Category Archives: Deer Hunting

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

Fishing With Glitter May Bring More Than Big Fish

CDFW photo by marine biologist Derek Stein

(CDFW Photo by Marine Scientist Derek Stein)

Question: I have been studying up on different methods of spear fishing while free diving and have read about the use of “glitter” as an attractant for bait fish. I have an idea to sprinkle glitter in the water so that when the bait fish come to investigate, the large game fish will follow and be caught as they attack the bait fish!

What are your views and the legal ramifications of this method? I understand chumming is not legal for taking game animals in our state, but the use of artificial lures is. With my idea the game fish would not be chummed by this method but instead just attracted by the collection of bait fish. If this method actually works, would it be legal? (Theodore G., Stockton)

Answer: You have an innovative idea there. Unfortunately, even if your plan to lure unsuspecting fish to you by sprinkling shiny, sparkling glitter in the water were to work, you could be cited for doing so. Placing glitter in the water is littering and is prohibited under Fish and Game Code, section 5652.

The activity you describe would be considered chumming and chumming is defined as “placing any material in the water, other than on a hook while angling, for the purpose of attracting fish to a particular area in order that they may be taken” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.32). Chumming in the ocean is allowed (as long as the chum is not considered to be litter), but chumming in freshwater is typically not permissible except in specific areas and for certain fish species (see CCR Title14, section 2.40).

Prohibited from retrieving deer from private property
Question: I recently shot a doe with my A31 tag in Los Angeles County (Archery Only-Either Sex). It appeared to be a lethal shot from 22 yards with decent shot placement. I tracked the blood to a privately owned ranch 100 yards away. I stopped tracking it when it appeared she went onto the ranch property. I then approached the ranch manager to get permission to continue tracking my deer. The owner initially agreed but after one of her coworkers talked to her, she retracted her permission (approximately 10 minutes from the time we spoke in her office). She requested that we leave her property at once as she didn’t want people to think they approved of hunting. I didn’t have enough time to locate my deer and left broken-hearted.

I don’t like seeing animals die or suffer for no reason. I would never have shot if I would have known I couldn’t recover her. I believe I did everything legal and correct but it shouldn’t be right that a deer goes to waste because of the bias of a property manager.

Is there anything I could have done to recover my deer? Do I have any rights or is there anyone I could have contacted? I’m still sick over the situation. (Luke G., Loma Linda)

Answer: It’s unfortunate that this happened. Although the law prevents one from wasting the deer, the law does not permit the trespass to retrieve it. Perhaps, if you’d contacted the local game warden, they may have been able to contact the ranch manager or owner for some possible assistance to prevent the deer from going to waste.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Todd Tognazzini, when archery hunting it is recommended to hunt farther from private property boundaries to avoid this type of problem as deer taken with archery usually travel farther after a lethal wound than those shot with a rifle. Tognazzini says he has never been refused when a fresh and legitimate blood trail is found leaving public land onto private property.

Where does inland end and ocean begin?
Question: I would like to fish with two rods in the Delta but don’t know whether the regulations are in the freshwater books or in the ocean books. Is the Delta part of the ocean regulations or is it considered inland waters? Where does it change from ocean to inland if considered inland? (Brian S., Felton)

Answer: You can legally fish in the waters of the Delta with a second rod stamp. Inland regulations apply from upstream of the Delta to Carquinez Bridge. The definition of inland waters vs ocean waters is, “Inland waters are all the fresh, brackish and inland saline waters of the state, including lagoons and tidewaters upstream from the mouths of coastal rivers and streams. Inland waters exclude the waters of San Francisco and San Pablo bays downstream from the Carquinez Bridge, the tidal portions of rivers and streams flowing into San Francisco and San Pablo bays, and the waters of Elkhorn Slough …” (CCR Title 14, section 1.53).

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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

Peace Officer, Archery Hunting and Off-duty Weapon

CPW bow hunter_Tyler Baskfield_22336

A peace officer, whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow, but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm.

Question: My question is about peace officers carrying a handgun while archery hunting. The way I read the Fish and Game Code, it only states that you may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person, not that it shall or will be concealed. I always carry a backpack while hunting, and I usually carry my off-duty weapon on the waist belt under a pouch. This is not totally concealed, so is it acceptable or is it going to be left to officer discretion in the field? (Ken)

Answer: Yes, this is acceptable, but make sure to carry your peace officer identification to avoid any confusion.

“A peace officer …, whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow …, but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm” (Fish and Game Code, section 4370(b)).

Lifetime fishing license is too long!
Question: I purchased a lifetime fishing license about 10 years ago. What used to be a small piece of paper that I could put in my wallet or keep in my tackle box has grown to where it’s now more than six feet in length. How about giving me a credit card type of license I can recharge every year instead of a new one? This would save a lot of money and be a lot easier to carry. (Michael T.)

: When lifetime items are renewed online, multiple items (tags, report cards, etc.) ordered together may arrive in one envelope and be printed out together as one long document. This accounts for the document length you describe, but just so you know, you should separate your documents on the dotted line printed between documents to make them more manageable.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Associate Governmental Program Analyst Brent George, our License and Revenue Branch at one time considered a credit card system for lifetime license customers. Although the idea has some merit, they found that given California’s large population, and the overall complexity of sport fishing and hunting privileges available throughout the state, this solution is not practical. CDFW always tries to consider all viable options when developing licensing solutions for California’s hunters and anglers.

Spearfishing in Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area
Question: I have a question regarding fishing regulations as they apply to spearfishing in the Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area. The regulation provides that “take of all living marine resources is prohibited except the recreational take of finfish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 632(a)(2)) from shore and abalone.” Can I swim from shore and spearfish? I would assume the answer is yes because one has to swim from shore to dive for abalone, so swimming from shore to spearfish should similarly be allowed. What about using a kayak to get out to the dive spot? Or, what about inner tubes or boogie boards? (Gary R.)

Answer: Although you may swim from shore to take abalone, you may not spearfish in the Duxbury Reef State Marine Conservation Area. Finfish may only be taken from shore in this area (CCR Title 14, section 632(b)(50(B)).

Need a definite schedule for upcoming grunion runs
Question: I grew up in California but now live in New York. I am coming for a visit and would love to bring my kids to see a grunion run. I have your schedule but want to know if it is a definite schedule. I know they follow the full moon cycle but just want to know if there has ever been a time when you predicted the grunion will spawn on a certain day but they did not? (Andrea C., New York)

Answer: Grunion runs will occur on most southern California beaches, but unfortunately for people trying to see the grunion runs, they may not occur every night on the same beaches and may be limited to small areas of any one beach. Sometimes grunion choose not to run on beaches that are known for grunion runs; only they know why. Long story short, there are no guarantees, but as with most fishing efforts, if you don’t try you certainly will not see or catch any fish!

Grunion will spawn somewhere in their range on the days predicted; if they do not show up on one beach, they are usually at another beach. The schedule predicts the best possible times to view the runs, based on years of documentation of their behavior. Beaches that frequently host grunion runs are listed online under What Every Grunion Hunter Should Know > Best locations, on

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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

Harvest of Road-Killed Wild Game Meat?

(Photo by Carrie Wilson)

(Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I have a screwy immune system with 3-4 different diagnoses (depending on the doctor) as to what the problem may be. Going vegetarian makes it worse. I must have flesh food, but again, because of the immune issues, it has to be grassfed/pastured or wild game. Whatever farmers do to crowded animals turns my body into a torture chamber.

I understand from my Canadian contacts with similar issues that Canadian provinces can create a list of people who have a medical need for this kind of protein, and freshly taken road-killed deer, elk, moose (not many of those!) and the like are made available to those people at low cost. The people take on the risk themselves, of course, and have the right to refuse if it doesn’t smell or look right to them. Do you know if there is any such system in the works, or being discussed at all, in this country or state? It does seem to be simultaneously wise, rational and kind. (Isabel)

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your immune system issues, but in California we have no road kill harvest program available and are not considering such a program. This type of program would create many biological and law enforcement issues, as well as expose the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to liability.

If you feel consumption of wild game may be your best solution, you should consider harvesting your own game and then you will ensure your meat will be fresh, contain no introduced chemicals and will be some of the freshest and healthiest meat available. To get started, consider taking one of our hunter education courses ( and then buy a hunting license. It is legal for a hunter to give you game meat he or she harvested too, but it is not legal to buy, barter, trade, etc. for it.

There are also commercial sources of game meat available, such as from farm-raised deer and elk from Australia and New Zealand, and there may be others that offer farm-raised fallow deer from California.

If hunting and harvesting your own protein is not for you, another option might be to consider shopping in local co-op stores and invest in free range, organic, grass fed beef if commercial meat is a health issue for you.

Turkey decoy
Question: Can you please tell me if it legal to use a turkey decoy with a motorized base in California? They sell them at Bass Pro Shops. (Mike R.)

Answer: Yes, this decoy would be legal to use.

Black perch inquiry
Question: I’ve been hearing reports of surf and jetty anglers catching good numbers of “black perch”, however, I’ve never heard of a black perch. Do you think they are actually catching black rockfish instead? If so, I worry these anglers may be thinking of these rockfish as perch and are therefore applying perch regulations rather than rockfish regulations. Now that the bag limit of black rockfish is lower, people may break the law without knowing it. Can you please find out if black perch are really black rockfish? (Capt. David B., Santa Barbara)

Answer: Thank you for your concern regarding potential impacts to black rockfish by shore anglers. Black perch, Embiotica jacksoni, is a member of the surfperch family and are definitely not black rockfish, Sebastes melanops.

According to CDFW Environmental Scientist Ken Oda, black perch are commonly caught by anglers on jetties, piers and rocky shorelines. They are also taken occasionally by spear fishermen diving in and around kelp. Other species of surfperch often caught with black perch are striped seaperch, rubberlip seaperch and pile perch. San Francisco Bay area fishermen often refer to black perch as “pogies” and in other areas of the state, anglers call them “buttermouths” because their lips are often yellowish in color.

In most areas, anglers may take up to 10 black surfperch as part of a surfperch aggregate limit of 20. But in San Francisco Bay and San Pablo Bay, up to five black surfperch may be taken as part of the aggregate limit of five surfperch (CCR Title 14, section 28.59(c)(1). When it comes to black rockfish, anglers may take no more than five as part of the daily bag and possession limit of 10 fish in combination of all species within the RCG Complex (rockfish, cabezon and greenlings) (CCR Title 14, section 28.55(b)).

For a color photo identification guide of common surfperch that also contains diagnostic features of the black perch, please go to Another source of interesting information about black perch can be found on the Aquarium of the Pacific website at:

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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


When the USDA Checks Wild Waterfowl, is it a Bad Sign for Hunters?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at

Although They Sell Deer Chow, Don’t Be Deceived

Even if you find deer chow for sale in your local feed store, it is not legal to use to feed deer or any big game in California. (Photo of a white-tailed deer courtesy of USFWS)

Even if you find deer chow for sale in your local feed store, it is not legal to use to feed deer or any big game in California. (Photo of a white-tailed deer courtesy of USFWS)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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