Category Archives: Taxidermy

How to Keep Hunters from Hunting on Our Property?

Mule deer_Clear Lake_USFWS

Mule deer around Clear Lake (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: Our church owns about 700 acres in the foothills of Northern California. We recently had someone shoot at a 6-point buck, wound it, and screech away off the property. We called the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), who sent out a tracker. They followed the trail of blood but never found the wounded animal.

Meanwhile, we have many deer that reside on our property and we are vegetarians. We do not shoot the deer and they wander freely on the property. You can walk within maybe 20 feet of even these majestic big bucks and they won’t flee. We do not want people shooting the animals on our property.

The Fish and Wildlife person who came out told us it was legal for people to shoot the deer on our property unless we fenced it or posted signs (such as “POSTED NO HUNTING”) all over the property. Is this really true? For one thing, it isn’t even hunting season (with a firearm, which this was), and second, it’s private property and we’ve not given written permission to anyone to hunt on our property.

We also don’t want to post “NO TRESPASSING” signs because we welcome the public to visit our beautiful community with 85 homes and a number of businesses, including a school.

Can you help me understand what the law states, and what we must do to allow the public on our land but disallow hunting (and fishing) on our land? (Church Administrator)

Answer: Hunters do not need permission to hunt on private property unless the land is under cultivation, enclosed by a fence, or posted in accordance with Fish and Game Code, section 2016. This section requires that signs “forbidding trespass or hunting, or both are displayed at intervals not less than three to the mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering those lands,” and “signs may be of any size and wording that will fairly advise persons about to enter…that the use of the land is so restricted.”

If you would like to pursue trespassing charges (under Penal Code 602) against specific people who have entered the property for any reason, including without permission to fish or hunt, you can do so but the prosecutor generally wants the owner to state they will testify and also show that the suspect was already warned at least once.

Another law to be aware of is one that states “It is unlawful … to hunt or to discharge while hunting, any firearm or other deadly weapon within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling house, residence, or other building or any barn or other outbuilding used in conjunction therewith. The 150-yard area is a ‘safety zone’.” (FGC, section 3004).

You may need to take measures to discourage deer from becoming too comfortable on your property around humans because this makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous poachers. To do this, remove as many attractants as possible. If the deer are being fed, this is illegal (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 251.3 and 251.1). Also, by encouraging more deer to occupy your property than is normal, this may bring in some additional unwanted side elements (e.g. poachers, Lyme’s disease and mountain lions).


Throw nets to capture live bait
Question: I know round nets can be used to catch live bait like anchovies and smelt from piers, but I am not sure if there is a size restriction for the circumference on the net. I couldn’t find that info in the regs book. (Mike I.)

Answer: There is no size restriction on the circumference of a throw net used in ocean waters at this time. However, throw nets may only be used north of Point Conception (Santa Barbara Co.) and may only be used to take herring, Pacific staghorn sculpin, shiner surfperch, surf smelt, topsmelt, anchovies, shrimp and squid (CCR Title 14, section 28.80.)


Bringing mountain lions into California as “personal property”?
Question: A friend of mine told me that because mountain lions are not endangered or federally protected, that California cannot prevent a person who has taken one legally in another state from bringing it into the state as personal property. Is California blowing smoke? Thanks (Ken)

Answer: No, your friend is mistaken. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was added to the code as an Initiative Measure (Prop. 117) in 1990, designates mountain lions as “specially protected” in California, and prohibits their possession or importation into the state. However, Fish and Game Code section 4800(b)(2) does allow for mountain lion possession if the owner can demonstrate the mountain lion was possessed prior to June 6, 1990.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Did Game Warden Have the Right to Search My Car?

Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities. It's a crime to refuse to show any wildlife officer upon request all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken, and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians." (CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton).

Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities. It’s a crime to refuse to show any wildlife officer upon request all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken, and any device or apparatus capable of being used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians.” (CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton).

Question: I was out fishing at Lake McSwain. A man was there before me but didn’t catch anything. I got lucky and caught two trout right away, then decided to go try out a different spot. I was planning on doing a whole day of fishing and didn’t want the two fishes to spoil, so I gave them to the man that had not caught any. As I was leaving, a game warden showed up. I told him I caught two but gave them away because I’m heading to a different spot. He wanted to search my car and I let him because I didn’t have anything to hide. After not finding anything, he then told me those two fish count towards my bag limit so I can only catch three more, even if I move to a different spot. Now my question is, does he really have the right to search my car just like that, and is it correct that I can only catch three more fish after I gave those two away? What happened to the five fish in possession regulation? (Anonymous)

Answer: Good question, but the game warden was correct. No more than one daily bag limit may be taken or possessed by any one person (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.17). There is a difference between the bag limit (the number you can take per day) and the possession limit (the maximum number you can have in your possession). Just because you gave two fish away, this did not set the slate back to zero so that you could take five additional fish that day.

As far as the request to search your vehicle, any officer can ask for your consent to inspect a vehicle. Your question indicates you “let him” inspect your car because you had nothing to hide. This was perfectly legal.

Whether an officer has the authority to conduct an inspection when consent is not given depends upon the specific circumstances of the contact. Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities that are unique to their jobs. For example, it is a crime to refuse to show an wildlife officer “… all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken or otherwise dealt with under this code, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians” (Fish and Game Code, section 2012). Also, wildlife officers are authorized to inspect all receptacles, except the clothing actually worn by a person at the time of inspection, where birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians may be stored or placed (FGC, section 1006).


Challenging the Hunter Education exam?
Question: Can I challenge the Hunter Education exam to get my license? (Mark L.)

Answer: Yes, many California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices offer a comprehensive equivalency exam, but according to Hunter Education Coordinator Lt. James Kasper, this exam is a difficult examination to pass and the failure rate is high. There is a nonrefundable, administrative fee required to take the examination. This fee must be paid prior to taking the test. If you fail the examination, you must take a hunter education class or a home study/on-line course to become certified. The equivalency exam can only be taken one time.

WARNING! Not all states accept the equivalency certificates as proof of hunter education. All states will accept the certificate of completion that is awarded upon completion of a hunter education class or home study/on-line course.

If you are still interested in taking the equivalency examination, please contact your local CDFW office to see if they offer it. This examination can only be taken by appointment.


Antique dealer selling animal parts

Question: Can hunters bring mountain goats, brown bears and buffalo into the state (under California Penal Code, section 653(o))? If so, may a California antiques dealer sell animal mounts, skins or rugs from these animals? (Eric L.)

Answer: The Fish and Game Code does not prohibit the selling of animals not found in the wild in California so long as the animals were legally acquired and the importation is declared to the Department of Fish and Wildlife (pursuant to FGC section, 2353). Antique dealers should be aware of federal laws regulating the importation, possession and sale of some animals. Questions regarding those laws should be directed to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They can be reached online at www.fws.gov/.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

What’s the Scoop on Sea Urchins?

Purple sea urchins (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Purple sea urchins (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I’m a scuba diver living in Southern California and am hoping you can point me to where I can find information on sea urchins – type of license needed, limits if any, is there an open/closed season, type of sea urchins that may be fished, etc? Is there any place they may not be taken? I have never fished for them and do not know the regulations. (Rod P.)

Answer: Yes, sea urchins are legal to take in California with a sport fishing license. The season is open year-round for all species of urchin and the limit is 35 urchins (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). These regulations can be found in the Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet, along with listings of the state beaches and Marine Protected Areas in Southern California that are closed to the take of sea urchins. If you still have questions after reviewing the regulation book, please call your local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) office.


Why do second deer tags cost more than the first?
Question: Why does a second deer tag cost more than a first deer tag? (Rod P., Napa)

Answer: The reason is because the second tag is a privilege after the purchase of the first tag and so is sold at a higher fee.


Starry flounder fishing in San Francisco Bay?
Question: Can anglers catch starry flounder in the San Francisco Bay? If so, can we catch them from a kayak or boat near shore? (Paul R.)

Answer: Yes, when the season is open, and it’s open now. Since starry flounder is considered a federally managed groundfish species (per CFR 50, section 660.11) it can only be taken in the San Francisco Groundfish Management Area (San Francisco Bay) from a boat between June 1 through Dec. 31. The season is closed to boat-based anglers the rest of the year. For divers and shore-based anglers, starry flounder can be taken year round in San Francisco Bay.

There is no limit for starry flounder in the ocean and San Francisco Bay (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(b)). The limit on starry flounder for boat-based anglers would either be zero, or no limit, depending on the time of year.

For a quick online reference guide for San Francisco Bay that specifically mentions boat-based angling, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mapregs6.asp.


Selling bear taxidermy?
Question: I am a taxidermist and have a life size black bear mount that I mounted for a guy in 2008. He has not claimed it and I’ve sent a certified letter (I have the receipt and tag). He still hasn’t called or come to get it, so can I consider it abandoned and sell it here to recover my out-of-pocket costs? (Cindy B.)

Answer: You must first comply with the conditions in Fish and Game Commission regulations, see:

Title 14 section 695(d) Sale of Unclaimed or Unredeemed Specimens. Every person who prepares, stuffs or mounts the skin or any part of fish, reptiles, bird or mammal for another person and who keeps the records provided in (a) may sell unclaimed or unredeemed skins under the following conditions:

(1) A notice shall be posted where it is visible to all persons who bring skins to a taxidermist for preparation, stuffing, or mounting, stating that the skins will be sold pursuant to chapter 6 (commencing with section 3046) of part 4 of division 3 of the Civil Code if unclaimed or unredeemed by the owner.

(2) The department shall, upon request, be provided with the name and address of any person who has failed to claim or redeem any skin or part thereof.

(3) The sale price of any prepared, stuffed, or mounted skin or part thereof, shall not exceed the actual cost of labor, preparation and advertising costs relating to the sale, less any amount already paid by the owner of the skin for its preparation, stuffing, or mounting.

(4) No skin or part of any fully protected, rare, or endangered species of fish, reptile, bird or mammal may be sold.

(5) No skin or part of any migratory bird covered by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act or Bald Eagle Act may be sold without approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

(6) The notice to customers required in (1) above shall include a copy of subdivision (d) of this regulation.
The complete Fish and Game Code and complete Title 14 are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

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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 Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.