Category Archives: Roadways

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 (www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/) 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 www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/fishid.asp. Another source of interesting information about black perch can be found on the Aquarium of the Pacific website at: www.aquariumofpacific.org/onlinelearningcenter/species/black_perch.

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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.

 

Collecting and Returning Tidepool Animals

Sea Stars of the California Coast (CDFW photo)

Sea Stars of the California Coast (CDFW photo)

Question: I have two small daughters that are very much into marine life. I thought it would be exciting for them to catch small critters, fish, etc. and put them into an aquarium at home. I figured they could then return the marine life back to the ocean every few weeks. I looked into this online and it appears that you need to obtain a permit to collect marine life in this fashion. Do you think it is possible for me to obtain the proper permits in order to do this with my kids? If so, do you have any idea how I would go about applying and the general costs? (Charles K.)

Answer: Unfortunately, as nice as this sounds, it is not legal for your daughters to do. Here are three reasons why:

  1. First of all, they cannot transport any finfish from the ocean, period. Moving live finfish from freshwater or ocean waters is illegal.
  1. Second, anything that is not legal to take with a California sport fishing license requires a scientific collecting permit and they wouldn’t qualify for one of these because they are issued only to scientists doing bona fide research or to schools or aquariums where the animals taken will be on display for the public to view.
  1. Third, they can remove invertebrates that are legal to take with a sport fishing license (although if under 16 years old they do not need a license), but nothing can be returned alive to the ocean. If they take them, they need to keep them. This is because there’s always a possibility that fish or invertebrates may have picked up parasites or diseases when kept in private aquariums. We don’t want anything being introduced to fish and invertebrates in the wild.

For the time being, it would be best for your girls to stick with fish and invertebrates that they buy from licensed aquarists or stores that sell aquarium species legally. They can, however, visit most tidepools and enjoy the fish and invertebrates in their natural environments … just don’t take them away from their homes.

Driving on a private road with a loaded gun in the vehicle?
Question:
I know that it is not legal to have a loaded gun in a vehicle when on public roads and in public accessible areas, but what about when on privately owned property where all access is controlled via locked gates? (Scott H.)

Answer: You are correct that it is against the law to carry loaded guns in a vehicle when upon or along a public way (Fish and Game Code, section 2006 and Penal Code 25850). When behind locked gates, however, there are no laws preventing this, although common sense and safety should preclude doing so. Many of the hunting accidents we investigate are caused by people getting into or out of a vehicle with a loaded firearm. Despite this allowance, it is still unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle, even when on private property (FGC section 3002.)


Cherry picking for the biggest crabs?
Question: I often see Dungeness crab fisherman holding onto crabs in excess of their limit while they continue crabbing. Then after pulling all their pots, they cherry pick the best ones and throw back the extras. Is this legal? Say for example I’m fishing alone and drop three pots. When I retrieve the pots, the first one contains 10 crabs, and I put them all in my fish box. The second pot also has 10 crabs and I also put them all in the box. I pull the last pot, then sort through all the crab and throw back all but the biggest 10 before heading into the harbor. This is how I would prefer to fish but don’t think it would be illegal. Am I correct? (Jesse)

Answer: What you describe is high-grading and is absolutely illegal. Recreational fishermen are limited to 10 Dungeness crabs onboard or in possession. Every crab over the limit that is in the fisherman’s possession, even if just for a short time, could get them cited for possession of an overlimit. Once a limit is in possession, all other crabs must be immediately returned to the water. If the fisherman keeps 10 legal-sized crabs from his first pot, all other crabs in any subsequent pots must be released.

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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 and Shooting from a Mountain Bike

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Question: I will soon be taking off to the mountains to do some mountain quail and tree squirrel hunting. In past years, after arriving at hunting camp, most of my hunting was done on foot and so I couldn’t cover much ground in a day. Last year I took my grandson with me to start teaching him a little about gun safety, hunting and camping in the wild. After walking for a while he got tired and wanted to rest. We were walking along a logging road and he told me he wished he had his bicycle with him. This got me to thinking that with a bike I could cover a lot more area, be basically silent, use no fossil fuel and get some much needed exercise to boot. So, for my hunting trip this year I purchased a mountain bicycle and got it geared up with saddle bags and a handle bar gun rack for my shotgun.

Now I’m all ready to go but can’t find any hunting laws, rules or regulations concerning guns and bicycles on logging roads. Here are my questions: Can I legally shoot from my bicycle while stopped with my feet on the ground or do I have to completely dismount the bicycle to shoot?

Can I have a shotgun shell in the chamber while on my bicycle (like while walking) or must I have the chamber empty and action open like when in a motor vehicle?

Can I carry a holstered six shot, black powder pistol with five rounds capped on my bicycle or do all the nipples have to be uncapped as in a motor vehicle? I don’t want to do anything illegal or get into any trouble, so I would appreciate any help with these questions. (K. Broberg)

Answer: Shooting or taking game from a bicycle, whether on it or straddling it, is not specifically prohibited in California Fish and Game laws. However, section 374c of the Penal Code prohibits shooting a firearm from or upon a public road. A logging road is not a highway but it may be a public road depending on multiple factors, including who owns and/or maintains the road. But, in any case it is advisable to always be off any road before shooting even if it is not expressly prohibited by law.

Loaded rifles or shotguns are prohibited in any vehicle or conveyance “while standing on … any way open to the public” (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). In your case the bicycle is a conveyance and the logging road is a way open to the public — assuming it is open to travel by everyone and not just to those having specific permission from the owner. Bicycles may NOT be used in designated Wilderness Areas.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law does not prohibit carrying a holstered six shot, even in a motor vehicle. The loaded-gun law applies only to rifles and shotguns (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). There are other law enforcement agencies that do have strict laws against carrying loaded guns in vehicles though.


Beach curfews
Question: I happen to live on the beach and enjoy late evening beach walks but rarely do so due to the 10 p.m. beach curfew closing. I’ve heard that despite any beach curfews, you can be on the beach fishing at any hour as long as you have a fishing license and are legally fishing. If this is true I could just bring a surf rod with me at night to walk and have some fun bouncing a lure in the surf. Does that sound reasonable? (Shane S.)

Answer: Local beach curfews are often imposed for public safety and they take precedence over state ocean fishing open hours. While there are no time limitations when fishing for finfish, you must abide by the beach curfew. Sorry!


Roadkill is not food!
Question: A friend recently hit a deer, causing about $1,200 damage to the vehicle. He picked up the deer and put it in his truck to take home for food. He was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who told him to take the deer out of his vehicle or he would be cited. I heard that it is legal to pick up “roadkill.” Can you please clarify this? (Sandy B.)

Answer: The officer was correct. It is illegal to pick up roadkill wildlife in California. No one may possess wildlife in any form unless the animal was legally taken by a licensed hunter during the hunting season for that species and while using approved harvest methods. Given this, even if the first criteria were true (your friend was a licensed hunter), motor vehicles are not a legal method of take. The next time your friend sees an animal killed on the roadway, he should not attempt to retrieve it for any purpose.


Can you lure a lobster out of a hole with a sardine?
Question: Are you allowed to lure lobsters out of a hole with a piece of sardine in your hand? (David C.)

Answer: Sure, you can give it a try, but I don’t know how successful you’ll be. The law says that skin and scuba divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). There is no prohibition against waving snacks in front of them.

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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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Protecting Wildlife via Highway Fences

Game fences are installed primarily installed just along traditional migratory routes (USFWS photo of Tule elk bulls)

Game fences are primarily installed along traditional deer and elk migratory routes (Tule elk photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I have been hunting deer and elk out of state for years. Every western state I have hunted has installed game fencing adjacent to highways where big game frequents and/or migrates. Why in the heck doesn’t California do this? I live in Grass Valley and Interstate Highway 49 is always being widened, but never does the work include game fencing or game “underpasses.” I have never seen or read any information coming from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recommending game fencing along California highways. (Sven O.)

Answer: We do install game fencing but don’t do it everywhere. Because game fences are expensive, they are primarily installed just along the major migration routes. If designed incorrectly, they can do much more damage than good. Keep in mind that California has more than 2.3 million miles of paved road and it would be impossible to fence all of that no matter how much funding we had available.

According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, CDFW has instead focused primarily on routes that migratory deer move through as they are highly traditional and tend to move through the same areas year after year. Then once we identify where those areas are (mostly by finding road kills, but we can also identify through tracks in the snow and/or telemetry data), we work with CalTrans to mitigate those losses. CDFW has found lots of traditional migratory route areas in the state.

Some good examples of this kind of game fencing work include the miles of fencing and under crossings on I-395 from Bordertown up to the Inspection Station just south of the intersection of 395/89, fencing and undercrossings on I-395 in the Bass Hill Wildlife Area just south of Susanville, the work done in the Loyalton-Truckee deer herd area and the work we completed last year in the I-280 area (in conjunction with Caltrans and UC Davis). Our job on that one was simply to catch the deer, which we did. Caltrans engineers and wildlife experts from UC Davis analyzed the movement data of those deer in an effort to modify roadside fencing and existing undercrossings to cut down the number of deer hit on I-280. Regardless of location, it is a very expensive and time-consuming effort, not only to determine where to install the fencing and/or undercrossings, but also to build them.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Keeping a skunk for a pet?
Question: I live in Alameda and want to know if it is legal for me to keep a pet skunk? We will, of course, have the stink glands removed for obvious reasons. (Beatrice V.)

Answer: No. Wildlife must remain wild and cannot be owned. Generally, animals found in the wild in California can never be kept as pets. Only people who qualify for a restricted species permit may possess wild animals, like skunks. Keeping wildlife is prohibited by Fish and Game laws (CCR title 14, section 671) and California health laws due to a high incidence of rabies in skunks in California. All wildlife, even skunks, belong to the citizens of California and cannot be held, domesticated…or have their scent glands surgically removed!


Trolling for salmon?
Question: This last weekend while fishing/trolling with my husband for salmon, we had three fish on board and needed one more for the two of us to have limits. My question is – do we need to fish/troll with just one rod as one of us has a limit, or may we fish with two rods until we catch one more fish? (Donna S.)

Answer: You can use two rods until you catch your final fish because boat limits apply in ocean waters. Boat limits are defined as: “When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel…, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel”.(CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)).

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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.

Bowfishing for Carp – Hunting or Fishing?

Bowfishing (photo courtesy of Indian Head Ranch www.indianheadranch.com)

Bowfishing requires a fishing license and the arrow must be attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (photo courtesy of Indian Head Ranch http://www.indianheadranch.com)

Question: If I want to shoot carp with a bow, do I need a hunting license or a fishing license? Are there any regulations regarding seasons, bodies of water, or specific tackle or gear that I should plan to use? (Vern D., Stockton)

Answer: While the practice of bowfishing for carp may seem like a combination of hunting and fishing, it is considered fishing and thus you are required to have a fishing license to do so. Sport fishing regulations permit bow and arrow fishing for the following nongame species only: carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey (for specific areas and exceptions, see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.25 on page 15 of the sport fishing regulations booklet).

Even though California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law might allow for bow and arrow fishing in your local area, some lakes and waterways prohibit the possession of bow and arrow equipment. You will need to check with the jurisdiction that runs the body of water (e.g. State Parks, Regional Parks, local county parks, etc.)

When bow and arrow fishing, make sure the tackle has the arrow shaft, the point or both attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel. This rule also applies to crossbows (CCR Title 14, section 1.23).


Shooting at varmints from a car roof top?
Question: I know it’s illegal to shoot from your car, but is it legal to park and shoot from the roof of your car for varmints? Thanks. (Harry N.)

Answer: It is always illegal to shoot at a bird or mammal from a car, including from the roof top. The law prohibits possessing a loaded rifle or shotgun in any vehicle which is standing on or along or is being driven on or along any public highway or other way open to the public (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). Loaded guns may be possessed in or on a car only while on private property; however, the law does not allow you to take any bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (CCR Title14, section 251). Remember, the definition of “take” includes any attempt to take, such as shooting at the bird or mammal. Therefore, the only shooting allowed would be target shooting


Fishing for halibut with grunion?
Question: I know that under current regulations grunion can only be caught by hand, I also know that when the grunion come inshore to spawn, the halibut frequently follow along for a feast, and it is a good time to target the flatties. So I am wondering, is it legal for me to take grunion by the legal method (by hand) and then retain them live in a bait bucket to use as live bait for fishing for halibut? Or even more directly, may I take the grunion in legal fashion and hook one up to fish the surf for halibut and other species with rod and reel while the grunion run is in progress? (Martin F.)

Answer: Yes. Grunion may be taken June 1 through March 31 and there is no bag limit. Grunion may be taken by hook and line or by hands. No appliances of any kind may be used on the beach to take them, and no holes may be dug in the sand to entrap them (CCR Title 14, section 29.00). When catching grunion on the beach, we recommend that you wait until after they have spawned and are returning to the ocean to take them.


Can my son carry a BB gun when he comes hunting with me?
Question: When go out hunting I normally take my nine-year-old son. Can my son carry a BB gun legally with him? He will not be using the BB gun to shoot at any wildlife. It mainly gives him that feeling that he is part of the hunting party. Any information you can provide is greatly appreciated. (Jose R. via e-mail)

Answer: I applaud you for introducing your son to the outdoors and including him in your hunting excursions at such a young age! Unless there is a county ordinance prohibiting the discharge of a BB gun or air rifle in the area where you’re hunting, and as long as he is not shooting at wildlife, it should be fine for your son to legally carry his BB gun with you and the rest of your hunting party. Enjoy your time together!

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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.

Diving for Lobsters with Hoop Nets

DFG Marine Biologist Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (DFG photo)

CDFW Marine Environmental Scientest Travis Buck holds a California spiny lobster caught in a traditional hoop net (CDFW photo)

Question: In regards to catching California spiny lobster, the regulations say the following: Both rigid and collapsible hoop nets may be used from piers and boats. When fishing from a boat, five nets per person are allowed with no more than ten traps on a boat. When fishing from a pier, two hoop nets per person are allowed. Divers are limited to catching lobster by (gloved) hand only.

This leads me to my question. Is it legal for a snorkeler/diver/free diver to swim their hoop nets out to the desired location to drop and then retrieve their traps by hand, while floating in the water? This seems like a good option for people who do not own boats to set traps from and for divers when visibility is so poor that it’s impossible to see lobsters to catch by hand. (Joshua)

Answer: No, you cannot legally take fish hoop nets out to a fishing location while free or scuba diving. The law says that when diving for crustaceans (free or scuba diving), you may take crustaceans by the use of hands only (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(g)). If you are in the water, you are diving. You can scout where you want to set your nets when diving, but then you need to stop diving and get out of the water to set and retrieve your hoop nets. If you don’t want to buy or borrow a boat, you can set traps from a kayak, a long board or even a stand up paddle board. Just be sure to wear a life jacket if you do!


Property rights via access by ATV down a dry river bed?
Question: During the last week of deer season, I approached a man riding a 4-wheeler who was obviously hunting since he had a rifle case. He was riding down the dry river bed for over a mile where it’s private property on both sides of the river. He argued with me that he had a right to be there as long as he stayed under the high water mark. I told him he could not be there and could not cross private property at all unless if in a boat and didn’t touch the river bar/land. He got huffy with me so I let it go and he proceeded on his way. What is the law when it comes to a river running through private land? (Heather D.)

Answer: This is a very complicated area of the law and will vary based on the characteristics of the waterway, the ownership of the land, the agencies involved and a number of other factors. In other words, before people get on their ATVs thinking they have the right to ride down dry river beds through private property, they should do some research to see exactly who owns or manages the land, what the characteristics of the dry waterway are and be absolutely sure they have a right to be there and won’t be trespassing. All situations are not the same and the laws may vary from place to place.


Pooling crabs?
Question: What is the boat limit for taking crabs other than Dungeness? I plan to have between two and four people (all with fishing licenses) on my private boat and need to know the answer to this question. Thank you very much for your help. (Jay T.)

Answer: You may not pool your crabs since boat limits apply only to finfish and not to invertebrates (CCR Title 14, section 27.60 (c)). With crabs, individual bag and possession limits apply. For crabs of the Cancer genus (excluding Dungeness crabs) including yellow crabs, rock crabs, red crabs and slender crabs, the limit is 35 crabs per person. Each crab must measure a minimum of four inches from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part (except there is no minimum size in parts of Humboldt County).


Bow and arrow hunting with a slingshot?
Question: Can a slingshot be used as a bow or crossbow? Would it be legal to hunt with an arrow and slingshot? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, a slingshot can be used as a bow or crossbow as long as it can cast a legal hunting arrow (except flu-flu arrows) a horizontal distance of 130 yards, and as long as it meets one of the definitions of bows and crossbows listed in the Title 14 regulations. To be sure your slingshot meets the requirements, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/, click on “CA Code of Regulations, including Title 14” and look up Title 14, section 354, subdivisions (a), (b) and (f).

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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.

For a New Adventure, Try Shrimping!

A coonstripe shrimp, Pandalus danae, caught near Crescent City, California (photo courtesy of J. Bieraugel).

A coonstripe shrimp, Pandalus danae, caught near Crescent City, California
(Photo courtesy of J. Bieraugel).

Question: I have been an avid “crabber” in Northern California for quite a while. For a new adventure I’d like to take up “shrimping” but need some information on where to go, when to go and how to catch shrimp. Is it legal to recreationally catch shrimp? If so, what are the seasons and bag limits? Is there still a viable population of shrimp in California? Thanks for any information to point me in the right direction. (Tony M.)

Answer: You may take any type of ocean shrimp in California waters, but spot prawns are the most desirable and sought after for eating purposes. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientist and Invertebrate Specialist Kai Lampson, because California’s spot prawns are found so deep – usually 100 fathoms (600 feet) or more – and the bag limit is only 35, most people are not interested in trapping these shrimp recreationally.

Another option though are the lesser known coonstripe shrimp, also referred to as dock shrimp for their habit of sometimes living around pilings. Unlike spot prawns, coonstripe shrimp inhabit relatively shallow water and can be fished close to shore with lightweight traps. They may occur out to depths of 600 feet, but fishermen often set their traps between 70-150 feet. The sport limit is 20 pounds (9 kilograms) per day and there is no closed season or size limit for the sport fishery. While they range from Sitka, Alaska to (at least) Point Loma in San Diego County, the highest concentrations of coonstripe are found in far northern California, near Crescent City.

Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. South of Point Conception, trap openings may not exceed ½ inch in any dimension. For traps fished north of Point Conception, trap openings are limited to five inches in any dimension.

To learn more about fishing for these interesting shellfish, please check out the crustaceans section of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations for the regulations, legal gear, limits and other information you will need to know (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 29.80 through 29.88).


Carrying a loaded gun in a vehicle on a private road?
Question: I know that it is not legal to have a loaded gun in a vehicle when on public roads and in areas accessible to the public, but what about when on privately owned property where all access is controlled via locked gates? (Scott H.)

Answer: You are correct that it is against the law to carry loaded guns in a vehicle when upon or along a public way (Fish and Game Code, section 2006 and Penal Code 25850). When behind locked gates, however, there are no laws preventing this, although common sense and safety should preclude doing so. Many of the hunting accidents we investigate are caused by people getting into or out of a vehicle with a loaded firearm. Despite this allowance, it is still unlawful to shoot at any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle, even when on private property (FGC section 3002.)


Scattering ashes at sea
Question: A good friend recently passed away and his last wishes were to have his ashes scattered at sea. Are there any laws against this? (Jolene P., Modesto)

Answer:  No laws against it, but a permit to scatter the ashes at sea is required by California law. The permit is called “Application and Permit for Disposition of Human Remains.” Check with the local county health department for rules and permits and any other specific requirements they may have.


Do fish farms pose threats to wild fish and the environment?
Question: I have questions and concerns about fish farms and the fish they produce. Do fish farms pose any major threats to the environment? Are high disease rates in farmed fish due to improper fish management? Is it true that wild fish are healthier to consume than farmed fish? How much do fish farms contribute economically to society and do they provide many jobs? Thanks for any insight. (Julie B.)

Answer: Commercial fish farms are required to have CDFW permits, and if properly sited and operated, they should have no negative impact on the environment. If the farmed fish are allowed to escape and impact wild fish or other aquatic organisms though, then that might be another story and adverse environmental impacts may occur.

One potential problem might be if water discharge from the farm is not properly treated, then there could be impacts to water quality of adjacent receiving stream systems. Fish disease issues can be nearly eliminated at the farms if properly managed.

As far as whether farmed fish or wild fish are better for your health, there is no evidence that farmed fish are less healthy to consume than wild fish. Many people will say wild fish quality is better in most cases. Keep in mind though that the quality of all fish is more likely tied to how the product is handled in the distribution chain (e.g. post-harvest) rather than whether it’s wild or farmed.

While fish farming can certainly create jobs and provide more employment opportunities, harvesting wild fish also creates jobs. It’s hard to say whether one industry creates more jobs than the other.

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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.