Category Archives: Uncategorized

Bowfishing in the Surf?

bowfishing_IndianHeadRanch

Bowfishing (photo courtesy of Indian Head Ranch)

Question: Is it legal to bowfish in the surf? Regulations say bowfishing is not allowed within 100 yards of the mouth of a stream. I’m guessing on the beach it is ok for finfish, like spotfin croakers? However, I do know some beaches prohibit bowfishing because they consider a bow and arrow a deadly weapon. Do you know which ones? (David T.)

Answer: You should check with your local police or sheriff’s department first to determine if there are any city or county ordinances prohibiting the use of bow and arrow fishing tackle. If not, it is legal to bowfish in the surf under the following conditions: Spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used for taking all varieties of skates, rays and sharks, except white sharks. Such gear may not be possessed or used within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken. Bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used to take finfish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill swordfish, white shark, green sturgeon and white sturgeon (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 28.95, 27.90 and 27.91).


Can you hunt waterfowl not listed in the regulations?
Question: I know there are quite a few types of ducks that are not listed in the waterfowl regulations (e.g. teal, mergansers, etc.). If a species is not specifically mentioned, does this mean that they can or cannot be hunted? (Joe D.)

Answer: The waterfowl regulations apply to all species of geese, ducks and mergansers. Coots have different regulations. As long as the waterfowl species you wish to take does not have more specific regulations than the general bag limits, then that non-specified waterfowl species can be included in your general bag.


Retrieving game from private property?
Question: Where can I find the regulations on retrieving game that has moved onto another’s property after being shot? I believe that it is legal but I can’t find the regs. (Joe D.)

Answer: There are no regulations which allow you to recover game that ends up on private property. You are expected to retrieve all game you harvest and not to cause wanton waste by failing to recover something you’ve shot, but you must get permission from the landowner to legally enter their property. If you are not able to reach them for permission, you may contact the local game warden or sheriff and request assistance.


Buying diamondback rattlesnakes from Texas for taxidermy?
Question: I want to buy dead western diamondback rattlesnakes for taxidermy from a seller in Texas. From what I read in the regulations, it is OK. The shipper just needs to label the box with the contents. If this is legal, can you please provide the code section regarding buying/importing dead rattlesnakes? (Bryan W.)

Answer: Dead rattlesnakes can be purchased and imported into California (Fish and Game Code, section 2353). You will just need to make sure the shipment comes with a completed Declaration for Entry form identifying what it is and where it’s coming from. This declaration must be submitted to the department or a designated state or federal agency at or immediately prior to the time of entry. Declaration is not required if shipped by common carrier under a bill of lading.

This form may be photocopied. The original copy of the declaration form shall be retained by the person importing the fish or game into the state. One copy shall be mailed to the Department of Fish and Wildlife, 1416 Ninth St., Sacramento, CA 95814, within 24 hours after entering the state. One copy shall be deposited at the point of entry with any state or federal agency or officer, and one copy shall remain with the fish or game if transported by other than owner or common carrier.

“Point of entry” refers to the city or town nearest your point of entry into California.


Lobster hooping from a public pier?
Question: While lobster hooping from a public pier, the maximum number of nets per person is two. Can a person with two nets deployed for crab/lobster simultaneously use a fishing rod for finfish? What about if the person has a fishing license and lobster card? (Steve G.)

Answer: No, the regulations state that people fishing from a public pier can fish with only two “appliances,” so the two hoop nets and one fishing rod for fin fish would total three. You don’t need a fishing license to fish from a public pier, but anyone fishing for lobsters must have a valid lobster report card.

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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.

Hunting and Shooting from a Mountain Bike

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Shooting or taking game from a bicycle is not specifically prohibited by Fish and Game laws. However, shooting a firearm from, upon or across a public road is prohibited (Photo by Sam Soholt of Will Jenkins and provided courtesy of Cogburn Outdoors)

Question: I will soon be taking off to the mountains to do some mountain quail and tree squirrel hunting. In past years, after arriving at hunting camp, most of my hunting was done on foot and so I couldn’t cover much ground in a day. Last year I took my grandson with me to start teaching him a little about gun safety, hunting and camping in the wild. After walking for a while he got tired and wanted to rest. We were walking along a logging road and he told me he wished he had his bicycle with him. This got me to thinking that with a bike I could cover a lot more area, be basically silent, use no fossil fuel and get some much needed exercise to boot. So, for my hunting trip this year I purchased a mountain bicycle and got it geared up with saddle bags and a handle bar gun rack for my shotgun.

Now I’m all ready to go but can’t find any hunting laws, rules or regulations concerning guns and bicycles on logging roads. Here are my questions: Can I legally shoot from my bicycle while stopped with my feet on the ground or do I have to completely dismount the bicycle to shoot?

Can I have a shotgun shell in the chamber while on my bicycle (like while walking) or must I have the chamber empty and action open like when in a motor vehicle?

Can I carry a holstered six shot, black powder pistol with five rounds capped on my bicycle or do all the nipples have to be uncapped as in a motor vehicle? I don’t want to do anything illegal or get into any trouble, so I would appreciate any help with these questions. (K. Broberg)

Answer: Shooting or taking game from a bicycle, whether on it or straddling it, is not specifically prohibited in California Fish and Game laws. However, section 374c of the Penal Code prohibits shooting a firearm from or upon a public road. A logging road is not a highway but it may be a public road depending on multiple factors, including who owns and/or maintains the road. But, in any case it is advisable to always be off any road before shooting even if it is not expressly prohibited by law.

Loaded rifles or shotguns are prohibited in any vehicle or conveyance “while standing on … any way open to the public” (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). In your case the bicycle is a conveyance and the logging road is a way open to the public — assuming it is open to travel by everyone and not just to those having specific permission from the owner. Bicycles may NOT be used in designated Wilderness Areas.

California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) law does not prohibit carrying a holstered six shot, even in a motor vehicle. The loaded-gun law applies only to rifles and shotguns (Fish and Game Code, section 2006). There are other law enforcement agencies that do have strict laws against carrying loaded guns in vehicles though.


Beach curfews
Question: I happen to live on the beach and enjoy late evening beach walks but rarely do so due to the 10 p.m. beach curfew closing. I’ve heard that despite any beach curfews, you can be on the beach fishing at any hour as long as you have a fishing license and are legally fishing. If this is true I could just bring a surf rod with me at night to walk and have some fun bouncing a lure in the surf. Does that sound reasonable? (Shane S.)

Answer: Local beach curfews are often imposed for public safety and they take precedence over state ocean fishing open hours. While there are no time limitations when fishing for finfish, you must abide by the beach curfew. Sorry!


Roadkill is not food!
Question: A friend recently hit a deer, causing about $1,200 damage to the vehicle. He picked up the deer and put it in his truck to take home for food. He was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy who told him to take the deer out of his vehicle or he would be cited. I heard that it is legal to pick up “roadkill.” Can you please clarify this? (Sandy B.)

Answer: The officer was correct. It is illegal to pick up roadkill wildlife in California. No one may possess wildlife in any form unless the animal was legally taken by a licensed hunter during the hunting season for that species and while using approved harvest methods. Given this, even if the first criteria were true (your friend was a licensed hunter), motor vehicles are not a legal method of take. The next time your friend sees an animal killed on the roadway, he should not attempt to retrieve it for any purpose.


Can you lure a lobster out of a hole with a sardine?
Question: Are you allowed to lure lobsters out of a hole with a piece of sardine in your hand? (David C.)

Answer: Sure, you can give it a try, but I don’t know how successful you’ll be. The law says that skin and scuba divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). There is no prohibition against waving snacks in front of them.

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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.

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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.

Dropping Dungeness Crab Traps Before the Opener?

Dungeness crabs (CDFW photo by Christy Juhasz)

Dungeness crabs (CDFW photo by Christy Juhasz)

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. 1 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.


Electronic spinning decoys for doves
Question: I have contacted you before and you have always been very helpful on hunting and fishing questions. This time I have one regarding dove hunting as a friend of mine wants to purchase a battery-powered spinning decoy for dove hunting for the next dove opener. Is it legal to use that type of a powered decoy for doves? They don’t seem to be the smartest of birds and may be too easily attracted to that decoy. Thanks for your help. (Joe A., Antioch)

Answer: There are NO prohibitions on electronic spinning decoys for dove hunting. The prohibitions for electronic vs wind-driven decoys are only for waterfowl from the beginning of the waterfowl season through Nov. 30.

So, tell your buddy he has the thumbs-up to go out and buy a battery-powered spinning decoy to use for dove hunting. Eurasian collared-doves are now open all year with no limits. The season for mourning, white-winged, spotted and ringed turtle doves reopens Nov. 8 and runs through Dec. 22.


Kite fishing?
Question: I live in the San Francisco Bay/Delta region and was wondering if there are any Fish and Game restrictions regarding “kite fishing.” We would like to use these specially modified kites to help us get our lines out farther than the distance we could normally cast them. Outside of local ordinances regarding powerlines and second rod licensing, is there anything that would prevent me from using a kite to get my line further away from the shore into deeper water? (Neil N.)

Answer: There are no specific regulations prohibiting the use of a kite or other windborne device (a helium-filled balloon, for example) to help you to get your line out to where the fish are.

Littering is a concern, however. Anglers have been cited for using a balloon and then releasing the balloon when a fish is hooked, or when the line reaches the desired distance from shore.

As long as you are not releasing (or losing) your kite in the process, there is nothing in Fish and Game regulations that would prevent you from using a kite in this manner. There may be local (city or county) ordinances that pertain to this, however, so please check with local authorities.”


Shotgun hunting for upland game during archery-only deer season?
Question: I have located a number of good band-tailed pigeon roosts in a remote area where I hunt with my A31 late season archery tag. It’s so remote that this year I plan to backpack in and camp in the area. If a friend wants to come with me who does not bow hunt but wants to take their shotgun to take a band-tailed pigeon, would I be allowed to use their shotgun to take band-tail if I left my A31 tag and bow back at camp for a morning? I feel confident this would be legal if we were “car camping” but I am not sure how this would be viewed legally as I will still technically be “in the field” on an archery hunt. (Stephen M.)

Answer: This would be fine once the season for band-tailed pigeons reopens unless you in an area of Los Angeles County where firearms might be prohibited.


Collecting sea palm that’s washed up on the beach?
Question: If I find some sea palm washed up on shore, can I keep it? I know you can’t pick sea palm recreationally, but since this was already dead, I see no harm in gathering. But is it legal? I know you can keep bull kelp when it washes up, so I was wondering if this was similar. (Hank S.)

Answer: The law prohibits cutting or disturbing sea palm (CCR Title 14 section 30.10). While possession of dead sea palm is technically not prohibited, removing live sea palm from the water would likely result in a citation.

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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.

Deer Hunting in an Area Closed Following a Fire

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: My son and I have drawn G37 tags. We have been trying for 15 years to draw this once-in-a-lifetime hunt. My concern is that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has closed a big portion of this area because of the Rim Fire and the El Portal Fire. Is there anything that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can do to get these closed areas open? We don’t want to exchange our tags for the G37 hunt, we would like the USFS to open the closed areas that are in the G37 zone that burned. We and the other hunters would appreciate whatever CDFW can do for us. Thank you. (Dennis and Brent S.)

Answer: Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to require them to reopen the burned area. The fire closures are implemented whenever the USFS decides they are warranted. The best we can do is to refer you to the USFS district office so you can talk directly to those making the decisions. That might be your best hope.

And regarding your tags, even if you did want to exchange your tags, there are no refunds for deer tags. There are no exchanges for premium tags either. We can exchange restricted and unrestricted deer tags provided the following: 1) the earliest season for their zone has not already started, 2) tag quota for the tag they want to exchange is not yet filled, 3) tags remain in the zone they want to exchange for, and 4) you pay the current exchange fee. For more details, please check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708.14(j).


Shark took my salmon!
Question: While fishing off of Shelter Cove for salmon a while back, a large shark latched onto a salmon hooked on the line. After a few minutes of fight, the shark raised its head out of the water and bit through the salmon it had in its jaws, leaving the salmon head and 6 to 8 inches of flesh. My question is, by regulation, do we have to count the head as one of our take? We kept the head in the fish box and salvaged as much of the flesh as we could so as not to waste resources. (Rick W., Shelter Cove)

Answer: Since you landed the remainder of the salmon, you must count the fish toward your bag limit. However, since the fish was not retained in a whole condition, it would have been illegal to possess since it could not be measured to determine if it met the legal length requirement. So, while salvaging as much of the flesh as you could so as not to waste resources may have been the “right” thing to do, legally, you should have sent the head and remaining carcass back to the ocean to let other marine organisms utilize it. And if you had sent the carcass back down without salvaging the remainder of the fish, it would not count toward your daily bag limit.


How to pay for not returning lobster card?
Question: I did not return my lobster card last season, and I would like to know how/where I can pay my fine so I can get another card for this coming season.

Answer: When you go to purchase your 2014-2015 lobster report card, the clerk should tell you that you need to pay your $20 non-return fee first. After paying this fee, you should be able to purchase your new lobster report card.


Nonlead for all hunting on a wildlife area?
Question: I won a G12 deer tag this year (either sex shotgun only, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area). Because this is a popular waterfowl hunting area, am I legally allowed to use lead slugs or do I need to use nonlead slugs? (Philipp K.)

Answer: Yes, you may use lead slugs. In 2014, the use of lead slugs to hunt on state wildlife areas is not prohibited. However, this may be the last year that you can use lead ammunition for big game at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. In 2013, Assembly Bill 711was approved by the Governor and chaptered into law by the Secretary of State. AB 711 added several sections to the Fish and Game Code, one of which (3005.5(b)) requires a complete ban on the use of lead ammunition when taking wildlife for any purposes anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. This section also requires the Fish and Game Commission to develop a phase-in regulation by July 1, 2015, designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while still implementing the intent of the law. (For more information regarding implementation of AB 711, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/.)

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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.