Category Archives: Selling animal parts

Returning Fish and Wildlife Back to the Wild

CDFW staff releasing waterfowl after health inspection (CDFW photo)

CDFW Waterfowl Biologist Melanie Weaver releasing a male pintail following a routine health examination (CDFW photo)

Question: If I want to release fish and other shellfishes that I got from the local market into California waters, how do I get permission or a permit? Also, what about birds? Do I need a permit? (Stella T.)

Answer: It is not legal to move and plant live finfish in any waters of California. Same goes for birds or mammals, regardless of where they came from. In addition to the fact that to do so is illegal, it is also not a compassionate gesture to relocate fish and wildlife to new waters or habitats where they are not accustomed or to environments they are not familiar with or already adapted to. Most fish and wildlife will probably not survive under these conditions, and you run the risk of spreading parasites and diseases to healthy ecosystems that may then endanger the health and well-being of native fish and wildlife living in their natural environments.

“It is unlawful to place, or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this State, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the State without first submitting it for inspection to, and securing the written permission of, the department” (Fish and Game Code, section 6400). The law also states that no person having possession or control over any wild animal under this chapter shall intentionally free, or knowingly permit the escape, or release of such an animal, except in accordance with the regulations of the Fish and Game Commission (FGC, section 2121).

Many of the live fish and shellfish found in the local markets are imported into California from other states or countries under an importer’s permit. Besides being illegal, the release of these exotic species into our state waters could devastate the native species with disease or unnatural competition for food or predation. The same would apply to birds and other wildlife.


Turning deceased animals into taxidermy art?
Question: I have a question in regards to acquiring animal remains. If an animal is a legal species to possess and is found as road kill, or is decomposed to bone by nature, how can one go about obtaining the remains legally to use for taxidermy and art? I know this is a sensitive subject since there is no way to prove one “found” an animal, and ethics come into play. But I’m connected to a lot of groups on Facebook from outside of California that have laws allowing people to obtain animal remains that are not from protected species. These pieces are then used and sold as art.

Before continuing with my endeavors though, I want to make sure I can ethically source remains and legal specimens. Or if I can’t just as a citizen, what permits would I need in order to do so? I find it really hard to believe that state laws in Florida vs. California can differ so vastly. And it’s almost impossible to find reliable information on the Internet, so I figured I’d go straight to the source. (Christina G.)

Answer: First of all, any wild bird or mammal (or part thereof) found in California may not be sold (FGC, section 3039). Animals that have been legally taken under the authority of a hunting or fishing license in this state may be preserved through taxidermy consistent with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) recordkeeping requirements, but they may not be sold or purchased (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 695). Road-killed animals generally may not be possessed, with some exceptions for scientific and educational purposes.


Harvesting sea anemone for food?
Question: While eating sea anemone probably seems strange to most Americans they are eaten throughout the world, most notably in Asian countries. When chopped, tossed with flour and fried (think clam strip), it tastes like a cross between crab and clams. Is it legal to harvest sea anemone for food in California? (Brent A., Fort Bragg)

Answer: Sea anemone may not be harvested in the area between the high tide mark and 1,000 feet seaward and lateral to the low tide mark (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). In fact, only the following marine invertebrates may be taken in this area:

“Except where prohibited within state marine reserves, state marine parks, state marine conservation areas, or other special closures only the following may be taken: red abalone, limpets, moon snails, turban snails, chiones, clams, cockles, mussels, rock scallops, native oysters, octopuses, squid, crabs, lobsters, shrimp, sand dollars, sea urchins and worms except that no worms may be taken in any mussel bed, unless taken incidental to the harvesting of mussels” (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(b)(1)).

It would be perfectly legal, however, to take 35 sea anemone outside the 1,000 foot intertidal zone, and sea anemone do live outside that zone. A shore picker would have difficulty doing this though unless it was a zone where the intertidal area is very flat.


Any restrictions on crab bait components?
Question: Are there any restrictions on what you can use for crab bait in non-commercial crab traps? (Al and Karen B.)

Answer: No. As long as the bait sources are legal for you to possess, there are no restrictions on what you may use.

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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 Waterfowl from a Cattle Blind?

cattle-as-hunting-blind

In the early days hunters often used cattle as hunting blinds, hiding behind them to more stealthily approach the wild birds they were pursuing to get a closer shot. This practice has been banned since 1957. (Photo: From archived legislative records, circa 1915)

Question: I am in a duck club and we get geese in the field between our blinds. It is impossible to sneak up on the geese without being seen. We made a life-size cow silhouette and painted it black and white just like the cows in the field. We are planning on hiding behind it to sneak up within shooting range of the geese. Is this a legal decoy to use? (Scott L.)

Answer: No, it is not legal to use any mammal (except a dog) or an imitation of a mammal as a blind in approaching or taking game birds (FGC Section 3502.) Hunters have long known the benefits of using cattle as duck blinds. In fact, in the early days market hunters were known to train large steers to act as live decoys for them to hide behind while they “walked their shot” to approach the unsuspecting birds for a closer and better shot.

One of the most famous live decoys was a hunting steer by the name of “Old Tom.” When his owner bought him in 1914, Old Tom weighed 1,850 pounds and stood 5 ft. 8 in. high. During the days of market hunting, he was utilized in practically every inland county in the state and made an excellent blind because of his training, size and build. Because of the high success of this method, market hunters were banned from this practice nearly a century ago, and sportsmen have been banned from this practice since 1957.

For more, see the article of “Old Tom” entitled, “The famous animal blind.” California Fish and Game. 1928. Vol. 14:62 available online at http://www.archive.org/details/californiafishga14_1928cali.


Is it legal to sponsor a long range angler?
Question: What if four people got together and all paid the boat fare so that one person in the group could take a long range fishing trip? Three of the people are not fisherpersons. After the trip, all of the fish caught by the one angler would then be split evenly between the four people. Would this be considered selling of fish? (Doug S., Montebello)

Answer: Fish caught under the authority of a sport fishing license may not be bought, sold, traded or bartered (FGC Section 7121). This means that if these people all helped pay the fare for another person to take a fishing trip with the expectation of receiving some of the fish caught back in return, that would be illegal. Anglers who lawfully catch fish may always give fish away to whomever they wish, but it is not legal for non-anglers to pay for another person’s trip with the understanding or expectation of receiving fish in return for that money.


OK to donate and raffle off bear skin rugs?
Question: One of our club members was cleaning out his home recently and came upon a grizzly bear skin rug he has had for many years. He would like to donate it to our club. We want to be sure this is alright, and second, would we need something in writing from him indicating that it is a donation to the club? If, in the future, we want to include this rug in a raffle, can we do so? We aren’t certain if there are restrictions regarding this type of bear hide. Thank you for your help with this matter. (Bonnie V.D.)

Answer: The donation of the bear-skin rug to your club is not a problem, however, it would be illegal for the club to offer it as a “prize” in a raffle (e.g. the person who holds the winning ticket “exchanges or trades” it for the rug).

The exchange of the rug for a winning ticket is prohibited by Fish and Game laws that prohibit the sale of any part of any bear and defines sale to include “exchange or trade.” Grizzly bears are also protected by federal laws. Contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for information regarding what, if any, federal laws may apply. 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 CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Sidearm While Duck Hunting?

(Photo courtesy of USFWS)

(Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: A friend and I recently had a situation where we found pig tracks at one of the areas where we like to duck hunt. We both found it a little unnerving to be walking in knee to waist high grass armed with only bird shot if a pig were to charge. The area where we are hunting doesn’t explicitly prohibit handguns. We were wondering if California law allows us to carry a handgun, not as a method of take, but rather for defense while hunting waterfowl. I noticed the answer to the question on sidearms while hunting upland game and small game but don’t know if duck hunting has any additional restrictions. Also, if this is allowed, does the ammo in the handgun apply to the nonlead requirement while hunting duck, or is it exempt considering that it is not a method of take? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks. (Rhyan P.)

Answer: Unless the area where you’re hunting explicitly prohibits the possession of, or hunting with, handguns, that part should not be a problem. If that is the case, and you feel that your life is in danger, you can shoot the pig. However, you are not authorized to take the carcass unless you have a pig tag and utilized a legal method of take. If you’re hunting in condor country, you must carry nonlead ammunition.


Are crabs with black spots safe to eat?
Question: I just bought two crabs and found one with black spots on the outside shell. I’ve seen these before and usually avoid them, but this time the seller sneaked it into my package. When I called him about it, he said he didn’t know what it is, but it doesn’t permeate the shell. This isn’t true—I’ve seen this stuff on the flesh at the joints. It looks like oil. Can you enlighten me? Besides being ugly, is it unsafe? (Mari V., Berkeley)

Answer: Black spots on the shells of crustaceans are typically composed of melanin, which is the end product of a series of immunological reactions. This means the crab was likely responding to some shell damage that could be caused by physical trauma or a disease agent. In this case, the black spotted crab is probably safe if cooked correctly. However, if the discolored shellfish tissue has an unpleasant taste or texture, or looks or smells unusual, we always recommend not eating it.


Where can I find bail fine information?
Question: How are fines determined and how can someone locate published documentation on fines? (John S., Bakersfield)

Answer: The State Judicial Council publishes the “Uniform Bail and Penalty Schedules” every year. If you perform a web search, most courts will link to the most current edition. The link on our web site  www.courts.ca.gov/documents/july2011_jcbail.pdf is the 2011 edition. Additionally, some fines are mandatory and established by the California legislature. Those can be found in the Fish and Game Code starting with Section 12000. See the California Legislative Information web site http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes.xhtml to look up the code. With some exceptions for mandatory fines, the uniform bail and penalty schedule is a guideline used by judges. In other words, judges have a great deal of discretion in setting fines and penalties for any violation.


Crossbows for wild pigs?
Question: I am trying to get some clarification on hunting wild pigs with a crossbow. The regulations state that crossbows may be used to take deer and wild pigs only during the regular seasons (California Code Regulations, Title 14, section 353). Since wild pigs can be hunted all year, does that mean that a crossbow can be used (like a firearm) to hunt wild pigs? Can any legal hunter with a hunting license and a pig tag use a crossbow for wild pigs? The regulations have a bit of a gray area here and I would like some clarification please. (Al Q.)

Answer: Yes, wild pigs can be taken year-round with a crossbow.


Importing a water buffalo skull?
Question: I purchased a water buffalo skull with horns in Thailand (Jan 2014). The Thai post office informed me I would need a “customs” form to have it delivered in the U.S. but they did not have them. The skull remains with my son in Thailand.

The skull is clean and dry. There is no remaining material on the skull. The skull was purchased from a buffalo farm for about $60. The animal was not mistreated or tortured. It died a natural death. The farm has a number of skulls for sale.

Can you please tell me what form I need and what I need to do to have it shipped to me here in California? Thank you in advance for your assistance. I enjoy your articles! (Jerry M.)

Answer: California wildlife law does not generally apply to this situation. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would be the contact agency regarding importing parts from a water buffalo into California.

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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.

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.

Local Gooseneck Barnacles on the Menu?

Close-up of gooseneck barnacles (Pollicipes polymerus) Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA/NMFS/OPR

Close-up of gooseneck barnacles (Dr. Dwayne Meadows, NOAA Collections)

Question: I have a question about gooseneck barnacles. In the Fish and Game regulations it states that gooseneck barnacles cannot be taken or possessed at any time. Can you tell me why? I have spoken with California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) biologists and they did not know why but suggested I contact you. Currently, the only legal way you can obtain them is by purchasing them in a dish at a high-end restaurant. The barnacles sold in these dishes are imported from Spain. I collect mussels in season and the barnacles are nearly as prolific as the mussels, and in the same locations as the mussels. (Curt H., San Francisco)

Answer: I suspect that as with so many of our regulations, goosenecks were not included with the inverts that can be taken because no one spoke up when the list was made to say, “Hey, people eat goosenecks!” California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05 lists those animals that may be taken within the intertidal zone, and no barnacles (including gooseneck barnacles) are included. These regulations are reviewed and often amended every two years and the Fish and Game Commission could consider adding barnacles to those animals that can be taken. Feel free to contact the Commission with your request (www.fgc.ca.gov/). They would ultimately decide if goosenecks could be added.


Can my estate sell my hunting gear as furniture?
Question: Can my estate sell my collection of all of my old hunting gear that I have collected over the years as a piece of furniture? I have an old hat rack with the following items on it: My father’s old hunting hat and his brother’s old hunting hat, my father’s old hunting coat and his duck strap. On the coat are some old hunting licenses (1930’s and 1940’s), various duck pins, plus 1920 and 1942 Ducks Unlimited pins, and collections of duck bands on a cord. There are also some old pheasant tags/permits in one of the pockets from this same era.

What I’m most proud of is the duck strap that contains nine different species of mounted ducks hanging by their necks. They include: hen shoveler, blue wing teal, gadwall drake, pintail drake, widgeon drake, green wing teal drake, wood duck drake, ring necked duck drake and a small cross-bred duck.Bob Stewart

I am aware that you can’t sell mounted birds by themselves, but as they are part of the piece of furniture, can they be part of the total value and all sold together? All of this vintage hunting stuff belonged to my father and uncle, but I know once I pass on, no one else in my family will have any interest in keeping the stuff. I hope my estate will be able to sell this whole collection of treasures as a piece of furniture so as to not have to break it all up and lose the duck mounts. (Bob S., Modesto)

Answer: What a great collection!! Unfortunately, as you suspected, you cannot sell the ducks. Your best bet would be to sell the other items and donate the ducks. You could perhaps take the ducks out of the collection all together but then donate the strap of birds to the person who buys the other items.


Mobile deer stand
Question: I have a deer stand that lifts up and down using a hydraulic ram mounted in the back of my truck. Is this legal in the state of California? The only way to use it is if the truck is on flat ground and not moving. (Anonymous)

Answer: Unless you qualify for a disabled hunting license, the law prohibits shooting any game bird or mammal from a motor vehicle (Fish and Game Code, section 3002). This provision also applies to a vehicle-mounted deer stand. A legal alternative might be if the stand could be mounted onto a trailer that could then be detached from the vehicle.


Sibiki rig for bait while rock fishing
Question: While fishing for rockfish we would like to have a small rod set up with a sibiki rig to catch bait fish. Do we need to remove the extra hooks and only use two hooks when fishing for bait with rockfish on board? Thanks (Dave P.)

Answer: Yes, when rockfish, lingcod, cabezon or kelp or rock greenling are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.55, 28.27, 28.28 or 28.29, respectively.)

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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.

How to Measure Abalone Correctly to Avoid a Ticket?

Abalone must be measured with a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (CDFW staff photo)

Abalone must be measured with a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches (CDFW staff photo)

Question: I know a guy who was abalone diving off his kayak recently and took three nice abalone that all measured around nine inches. He was diving for the big abs and so was using a 9-inch gauge, but had his required 7-inch gauge in his goody bag on the kayak. When he finished up and got back to the beach with his tagged abalone and his gauges in his goody bag, there was a wildlife officer waiting there who had been watching him and wrote him a ticket for using a 9-inch gauge instead of a 7-inch gauge. Why did he get a ticket? (Tim S.)

Answer: Abalone divers are required to “… carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15[f]) and are required to retain any legal-sized abalone they detach and add them to their bag (CCR Title 14, section 29.15[d].) It is fine to use a gauge larger than the required 7-inch gauge to measure over-sized abalone when trophy hunting. The problem occurs when a diver detaches and brings an abalone to the surface, measures it with only a 9-inch gauge, and then rejects it for being smaller than their personal target size even though the abalone may still be of the minimum legal size (seven inches or larger). This practice puts the diver in violation of the above sections and this practice is considered “high-grading.”

To avoid this kind of ticket, divers should not return any abalone before first measuring with a 7-inch gauge to be sure they are smaller than legal size. A 7-inch gauge should be in the immediate vicinity of where the diver surfaces (in hand, float tube or kayak) so that the abalone can be readily measured, and if they then turn out to be short, the diver can then return it to the same location where originally taken. The violation occurs when divers detach and then reject legal-sized abalone because they are seeking only the oversized ones.


Disabled wheelchair-bound hunters?
Question: My dad used to hunt ducks with me every weekend. The last few seasons he had to miss due to becoming disabled and wheelchair-bound. Recently he has talked about hunting the refuges with me this coming season, and has bought an electronic chair. My question is will the electronic chair be allowed onto free roam Type A/B or on Type C areas? Or will it be considered an ATV (which it is not)? He would only be able to do levees or gravel roads. Thanks. (James)

Answer: Many of our wildlife refuges have disabled hunter blinds that would allow your father and one able-bodied hunter to still enjoy waterfowl hunting and accommodate his need for an electronic chair or regular wheelchair. But while he would probably be allowed to free-roam hunt, most refuges with their levees and gravel roads may not be easy to get around in via a wheelchair. ATVs are prohibited. It might be best to call ahead to the refuge where you’d like to hunt to inquire about the conditions available.


Hunting with an arrow rifle?
Question: I have an arrow rifle that’s powered by CO2 high pressured gas that I’ve had for the last 15 years. It’s not a crossbow. I’ve heard it was made for SWAT teams, but I’m not sure. I just think it would be cool to hunt with it but didn’t see anything in your regulations about it. What do you think? Would it be legal? (Wes H.)

Answer: No. The weapon you describe would not be legal for taking fish or wildlife in California.


Bringing black bear claws in from out of state
Question: I recently purchased black bear claws from a licensed store/vendor in Idaho and would like to know if it is legal to bring them back into California. (Anonymous)

Answer: If you buy them legally in another state and have documentation to prove it, you can legally bring them back here so long as you declare their entry into California (Fish and Game Code, section 2353. Assuming they are from a black bear, you cannot sell them once in California though. Even if you decide to later sell them and plan to do so over the Internet … don’t! You could then be charged with a hefty federal Lacey Act violation. Buying or selling black bear parts within California is strictly forbidden, even if the bear was taken out of state.

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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.

Casting with a Potato Gun-Style Launcher

(CDFW photo by Sabrina Bell)

(CDFW photo by Sabrina Bell)

Question: Is it legal to use the “Sandblaster Baitcaster” in California? This device is supposed to be great for surf fishing from the beach. It uses compressed air to cast your bait up to 300 yards from shore. See it at their website, www.bunkerupfishin.com/. (Victor H.)

Answer: This line launching device is really just another form of the old “potato guns” that were popular for a while until they were outlawed in public areas. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Dennis McKiver, potato guns are legal under federal law. Under state law, potato guns that use combustion (instead of compressed air) to launch the projectile are “firearms,” and one with a bore of over 0.5 inches is a destructive device.

Pneumatic potato guns like this one use compressed air and are legal as long as they are not used like a weapon (e.g. shot at a person, etc.), so this line launching device would be legal under state and federal laws. However, you should check for local city and county ordinances because some local governments prohibit use of any devices that propel projectiles, and if you intend to use this line launching device on any state beach, you may also want to consult State Parks.

As far as using it to cast a fishing line, nothing in the Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations prohibit using this compressed air launcher as long as the fishing line is attached to a rod and reel, or a person is brave enough to hold the other end of line in their hands!


What to do when catching invasive fish species?
Question: What should we do when we catch invasive fish in local lakes? Specifically, Balboa Lake in the San Fernando Valley remains warm enough in winter to support some tropical fish. Certain aquarium fishes breed as well as survive in these waters. The problem now are Plecostomus (commonly found in home fish tanks to eat the algae) that have taken over the lake and the Los Angeles River.

A couple of us have caught over 200 since February in one little cove while fishing for carp. We were told by park personnel to kill them (seemed reasonable) but I wanted to make sure they are inedible so that we won’t get into trouble for wasting fish. Please advise. Thanks. (Bill S.)

Answer: From a biological standpoint, CDFW would like to see these invasive fish disposed of (killed) rather then placed back in the system. The law prohibits the waste of any fish taken in waters of the state (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.87). This regulation is intended to encourage people to eat any fish they kill, and to avoid needlessly killing fish. But, any lawful use of fish that are legal for sale by an aquarium or pet store would satisfy the requirements of this regulation, including their use as fertilizer for your garden.

Here’s something that might surprise you … Plecostomus are consumed by humans in some of their native Central and South American waters. Jackson Landers, author of “Eating Aliens: One Man’s Adventures Hunting Invasive Animal Species” includes a recipe for Plecostomus in this book.


Scuba diving for Dungeness crabs?
Question: In a recent column you said that you could not take Dungeness crabs on SCUBA. Did I read that correctly or were you referring to seasons? (Duanne S.)

Answer: I saidwhen Dungeness crab season is open, they may be taken by hand via SCUBA but divers may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(g)).


Sale of pig mount … Is it legal?
Question: My brother harvested a pig about 20 years ago on a private ranch in California and had the head mounted. He wants to sell the mount, but doesn’t want to break the law and can’t get a definitive answer from anyone. Could you help? Thank you as always for your help! (Dave)

Answer: Your brother can give it away but cannot sell or trade it to anyone. With a few exceptions (that don’t apply to your brother), the law prohibits the sale or purchase of any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. (Fish and Game Code, section 3039)


Is there a limit on sand crabs?
Question: Is it legal to catch sand crabs with a fishing license, and if legal, what is the limit? Can sand crabs be taken on all beaches of the state? (Gina N.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to catch sand crabs with a fishing license statewide wherever fishing is authorized. The limit is 50 crabs per day and in possession (CCR Title 14, section 29.85(d)).

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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.