge at night or during the day. Would it be legal to shoot this nuisance animal? (Joey Cox, Tulare)

Answer: No, it is not legal to take this or any bear unless you are a holder of a valid bear tag during the open season or are a person operating under the conditions of a valid Depredation Permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Tell your buddy to contact DFG in Southern California at (909) 484-0167 to report the damage being caused by the bear and to obtain information about the requirements for acquiring a depredation permit.


Where to stick a stamp?
Question: I just bought the new California computerized hunting license. Since it is issued by the state, Big 5 sold me the federal waterfowl stamp separately. The federal stamp is not printed on the license. Where do I stick it on the license since there is no place designated like the past licenses? Also, if a person buys the initial license with no stamps, then decides to duck hunt later, how do they add the printed stamp info? Do you have to pay for a new license over again? (Anonymous)

Answer: The law does not require the federal waterfowl stamp to be attached to the new license. You just need to have it in your possession while hunting (along with your license) so you can present it to a game warden upon request. You may want to just staple it to your hunting license to keep them together. The federal stamp must still be signed no matter where it is kept. If a person buys a license and later wants to get validations for bird hunting, they will be given an additional printout of the validations and must carry that along with the original license.


Big Game hunting with an airgun?
Question: Is it legal to hunt and take big game in California with an airgun of any caliber? I am aware that small game (rabbits, squirrels, etc) may be taken with any caliber airgun and turkeys may be taken with a .20 caliber or larger airgun. I read this question recently on a very widely viewed airgun forum. (Mike Clark)

Answer: Air rifles are unlawful for this purpose. Check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353 for the specific methods allowed for the taking of big game.


How fast do abalone grow?
Question: How fast do abalone grow?

Answer. Abalone are relatively slow growing. Tagging studies indicate northern California red abalone take about 12 years to reach seven inches, but growth rates are highly variable. Abalone grow nearly one inch per year for the first few years, and much slower after that. It takes about five years for red abalone to grow from seven inches to eight inches. At eight inches, growth rates are so slow it takes about 13 years to grow another inch. Slow growth makes abalone populations vulnerable to overfishing since many years are needed to replace each abalone taken.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

 

What To Do About Increasing Mountain Lion Attacks?

California mountain lion (DFG file photo)

 

Question: I am looking for some information on the seriousness of the apparent increase in mountain lion attacks in the news lately. There have been several incidents of bears attacking humans, and we have a bear season. I’m wondering if it might not be time to reconsider having a mountain lion season? I understand that more mountain lions are killed each year now with depredation permits than were ever killed with a mountain lion season.

What can you tell me about the population increase in mountain lions in California in the past 10 years or so? Would it require legislation to overturn the existing law? Would Department of Fish and Game (DFG) data support the need for such a reversal? (Bill T.)

Answer: It’s important to note that mountain lion (puma) attacks on humans are very rare. In the last decade, there have been only four confirmed attacks in California, three of which were nonfatal. Though you may be seeing more media coverage of mountain lion attacks on domestic animals, there’s no evidence that the number of these incidents is increasing. While DFG does not formally track the number of domestic animals killed by pumas, we do keep track of the number of depredation permits issued for problem mountain lions. The numbers of depredation permits issued and resulting pumas killed have actually been fewer in recent years, though (www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/depredation.html).

According to Marc Kenyon, DFG’s Statewide Coordinator for Bear, Mountain Lion and Wild Pig Programs, keeping track of those permits is key. Since the original moratorium was placed on mountain lion hunting in California in 1972, DFG has been unable to assess the statewide puma population size in the traditional way (by inputting harvest numbers and age and gender ratios into statistical models). Researchers have attempted to develop indirect count methods over the years, but none have proven to be cost-effective with widespread applicability.

Hence, Kenyon relies on the annual number of depredation permits as an index to the statewide population size. It’s a logical assumption that as the number of permits decreases, so too does the puma population. He believes the puma population is following this index, and the population size is, in fact, smaller than it was 10 years ago. This trend in the puma population closely follows the trend in the statewide deer population, as depicted on DFG’s website (www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/population.html). When viewing this website, note the similarity in the curves depicted on the graphs from the years 1972-2000, understanding that predator and prey populations traditionally cycle with a three to four year lag (the predators lag behind the prey).

The California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 (Proposition 117) placed the current ban on puma hunting in California. According to the language in the Act, a four-fifths vote by both houses of the Legislature is required to approve any amendment to the Act. The Act further states (in Section 8): “Any amendment of this act shall be consistent with, and further the purposes of, this act…” which essentially means that no amendment shall reverse the Act’s intent. A 1996 ballot measure, Proposition 197, asked voters whether the specially protected status of the mountain lion afforded by Proposition 117 should be repealed and the species managed by the Fish and Game Commission like all other mammals. This measure failed with a vote of 58 percent opposed, 42 percent support.

It is difficult to answer your last question regarding the data supporting a need to reverse the legislation. We have data that documents puma densities in a few University-sponsored study locations throughout the state. We have puma depredation and public safety incident data. We have deer (prey) numbers throughout the years. We have habitat availability models. However, the amount of data needed to adequately support this type of legislative action is subjective. Kenyon says that he suspects any such proposal would be highly controversial.


Spearfishing rockfish and lingcod after dark?
Question: Can rockfish and lingcod be taken by spearfishing after dark? (Brian S.)

Answer: Yes, you may spearfish for rockfish and lingcod at night, except in San Francisco Bay (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.56).


Is it legal to keep live wild pigs on private property?
Question: Are there circumstances under which a California resident can keep live wild pigs on their property? Where can I find a regulation that addresses this? (Mike A.)

Answer: It is not lawful for a California resident to possess wild pigs (Sus scrofa) (CCR Title 14, section 671(c)(2)(Q)). However, there is an exception for Sus scrofa domestica, also known as the domesticated pig one commonly sees on a farm (CCR Title 14, section 671(c)(2)(Q)(1)).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Taking extra game to give away?

DFG photo by Derek Stein

 

Question: If I go diving with a friend in Sea Ranch (Sonoma County) and my wife stays home in San Francisco, can I dive one day and gift those abalone to my wife even though she is not with me at the moment? Then the following day, can I dive again, take an additional limit for myself, and then drive home alone with six abalone in my car? I would make sure the abalone remained in their shells and I would carry a letter stating three of the abalone are gifts for my wife. Does she have to be with me in order for me to gift the abalone to her? (Chuck V.)

Answer: This scenario would not be legal. Regardless of your intent, if you have six abalone in your possession, you will be in violation of an overlimit and could be cited and have all of your abalone confiscated. Only three abalone may be possessed at any time by an individual, period (California Code of Regulations, section 29.15[c]).

In order for you to legally gift abalone to someone else, that person must be with you to receive and personally take possession of the abalone. Just carrying a note stating that you intend to gift three of the six abalone in your possession to your wife will not suffice because you are still in possession of an overlimit, and are thus in violation of the law.

Even though regulations allow for gifting abalone to other people, remember that bag and possession limits are set up as fishery management tools to help control excessive take of abalone. Even with the current limits and regulations, there is concern that some heavily used fishing sites are showing signs of reduced abalone populations. Careful management of this fishery is required to help assure California’s abalone stocks remain healthy and sustainable for continued future harvest through the coming years. Each diver and shore picker should be aware and mindful of this and help whenever they can.


Are Native Americans exempt from California fishing laws?
Question: On the Klamath River, is it legal for an Indian guide with paying clients on his boat to use more than one rod per passenger and barbed hooks when this is illegal on this river? (Kathleen C.)

Answer: Generally, there are no exceptions for Native Americans in the fishing regulations; however, on some rivers where Tribal Rights have been granted to the native people while on the tribal lands, they may be exempt from California fishing laws. When such exemptions are in place it only applies to Native Americans on the Tribal Roll of the Tribe with the rights. In your example, the paying clients are not exempt unless they are Native Americans on the Tribal Roll of the Tribe with the exemption.


Wild bird feeding
Question: We feed birds in our yard year round, but this year we are delighted to have a family of wild quail who have taken up residence in our yard in San Ramon. Our problem is there are also two pairs of raucous big birds that look like and act like blue jays, and they have taken over our yard.

Their call is so unpleasant and they are aggressive and chase away other smaller birds. They are eating the food we’re trying to preserve for the quail and other smaller birds, such as finches. Can those large blue-jay-like birds be trapped or contained some how? They are so bold they attack neighborhood dogs and cats by pecking at their heads. Help, please! (Dione Z.)

Answer: Sorry to hear about the problem you’re having. Unfortunately, the jays are protected under the Migratory Bird Act and so cannot be trapped, contained or hurt. Your best bet is to try to change your feeding methods somehow to exclude the Jays. This may be difficult but it’s really your only alternative.


Deer hunting from my porch?
Question: I have a house on five acres near Winters in northern California and have some really nice bucks on my land. Everyday they come within a few feet of my house and graze on my garden and plants. If I purchase an A Zone tag this year, can I legally shoot a deer on my land from my house or porch? My house is situated more than 200 yards from any other property or house and it is outside of the city limits. Thanks. (Brian T.)

Answer: Yes. The safety zone law prohibits shooting within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the occupant. As long as it is otherwise legal to discharge a firearm in this area (e.g. not in the city limits), then go for it!

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.