Category Archives: Reptiles

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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Annual Fishing License Required to Keep Reptiles?

Chuckwalla lizards

Chuckwalla lizards (Photo by Raimond Spekking)

Question: I know a California fishing license allows a person to “take” a certain number of each reptile and amphibian species, which are defined in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. I also understand “take” is defined as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles …” or attempting to do so. If I legally take a chuckwalla with a fishing license this year, do I need to have a fishing license for each year after 2013 in order to continue to keep it? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. In order to legally take a non-restricted native reptile from the wild, you will need a valid 2013 Sport Fishing License. In the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations, go to page 20 for the list of reptiles and bag limits. As long as the chuckwalla is legally taken with a sport fishing license, you are not required to purchase additional licenses just to keep the reptile.

Regarding the possession of other native reptiles, there are some species that are listed as “Restricted Species”, which means they may not be taken or kept as pets. For the list of Restricted Species Laws and Regulations, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/ and go to the California Code of Regulations Title 14 link and search for Section 671(c)(11).


Definition of Multi-Day Fishing Trip?
Question: My friends and I are planning our annual, multi-day fishing trip off the coast this summer. I have a question related to the regulations that might apply to our trip, so we don’t run into a problem with a game warden.

Under Section 27.15 on page 28 of the 2013/14 Ocean Fishing Booklet, multi-day fishing trips are described as being “continuous and extend(ing) for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip, and no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore.” Our trip will be for four days, we’ll fish for 12 hours every day, and we will anchor the boat in a protected cove off shore. It is not clear though if we are required to be physically fishing or to actually remain aboard the vessel the whole time. It seems we would meet the definition of a multi-day trip; however, we may wish to camp and sleep ashore overnight. If we fish from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Day #1, then anchor the boat offshore, sleep on land, and resume our fishing from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM the next day, is this still considered “continuous?” Similarly, if we remain aboard, but stop fishing between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, is this still considered “continuous?” Could you please describe any definition provided in the regulations for “continuous” that could clarify this question? (Neil P.)

Answer: A Declaration for Multi-Day Fishing Trip requires that the trip is continuous and extends for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip. In addition, no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore (CCR Title 14, section 27.15).

The multi-day fishing permit is intended to allow persons fishing offshore, on a trip that lasts multiple days, to catch and keep up to three daily limits of finfish, lobster and rock scallops, and up to two limits of abalone. The situation you described could be viewed as a land-based camping trip, using a vessel to get to your destination and fish from.  The warden that observed your activities would have to use discretion to determine if your activities met the conditions of a multi-day fishing trip. While there is no definition of “continuous” provided, if you choose to camp or fish on the mainland coast, it would be a stretch to say that you were still on a fishing trip on your boat.


Selling elk antlers and sheds
Question: I know it’s not legal to sell deer antlers, but what about elk antlers, either sheds or those that include a skull plate? I read your column about selling any animal native to California and wonder if that includes elk antlers, which many use for decorative purposes, knives, etc, as there is a market for such items. (Scott W.)

Answer: It is unlawful to sell or purchase any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. Since elk are found in the wild in California, this applies to elk antlers. However, shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically-reared animals that have been manufactured into products or handcraft items, or that have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted, may be purchased or sold (see Fish and Game Code, section 3039).

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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.