Category Archives: Selling animal parts

Donating Fish to Charity for a Tax Deduction?

(CDFW file photo)

(CDFW file photo)

Question: In a recent column you said it is legal to donate excess fish from a multi-day fishing trip to a church or non-profit shelter as long as no compensation is received. What about a tax deduction? This way the guys with too many fish donate to the churches, the churches feed the hungry and the fisherman gets a deduction and doesn’t have to worry about dead fish to clean. Everyone wins! What do you think? (Dick L.)

Answer: Sorry, but while this might sound like a great idea, donated fish cannot be claimed as a tax deduction because you cannot assign a value to sport-caught fish. The best thing for anglers to do is to catch and keep only what they know they will actually use so that they don’t end up with excess fish to clean and donate.


Night fishing
Question: We love to fish for crappie and are wondering if it is legal to fish for them at night. I am not aware of any California lakes that allow night fishing using lights off of your boat. Is this legal, and if so, what bodies of water allow this type of fishing? Thanks for all of your weekly information (W. Yamamoto).

Answer: Night fishing for crappie is permitted by the California Department of Fish and Game (CDFW) as long as the lake where you plan to fish permits fishing at night (CCR Title 14, section 2.15). Some lakes prohibit night fishing for purposes of access control, safety or security reasons. You will need to contact the agency or concessionaire managing the lake to inquire about their policy.


Fishing from my private dock?
Question: I live right on the river and can fish from my backyard off my private dock. Do I need a fishing license? I heard if it is private property you do not need a license. (Eric)

Answer: What you heard was not correct. You do need a fishing license because it’s not a matter of where you’re standing, it’s a matter of the waters you’re fishing in. All rivers of the state are public waters, and all fish contained in those waters are public fish. Even if a stream or river runs through private property, all of the fish within those waters belong to the people of California, and thus a fishing license is required. The only places where you would not need a fishing license would be if you were fishing in a pond on private property that has no stream or creek water flowing into it or out of it. The water must be completely self-contained so that no fish from outside of the property can swim into it or swim out of it. The only other place where you can fish without a fishing license is on a public pier in the ocean (CCR Title 14, section 1.88).


Hunter Ed reciprocity between states?
Question: I took a hunter education class in Missouri and have a hunter’s safety card issued from there but recently moved to California and would like to hunt here. Do I have to complete another hunter ed course in California or can I just purchase a hunting license using my old card? (Steve H.)

Answer: No, California accepts hunter education certificates from other states as proof you have completed an approved course in the past. You can also present a previous hunting license from another state as proof to buy a California hunting license. But despite the fact you may not need to take a California hunter education class, you still may want to consider one. It’s a good idea for everyone to periodically update their knowledge with a refresher course and a review of the 10 commandments of handling a firearm. Our hunter education program is always improving and most people do benefit from a refresher. For a calendar list of more than 200 hunter education classes offered throughout the state, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered/classes.aspx).


Casting for squid?
Question: Is it legal to use a standard cast net to catch squid in the ocean or are only dip nets allowed? (Hai L.)

Answer: Hawaiian type throw nets or cast nets are legal to use to take squid if used north of Point Conception. In waters south of Point Conception, only hand-held dip nets are allowed (CCR Title 14, section 28.80).

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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.

Did Game Warden Have the Right to Search My Car?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Antique dealer selling animal parts

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

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

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

GPS Collars on Dogs While Hunting?

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GPS collars may be used on dogs only when bird hunting but are prohibited when hunting mammals (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: My dog is often hard to follow when we’re hiking through heavy cover. Is it legal to use GPS tracking devices on dogs while hunting? (Mark M.)

Answer: GPS collars may be used on dogs only when bird hunting but are prohibited when hunting mammals. Electronic dog retrieval collars employing the use of global positioning system equipment (devices that utilize satellite transmissions) are prohibited on dogs used for the pursuit/take of mammals (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 265(d)(2)).


Lighted fishing lures
Question: I have begun to see fishing lures for sale on eBay that are LED-lighted. Are these legal in California? I fish the Sacramento and Feather rivers. (Donna B.)

Answer: Yes. There are no prohibitions against using LED-lighted lures in either fresh or salt water.


Can I carry a gun for protection during archery-only season?
Question: I am an avid bow hunter and spend most of the archery season stalking deer and bear in the deep canyons, and walking from ridgeline to ridgeline carrying nothing but my bow and my two knives.

However, I have not been able to continue my tradition of solo crosscountry hunting trips recently due to the high numbers of marijuana gardens being found and raided in my hunting zone. I am not sure of the ethnicity of the marijuana farmers, but I have family in south Texas and they have told me stories of the Mexican drug cartels kidnapping people and forcing them to go into the wilderness and farm these big marijuana gardens. These people have strict orders to shoot anyone that may cause a threat to the crop.

After hearing this, I stay a whole lot closer to main roads and out of canyons but am still fearful of being confronted by these guys with guns when I just have my bow and the bear deterrent I carry in bear country. My question is why can’t I, being an American citizen, have a firearm in my possession while bow hunting? Doesn’t the Second Amendment give me the right to bear arms? This was just a question that crossed my mind today as I was deer hunting and I hope you can answer it for me. (Vincent W.)

Answer: I appreciate your concern and understand you wanting to be safe while in the woods. But, under current California Fish and Game laws, if you choose to hunt during an archery-only (AO) season or during the general season under the authority of an AO harvest tag, it is not legal for you to be in possession of a firearm while in the field.

However, AO tags/seasons are only one option, you can instead choose to hunt during the general season under a general tag with a bow, and if so you may carry a firearm. Hunting under the AO authority grants special opportunity in exchange for leaving the firearm in camp.

With respect to archery-only hunts for deer, in order to allow the possession of firearms by anyone other than peace officers, Fish and Game Code, section 4370 would have to be amended. For other archery-only hunts, the Fish and Game Commission would need to amend the applicable regulations for those hunts. It is not up to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).


Ivory piano keys
Question: My mother has an old piano that has been in her family for about 70 years and she needs to sell it. She says it has ivory keys. We were wondering if it would violate any Fish and Game laws to sell it? If so, any suggestions? (Cathi D.)

Answer: African and Asian elephants are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principle federal agency responsible for implementing and enforcing the ESA and CITES, and federal regulations do allow for some elephant ivory to be owned, bought, and sold. You should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at (800) 344-9453 or their website at www.fws.gov for further information regarding federal restrictions.

As far as state regulations, the California Penal Code section 653o (a) says, “It is unlawful to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state, the dead body, or any part or product thereof, of any … elephant.”


Ocean stamp needed for pier fishing?
Question: Do we need an ocean enforcement stamp to fish on a pier? (Sher K.)

Answer: No sport fishing license or Ocean Enhancement Validation is required when fishing from a public pier.

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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.