Category Archives: Waterfowl

How Well Can Waterfowl See?

Wood duck (Photo © Carrie Wilson)

Wood duck (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

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

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

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

Moving Wing Waterfowl Decoys

Mallard drake (Photo ODFW)

Mallard drake (Photo ODFW)

Question: With waterfowl season approaching, I was wondering if you could clarify Regulation 507 regarding duck decoys that move? That regulation specifies moving wings or blades are prohibited until after Nov. 30, but I cannot find a prohibition regarding motor powered decoys that simulate swimming (clamp on propeller), or water movement to simulate feeding (magnate type), or battery powered jerk string. In short, are ONLY moving wing decoys prohibited during the first six weeks of the season? (James Scott, Oakley)

Answer: The prohibition is only for electronically powered spinning wing, or spinning wing simulated devices. There are no prohibitions to any other electronic devices which flap wings, allow the decoy to swim, feed, or cause movement other than the spinning of a wing or wing simulated device.


How to pay an old ticket?
Question: One of my friends received a ticket about five years ago for abalone taken from the Fort Ross area. Afterwards he moved out of state. He recently moved back to California though and would now like to pay his ticket but he does not have any information. How should he go about paying it? How can he find out the amount owed and where should he send payment? Thanks for any help. (James Y.)

Answer: If your friend left the state without paying the fine for the ticket he received, then the court probably issued an arrest warrant for him. Fort Ross is in Sonoma County, so he should contact Sonoma County Superior Court as soon as possible. If contacted by law enforcement prior to doing this and it is determined there is an active warrant, your friend will be cited or arrested for not taking care of his ticket.


Game wardens also lead-free in Condor Zone?
Question: Does a Fish and Wildlife officer’s pistol that he carries in the field contain lead-free ammunition? I ask because if I’m in the woods in the lead-free zone under a carry concealed weapon permit (CCW) and just camping, I must run lead-free, correct? The law should be consistent for everyone. (Dale G.)

Answer: No, the lead ban pertains to hunters. It is illegal to use, or possess with a firearm capable of firing, any projectile containing more than one percent lead by weight while taking or attempting to take big game or nongame within the condor range. This includes centerfire as well as black powder/muzzleloader and rimfire projectiles. Since wildlife officers are not hunting while on duty, their firearms may contain lead ammunition in the condor range. Any people who are not taking or attempting to take wildlife, including CCW holders, may use or possess lead ammunition.


Woodpeckers are driving me crazy!
Question: I’ve got a bunch of woodpeckers that keep pecking at my house and they are driving me crazy! Can I use a pellet gun to haze them and chase them off? Thanks. (Alan H., Ukiah)

Answer: No, woodpeckers are a nongame species so you will have to find a non-lethal method to haze them away from your house. You could try hanging shiny mylar tape like they use in orchards to scare the birds away from the fruit or try posting an owl decoy. You might also try covering the wood with metal mesh hardware cloth.

This is a USFWS question and they do have a permit process for a number of species under federal depredation provisions unless designated a fully protected bird.

For additional tips and information, please check with the University of California Integrated Pest Management Program online at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.house.html#VERT.


Deployed gear through MPAs
Question: Is it legal to travel through a State Marine Reserve (SMR) on a kayak with fish and non-deployed fishing gear on board? Does “fishing gear deployed” mean having a hook and line in the water? Or does it go so far as to require fishing hooks be removed from any fishing line on board a kayak? The term “deployed” is not defined in the regulations and I am wondering how it is enforced by the officers. (Brian M.)

Answer: Yes, you may travel through a state marine reserve with catch on board as long as no fishing gear is deployed in the water (per Section 632(a)(8) on pg. 52 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet). Deployed means that the gear (hook and line) is in the water. If you wish to remove all doubt, you could remove the hooks, but that is not required by law. Just make sure your gear is out of the water and secured before transiting a state marine reserve, and you will be abiding by the law.

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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.

Can a Hunter Have Two Shotguns in a Duck Blind?

Geese at sunrise (USFWS photo)

Geese at sunrise (USFWS photo)

Question: Is it legal for one person to have two shotguns in a duck blind? (Bob G.)

Answer: Yes, but while it’s legal to have more than one shotgun in your blind, keep in mind there is a 25 shell limit on most public shooting areas (state and federal refuges). Hunters often forget this and bring a box of shells for each gun they have but then find themselves in violation of the 25 shell limit. Also required, each gun must be plugged and not capable of holding more than three shells in the magazine and chamber combined, and lots of times nothing larger than 10 gauge shells are allowed in these areas. For more information, please check the Upland Game Bird Regulations available at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


Can I become a fishing guide if I have a citation on my record?
Question: I want to apply for a fishing guide’s license but am worried because I had a hunter trespass citation many years ago that was honestly unintentional. It was a case of poor mapping and unmarked fence lines. I paid my fine and it never went any further. This was 12 years ago and I have never had any other convictions for any sort of law breaking. Does my single-hunter trespass ticket exclude me from applying for guide status in this state? I am seriously interested in teaching others to care for and respect our outdoor privileges and would love to apply for a guide’s license. I don’t want to go through the process and pay all the costs though only to be denied at the time my application is reviewed. Can you please tell me if my mistake from years ago will cause my application to be denied? (Doug M.)

Answer: Because your citation was 12 years ago, it was your only citation and you took care of the fines, you should not have a problem getting a guide’s license. Applicants are evaluated mostly for recent activity (within five years), or repetitive activity. And for applicants who apply but are denied, any application fees are refunded.


How to accurately measure fish?
Question: What is the legal and proper way to measure a fish, particularly largemouth bass? Is it with an open mouth, closed mouth, fanned tail or pinched tail? I would appreciate some fish measuring guidelines to determine whether a catch is legal. Thank you. (Rick B.)

Answer: The first rule when measuring fish is to lay the fish flat on its side and always pinch the mouth closed. All freshwater fish, including largemouth bass, are measured to total length. This is the longest straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the end of the longest lobe of the tail (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.62). The most accurate method is to place the fish’s snout against a perpendicular surface and then measure along the intersecting horizontal surface to the end of the tail. Don’t measure using a flexible “tape” over the fish itself or you will be given a longer false reading. All freshwater fish with a minimum size limit are measured this way.

On the ocean side, most saltwater fish with minimum size limits are measured to total length, but there are some that are measured to fork length instead (e.g. bonito, albacore, barracuda and yellowtail). Fork length is the straight-line distance from the tip of the head to the center of the tail fin (CCR Title 14, Section 1.62). So again, lay the fish flat on its side, pinch the mouth closed and take your measurement from the tip of the head to the center of the fork of the tail. These are the only two measurements that you will need to know for the purposes of the regulations when measuring whole fish.


Giving pheasants away to other hunters to keep hunting?
Question: Once I shoot my limit of pheasants, can I give one of my birds to another hunter in the group and continue hunting? (Jerry)

Answer: No. Once you reach your bag limit you are finished hunting for the day. You can give your birds away to other hunters but that does not then allow you to continue hunting that day.


Underwater lights when ocean fishing?
Question:Is it legal to use underwater attractor lights in ocean waters to attract fish to the boat? (John V.)

Answer: Yes. There are no prohibitions from using underwater attractor lights in ocean waters.

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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.

Charity Dinner with Donated Game

Celebrity chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a charity event to feed the homeless in Sacramento in Novemer 2013 (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Celebrity Sporting Chef Scott Leyseth from the Sportsmens Channel prepares wild game for a recent charity event in Sacramento to feed the homeless (Photo courtesy of Holly Heyser)

Question: An organization I belong to wants to do a benefit event with donated fish and game meals prepared for the homeless and the hungry. I know that waterfowl regulations are set by the federal government, but wonder if it may be possible to accept donated wild ducks and geese and turn them into a meal for a few hundred. It would be a one-day event to draw attention to a local shelter and help boost the image of us hunter types as charitable people who help to conserve our resources. At some point, someone is going to be over their possession limit to make this happen. Obviously, we won’t charge for the event, and our organization often leaves a generous donation to the facility, but I always thought there was a possession problem. Whaddaya think? (Scott L.)

Answer: Yes, an event like this can be done. A designated person may receive and possess game birds and mammals from multiple donors to give to or prepare for a charitable organization or charitable entity (under Fish and Game Code, section 3080) as long as they have:

1)    Copies of the hunting licenses and validated tags for the species possessed. They must be issued for the current or immediate past license year and signed and dated by the donor confirming the donation.

2)    The charitable organizations or charitable entities receiving and distributing game birds or mammals for charitable or humane purposes, must maintain the documentation described above for one year from the date of disposal.


Fishing license for collecting seaweed?
Question: Is a fishing license required to collect seaweed? (Jane S., Monterey)

Answer: A fishing license is not required to take seaweed but there is a daily bag limit of 10 pounds wet weight in the aggregate. There are three prohibited species that may not be cut or disturbed: eel grass (Zostera), surf grass (Phyllospadix) and sea palm (Postelsia).


Legal shoot time
Question: If you are sitting in your duck blind waiting for legal shooting time, and you have a shotgun loaded and ready to go (in other words shells in the magazine and chamber), can you be cited for hunting before legal shooting time? Some say yes since you’re loaded up and ready to go, so you are technically “hunting” (even if you have the shotgun sitting in the corner of the blind and never touch it until the legal shoot time). Others say it’s legal because you aren’t shooting … so as long as you don’t fire the gun, you’re good. Who’s right? (Eric M.)

Answer: As long as you make no attempt to take a duck, there is no violation for loading your gun as you wait for legal shooting time. However, having a live round in the chamber while you are waiting is not advised for safety reasons.


Abalone reporting
Question: How do I go about reporting my annual abalone harvest take? I just want to find out where I should go on the website to report my abalone harvest. Otherwise, do I have to mail the original in by mail? Please advise. (Richard S.)

Answer: You have two options. You can either report your abalone harvest date online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting, or you can mail your completed Abalone Report Cards to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
32330 N. Harbor Drive
Fort Bragg, CA 95437-5554

Cards or card data must be submitted to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) by Jan. 31, 2014, even if the card holder did not take or even try to take abalone. If you choose to report online, you must still retain the card for 90 days in case the CDFW requests you to also mail it in. All card data provides information necessary for annual take estimates. If the abalone card return rate is not adequate for catch estimates, the CDFW will consider penalties for failing to return cards.


Fishing for sturgeon
Question: When sturgeon fishing, is it true we cannot use sinkers on leaders or steel leaders? I don’t find these laws stated in the regulations booklet, so are they true? (Mon S., Stockton)

Answer: When fishing for sturgeon, only one single barbless hook may be used on a line (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 5.80 and 27.90.) The use of sinkers or steel leaders while fishing for sturgeon is not prohibited in most waters, but the use of any hook that is attached closer than 18 inches to any weight exceeding one half ounce is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 2.10(b)(2)). (Exception: Sacramento River from Keswick Dam to the Highway 162 Bridge, no wire leaders may be used and no sturgeon may be taken.)

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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.

Target Shooting Directly Next to a Wetland

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I was walking the Yolo Bypass Levee north of I-80 this weekend and saw a group shooting from the levee at some targets that were placed right next to the slough and adjacent wetlands to the east. If waterfowl hunters are required to use nonlead shot to prevent incidental lead poisoning, shouldn’t target shooters firing where their shot will enter the wetland also have to use nonlead shot?

It was also disappointing to see a lot of spent shells, clay target debris and glass left all over the ground. Is there any particular regulation prohibiting this? Thanks, (Beckye S.)

Answer: California Fish and Wildlife laws don’t prohibit the use of lead ammunition for target shooting, but they do prohibit people from depositing garbage, shells, glass, etc. within 150 feet of state waters (Fish and Game Code, section 5652.) If you see this again, please call CalTip at 888-334-2258 and report it.


Legal to drop Dungeness crab traps the day/night before opener?
Question: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I’ve heard it’s legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn’t find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved? (Fred S.)

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12:01 a.m. (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.85(a) and the definition of take in Fish and Game Code section 86.)  Anyone setting gear prior to this date and time may be cited for attempting to take crab out of season.


Looking for a fishing guide
Question: We are planning a trip to Oakland in December. Since I will be in meetings every day, my husband would love to go fishing. How can I find an honest and reputable fishing guide? (Christy L.)

Answer: A list of licensed fishing guides can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/ (click on “Lists” and then “Fishing Guides (PDF).” Other than this, your best bet is to do a Google search for the different guides around San Francisco Bay, and investigate feedback from customers, which is also likely available online.


Donating game for fundraising dinners?
Question: Can pigs taken by hunters as well as pigs taken under depredation permits be donated for use at a fund-raising dinner? (Mike H.)

Answer: Yes, as long as those donating the animals receive no compensation for their donations and as long as the patrons are not paying for the dinner itself. It is illegal for animals taken under the authority of a hunting license or depredation permit to be bought, sold, traded or bartered.


Chumming
Question: Can you help settle a debate please? Is intentionally chumming or blood baiting from shore or the pier permissible in California ocean waters? What specific regulations or laws apply? (Heather H.)

Answer: Yes, chumming in ocean waters is permitted statewide (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.05).


Fish trapping from a pier
Question: I don’t have a fishing license because I know I am allowed to fish and catch some crab from a public pier. I am wondering though if I am allowed to use a trap to catch fish. The trap would be a mesh cage made of nylon (or another type of durable material). It would have an opening, be attached to a float to keep it about five feet beneath the surface of the water, and have a main line going back up to the pier where I will have the rope tied down to the railing. I am targeting fish, like mackerel. Does this plan all sound alright? (Dave L.)

Answer: No. Taking mackerel or most other finfish in a trap under a sport fishing license is not permitted. Only a handful of baitfishes (shiner surfperch, longjaw mudsuckers, Pacific staghorn sculpin) may be taken by traps that meet certain dimensions in certain areas of the coast. For details, please see Section 28.75 on pg. 46 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, which is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, at local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices or wherever sport fishing licenses are sold.

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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.

Drifting for Waterfowl

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river is in the “Balance of the State” zone and is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion? (Anonymous)

Answer: Drifting is not considered “under power.” What you describe would be legal as long as you access the river from a legal access point, and once you’re hunting, your motion is not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off. You must also take into account the retrieval of the birds you take. Should you take a bird that lands on private property that you do not have the authority to access, you run the risk of a hunting trespass for retrieval, or waste of game if you do not retrieve it. Also, you need to remember not to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, and these may be difficult to see from the river. Finally, there may be other state or local ordinances and regulations (such as no shooting zones) or other restrictions that may prevent you from hunting the section of water you want to hunt.


Returning female Dungeness crabs
Question: I was surprised to discover the current regulations do not say female Dungeness crabs must be thrown back. Has there been a change in the long standing regulation that required this? Is it now legal to keep the female Dungeness crab, providing all other stipulations are met (size, season, limit, zone)? (Kurt H.)

Answer: Yes! Sport fisherman may keep the female Dungeness crab – commercial fishermen must throw them back. Since the females are often much smaller and less meaty than the males and lack the large claws, 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 offspring, so it’s beneficial for the population to let the females go. However, there is no law that compels you to do so.


How to legally display mountain lions?
Question:I read where Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed into law a bill allowing the mounting and display of these animals in California. Does that mean that mountain lions taken in other states can be brought into California for mounting and display? (Peter B., Los Angeles)

Answer: No, it is still illegal to import mountain lions. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was enacted via an initiative measure in 1990, provides that mountain lions are specially protected mammals that cannot be taken or possessed except under limited circumstances related to public safety or protection of property. SB 769, which amended the law in 2011, now allows for the possession of a mountain lion carcass, but only if all of the following requirements are met:

1) The lion was legally taken in California;

2) The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has specifically authorized the possession for the purposes of SB 769; and

3) The carcass is prepared for display, exhibition, or storage, for a bona fide scientific or educational purpose, at a non-profit museum or government-owned facility generally open to the public or at an educational institution, including a public or private postsecondary institution.

Only mountain lions taken for depredation or public safety reasons in accordance with the Fish and Game Code will fall within the SB 769 exception allowing possession of displayed mountain lions.


Yo-yo fishing
Question: I know jug fishing, yo-yo fishing and the use of trotlines with 20+ hooks per line are the norm in the South. I am interested in yo-yo fishing in California for catfish and possibly trying a two-jug trotline with 10 to 12 hooks on the line to catch catfish. My question is: In California, are private (non-commercial) fishermen limited to just one line with three hooks max? In reading the regs, it seems that an extra pole endorsement is just that, for an extra pole, not an extra line. (Mark H., San Bruno)

In regard to yo-yo fishing and trotline fishing, here is an article from 2007 Outdoor Life:http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2007/09/tackle-free-fishing

Answer: You must closely attend your lines at all times and you are limited to two lines with a maximum of three hooks on each line with a two-pole stamp. Otherwise, you must use a single line with three hooks maximum when fishing bait, or three lures per line which could each have three hooks. It is illegal to allow lines to simply fish themselves while attached to a float. For a similar previous question and answer, please go to: http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2008/11/.

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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.

Do Crippled Birds Add to My Bag Limit?

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Question: I was informed that a downed crippled bird that was not recovered, even though a true effort was made to find the downed bird, still counts toward your bag limit. Where is this stated in the regulations? (Aaron W.)

Answer: It is not in regulation. It is an ethical hunter issue. Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird. Even if that bird is never located but the hunter knows it was hit, the ethical hunter will still count it towards their bag limit. Ethical hunters do what is right even when they think no one’s looking.


Fishing and retrieving lobster hoop nets
Question: I understand that each person that drops a hoop net must be the same person that retrieves it. How is this going to be monitored? If we have four people in the boat and 10 nets, are we supposed to somehow mark each net to distinguish whose is whose? (Bill J.)

Answer: The law states that the owner of the hoop net or the person who placed the hoop net into the water shall raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at intervals not to exceed two hours.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Eric Kord, the intent of this law is to require a minimum checking interval of every two hours at least by whoever placed the net in the water and not to cite somebody for pulling up their buddy’s net. Wardens understand if you are working together as a team, but any net placed into the water is your responsibility to raise and inspect every two hours. Depending on someone else to do that for you may result in you receiving a citation if they fail to comply with this requirement.


Filleting salmon on board
Question:Can a private fisherman filet a fresh-caught salmon on the Sacramento River while retaining the carcass? I ask because I am of the opinion the salmon is not a size or weight limit fish. Does this change the answer? (Leslie G.)

Answer: You are correct that there is no minimum size or weight for salmon caught in the Sacramento River as there is in the Klamath River and ocean. This means Fish and Game Code, section 5508, does not prohibit anglers from filleting salmon caught from the Sacramento River. However, Fish and Game Code, section 5509 provides it is unlawful to possess on any boat or to bring ashore any fish in such a condition that the species cannot be determined. Since there are multiple species and runs of salmonids in the Sacramento River, and it is difficult to determine which is which based only on fillets, anglers shouldn’t filet salmon until they are ashore.

Anglers taking salmon from the shore are not affected by this prohibition and not restricted from filleting their catch. Retention of the carcass is not required.


What to do with old abalone shells?
Question: I know that abalone shells may not be sold, but what about shells found on private residential property? In this case, abalone shells had been used for landscape decoration and were removed in a clean up of that property. Can they be sold or given away? What about buying abalone shells from retail shops such as those located on Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco or other retail tourist destinations where they display these shells for sale? If someone does buy a shell from one these tourist shops, would the purchaser be violating any DFG regulation for that purchase and possession? Does the Lacey Act of 1900 apply?

What do private citizens do if in fact they encounter abalone shells that have been used for landscape decoration and are in the ground and have been for some years? What about unsuspecting people who obtain shells at a retail tourist shop? How do they ensure they do not inadvertently run afoul of any DFG regulation? (Dr. Thomas G.P. Luparello, D.C. (Ret.))

Answer: California fish and game laws that protect abalone apply to all parts of the fish, including the shell. Under these laws, shells of sport-caught abalone may not be sold.

However, there are many abalone fisheries throughout the world, there was a commercial abalone fishery in California until 1993 and abalone are lawfully produced and sold by aquaculture facilities. The prohibition on selling sport-caught abalone shells does not apply to the shells of these abalone.

Additional information regarding this valuable and vulnerable resource is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate/abalone.asp.

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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.