Category Archives: Deer Hunting

How Well Can Waterfowl See?

Wood duck (Photo © Carrie Wilson)

Wood duck (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: How well can ducks actually see? Can they see color? I know deer see different shades of gray, but what about ducks and geese? (David V.)

Answer: Waterfowl can control the curvature of both the lens and cornea (mammals, including humans, only control the lens). This is basically how birds can see extremely well while flying and while in the act of diving/feeding. In addition, their eyes act independently and they use one at a time to allow for depth-perception since nearly all waterfowl have monocular, not binocular, vision (they can’t stare forward at objects).

Another unique thing about waterfowl is they can see in almost all directions. A few ducks are the exception to the rule, but usually the eye placement allows them to view in many different directions at the same time. Secondly, waterfowl have a very high number of cones (which dictates color vision in humans) which allows them to see sharp images and have color vision where colors are more vivid than humans’ ability. The breadth of color vision is much wider than our own since UV light can be observed by waterfowl (UV light is absorbed by lenses in humans). This allows waterfowl to fly at night or feed in the dark or at low light conditions.


Diving in MPA reserves with game onboard?
Question: If I am on a commercial sport diving boat and we have legally caught lobster on board, may we go into a marine protected area (MPA) to dive and be assured that we will not get a ticket if we are boarded? We would of course have lobster report cards all properly filled out and the lobsters would be of legal size and taken beforehand in a legal area. Can the boat operator be assured that he will not be cited as well? (Rusty B., Montclair)

Answer: If you have lobsters on board your vessel, you may not dive in a marine reserve with gear that can be used to catch lobster (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 632 (a)(7) and (8)). A person can’t have their “fishing gear” deployed in the water when anchored or transiting through a marine reserve or other MPA that prohibits fishing for the species you have onboard. Thus, if a diver dives with a game bag and gloves, then it could be argued they have their lobster “fishing gear” in the water. If divers really want to dive in a marine reserve off their boat with catch on board, they should do everything possible to ensure it does not appear they will be pursuing/taking lobster. This would include stowing their completed lobster report card, along with the lobster and dive bags. A diver wearing gloves and diving with a game bag, or anything else that could be used to take fish, lobsters or abalone (a large dive knife or long stick with a hooked device, etc.) would appear to have another purpose in mind besides sightseeing. It would then be up to the wildlife officer to determine the appropriate action.


Are rules for selling on eBay different?
Question: From my understanding, it is illegal to sell deer skulls, deer antlers or deer mounts in the State of California. I know that eBay is based in California and they allow the sale of deer antlers, mounts and deer taxidermy. Obviously, they are receiving money from the online sale of deer parts so how did that come about, and has there been special legislation to cover it? Was this a decision allowed by the California government, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) or has it just happened this way? (Nate H.)

Answer: Just because eBay is selling these things or allowing them to be sold, doesn’t mean it’s legal. Fish and Game Code, section 3039 generally prohibits selling or purchasing any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. Complete antlers, whole heads with antlers, antlers mounted for display or antlers in the velvet may not be sold or purchased at any time. However, shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically reared animals that have been manufactured into products or handcrafted items, or that have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted, may be purchased or sold. Deer hides can also be sold.


Who can validate big game tags?
Question: I have a question regarding who can validate big game tags. In the regulations booklet there is a list of persons who may validate/countersign big game tags, but I noticed there is no mention of County Agricultural Standards Inspectors. Each county has Agricultural and Standards Inspectors and/or Agricultural Biologists and Standards Inspectors who enforce the laws and regulations of California. Would a hunter be within their legal right to have their big game tag countersigned by such a person? (Andy R., Escondido)

Answer: No. Only those people listed in the regulations booklet are authorized to validate big game tags (CCR, Title 14, section 708.6).

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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.

How Are Sturgeon Weathering the Drought?

Sturgeon photo1

White Sturgeon (CDFW photo)

Question: I have a question about sturgeon. Are they being negatively affected by the drought? Since sturgeon have been around millions of years, they must have endured many droughts and so hopefully this drought will not hit them as hard as maybe some other species that are less hardy and more sensitive to changes. Is this true? (Anonymous)

Answer: That’s an excellent question, but the answer is complicated. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras, plenty of sturgeon in California will likely outlive this drought because of the state’s adaptive management of white sturgeon harvest (green sturgeon is a threatened species so harvest is illegal) and protection from poaching.

Sturgeon and salmon are anadromous species, but salmon mature and then die in just two to three years. By comparison, female sturgeon typically mature after 15-plus years, can spawn more than once (though not annually) and can live many decades. These characteristics mean that sturgeon are resilient, but it also means they can easily be overfished. California’s sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953 due to overfishing. Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is illegal and recreational harvest is now managed through area closures, bag limits, size limits and gear restrictions.

Most sturgeon spawn in the Sacramento River and young-of-the-year fish migrate downstream to rear in the San Francisco Estuary. Large numbers of young sturgeon survive the migration only in years with nearly flooding Sacramento River flows during both winter and spring. For sturgeon it is as though 2014 is the eighth straight year of drought. Although a relatively-good “cohort” of white sturgeon spawned in 2006 will soon be harvestable, we expect the fishery to decline substantially.

Adaptive management of California’s white sturgeon through predictable ebbs in abundance is key to conservation of the species and its fishery.


Deer tag validation required from private property?
Question: If I take a legal buck on my own property, then tag and process it on site, do I need to get the tag validated since it will require me to transport the carcass off my property? (Ruth W.)

Answer: Yes. All deer must be validated even when taken on private property. Remember, wildlife belong to the people of the State of California, not to the owners of land where animals live. The law states the animal’s tag must be validated regardless of where taken and may not be transported initially except for the purpose of taking it to be validated (Fish and Game Code, section 4341).


Dorado limits higher in California
Question: I went fishing out of San Diego twice this fall. The first time we fished in California waters off San Clemente Island and the second time we fished in Mexican waters. I understand the daily bag limit for Dorado in Mexico is two fish, but can’t find it in the regulations booklet for California. What is it? (Chuck K.)

Answer: Dorado do not have a specific bag limit in California and so they fall under the general bag limit of 10 fish of any one species with no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60(a)).


When cancer treatment threatens premium draw deer hunt?
Question: I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in April and have had chemo for four months. I am doing great and am in good shape to go hunting, but I just found out I must have a bone morrow transplant and it looks like it will be around the time of the premiuml draw tag hunt. Can I return this tag and still get my points back? Doctors at Stanford are trying to let me go hunting but it may not happen. (Dennis S.)

Answer: So sorry to hear about your cancer and the treatments you’re going through! In order to return the tag without penalty, I suggest you contact our License and Revenue Branch at (916) 419-7573 immediately. You must return the tag before the season begins along with a letter explaining why you can’t complete the hunt. With some tag drawings there will be an alternate list available with hunters standing by in case of a cancellation. No alternate lists are established for premium deer tags though, so your tag will not be reissued to anyone else. There is a preference point appeal process available. Please go to CCR, Title 14, section 708.14 for the details. And best wishes that your upcoming cancer treatments go well.


Motorized turkey decoys?
Question: Are there any restrictions on using motorized or string motion decoys while turkey hunting in California? (Scott C.)

Answer: No.

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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.

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Deer Hunting in an Area Closed Following a Fire

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: My son and I have drawn G37 tags. We have been trying for 15 years to draw this once-in-a-lifetime hunt. My concern is that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has closed a big portion of this area because of the Rim Fire and the El Portal Fire. Is there anything that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can do to get these closed areas open? We don’t want to exchange our tags for the G37 hunt, we would like the USFS to open the closed areas that are in the G37 zone that burned. We and the other hunters would appreciate whatever CDFW can do for us. Thank you. (Dennis and Brent S.)

Answer: Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to require them to reopen the burned area. The fire closures are implemented whenever the USFS decides they are warranted. The best we can do is to refer you to the USFS district office so you can talk directly to those making the decisions. That might be your best hope.

And regarding your tags, even if you did want to exchange your tags, there are no refunds for deer tags. There are no exchanges for premium tags either. We can exchange restricted and unrestricted deer tags provided the following: 1) the earliest season for their zone has not already started, 2) tag quota for the tag they want to exchange is not yet filled, 3) tags remain in the zone they want to exchange for, and 4) you pay the current exchange fee. For more details, please check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708.14(j).


Shark took my salmon!
Question: While fishing off of Shelter Cove for salmon a while back, a large shark latched onto a salmon hooked on the line. After a few minutes of fight, the shark raised its head out of the water and bit through the salmon it had in its jaws, leaving the salmon head and 6 to 8 inches of flesh. My question is, by regulation, do we have to count the head as one of our take? We kept the head in the fish box and salvaged as much of the flesh as we could so as not to waste resources. (Rick W., Shelter Cove)

Answer: Since you landed the remainder of the salmon, you must count the fish toward your bag limit. However, since the fish was not retained in a whole condition, it would have been illegal to possess since it could not be measured to determine if it met the legal length requirement. So, while salvaging as much of the flesh as you could so as not to waste resources may have been the “right” thing to do, legally, you should have sent the head and remaining carcass back to the ocean to let other marine organisms utilize it. And if you had sent the carcass back down without salvaging the remainder of the fish, it would not count toward your daily bag limit.


How to pay for not returning lobster card?
Question: I did not return my lobster card last season, and I would like to know how/where I can pay my fine so I can get another card for this coming season.

Answer: When you go to purchase your 2014-2015 lobster report card, the clerk should tell you that you need to pay your $20 non-return fee first. After paying this fee, you should be able to purchase your new lobster report card.


Nonlead for all hunting on a wildlife area?
Question: I won a G12 deer tag this year (either sex shotgun only, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area). Because this is a popular waterfowl hunting area, am I legally allowed to use lead slugs or do I need to use nonlead slugs? (Philipp K.)

Answer: Yes, you may use lead slugs. In 2014, the use of lead slugs to hunt on state wildlife areas is not prohibited. However, this may be the last year that you can use lead ammunition for big game at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. In 2013, Assembly Bill 711was approved by the Governor and chaptered into law by the Secretary of State. AB 711 added several sections to the Fish and Game Code, one of which (3005.5(b)) requires a complete ban on the use of lead ammunition when taking wildlife for any purposes anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. This section also requires the Fish and Game Commission to develop a phase-in regulation by July 1, 2015, designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while still implementing the intent of the law. (For more information regarding implementation of AB 711, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/.)

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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.

How to Fish the Lobster Opener?

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I know that lobster season opens at 12:00:01 Sept. 27, 2014. If the hoop wet time is a maximum two hours, can I drop my hoops at 10:15 p.m. Sept. 26, 2014 and pull them after midnight? (George G.)

Answer: No, attempting to take lobsters is “fishing” and so if you drop your hoop nets before the season officially opens, you will be fishing out of season. Lobster season officially opens during the first minute of the first day of the season (12:00:01 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 27). The two hour wet time requirement is designed to require the net to be checked every two hours once it is legally in the water. So this means that even if you legally drop your hoop nets in the water a second after midnight, they must be serviced by 2:00:01 a.m.!


Protocols for packing deer out?
Question: I am preparing for my deer hunt and planning to hike 2½ miles one way into a place to try to harvest my deer. If I am successful I will need to pack the animal back out by myself, and this may be an all-day sucker. If this animal is large enough, I am probably going to have to quarter it and hump it out. If this is the case, do I take the head and antlers out with the tag on them, then make successive trips back in, or how do people normally do this? I don’t want to take the head out and put it in the back of my truck, risking someone might take it, and then bring another load out and find I have no evidence. Do you have a suggested protocol I should follow? Thanks. (Rick L.)

Answer: Most hunters in your situation like to bring a small saw to cut the antlers and skull cap from the head as you are not required to keep the whole head of a deer you legally harvest. The law requires that upon taking a deer, you must immediately fill out the tag completely and attach it to the antlers (or ear if an antlerless hunt) and then keep it for 15 days after the close of the season. In your case, the antlers and skull cap could be placed in your locked car in a box or plastic bag until all your meat is hauled out. Depending upon the type of terrain and the size of the deer, many hunters either take out quarters of their deer, or elect to bone it out in the field.

You might also consider using a game-carrier with wheels so that you can keep your game with you at all times while packing it out. Any wildlife officer that contacts you during this process will likely want to check your tagged antlers, but wildlife officers understand that it isn’t always possible to carry the whole deer to your car in one trip.


Ocean salmon loophole?
Question: There has been a lot of discrepancy recently due to a bit of a loophole in the ocean salmon regulations. I have been given different answers by a number of people and would like to have it clarified. I live in Santa Cruz, and in the past few weeks there have been a lot of incidental salmon catches in shallow water while targeting rockfish or lingcod. Because it is entirely incidental catch, I don’t see a problem keeping it even though it was caught on a barbed hook. As long as it was of legal size and landed with a net, it should be ok. Of course, if you choose to keep it you would have to switch to salmon-legal gear, but until you did keep one, you can’t prevent one from slamming an iron as you’re reeling up. So basically, if I am targeting rockfish using the appropriate gear, and I catch a salmon while doing so, could I land it using the required net, and if it was 24 inches, keep it and then resume fishing with salmon legal gear? (Azure C., Santa Cruz)

Answer: You are incorrect about a loophole. It is unlawful to take salmon (north of Point Conception) with a barbed hook, period. No more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. If an angler hooks a salmon while fishing for rockfish using barbed hooks, the fish must be immediately released.


Auto hook setter legal?
Question: I do a lot of fishing in lakes and the Delta. Can an auto hook-setter be used on local lakes and rivers? Please help! (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes.

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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.

Fish Parasites – Will Cold Smoking Kill Them?

(CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton)

(CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton)

Question: I recently caught a number of trout that had what I believe to be parasites called “Lernaea” attached to them in various places. I know after reading another posting from this column titled “Parasites and Trout” that these “are killed during cooking, effectively eliminating any possibility of infecting humans eating the fish,” but I am considering smoking them. Would these parasites pose any threat if the trout were cold smoked rather than cooked, or would the curing that takes place eliminate any threat as well? Presumably if they were hot smoked there would be no threat because the fish are then cooked. I appreciate any info you can provide. Thanks. (Keith R.)

Answer: First off, Lernea and other external parasitic copepods of fish are not transmissible to humans.

As far as fish brining and smoking (even hot smoking), according to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, there are other parasites that warrant more serious consideration, such as anasakine nematodes and human tapeworms. These parasites are not reliably killed by brining, smoking or even freezing. The only way to ensure they are killed is to thoroughly cook your fish. Generally, we are not worried about those parasites in freshwater fish caught in California. But, nematodes are a concern and they are commonly found in saltwater fish of all species.

For any additional questions related to human health issues, please contact the California Department of Public Health www.cdph.ca.gov.


How are deer hunting zones determined?
Question: What is the history of the deer hunting zones in California and how were they formed and decided upon? I assume the decision on the zone boundaries, tag quotas, seasons, etc. involved the Fish and Game Commission, science gathered by wildlife biologists and land managers, the public, etc. When did the random drawing fund-raising tags for big game begin? (Travis B.)

­Answer: California deer zones were originally developed in 1978 to reduce deer hunting pressure in certain areas of the state. Here’s how they came about.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was a tremendous demand for lumber to satisfy a growing demand for housing. Timber harvest created large areas of early successional habitat upon which mule and black-tailed deer thrived. By the 1960s and 1970s, changing land use practices began to change the landscape. Fire suppression, grazing and commercial/residential development projects caused the loss or degradation of deer habitat. With the reduced areas of deer habitat (and land available for hunting), the result meant higher concentrations of hunters in certain areas.

As land use practices changed and deer habitat was lost, by the winter of 1966-67 significant decreases in deer numbers were also observed. These low deer numbers were likely due to a combination of factors including habitat loss and degradation, and severe winter conditions.

Harvest numbers continued to show a downward trend into the 1970s and it was during this time that CDFW began to implement more conservative deer hunting regulations. Fewer deer and intense hunter pressure (particularly on mule deer) required new conservation measures to sustain deer populations. To relieve hunting pressure on mule deer, the decision was made to go to a zone system.

In 1978, CDFW used the best available information (along with the public’s input) to establish hunt zones that reflected the biological needs of the state’s 81 deer herds and their associated habitats. Currently, California has 44 hunt zones with some designated as premium hunts available through a lottery system. The zone/tag quota system currently in place is the result of the changes that began in 1978.


Handing off?
Question: Can two people be in a boat (both with licenses) with one person diving and handing abalone to the other person on the boat? (Janet R.)

Answer: No. Abalone may not be passed to another person until they are tagged and recorded on the abalone report card. “Cardholders … shall not transfer any abalone from his or her immediate possession unless they are first tagged and recorded on the report card” (CCR Title 14, section 29.16(b)(1)). After they are tagged and recorded, the diver can give his or her daily bag limit of abalone to the other person, but the diver cannot take any more abalone that day.


Can mice be used as bait?
Question: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

Answer: Despite the fact that there are many artificial lures on the market that look like mice, real mice may not be used in inland waters. Only legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs and treated and processed foods may be used for bait (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). In ocean waters, there are no restrictions on using mice as bait for stripers.

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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.

Hunting in the Rut?

Mule deer in the rut

Mule deer in the rut

Question: You recently said it’s easier to hunt deer during the rut — where do you get your information? Have you compared the buck kill rates in states that allow deer to be hunted during the rut against the deer harvest in California? The buck-to-doe ratio in California is terrible. I don’t believe the deer kill in California would be any higher than in any states that allow the deer harvest during the rut. It is not that easy to hunt deer in other states during the rut. If that were true the deer kill would be huge in those states, rather than their average yearly take.

Also, why does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) require that those hunters that do not harvest a deer in California must still call in or go online to report a non-harvest? If 260,000 licenses are sold and 50,000 hunters report a successful kill, why do the other 210,000 hunters have to report unsuccessful hunts? You already know simply by the successful hunters reports that the rest of the hunters were unsuccessful. What possible information can you gather by asking the unsuccessful hunters to verify an unsuccessful hunt? It is redundant information. (John M.)

Answer: Bucks in rut are much more vulnerable to all forms of predation — including by humans — because all they are interested in is mating and fighting, nothing else. They don’t even eat during that time period because they are so focused on the other activities. Plus, they are usually concentrated in certain places because rut hunting usually occurs on winter ranges for migratory deer.

According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, the reason we don’t do more is because most California deer hunters would prefer a chance to hunt every year instead of having to wait to be drawn for a buck hunt. Our stats show hunter success numbers for late season hunts are much higher than general season hunts, thus requiring fewer hunters in the field to reach harvest goals. To view all of the harvest reports posted online, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/deerhunt.html.

It would make sense if the other states you are referring to are whitetail states where they are actively trying to reduce populations. That would explain why they actively hunt in the rut.

We ask the success questions because we need to determine more information than just how many deer are killed. We want to know why people were unsuccessful. For example, if they were unsuccessful because they didn’t even go hunting, we need to delete their information from the harvest results to give a true picture of success — those that don’t even try shouldn’t be included in the calculations. We ask other questions like days spent hunting so we can paint a better picture of the amount of time and money hunters spend — all factors we use to justify the continuation of hunting. It’s not just about figuring out how many deer are killed.


Chopped up carp chum?
Question: Is it legal for me to catch carp and then chop it up to use as chum when I go ocean fishing? (Chris S.)

Answer: Yes, carp can be legally used as chum in ocean waters. In inland waters, chumming is legal in only a few freshwater lakes and streams. For a list of acceptable waters, please check section 2.40 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


Is it illegal to have a trout on a stringer?
Question: I know that trout may not be maintained or possessed in a live condition in any container on or attached to any boat, but is it also illegal to have trout on a stringer? We like to keep our catch on a stringer and the stringer in the water to preserve the meat. We do not attempt to keep trout alive with the intent of changing out the smaller ones. We just enjoy a good fish fry. Thank you for any help. (Stas and Holly A., Buena Park)

Answer: Keeping your fish on a stringer in the water is perfectly fine. The fish cannot swim freely when on a stringer, and this method does help to keep them fresh until you’re ready for your fish fry!


Fishing for sanddabs
Question: When fishing for sanddabs, how many hooks can be attached to the line on a single rod? (Len P.)

Answer: You may fish for sanddabs with as many hooks as you like on a single rod, unless rockfish, lingcod or salmon are on the vessel or in possession, in which case special restrictions apply (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

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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.

Relocating Rescued Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Question: I found and took home a dying Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) after it became a victim of a wildfire. It’s now eating great and able to move fluently which is great and a job well done in my eyes. I’ve had it in captivity close to three weeks now. Is it okay to place it back into the wild (away from humans, of course)? (Daniel G.)

Answer: While we appreciate your desire to help injured wildlife, it is illegal for members of the public to rehabilitate wildlife without possessing a wildlife rehabilitation permit.

If you kept the injured rattlesnake near or with other captive reptiles at your house, the snake should not be re-released back into the wild due to the inherent danger of spreading disease into wild populations of rattlesnakes after release.

Wildlife rehabilitation is regulated in California to ensure animals are cared for and housed properly and that their reintroduction into the wild is done very carefully. Wildlife rehabilitators often give pre-release medical exams or observe wildlife patients for an extended period of time to evaluate the health of an animal prior to release. All rehabilitation facilities have a veterinarian of record who help them with medical issues and can help them assess whether an animal is healthy enough for release. Wildlife rehabilitators must return wildlife within three miles of where the animal originated and often work with the department to find suitable release sites.

We encourage you to find a wildlife rehabilitation facility that is willing to take the rattlesnake and go through the proper channels for its release. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html .


Can cowcod caught in Mexico be imported to U.S. waters?
Question: If we’re fishing in Mexican waters and catch a cowcod, can we legally bring it back into a California port as long as we have all of the proper licenses and the Declaration for Entry form properly filled out? I’d just like to know for sure as we fish Mexican waters frequently targeting rockfish and I’d like to avoid a citation. (Jeff M., San Diego)

Answer: No. Cowcod may not be imported or even possessed in California regardless of where caught (Fish and Game Code, section 2353(a)(2)). Broomtail groupers and canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes are also illegal to be possessed or imported into California under this regulation and under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.55(b)(1), even if they were taken legally in Mexico.


Hunting deer over water?
Question: I was having a conversation with my uncle the other day and we were discussing whether it would be legal to hunt over a horse or cattle trough. With the recent drought, I’m worried that the deer in our area aren’t getting sufficient watering holes. I have read the section on baiting in the Big Game Digest, but am under the impression that water is not considered bait. So our main question is, is it legal to hunt over a horse/cattle trough or any other type of man-made pool of water if there are no horses or cattle? (Tony S., Davis)

Answer: Although there are some specific exceptions, it is generally legal to hunt near cattle troughs or other sources of water. Keep in mind that many wild animals like deer will water before or after legal hunting hours.

In addition, it is NOT legal to hunt, camp or otherwise occupy for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the California Desert Conservation Area, within 200 yards of guzzlers or horizontal wells for wildlife on public land, and within one quarter mile of five wells in Lassen County and one well in Modoc County is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 730). “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.


Abalone dinner donations?
Question: If a non-profit organization puts on a dinner and only requests donations to attend, can a group of divers legally donate abalone to the organization to be used for the dinner? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, but only as long as the dinner is not advertised as being an abalone dinner and as long as paying for the dinner is optional. You may charge for the rental of the facilities, tables, chairs, etc. and charge for the plates, napkins, cups, etc. Abalone (like all sport-caught fish and game) cannot be bought, sold, bartered or traded.

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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.