Category Archives: Reptiles

Relocating Rescued Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Question: I found and took home a dying Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) after it became a victim of a wildfire. It’s now eating great and able to move fluently which is great and a job well done in my eyes. I’ve had it in captivity close to three weeks now. Is it okay to place it back into the wild (away from humans, of course)? (Daniel G.)

Answer: While we appreciate your desire to help injured wildlife, it is illegal for members of the public to rehabilitate wildlife without possessing a wildlife rehabilitation permit.

If you kept the injured rattlesnake near or with other captive reptiles at your house, the snake should not be re-released back into the wild due to the inherent danger of spreading disease into wild populations of rattlesnakes after release.

Wildlife rehabilitation is regulated in California to ensure animals are cared for and housed properly and that their reintroduction into the wild is done very carefully. Wildlife rehabilitators often give pre-release medical exams or observe wildlife patients for an extended period of time to evaluate the health of an animal prior to release. All rehabilitation facilities have a veterinarian of record who help them with medical issues and can help them assess whether an animal is healthy enough for release. Wildlife rehabilitators must return wildlife within three miles of where the animal originated and often work with the department to find suitable release sites.

We encourage you to find a wildlife rehabilitation facility that is willing to take the rattlesnake and go through the proper channels for its release. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html .


Can cowcod caught in Mexico be imported to U.S. waters?
Question: If we’re fishing in Mexican waters and catch a cowcod, can we legally bring it back into a California port as long as we have all of the proper licenses and the Declaration for Entry form properly filled out? I’d just like to know for sure as we fish Mexican waters frequently targeting rockfish and I’d like to avoid a citation. (Jeff M., San Diego)

Answer: No. Cowcod may not be imported or even possessed in California regardless of where caught (Fish and Game Code, section 2353(a)(2)). Broomtail groupers and canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes are also illegal to be possessed or imported into California under this regulation and under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.55(b)(1), even if they were taken legally in Mexico.


Hunting deer over water?
Question: I was having a conversation with my uncle the other day and we were discussing whether it would be legal to hunt over a horse or cattle trough. With the recent drought, I’m worried that the deer in our area aren’t getting sufficient watering holes. I have read the section on baiting in the Big Game Digest, but am under the impression that water is not considered bait. So our main question is, is it legal to hunt over a horse/cattle trough or any other type of man-made pool of water if there are no horses or cattle? (Tony S., Davis)

Answer: Although there are some specific exceptions, it is generally legal to hunt near cattle troughs or other sources of water. Keep in mind that many wild animals like deer will water before or after legal hunting hours.

In addition, it is NOT legal to hunt, camp or otherwise occupy for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the California Desert Conservation Area, within 200 yards of guzzlers or horizontal wells for wildlife on public land, and within one quarter mile of five wells in Lassen County and one well in Modoc County is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 730). “Wildlife watering places” are defined as waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.


Abalone dinner donations?
Question: If a non-profit organization puts on a dinner and only requests donations to attend, can a group of divers legally donate abalone to the organization to be used for the dinner? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, but only as long as the dinner is not advertised as being an abalone dinner and as long as paying for the dinner is optional. You may charge for the rental of the facilities, tables, chairs, etc. and charge for the plates, napkins, cups, etc. Abalone (like all sport-caught fish and game) cannot be bought, sold, bartered or traded.

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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 Pet Store Rescue and Rehome a Garter Snake?

Garter snake (Photo courtesy of CDPW by David Hannigan)

Garter snake (Photo courtesy of CDPW by David Hannigan)

Question: We own a pet store in Northern California and also help to rescue animals and then place them in suitable homes. A client recently asked us to help rescue a 12-year-old garter snake and then adopt it out back to a good home. My questions are, is it even legal for us to possess a garter snake within our shop? Next, if we are able to possess it in our shop, can we charge our standard adoption fees to a new owner for our services in order to help place this snake in a new home? (Anonymous)

Answer: If the garter snake is native to California, then it is not legal to sell or even possess within the pet store. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Officer Kyle Chang, it would also not be legal to charge a fee to rehome the garter snake since they are not on the list of snakes that are legal to “sell” in California, and “sell” includes possession for sale, barter, exchange or trade. Pet shops can only sell snakes under certain conditions. It’s also not legal for anyone to release the snake back into the wild. (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 40(c), 40(e), 43(c), 43(c)(1), 43(f)(2) and Fish and Game Code section 75 all apply to this answer.)

If, however, the garter snake is non-native to California, then CDFW regulations do not apply (except for the illegal release of the garter snake into the wild), but all other state, county and city laws relating to the pet trade may still apply.


Possession limits after multiple days of fishing?
Question: Can you discuss ocean fish possession limits? I often see people coming to our area to fish for several days in a row and they take a limit every day without eating or gifting any of the fish to someone else. On day three, when they depart from the ocean, they have three limits of rockfish in a cooler. It’s not right. Most folks do not know or understand that the daily bag limit is also the possession limit for most fish. Just a thought to help educate. Thanks! (Ryan H., San Luis Obispo)

Answer: You are correct. Regardless of how many days someone ocean fishes, they must abide by both daily bag limits and overall possession limits. In most cases, bag limits and possession limits are the same, so at no time can someone possess more than one daily bag limit. In order to fish again once a daily bag limit is reached, the angler must wait until the next calendar day, and unless a higher possession limit is specifically authorized, the angler must either eat or gift their fish to someone else before taking more. At no time can anyone be in possession of more than one bag/possession limit.


Maximum lobster hoops?
Question: I know the maximum number of hoop nets that can be fished from a boat is 10. We take a couple of multi-day trips every year and invariably lose one or two during the trip. My question is can we carry a couple of spares on the boat to replace any we lose? (Larry H.)

Answer: Unfortunately, you may not. No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed on a vessel (CCR Title14, section 29.80(b)).


What’s meant by the nearest landmark?
Question: I will be hunting for deer and bear this year and noticed on the tags where it asks for the distance and direction from the nearest landmark. What does that mean by the nearest landmark? I am also unsure as to just what kind of landmark they are asking for. Can you please clarify this for me? (Dan B.)

Answer: Harvest data, including the location where an animal is taken, is an important component of wildlife management. The geographic location helps biologists obtain specific location information so the more accurate you can be with distinguishing landmarks, the more helpful it is to managing our wildlife. There are many acceptable locations found on any map for your planned hunt area. Please just provide distance and direction to the nearest mountain, creek, river, city, town, campground or other landmark.

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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.

How to Control Nuisance Crows?

Question: I live in Redondo Beach and was told by the city to ask you what could be done about an infestation of the nuisance birds that are an absolute plague in our neighborhood. I have small children that are woken up by these vile creatures starting at 3am to around 8am! Please get back to me and let me know what I can and cannot do. (Armando R.)

Answer: There is a provision in the Fish and Game regulations that allows for landowners to destroy (shoot) crows that are damaging farm fields or other crops. However, it seems this is not what you are dealing with, not to mention the fact that firearms cannot be discharged within city limits. If I interpret your question correctly, your principle complaint is the noise level.

There are actually a number of cities that have similar problems with crows and the cities have coordinated with either the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture or the U.S. Dept. of Fish and Wildlife to implement abatement measures. Here is a good article written by the Washington Department of Wildlife regarding nuisance crows http://wdfw.wa.gov/living/crows.html. As you will see as you read it, it’s a tough issue because most of the abatement measures work only for short periods of time. If you believe the crows are in such a concentration that they create a public health hazard (droppings), then your city or county health department should be notified.

Bottom line, if the roosting crow population continues to grow, the city may need to get involved by contacting the USDA, Wildlife Services Division.


Pacific angel shark limits?
Question: Yesterday I caught and released a Pacific angel shark. At first I did not know what it was. It looked like a guitar fish but was different. After looking through the regulations, I didn’t see anything about the Pacific angel shark. Is there a bag limit and/or size limit on them? Or are they a protected species? I also caught and released a broadnose sevengill shark. The regulations list a limit of one but no size limit. Does this mean any size can be taken? (Alan V.)

Answer: When a fish species is not mentioned specifically in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, section 27.60 applies (found on pg. 32 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet). The general bag limit instructs fishermen to keep no more than 20 fish per day, of which no more than 10 fish may be of the same species.

Additionally, there are some species for which there is no bag limit (see section 27.60(b) for these species). If no size limit is given for a species, there is none.


Catching turtles at the lake?
Question: I’ve been seeing turtles at this lake we like to fish, and there’s a good chance I could catch one. What are the regulations regarding catching turtles? Can I bring it home as a pet or to eat? (Huu Tran)

Answer: Before attempting to catch one of these turtles, it will be important for you to positively identify what species of turtle it is. Be aware it is illegal to capture western pond turtles, a native California species, but it is legal to catch and collect non-native turtles (painted, slider and softshell turtles) under authority of a sportfishing license. While there are no bag or possession limits for these non-native turtles, there are restrictions on the methods of take that may be used to catch them (CCR Title 14 Sections 2.00 and 5.60). The only way to legally collect western pond turtles would be if you held a scientific collecting permit (CCR Title 14, section 40(a)). However, these permits are issued only to scientists doing bona fide research.


How to find existing hunting license number?
Question: How can my son find his existing hunting license number? He has his certificate but lost his license. Can you let us know what to do? (Carla B.)

Answer: Your son can contact any CDFW office that issues licenses or any outside vendor that sells hunting licenses, and ask them to look it up. He will just need to provide either a driver license number, or if too young to have one, provide the parent’s identification information that the previous license was purchased under.

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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.

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