Category Archives: Invertebrates

Keeping Homes Inhospitable to Nuisance Raccoons

Raccoons are illegal to keep as house pets (USFWS photo)

To prevent raccoons and other nuisance wildlife from taking up residence in and around your house and yard, your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable (USFWS photo)

Question: Raccoons come up through the culverts in our neighborhood and are causing a lot of trouble. Last year, there was one that tore a vent off our house and got in the subfloor and tore up our ducts under there. This year one of them attacked my dog in our back yard. The vet bill was very expensive. Can I trap them in live traps and have animal control euthanize them for me? (Kathy C.)

Answer: You can trap them but Animal Control may not want to euthanize them for you. Your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable. Bolster up your exterior vents and doors to prevent raccoons and other unwanted wildlife from moving in to use for cover. This also means remove all attractants (dog food, fallen fruit, koi ponds, water fountains, etc.). Even water can be an attractant, especially this year. If you do all of this but continue to have a problem, the law allows that it is legal to kill raccoons at any time when they are causing damage.

Some excellent additional information is available online from the UC Integrated Pest Management Program at

Measuring short lobsters without bringing them onboard
Question: When hoop netting for lobsters from a boat, how are we supposed to bring the nets to the surface and accurately measure the lobsters without pulling the hoop nets onboard? The law states that it is illegal to bring any undersized lobster onboard any vessel, but it is virtually impossible to measure them while hanging over the side of the boat, especially when it’s dark, there’s a swell in the ocean and the boat is bobbing up and down. I’m asking because recently a friend of mine was cited for bringing up his net and placing it on the deck of his boat so he could measure his catch. Can you please clarify this? (Miguel Z.)

Answer: Lobsters cannot be brought onboard boats or kayaks for measuring and must instead be measured at the waterline. Pull up the hoop net, step on the line and lean over and measure it … though I know, easier said than done in the dark and in rough seas.

California spiny lobsters must measure a minimum of three and one-fourth inches along a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. Lobsters may be brought to the surface for the purpose of measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat and retained. All must be measured immediately upon being brought to the surface. Any undersize lobster must be released immediately into the water. In addition, spiny lobsters shall be kept in a whole, measurable condition, until being prepared for immediate consumption (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90).

Transporting migratory game birds
Question: I know the rules state that while bird hunting you must leave a fully feathered wing intact until you get home. When I get back to my trailer at camp (which is considered my second home), can I remove the wings, vacuum seal the bird and freeze it, or do I have to wait until I actually get to my primary home? (Rob D.)

Answer: All birds, including migratory game birds, possessed or transported within California must have a fully feathered wing or head attached until placed into a personal abode or commercial preservation facility or until prepared for immediate consumption. Doves must have a fully feathered wing attached (CCR Title 14, section 251.7(b)).

Waterfowl and other migratory birds that are going to be transported anywhere must have a fully feathered wing or head attached (except for doves, which must have a wing attached). A trailer in camp is not your “abode.”

Selling mounted trophies
Question: I received a collection of museum-quality African game trophies in a divorce settlement and would like to sell them. I recently moved to California but the mounts are still in Alaska. They are not animals that exist in California. Can I sell them on eBay? I want to unload these animals legally. I have read the statutes. I need to know if I can work with someone in Fish and Game, show them the collection, and get their advice. Alaska Fish and Game already gave me an email saying they could be moved to California and sold. (Mary Jane S., Sacramento)

Answer: You should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about any mounts that you would like to import to California and sell. The sale of birds or mammals found in the wild in California is prohibited by Fish and Game Code, section 3039. In addition, California Penal Code, section 653o prohibits the importation for commercial purposes, sale and possession with intent to sell a number of African wildlife species that may be in your collection.

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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

Drifting for Ducks

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river is in the “Balance of the State” zone and is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion? (Anonymous)

Answer: Drifting is not considered “under power.” What you describe would be legal as long as you access the river from a legal access point, and once you’re hunting, your motion is not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off. You must also take into account the retrieval of the birds you take. Should you take a bird that lands on private property that you do not have the authority to access, you run the risk of a hunting trespass for retrieval, or waste of game if you do not retrieve it. Also, you need to remember not to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, and these may be difficult to see from the river. Finally, there may be other state or local ordinances and regulations (such as no shooting zones) or other restrictions that may prevent you from hunting the section of water you want to hunt.

Importing insects?
Question: I would like to start up a business importing exotic dead insects into California to preserve and sell as curiosities. I realize that if they were alive, that’d be easy (No Bueno!), but what about dead ones? I propose to import them dead but not preserved, and then preserve them myself. Would it make a difference if I imported them already preserved? Aside from this sounding like the intro to a bad ‘50s giant bug movie, is what I am proposing to do legal? (Brent G.)

Answer: State fish and wildlife laws don’t prohibit importation or sale of insects, but there are other laws that you may need to be aware of. You should contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some creatures, although dead, may still contain live eggs within. And if any of the species you propose to import are restricted species, border inspectors will not likely differentiate between whether they are dead or alive.

Compound bow fishing for sharks?
Question: Is it legal to bow hunt sharks? Someone told me a man in California took a 550 pound mako shark with a compound bow. (Robert S.)

Answer: Spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used for taking all varieties of skates, rays and sharks, except white sharks. Such gear may not be possessed or used within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken. Bow and arrow fishing tackle may also be used to take finfish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill swordfish and white shark (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 28.95).

Regarding crossbows, under hunting regulations, a crossbow is not considered archery equipment. But under fishing regulations, crossbows may be used for bow and arrow fishing tackle. It does not matter what type of bow or crossbow is used under legal bow and arrow fishing, but a line is required to be attached to the bow and the arrow/bolt (CCR, Title 14, section 1.23).

Carrying rifles through a game refuge?
Question: How do I legally travel through a wildlife game refuge on the way to hunting on the other side of the refuge? With bolt action rifles, we take the bolt out so that it’s not a functioning gun anymore. What about with a lever action gun? How can we legally cross through the game refuge? (Erin)

Answer: The possession of firearms is not prohibited “when traveling through any game refuges when the firearms are taken apart or encased and unloaded. When the traveling is done on a route other than a public highway or other public thoroughfare or right of way, notice shall be given to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at least 24 hours before that traveling. The notice shall give the name and address of the person intending to travel through the refuge, the name of the refuge, the approximate route, and the approximate time when that person intends to travel through the refuge” (Fish and Game Code, section 10506).

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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

Is Boat Captain Responsible for Illegal Acts of Passengers?

Private boatQuestion: A friend of mine took some of his friends’ parents on his boat to go rock picking for abalone. Unknown to my friend, some of the parents picked extra abs and chose the biggest three of the lot to keep. It was clearly illegal and they were cited when they got back to the docks.

Since my friend was just transporting people out to the spot where they could find abalone, was he responsible for what they did once they got off his boat after rock picking? He doesn’t want his boat blacklisted. (Craig)

Answer: Typically, someone in your friend’s situation would not be cited for the violations of the passengers, especially if there is no question of who possessed the abalone. However, if the passengers claimed the abalone were not theirs, or if there were overlimits on board, an officer could cite everyone on the boat for jointly possessing the abalone. In this case, each person who violated the law was responsible for their specific violation. As far as the boat being “blacklisted,” the warden who made the case may pay special attention to this boat in the future because of the actions that took place in the past.

The best advice for your friend is to be educated on the fishing laws that pertain to the activity his passengers are engaging in, and to share this knowledge with the people on his boat.

What’s my recourse for wasted game citation?
Question: Yesterday I was cited for wasted game. My son and I were hunting Eurasian dove at a local feed lot in Southern California. I was approached by the wardens who did all of the normal checks, told us they were watching us from afar, then asked us if we had dropped any birds we didn’t retrieve. I said yes, one in a stagnant pond and one in amongst a herd of cows, which I tried to retrieve but the bird was wounded and flopped away into another pen. He asked why I didn’t retrieve it and I told him I’m broke (bad knees) and couldn’t get through the nasty stuff in the pens. I then sent my son in to push his way through the cows and he retrieved the bird for me in front of the warden. The warden checked to see that it was a Euro, which it was, I put it in my game bag and he still cited me for it. What if any recourse do I have when I go to court? (Jim R., Lake Elsinore)

Answer: Just tell the judge your story. However, since you shot these birds without making sure you were doing so in a location where you could retrieve them, and because your intention had been to let them lay where they landed because they were too difficult to go after, you did intend to leave them where they ended up … that’s “wanton waste” or “wasted game.”

Using a pressure washer to dig up clams?
Question: Can I use a pressure washer to dig geoduck and/or gaper clams? (Vuong M.)

Answer: No. Clams may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands. The only special provisions allowed are for the use of spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks (CCR Title 14, sections 29.10(a) and 29.20(c)). Pressure washers are not a legal method of take for mollusks.

Capture and keep rattlesnakes as pets?
Question: Is it legal to capture and keep rattlesnakes as a pet? I know it’s not smart, but is it legal? (Phil C.)

Answer: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed – so be sure you can identify your snakes! Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency and police or sheriff regarding whether any local ordinances apply in your area. Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit. Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two. The take of other species of reptiles and amphibians for pets requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR Title 14, sections 5.05 and 5.60. And if you live with the city limits, you might want to check your city ordinances to determine whether possession of a venomous reptile is allowed.

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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

Bass Fishing Beyond Limits?

Bass anglers competing in a CDFW-permitted fishing tournament may keep fishing once five fish are in possession but must cull one of these immediately upon catching a sixth (Photo courtesy of RBFF Take Me Fishing)

Bass anglers competing in a CDFW-permitted bass fishing tournament may keep fishing once five fish are in possession but must cull one of these immediately upon catching a sixth (Photo courtesy of RBFF Take Me Fishing)

Question: I was reading one of your responses to a trout fisherman’s question regarding continuing to fish and practice catch and release after he had five trout on his stringer. The short answer was no, because “…catch-and-release fishing is not legal unless you’re still under your maximum bag limit.” I’m a bass fisherman and if that’s the case, it would seem to conflict with me culling fish once a limit is reached in a tournament. Are we violating the law? (Jim V.)

Answer: You are correct that is most cases once an angler reaches their bag limit they cannot continue fishing. However, a special provision has been made for California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)-permitted and approved bass fishing tournaments to allow black bass anglers only during the tournament to keep fishing once five fish are in possession (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 230). They must cull one of these fish immediately upon catching a sixth in order to never be in possession of more than five bass at one time.

Harvesting barnacles attached to floating driftwood?
Question: I read your answer recently about how barnacles cannot be harvested in the intertidal zone. Is there a way of legally obtaining Gooseneck barnacles to eat? When I’m way out in the ocean on a boat, I often see floating logs, driftwood and other debris. If it has been floating for a long time, more often than not I will find there are a large number of Gooseneck barnacles attached to the submerged side. Since they are not being taken from the intertidal zone (1,000 feet of shore), would they be legal to take? (Joe K.)

Answer: Yes, if the barnacles are attached to floating logs or driftwood, it would be legal and the limit would be 35 (CCR Title 15, section 29.05(a)). The only problem now is that for much of the debris off our coast that has been in the water long enough to have large numbers of Gooseneck barnacles, there could be health concerns if the wood originated in Fukashima, Japan, due to the possibility of contact with radioactive materials. You’d want to carefully consider how badly you want to harvest those barnacles!

Hunting with a depredation permit
Question: I have several related questions regarding hunting. If I have a pig depredation permit, can I legally carry a firearm and a bow while hunting deer during the archery season? Does the person who helps me with my pig problem need a hunting license? Lastly, is there an expiration date on a depredation permit? (Bill)

Answer: When deer hunting during an archery season, you may not possess a firearm of any kind.

Regarding the pig depredation permit, if you are listed as one of three allowed designated shooters on the permit, you may remove property-damaging wild pigs under conditions listed on the permit. All depredation permits have an expiration date listed on them. Someone “assisting you” with the depredation permit should also be listed as a designated shooter. No hunting license is required for a person authorized under a depredation permit. The person assisting you has to be at least 21 years old and may not have a conviction of wildlife law in the past 12 months.

Bringing a stuffed polar bear mount into California?
Question: A relative of mine owns a stuffed polar bear which is currently located in Idaho at my uncle’s house. I have another elder relative who would like to take it but is not able to drive that far to pick it up so he asked me to do it. However, I am concerned because I’m not sure about the laws and regulations for this kind of thing for simply picking it up in Idaho and bringing it to California. What are the laws and am I able to do this? (Andrew M.)

Answer: So long as you comply with the declaration requirement in Fish and Game Code, section 2353 and have no intent to import or possess the polar bear for commercial purposes, you are not prohibited from transporting it into California. Importations for commercial purposes, possession with intent to sell, and the sale within California of any part of a polar bear is prohibited (Penal Code, section 653o). In addition, the sale, purchase or possession for sale of any bear or bear part in California is prohibited (Fish and Game Code, section 4758).

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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

If Land is Not Posted, Can it be Hunted?

Kids take part in a managed youth hunt with the help of guides and parents on a state wildlife area. (Photo courtesy of MDC)

Question: I have two questions about a recent press release announcing the dove opener. First of all it states: “Hunters must have written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land.” I believe this is incorrect. If the property is POSTED, a hunter must have written permission. If it is not posted, there is no requirement for the hunter to know it is private and therefore stay out. The law is written a little odd, but I think this is the agreed interpretation.

My second question is regarding the press release statements, “It is illegal to hunt within 200 yards of an artificial water source for wildlife.” I have never seen this before. What is that statute? My understanding of the law was that a hunter many not park a vehicle or camp with 1/4 mile of an artificial water source and that he could not stay on the water source for more than 30 minutes. However, it’s perfectly legal to hunt right up to and across a guzzler (or other artificial water). (Jim Mathews)

Answer: Regarding your first question, you are correct that hunters don’t always need to have written permission from the landowner to hunt on private lands. Hunters are required to obtain written permission prior to hunting on private land that is fenced, cultivated, or where signs forbidding trespass or hunting are displayed at intervals not less than three to the mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering those lands (Fish and Game Code, section 2016). However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) advises hunters to respect the property rights of others. CDFWs hunting regulations booklets all state:

“If the land you hunt on is not your own, it belongs to someone else. Make sure you have a legal right to be there. Contact the owner or person who administers the property, and secure written permission to hunt. A hunting license does not entitle you to enter private property.”

This is always the best practice. Public land managers may restrict hunting activities, too. Unfortunately, one of the most common perpetuations of a negative image of hunting is hunter trespass. Land owners are never pleased to find strangers with guns on their property without permission.

For the entire language of the hunter trespass law, please go to and search using Code = FGC and Section = 2016.

As far as your second question, you are referring to the regulation for Camping Near or Occupying Wildlife Watering Places (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 730). The regulation does not apply everywhere, and it specifically lists the prohibited activities and the locations where they are prohibited. The press release should have referenced “wildlife watering places” as those are the exact words from the regulation.

Wildlife watering places are defined as: “Waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.”

“Camping/Occupying” is defined as: “Establishing or inhabiting a camp; resting; picnicking; sleeping; parking or inhabiting any motor vehicle or trailer; hunting; or engaging in any other recreational activity for a period of more than thirty (30) minutes at a given location.”

Under this regulation, hunting is prohibited within 200 yards of the following:

• Any guzzler or horizontal well for wildlife on public land within the State of California.
• Any of the wildlife watering places on public land within the boundary of the California Desert Conservation Area as depicted on the Bureau of Land Management maps of “Calif. Federal Public Lands Responsibility,” “Calif. Desert Conservation Area” and the new “Desert District, B.L.M.”

Hunting is also prohibited within one-quarter mile of the following wildlife watering places:

(A) Butte Well – Lassen County.
(B) Schaffer Well – Lassen County.
(C) Tableland Well – Lassen County.
(D) Table Mountain Well – Lassen County.
(E) Timber Mountain Well – Modoc National Forest, Modoc County.
(F) Belfast Well – Lassen County.

For the entire language of this section, please go to and search using Title = 14 and Section = 730.

Shell collecting prohibited on Newport Beach?
Question: I often walk on the beach in Newport and collect any shells that appear to be in good shape. Recently a city official told me I cannot collect shells on the beach. Are there specific local, state or federal laws or regulations governing the collection of common shells on the beaches of Newport? (Lori, Newport Beach)

Answer: Unless the beach is part of a Marine Protected Area with Title 14 regulations that specifically prohibit collection of shells or nonliving marine resources, Fish and Wildlife laws don’t prohibit shell collection. If a city official told you that you cannot collect shells, then there may be a city ordinance. You should check with the City of Newport Beach.

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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

Blue Crabs, Drones to Track Wildlife, Crayfish Traps and Abalone Trips

Portunus xantusii (swimming crab) has been found in recent years residing in Mission Bay, San Diego (CDFW photo by Travis Buck)

Portunus xantusii (swimming crabs) have been reported in Mission Bay, San Diego in recent years. Live crabs show more of a bluish or purplish coloration (CDFW photo by Travis Buck)

Question: I have seen what appears to be blue crabs in the Mission Bay area of San Diego that look like crabs normally found in the southern U.S. What are these? What is the limit, size and permitted way of catching them in California? I cannot seem to find it in the handbook. (Don F.)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has received several reports of blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, in the Mission Bay area of San Diego. However, none of the reports thus far have been substantiated. According to CDFW Marine Environmental Scientist Travis Buck of San Diego, the crabs you have seen are most likely Portunus xantusii (swimming crab), which are native to Southern California and resemble the East Coast/Gulf of Mexico blue crab.

To harvest these crabs, you will need a California sport fishing license with an ocean enhancement stamp. There is no closed season or minimum size limit, the bag limit is 35 and these crabs may be taken by hand or with a hoop net. No more than five hoop nets may be used per person from a boat and no more than two per person from a pier or jetty. There is a maximum of 10 hoop nets per vessel. Also, divers may not possess any hooked devices while diving for crustaceans, including crabs.

Regulations for these crabs fall under section 29.05, “general regulations for invertebrates,” and 29.80, “gear restrictions for crustaceans,” found on pages 46, 49 and 50 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Can drones be used to find and track wildlife?
Question: A discussion came up at our rod and gun club the other day about whether there are any official regulations or restrictions regarding hunters using drones to assist in locating and tracking big game and/or other wildlife. I personally can’t believe they would be legal to use but none of us have ever heard any official determination on this subject one way or another. With deer season in full swing and more people now owning drones, I shudder to think that these increasingly sophisticated aerial contraptions might be used by other hunters for wildlife surveillance and even possibly for the driving or tracking of animals that they are hunting. Or conversely, what about anti-hunters using them to spook wildlife and disrupt hunters while they are tracking and stocking their animals? What is the official word on this issue? (Anonymous)

Answer: It is unlawful to use a drone to assist in taking wildlife as you describe, and it would be unlawful to harass legal hunters with a drone (Fish and Game Code, section 2009). It is also unlawful for any person to “… use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251).

Drone owners/pilots should keep in mind that additional legislation is currently being considered that may further restrict the use of drones in different public and private areas. Drones are already prohibited in National Parks and that list may soon grow, so stay tuned.

Crayfish trap limits?
Question: Had a question about crawfishing that no one can seem to answer for me. My questions are how many traps are allowed per person with a fishing license? I have been told that it’s a limit of 2 but when I look into the California Fish and Game for 2015-2016 Handbook it doesn’t say anything about how many traps are allowed. (William P., Lemoore)

Answer: Crayfish may be harvested year round with a sportfishing license (except for closures listed below) and there are no limits on the number you can possess or take home. Regarding methods of take, crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps. There is no limit on number of traps, however, they may not be over three feet in greatest dimension. Any other species taken must be returned to the water immediately. Traps need not be closely attended.

For a list of those areas closed to harvest in order to protect the Shasta crayfish, please refer to section 5.35(d) on page 21 of the 2015-2016 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. In addition, crayfish may not be used for bait in sections of the Pit River (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.30). The season closures in Chapter 3 (District Trout and Salmon Special Regulations) do not apply to crayfish fishing with methods other than hook and line (see sections 7.00 and 7.50(a)(2)).

Multi-day trip for abalone
Question: I’m a rock picker for red abalone. Because of long distance driving I plan to go for a two-day trip. With daily limits of three, I would get three on the 1st day and another three on the 2nd day before driving home. I will then have six abalone in possession. Would this be legal? (Henry)

Answer: No. The bag limit is also the possession limit. You may only legally possess up to three red abalone. You would have to eat or give away all or part of your first day’s limit before you picked more abalone on a subsequent day.

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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

Must Hunters and Anglers Carry CDL with License?

Hunters and anglers should carry photo identification along with appropriate fishing/hunting licenses to properly identify who they are (CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton).

Hunters and anglers should carry photo identification, along with their appropriate hunting/fishing licenses, to properly identify themselves to wildlife officers when asked. (CDFW photo)

Question: While hunting or fishing, besides carrying the appropriate license(s), do I also need to carry my state driver’s license? I would prefer to leave it in my vehicle, but I also want to be sure I am in compliance with the law if I run into a game warden in the field. So my question is do I need to carry photo I.D. with my license? (Anthony B.)

Answer: You will need to verify that you are the person holding your own fishing or hunting license. Though photo identification is not mandated by law, being able to identify yourself properly is. If you cannot appropriately identify who you are, you may see yourself in an extended contact with the wildlife officer. If you’re getting cited for something, the wildlife officer may have to take you to jail until you can be properly identified. The bottom line is even though the law doesn’t state you must have photo identification in possession, it would benefit you greatly to carry photo identification, so you may properly identify who you are to the wildlife officer.

Family crabbing trip
Question: My family plans to take a trip to San Francisco this July. Is red crab season still open or is it open all year? If it is open, please let me in on some rules and regulations, such as the limit and the size? Where can I find more information about crabbing in San Francisco and ask more questions? (Kao X.)

Answer: Take of rock crab is open year-round. Red/yellow/rock crab are species that may be kept in San Francisco Bay (no Dungeness crab may be kept from the Bay, even during the open season). Rock crab and other non-Dungeness crab have a daily bag and possession limit of 35 crab that must measure at least four inches across (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.85(b) on pg. 50 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet).

There are a variety of piers where people go crabbing in the San Francisco Bay area. Try reviewing piers on the website A guide that shows the differences between the crab species is available online at

Be sure to review the above subsection thoroughly for further fishing regulations that pertain to rock crab (bag limit, size limit, etc.). For more information about crab, you can visit our Invertebrate Management Project webpage at

Transporting cleaned and portioned fish
Question: If I take a long road trip with my boat in tow and catch fish over a few days, my concern is that while I will only have legal quantities in possession, the fish will be cleaned, portioned and vacuum sealed before I return home with my boat in tow. I know it’s legal to clean fish after I am at my vacation home, but in this this situation the quantities of yellowtail, yellowfin, white sea bass, etc. would be impossible to determine even though I am within the possession limits. How would a wildlife officer deal with this situation if I was stopped on the roadtrip home with a cooler full of vacuum sealed fish? (Charlie C.)

Answer: Unless the regulations specifically require that a fish be kept whole until being prepared for immediate consumption, such as lobster and abalone, you may clean and store your fish in any condition you want to, once they are brought ashore. In similar situations, people have chosen to package each fish separately, and retain the carcass, so that if stopped by a wildlife officer, they could show the officer the legal-sized carcasses, which would also aid in identifying the species of fish. That still would be more complicated than if you hadn’t chunked up the fish, but it would be better than a bag of nondescript cubes of fish. If the quantity appeared highly excessive, a wildlife officer might use our Wildlife Forensics Laboratory to determine the exact quantity.

AO tags during rifle season?
Question: Can you use an Archery-Only tag during rifle season if you’re still using archery equipment as your method of take? (Eric C.)

Answer: Yes. The Archery-Only (AO) tag allows hunting with archery equipment only during the archery and general seasons in A, B or D zones and Hunt G10 (military only). You may not possess a firearm or crossbow when hunting under the authority of an AO deer tag, except as otherwise provided.

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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