Category Archives: Other

Is a Loaded Firearm in a Parked Car Legal?

A loaded firearm in a car is illegal at all times (DFG photo)

Question: Is it legal to have a loaded firearm in a parked vehicle while hunting? (Scott D. Beyer)

Answer: No. Possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun (live round in the chamber) in a vehicle, even when parked and you are away from your vehicle for any purpose, is still prohibited (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). This law applies when you are upon or along a public roadway or other way open to the public. This means any place the public can go, including roadless or “off road” areas.


Deer validation requirements?
Question: I just went through the validation part of the Department of Fish and Game site and can’t locate the following requirement. What happened was a friend stopped Saturday at a California Highway Patrol office to have his deer tag validated. The carcass was in the truck in a deer bag and the horns were cut off. The officer told him he was in violation of the law as the head MUST be attached to the deer until dropped off at a butcher shop or cut up at home. I’ve never heard of this before in California. Is this the case? If so, it’s a severe imposition on successful hunters. The book says the head must be retained in case a warden asks to see it after the fact, but what if you want it mounted and must skin it as soon as possible? I cannot locate anything referring to the horns attached issue. Why not require proof of sex be left on the carcass instead? (Bill A.)

Answer: For hunters who backpack into roadless areas, they are required to pack out of the field all edible meat and the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers (skull cap) with the tag attached. The remainder of the skull may be discarded at the kill site. The tag must be filled out and attached to the antlers prior to transportation to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag. Hunters are then required to maintain the portion of the head which normally bears the antlers with the tag attached during the open season and for 15 days thereafter, and it must be produced upon demand to any officer authorized to enforce the regulations (California Code of Regulations, Title 14 sections 708(3)(4) & (5) and FGC sections 4302, 4304 & 4306).


Keeping Dungeness crab females?
Question: I see on many websites that you cannot take female Dungeness, but I see in the regs no comment about females. Have the rules changed now allowing females can be kept? (E.J. K.)

Answer: Recreational fisherman may keep the female Dungeness crab – commercial fishermen must throw them back. Since the females are often so much smaller and less meaty than the males, many fishermen toss them back so they can reproduce more young for future generations. The larger females that meet the minimum size requirements also carry the most eggs and produce the most young, so it makes sense to let females go as a matter of course. However, there is no law that compels you to do so.


Why no fishing license displays?
Question: Can you tell me the reason why anglers are not required to display their fishing licenses anymore? How are wardens supposed to catch poachers and unlicensed people? I know we have fewer wardens than needed, but this just makes their job harder and decreases revenue for the state in the form of fines. (Danny F.)

Answer: The Fish and Game Commission agreed to do away with the required display law this year because fishermen have been asking for it to be overturned for a number of years. People were constantly complaining about losing their licenses or finding it to be a big hassle. Our enforcement staff too said this law didn’t help them that much because they still had to walk up to the person to see the license to make sure it was valid. Many people were making copies of licenses and displaying the illegal license while fishing. The theory that more people would purchase a license due to peer pressure did not prove to be true. Many people would be upset when a game warden asked to see the license because it was already visible, yet the only way to check if it was valid was to have it removed from the case.

While it may cause a decline in fine revenue, it was the predominant voice of the anglers in California to not have to display their licenses above their waist anymore, and so the Commission finally agreed. Although it’s no longer the law, many anglers do still choose to proudly display their licenses.

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

When is a duck not a duck anymore?

Mallard drake (Photo ODFW)

Question: During waterfowl season, I would like to hold onto as many birds as I can so that I can mount those birds that are in the best shape. But at what point does a duck go from being a duck in my possession to a carcass for mounting? Does a skinned-out bird count as one duck toward that season’s bag limit? Do birds in the freezer from last year count toward this season’s bag limit? Do mounted birds count toward my possession limit? I would like to know what the regulations are and abide by them. (Brian Porter)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Assistant Chief Mike Carion, generally, Fish and Game laws and regulations prohibit a person from having more than the bag or possession limit prescribed for each species. You may not keep game for longer than 10 days following the season, unless you have a valid hunting license (or a copy) for that species that was issued to you or to the person who donated the birds to you. The license must have been issued for the current or immediate past license year. Possession limits apply to each person in the household whether they were the taker of the game or not. As long as you do not possess more than the legal possession limit for each person living at the residence, you will still be in compliance with the laws.

If you plan on mounting birds for another person, you will be required to obtain a Federal Taxidermy Permit (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50, section 21.24) and will be required to tag all birds belonging to someone else (specific requirements can be found in CFR Title 50, section 20.36). In addition, you must keep accurate records of who you obtained the birds from, date taken, species and who you deliver the bird to. (Fish and Game Code, section 3087 and California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 695).

As far as at what point a duck is no longer a duck and instead a carcass for mounting, under DFG laws, “bird” means any wild bird or part thereof. A feather, bone, webfoot, etc. from a wild duck is always a bird. Once you remove, consume or otherwise use the edible portions of the bird, the bird would no longer count toward your possession limit for the season. As long as you have the edible portions of the bird, it would still count toward your possession limit.

Once you skin out a duck and remove all of the edible portions, the edible portion remains part of your possession limit while the remainder of the carcass can be kept for taxidermy without counting toward your possession limit.

Keep in mind that birds still in the freezer from last year DO count toward this season’s possession limit, but mounted birds that were legally taken and preserved by taxidermy are not counted in either the bag or possession limits.

For more information, please see Fish and Game Code, sections 22, 2001 and 3080, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.


Legal method to take rock scallops?
Question:What is the legal method of take for rock scallops and are there any size limitations? Am I allowed to SCUBA dive for rock scallops? (Lee C.)

Answer: You may use SCUBA to take rock scallops. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 rock scallops per person and there are no size limits. They may be taken by hand or by using dive knives or abalone irons. The regulations that discuss legal methods for taking rock scallops are located in your current 2010-2011 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet in section 29.05(d) (page 52) and section 29.60(b) (page 55).


Can filling guzzlers be considered baiting?
Question:I have a question concerning water for guzzlers. I’ve always assumed it was okay to add water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers, but an incident occurred to a friend of mine in early summer that has me wondering. He was adding 50 gallons to a dry guzzler when a hiker came up to him and told him what he was doing was illegal, mentioning that he could be cited for baiting wildlife. I find that hard to believe, but figured we better check it out with DFG. Are there any laws against adding water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers? (Gerald O.)

Answer: There are no fish and game laws specifically prohibiting adding water to a guzzler or other area where wildlife may gather to drink. In fact, there is a very active volunteer effort addressing this in Southern California. There are some restrictions, though, so please check CCR Title 14, section 730 to ensure that your activities are legal.

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

Why no world record broomtail groupers?

Esaul Valdez posing with his 123 lb gulf grouper (Photo by Steve Carson)

Question: I just received notice from the International Game Fish Association (IGFA) that world-record applications will not be accepted from California for broomtail grouper catches. This is because possession of broomtail grouper is prohibited everywhere in California, even if caught in Mexican waters.

Please explain why possession of broomtail grouper is prohibited in California for even Mexican-caught fish, while possession of black (giant) seabass is allowed if proper Mexican documentation is present. Only a relative handful of broomtail have ever been caught in U.S. waters in the last 100 years, and most of those were what would now be considered illegal transplant/introductions in the La Jolla/San Diego Bay region. Numerous other primarily Mexican species are very rarely caught in California, but are not a prohibited catch. Shouldn’t the proper Mexican-waters documentation be sufficient? (Steve C.)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Eric Kord, species that are illegal to possess in California are also prohibited from being imported into California. Fish and wildlife cannot be imported into California unless they were legally taken and possessed outside of this state (Fish and Game Code, section 2353). Although this code and regulations do not expressly prohibit their possession in this state, California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.12 does expressly prohibit the possession of gulf grouper and broomtail grouper in California. Therefore, neither of these fish may be imported into California.

The reason why black seabass may be imported and possessed in California is because CCR Title 14, section 28.10 does not expressly prohibit their possession in California. In fact, the section specifically authorizes their importation from Mexico with the appropriate documentation.

According to DFG retired Senior Marine Biologist Steve Crooke, the laws protecting both the gulf grouper and the broomtail grouper in state waters, as well as the ban on the importation of these fish from Mexico, was put on the books sometime in the 1950s. At that time a nice population of these fish lived in the La Jolla Cove area and they were a favorite attraction for divers. The laws were enacted in hopes of protecting this expatriate population from Mexico for the enjoyment of the divers. The ban on importation from Mexico was because California sport boats at that time were not capable of fishing in Mexican waters and so it was just easier to ban any possession or importation of the fish. Today, few groupers exist in California waters anymore because conditions are not favorable here for them to spawn. The law banning the importation of these species into California have just never been taken off the books.


African clawed frogs?
Question: I’ve heard that it is illegal to possess an African clawed frog (Xenops laevis) in California, since they are highly invasive. Is it permitted to capture wild specimens in order to kill them, at least? This of course would entail possessing them, however temporarily. Is there any way around this Catch-22? (Anonymous)

Answer: Technically, it is illegal to possess them at any time, including the time it would take to kill them. One thing to keep in mind is there is more than one type of African Clawed frog sub-species and they are very difficult to tell apart. The legal type are sold in pets stores on a routine basis and do not pose the threat the illegal species does.


Special nonresident permits for bird hunting?
Question: An Olympic gold medalist from China will be visiting our state in October. During the visit he would like to go pheasant hunting. Is there any way to get a one-day license or special permit for him and his father to hunt at one of our pheasant clubs here in Southern California? (Larry B.)

Answer: Yes. They can purchase a two-day non-resident hunting license, or a one-day nonresident license valid only at a licensed game bird club for taking domesticated game birds and pheasants, as well as domesticated migratory game birds (FGC, sections 3031(a)(4) and (a)(5). They must, however, show proof they have completed a hunter education class.


Regulations for tree stands?
Question: Can you help me locate regulations regarding tree stands or “elevated platforms,” specifically pertaining to big game hunting for bear and deer? (Brian B.)

Answer: California has no Fish and Game Code regulations restricting tree stands. They are legal to use, but make sure you obtain prior permission from the landowner or public agency controlling the land where you intend to use a tree stand to hunt.

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

Abalone rebellion or diver blunder?

Abalone divers and shore pickers must use ab irons with proper removal techniques to pop the tasty mollusks whole from their rocky substrate. (Photo by DFG marine biologist Derek Stein)

Question: One of my dive buddies asked me what to do when plucking an abalone and the abalone shell comes off the ab and the meat remains on the rock. Should the person then pry the meat off the rock, lay it in the shell and take it all like this? It would be a legal (seven inches or bigger) abalone. Is this illegal? I know it is the sporting thing to do and the right thing to do, but the regulations say that if you have an abalone removed from the shell, you are in violation! What is the right thing to do in this scenario? (Matt M.)

Answer: Although the spirit of the law may make you want to pry the meat off and place it in the shell, the law prohibits possession of an abalone removed from the shell, and your friend should not possess this abalone. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, in his experience he’s only known this to happen on rare occasions and only when the abalone iron is not being used properly. McKiver advises that if this happens to you, or if your abalone are being otherwise injured when removed, then you should have someone show you how to properly remove an abalone without injury. This would be the right and sporting thing to do.


Strategy for father and son to hunt together?
Question: I have a bow hunting question. If a father and son want to hunt together and the son has an Archery Only (AO) tag, but he doesn’t get his deer during archery season, can he then hunt with his dad who only hunts with a gun during the gun season? How could they make this work so they could both hunt together? (Doug W.)

Answer: California is one of the few states that allows two deer tags. According to DFG Lt. Todd Tognazzini, there are three options:

The first and simplest would be for the son to enjoy the benefit of an AO tag during the archery only season and then use the second tag for an area both the father and son can hunt during general season.

The second option would be to pick a zone in which they could hunt together. The son could hunt that zone during its archery season, and, if unsuccessful, join his father during rifle season with the same general zone tag for that area. During season he could use archery equipment or a rifle.

The third option would be for the son to hunt archery only during the general season and the father could go rifle hunting if he had the general tag for these areas. It is not normal for these two types of hunting to be joined because of close range requirement of archery hunting, but it would be legal.

If hunting any of the many two-deer areas in the state, they could apply for a second deer tag for a common zone and hunt together with the second tag. The archery only tag designation only applies to the first deer tag application.

AO tags allow hunting with archery equipment during the archery and general seasons in A, B and D zones. An AO tag may be used by military personnel only for Additional Hunt G10. (To hunt during an X zone archery season, the hunter must have an Area-Specific Archery Hunt tag.) Rifles, pistols, revolvers or crossbows may not be possessed when hunting with an AO deer tag except as otherwise provided.


Can guests fish my private pond without a license?
Question: I recently purchased a home with a private pond. Is it ok for my guests to fish the pond without a fishing license? (Randy N.)

Answer: You and your guests can fish your private pond without a fishing license only if all fish in the pond are purchased from a person licensed to raise and sell fish (a registered aquaculturist), and the pond is completely self-contained without any waters coming into the pond or running out that may contain fish. If this is not the case, then the fish are considered to be owned by the citizens of the state and are not owned by you and so fishing licenses would be required. For more information regarding registered aquaculturists, please go to http://dfg.ca.gov/fish/Administration/Permits/.


Can felons hunt with muzzleloaders or black powder guns?
Question: Can felons hunt with muzzleloaders or black powder guns? Can a felon hunt legally in California with a muzzleloader or black power rifle? (Carl R.)

Answer: No.

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

Hazing turkey vultures from rooftop roosts

Turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) are scavengers that feed almost exclusively on carrion. They are widespread throughout North America (Photo by Nick Todd)

Question: I have 15-20 turkey vultures that have been roosting on my roof. They are congregating and making a mess on my roof and in my yard with their droppings and molted feathers. My house is two stories and the roof is tile so access is difficult. How can I get rid of them? (Lawrence)

Answer: You have different persuasion options available for moving these birds from your roof to a more appropriate roost site. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Raptor Biologist Carie Battistone, these may include repetitive loud noises, motion sensor sprinklers and the use of an effigy (usually a taxidermic preparation or an artificial likeness of a deceased vulture). Since your roof is steep and hard to access, you will have to use caution when placing anything on the roof. If all else fails, you may want to call Wildlife Services (federal wildlife trappers) to ask for advice or possibly for someone to come out to help you.

Below are several links to articles on deterring vultures from roost sites:

Website for Wildlife Services: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/

Guidelines for Using Effigies to Disperse Nuisance Vulture Roosts: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/nwrc/research/invasive_wildlife/content/VultureEffigy%20Guidelines-revisedMar2010.pdf

Managing Depredation and Nuisance Problems Caused by Vultures: http://www.aphis.usda.gov/ws/researchreports/report05.pdf


High-grading abalone is illegal and may kill those returned
Question:
A game warden on the north coast told me recently that abalone high-grading is as much of a problem as poaching, and that it’s often the legal abalone harvesters who are doing it without even realizing they’re doing something wrong. Now we all know the regs say you can take three, so as long as any smaller abs are returned to rocky crevices before leaving the water, and the diver ends up with the three best abalone they can find, what does it really matter? (Rini R., Fort Bragg)

Answer: High-grading for abalone is when legal-sized abalone are extracted from their crevices or detached from their substrate but then later returned in favor of larger animals. This is not legal or sporting and the law prohibits this largely due to concerns for the health of the animals. Abalone are hemophiliacs and can be difficult to dislodge from their protective crevices or substrate. Any cuts or damage they may sustain while being detached by the ab iron can cause them bleed to death. For this reason, all legal-sized abalone detached are required to be retained by the person who detaches it, up to the three per bag limit. In addition, no undersize abalone may be retained in any person’s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15[d]).

In addition, according to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, no person shall take more than 24 abalone during a calendar year (CCR Title 14, section 29.15[c]). If the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those abalone still count toward both the diver’s daily and yearly limit. This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.

If a game warden sees someone take an abalone that is obviously larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this person has just violated CCR Title 14, section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn’t record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone Report Card as required. Game wardens on the north coast have written several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that elusive 10-inch abalone. The wardens try to convince people hunting for trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.


Shooting doves with a .22?
Question:
I have heard from a few friends that a rimfire rifle (.22 lr or mag.) can be used to take doves or Eurasian collared doves since they’re considered small game. Is that correct? If not, what type of firearm is appropriate? (Anonymous)

Answer: Rifles may not be used for the take of doves. Mourning dove and white-wing dove are migratory game and their take is regulated by CCR Title 14, section 507. Only shotguns, muzzleloading shotguns and dogs may be used to take migratory game birds. Eurasian collared doves, spotted doves and ringed turtle doves are non migratory and are therefore covered by CCR T14, section 311, which allows take by pellet rifle, archery and crossbow.


Do river guide boats need to be licensed?
Question:
I would like to know if guided drift boats need a California hull sticker. Drift boat guides say they don’t have a motor and so they don’t need one. I would say 95 percent of guide boats on the Trinity River in California don’t have the sticker. What does the law say? (Joe B.)

Answer: The guides are correct. If the boat is without a motor, no CF number is needed.

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

Why not dive for abalone year-round?

 

The abalone season is one tool for managing the overall harvest of abalone (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I’m an avid abalone diver who has been diving for more than 28 years and I am curious why we have a set season for abalone diving. Since we have abalone report cards and are limited to three per day and 24 abalone per year, why does it matter what time of year we take those abalone? I can understand the reason for a season when the only limit was four abs per day and all you wanted during season. But currently we are only allowed 24, so what difference does it make what time of year I take my 24 abs? I feel we should be able to go all year round. From my understanding, abalone do not have a set breeding season since they are broadcast spawners and breed all year long depending on the tides and currents. (Matt M.)

Answer: The abalone season is one tool for reducing the take of abalone and it works in conjunction with other regulations to limit the overall number of abalone taken. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Associate Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada, the abalone fishery is not regulated with a fixed quota like some fisheries. The report card limit is only designed to reduce excessive take and is not based on the number of abalone each person should be allowed to take.

The abalone report card was established because game wardens were seeing people driving up to the abalone grounds every day of the season to get a limit of abalone. The current limit of 24 was thought by the Fish and Game Commission to be a reasonable number of abalone for a person to take for the season, but it was never intended that everyone take 24 abalone. The average number of abalone taken per card has been between eight and 10. Although this may sound like a low number, the large number of report cards sold each year results in an annual legal harvest of more than 260,000 abalone. Wardens suspect the actual impact on abalone populations is much larger because abalone divers and pickers are commonly cited for failing to tag abalone, not marking their abalone cards and for high-grading (the illegal practice of continuing to detach abalone after a bag limit of legal sized abalone has been taken). High-grading also increases the number of abalone that die due to fishery activities.

Even with the current limits and regulations, there is concern that some heavily used fishing sites are showing signs of reduced abalone populations. The Fish and Game Commission is not likely to make any regulation changes which would increase the number of abalone being taken.


Electronic calls or bait legal for coyote and predator hunting?
Question: I have been told it is illegal to use electronic calls for ducks and turkeys, but I was wondering if electronic calls or bait can be used for hunting coyotes or other predators. Also, I know there are restrictions on mechanical (electrical) decoys being used during the first portion of the duck season, but can a mechanical (moving/shaking) rabbit decoy be used for coyotes? (Mark, San Bruno)

Answer: Electronic calls (specifically authorized) and mechanically-moving rabbit decoys (not prohibited) may be used to take coyotes (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 475).


Any documents necessary to possess and transport deer mounts?
Question: I have questions regarding deer trophies taken legally during regular deer season and their possession and transportation months or years afterward. What paperwork, if any, must be kept? How long must this be kept? Are people in possession of deer heads in violation if they don’t keep their old deer tags? (Geoff V.)

Answer: There is no paperwork required by California Fish and Game laws to possess old taxidermied deer mounts. There are also no restrictions on possession or transport, however, it is illegal to sell, barter or trade them regardless of their age. It’s always best if the tags are attached, but it’s not required.

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

Can wild turkeys be planted on private property?

Domestically raised turkeys cannot be released as wild turkeys (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is it possible (and legal) to purchase live wild turkeys to turn loose on my property to see how they do? Is there any law against buying live wild turkeys inside California or outside the state and having them shipped here? (Jarrod D., Sanger)

Answer: There is nothing illegal about selling or purchasing domestic poultry sold as wild turkeys. However, it is not legal to release into the wild turkeys that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only wild turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 671.6).

In addition, no person having possession or control over any wild animal legally imported under the provisions of this chapter shall intentionally free, or knowingly permit the escape, or release of such animals, except in accordance with the regulations of the commission (Fish and Game Code, section 2121).

According to DFG upland game bird and turkey expert Scott Gardner, aside from the fact that you cannot legally release domestically reared turkeys onto your property, biologically, no matter what the turkeys look like, if they were domestically hatched, they are domestic birds. Upland game birds imprint immediately on their hen, and without her they will not learn the skills to be wild. Domestically reared birds will not survive and don’t even know to take cover.

Bottom line … domestically reared birds released on a landowners’ property will not result in the wild turkeys that they are trying to establish.


How to transport a rifle on a motorcycle?
Question: What is the correct and legal way to transport a rifle on a motorcycle? Can you clarify? (Frank L.)

Answer: A motorcycle is a vehicle and the laws governing possession of loaded shotguns or rifles in a vehicle apply the same as if you are in a car or truck. According to Lt. Todd Tognazzini, if you are in a legal hunting area on a way open to the public or other public roadway, Fish and Game Code Section 2006 prohibits an unexpended (live) round in the firing chamber. If you are on a public highway (whether paved or not), then Penal Code Section 12031 applies which prevents ammunition from being attached to the firearm such as in the magazine. For more complete information on the requirements for transporting firearms with vehicles, please review page 47 of the 2009-2010 Mammal Hunting Regulations Booklet and the California Firearms Laws Summary booklet put out by the Office of the Attorney General at http://ag.ca.gov/firearms/forms/pdf/Cfl2007.pdf


Hazing nuisance seals and sea lions with paint balls?
Question:If I am fishing and am continually harassed by seals and sea lions, is it lawful to shoot them with a non-lethal paint ball? (T. Jay D.)

Answer: DFG does not manage or regulate interactions with marine mammals. California sea lions and Pacific harbor seals have been federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act since 1972, and thus harassing, capturing, killing or attempting to do so is prohibited and carries a hefty fine. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), in recent years the populations of these animals have increased dramatically and are now considered healthy and robust.

Unfortunately, with the good often comes the bad – the increased abundance of animals has also resulted in a growing number of negative interactions with humans and incidents of property damage. People seeking legal methods for deterring marine mammals in order to protect their property, fishing gear and catch from damage by sea lions and seals can find recommendations and approved methods on NOAA’s Web site at http://www.nwr.noaa.gov/Marine-Mammals/Seals-and-Sea-Lions/Deterring-Pinnipeds.cfm. And yes, paint balls are an approved method that may be used under certain conditions, but please read the NOAA information before doing so.


Are hunting licenses needed for nongame animals?
Question:I have out-of-state friends who would like to shoot Belding’s ground squirrels on a private ranch. Since Belding’s squirrels are a rodent and a nongame animal, do they need non-resident hunting licenses? (Don S.)

Answer: The recreational take of any wildlife including nongame mammals such as ground squirrels would require your friends to obtain a non-resident hunting license. They could purchase a two-day license valid for everything except big game for $41.20, or annual non-resident license. Nongame mammals may be taken without a license if the animals are injuring growing crops or other property (Fish and Game Code, section 4152). The authority to take nongame mammals without a license under these conditions applies only to the owner or tenant of the premises or employees and agents in immediate possession of written permission from the owner or tenant.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.