Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Right to Fish the Oceans of this Planet without Permission?

Ken Oda fishing on a beach in Marina (Photo by Amanda Menefee)

Ken Oda fishing on San Gregorio Beach, south of Half Moon Bay, CA (Photo by Amanda Menefee)

Question: If I am in need of food for myself and family, would it be a crime to catch fish from the ocean for subsistence without a license, and if so, why? With inland waters I realize that lakes are stocked, policed and maintained and this service has to be paid for via taxes, licenses and fines. That’s understandable.

I am aware of states with coastlines having a mileage limit from shore to international waters, and the area in between is overseen by the Coast Guard. Should it not be a God-given right to fish the oceans and seas of this planet without permission from the powers that be? (Doug P.)

Answer: In California you can legally fish from public ocean piers without a fishing license. Finfish, crabs and lobsters may be found there in different areas. All regulations must still be followed but you can fish without a fishing license in these locations only. There are also two free fishing days per year (July 4 and Sept. 5 this year), allowing people to fish in ocean and inland waters without a license on those two designated days. In addition, any children in your family can fish without a license and be entitled to legal limits until they turn 16, when a license will be required. Except for the opportunities mentioned above, subsistence fishing without a sport fishing license in ocean or freshwater is not allowed.

California waters extend from the shore (high tide line) out to three miles, federal waters stretch from three miles to 200 miles and international waters begin at 200 miles out. All waters out to 200 miles are still patrolled and managed cooperatively with the federal government. Any fish taken outside of 200 miles must still meet all fishing regulations in order to be brought back into U.S. waters, and all fish landed at California ports must additionally meet all California regulations.

Fisheries in all state and federal waters have regulations and many have strict management guidelines to properly manage the take of various species to assure overfishing does not occur which could collapse those and related fisheries. Regulations and limitations of fishing activities and take is imperative, especially in waters of a state populated by 38 million people.


Scouting for abalone out of season?
Question: I belong to a small group of diving enthusiasts and we recently had a debate come up where there are varying opinions on the subject of gauging abalone. One portion of the group is stating that it is perfectly legal to freedive with an abalone gauge out of season and measure abalone with the intent of coming back during the season to retrieve the abs. I believe this would be pursuing or hunting abalone and would be against the rules. I pointed out that the new 8 a.m. rule specifically states you can enter the water but not “be searching for” abalone prior to 8 a.m. This leads me to believe if it is illegal to search for abs during a time when “take” is not permitted, then it would be illegal out of season as well. Can you help us settle this debate? (Brian M., Antioch)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to dive with an abalone gauge as long as you don’t dive with an abalone iron or other means to detach abalone. As long as there is no attempt to take the abalone, and it is not handled or detached from the rocks, it would be legal.


Driving at night with flashlights to view wildlife?
Question: My wife and I are outdoors lovers and we don’t want to break the law. We often drive back roads or dirt roads in and around Butte County armed with only a flashlight and no weapons to view and enjoy wildlife that wouldn’t be possible to enjoy in the daylight. Is this legal? (Dan, Oroville)

Answer: Yes, as long as you do not have a method of take with you. You may, however, attract the attention of wildlife officers that are on the lookout for poachers using spotlights to find game. These officers may pull you over and detain you to inspect your vehicle to ensure you do not have a method of take.  There are also some vehicle code provisions that prohibit the use of a flashlight or headlight on a public highway if it is shone into oncoming traffic or prevents other vehicles from seeing traffic control devices.


Treble hooks for halibut?
Question: I’m planning to go fishing for halibut and have read that the rig must not exceed two hooks. Can those two hooks be treble hooks?

Answer: Yes, you are not limited to two hooks and so treble hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

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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.

 

Residential Varmint Trapping

Striped skunks (USFWS photo)

Striped skunks (USFWS photo)

Question: I live in Chico across the street from Bidwell Park. Lately I have been plagued with raccoons and skunks on my property. They have been wreaking havoc on my garden, crapping all over my deck and carport, and I think they have been using the pool (WITHOUT a lifeguard on duty which is COMPLETELY UNSAFE!).

I contacted a gentleman who is employed by the USDA and he told me he has been contracted by the County of Butte to trap and euthanize or relocate problem varmints. He explained to me that I can either perform these tasks myself or, for a fee, he will remove and eliminate any problem varmint that I trap on my property. I am located within the City limits of Chico in the County of Butte.

I am writing to you to make sure that I am in compliance with all laws. The last thing I want is to get cited and fined because of a raccoon or a skunk. If the information I received from this person is incorrect, then it would seem that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the USDA employee contracted by Butte County need to have a chat and come up with a final call on a situation like this so everyone is reading the same book and getting on the same page. I didn’t know who to go to with this before I acted on it, but you have never steered me wrong in the past. (Dave)

Answer: While the USDA trapper did provide some good information, you are correct to worry about following all the rules because there are lots of them. If you decide to do your own trapping, be aware you are not allowed to relocate any wildlife you catch. If an animal is trapped, it must be quickly killed or released in the immediate area of where the animal was trapped. Driving the animal to a faraway meadow or park away from your house and “relocating” it is not a legal option. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. Also, keep in mind that it is spring time and many adult animals may have babies soon, so causing orphans through trapping should be avoided.

Trapping rules are for public safety and animal welfare reasons. Before venturing into nuisance wildlife trapping, you should read and understand California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5 entitled “Use of traps” available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations.


Collecting fish donations to donate to local food banks?
Question: I was wondering if it would be possible (i.e. legal) to put a freezer at boat landings to collect fish donations from anglers on sport and private boats? Donations would be given to local food banks and shelters. (Will E.)

Answer: Although this sounds like a nice idea, existing law doesn’t allow for overlimits of fish, and it would be very difficult for wildlife officers to separate an angler with an overlimit from a person transporting the freezer contents to a food bank. Potential criminal liability would also arise if people deposited fish that were undersized or out of season. A better option might be to post information at the landing encouraging anglers to donate fish directly to the food banks and shelters.


OK to have a firearm onboard while fishing for sturgeon?
Question: We’d like to do some casting and blasting and are interested in shooting target skeet while fishing for sturgeon. Is it legal to possess a firearm, or rather, to have a firearm on my boat while sturgeon fishing? I am not a hunter or a gun guy and I know it is illegal to use a firearm to land a sturgeon. What about having just a pellet gun in the cuddy cabin for non-hunting target practice? Is this legal? (Scott E.)

Answer: There are no CDFW regulations prohibiting you from simply having a firearm on the boat while sturgeon fishing. Your only firearms concerns will be to make sure you won’t be violating any county or city ordinances by possessing firearms and shooting skeet in whatever area you intend to do this. There may be any issue with throwing clay birds, which are coated in paint for visibility, into the water though. “It is unlawful to deposit, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of the state … within 150 feet of the high water mark of the waters of the state, any cans, bottles, garbage … rubbish, litter, refuse, waste, debris …” (Fish and Game Code, section 5652).


Catch and release after reaching limit
Question: A friend (not me, really!) asked me if he caught two striped bass while beach fishing, could he continue to fish for striped bass and release any future fish he caught? (Mike B.)

Answer: You (I mean he!) could not continue to target striped bass, but could continue fishing for other species of fish. If you incidentally catch another striper while trying to catch some other species and already have your limit, you must immediately release the striper.

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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.

When the USDA Checks Wild Waterfowl, is it a Bad Sign for Hunters?

Mallard pairQuestion: On the last day of hunting at Modesto Reservoir we had a lady from the United States Department of Agriculture that swabbed our ducks and geese for parasites, etc. I asked her why she was doing this and she smiled at me. So then I said, “Is it that Foster Farms has been having problems with viruses?” She just smiled again and nodded her head.

I can’t help but wonder what Foster Farms is up to but can bet they are up to no good for hunters. They had problems with their chickens in Livingston and other places so I can’t help but wonder if they are trying to tie this to our waterfowl. I think there is a good story here for somebody who wants to take the time to make the phone calls and dig it out! (Ron W.)

Answer: While this is an interesting question, Ron, there’s no conspiracy going on here against waterfowl hunters. I asked Krysta Rogers, Avian Specialist and Environmental Scientist for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and here’s what she had to say:

“In response to the recent detections of avian influenza in Washington in December 2014, the United States Department of Agriculture and United States Geological Survey, in coordination with state wildlife agencies, initiated active surveillance through swab sampling of hunter-harvested waterfowl in several states, including California. Avian influenza viruses naturally circulate in wild bird populations, primarily in species that are associated with an aquatic habitat. Therefore, monitoring wild waterfowl for avian influenza activity is one of the most efficient surveillance tools for determining what viruses are circulating worldwide. Between 2006 and 2011, CDFW participated in similar surveillance efforts to aid in the detection of avian influenza viruses. As with the previous surveillance, state and federal wildlife agencies do not foresee any impacts to wild waterfowl populations or to hunting.

“Recently, in the western United States, two main viruses have been detected, H5N2 and H5N8. Both viruses have previously been found in other parts of the world. While these viruses are not known to cause significant disease in wild waterfowl, they can cause high mortality in domestic poultry. Surveillance of hunter-harvested waterfowl has resulted in additional detections of these viruses in California, Oregon, Utah and Idaho. The H5N2 virus has been detected in backyard poultry flocks in Washington and Idaho while the H5N8 virus has been detected in a backyard poultry flock in Oregon and a commercial turkey flock in Stanislaus County, California.”


Managing multiple fishing rods on the Sacramento River?
Question: If two anglers are anchored on the Sacramento River bait fishing for sturgeon and both have second rod validations allowing them to fish with four rods collectively, if one person then hooks up, is it legal for the other person to reel in the other three rods while that person is fighting the fish? In other words, is it legal for the person not trying to reel the fish in to clear the other three rods? (Monty R.)

Answer: Yes, provided the anglers are fishing in a location where the second rod validation is operative. Legally, since each fisherman is only authorized to fish with up to two fishing poles, the fisherman trying to bring in the other three poles would have to first secure one of his fishing rods so that it is no longer being used to fish. That would leave two fishing poles to reel in, which would be within the angler’s legal authority to do.


Dead heads
Question: I’ve been up shed hunting and recently have found a couple mountain lion kills. Can I legally take the dead heads? How do I prove it’s a dead head and not a poached deer? (Brice R.)

Answer: You should avoid picking up anything that is fresh but it is not illegal for someone to pick up bleached antlers. In addition, you can sell sheds that you have found but they must have been manufactured into products or handcraft items, or have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted. You cannot sell whole antlers with heads attached (Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c)).


Selling sea urchin jewelry
Question: Is it legal to use legally harvested/farmed California uni biproducts for jewelry to be sold in retail? I have a local fish market that sells large amounts of the purple urchins they obtain from Catalina Seafood. I obtain the eaten shells and use the spikes for crafts. Is it legal to sell them in California as well as globally? (Alexandra F.)

Answer: Commercially-taken sea urchin spines can be sold in jewelry, but sport-harvested marine resources may not be sold, bartered, traded, etc.

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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.

Although They Sell Deer Chow, Don’t Be Deceived

Even if you find deer chow for sale in your local feed store, it is not legal to use to feed deer or any big game in California. (Photo of a white-tailed deer courtesy of USFWS)

Even if you find deer chow for sale in your local feed store, it is not legal to use to feed deer or any big game in California. (Photo of a white-tailed deer courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I was at my local feed store today and was astounded to find bags of Purina Deer Chow for sale, and another feed for wild pigs. I know it is illegal in California to feed big game animals, including deer, bear, elk, wild pigs and pronghorn. So why is it okay to sell deer food? I asked the proprietor and they said that it was not illegal to sell the food and that their customers wanted the product. Isn’t this a little bit like saying it is okay to sell drugs, even if it is illegal to use them? What is the rationale for allowing the sale of a product when its use is banned? (Roy “Confused in Caspar” Falk)

Answer: Although feeding deer or any big game species is prohibited in California, deer are allowed to be fed in other states. Hunters are even allowed to bait them in some states, probably even with this feed. The deer picture that they show on the package is of a white-tail deer which we don’t have here in California. Feeding deer unnaturally concentrates the animals in a very confined location and increases the potential spread of disease. It also makes them more vulnerable to predation by mountain lions and coyotes who quickly figure out where to find concentrated numbers of deer. CDFW has investigated many cases of deer feeding that inadvertently attracted mountain lions which killed the deer the people were trying to feed.

You’re right to feel confused and I’ve asked the same question. It doesn’t seem right since it sends the wrong message to the customers, but the Fish and Game Code generally doesn’t regulate the products that feed stores and pet stores may carry. Many also sell ferret food, and those animals are illegal to possess in California.


Why do fishing and hunting license fees increase every year?
Question: Why do fishing and hunting license fees and various cards and tags increase in price every year? This concerns my friends and me as we are of the older population of California and are on fixed incomes. Hunting and fishing are some of the only pleasures we have to enjoy in our old age, but it is becoming so costly we won’t be able to afford it if you keep raising prices. (Bill D.)

Answer: California law establishes fishing and hunting license fees each year, not the Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). The base fee for sport fishing licenses is established in Fish and Game Code, section 7149 and the fees for stamps and most report cards are established in other sections of the Fish and Game Code or California Code of Regulations, Title 14.

According to CDFW License Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, the Fish and Game Code, section 713 requires license fees to be adjusted in response to increases (or decreases) in costs of goods and services using an index called the “Implicit Price Deflator.” This index is a gauge of the change in the cost of goods and services from year to year.

For example, as hatchery, law enforcement and wildlife management costs have increased, license fees needed to increase to keep pace with these rising costs. Essentially, license fees are adjusted to compensate for inflation. If license fees were not adjusted for inflation, then funding for fish and wildlife management and protection would actually decrease because the “buying power” of a dollar has declined over the years.

License fee increases over the past five years have ranged from a low of 1.2 percent in 2013 to a high of 2.8 percent in 2011. The average index over the past five years has been 1.91 percent. For 2014, the cost of goods and services increased by 1.3 percent and 2015 license fees increased accordingly. If the cost of goods and services were to decrease, then license fees would actually decrease the same percentage. However, when is the last time the cost of living actually decreased?

Although fishing and hunting license fees have increased throughout the years, the increase ensures that the CDFW has adequate funding to manage California’s diverse fish and wildlife resources and provide the public with enjoyable fishing and hunting experiences.


Hunting by javelin?
Question: I just tried javelin throwing for the first time and it sparked an idea that I could hunt with this for big game mammals. But I can’t find it specified anywhere in the mammal hunting regulations booklet. Does this mean that since it isn’t mentioned it’s illegal to use to take down an animal? (Brent L.)

Answer: Yes, you are correct. Hunting by spear or javelin is not a legal method of take for big game.

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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.

 

Hoisting Sturgeon to Pose for Photos?

Oversized white sturgeon that are too large to keep should not be hoisted out of the water for measuring for pictures. The angler may be cited if the fish is too large and the fish is put at risk. Instead, keep the big fish in the water to take your pictures, and then release it to swim away (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Oversized white sturgeon that are too large to keep should not be hoisted out of the water for measuring or for pictures. The angler may be cited if the fish is too large and the fish is put at risk. Instead, keep the big fish in the water to take your pictures, and then release it to swim away (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I’ve seen several pictures over the years of anglers hoisting oversized sturgeon out of the water and dragging them back to the dock for pictures. Isn’t it against the law to treat fish that are to be released this way? How should oversized sturgeon be handled, given that the justifiably proud angler would like to get a picture or two before releasing? (Jim J.)

Answer: Regulations for sturgeon have become more protective since 2006, so hopefully you were looking at old-time pictures. There are two important issues here – the regulations and doing what is best for the sturgeon. What follows is only about white sturgeon since green sturgeon are a threatened species and thus may not be taken, possessed or removed from the water. If a green sturgeon is caught, it must be released immediately.

Without regard to fish species, the regulations state that all fish “…less than the legal minimum size or greater than the maximum legal size must be returned immediately to the water from which they were taken” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.62). Because white sturgeon have a legal minimum size of 40 inches fork length, and a legal maximum size of 60 inches fork length, it is indeed against the law to bring an oversized white sturgeon to a dock (or even into a boat) for pictures. Photographs of oversized white sturgeon may only be taken of fish while still in the water.

Anglers are not prohibited from taking oversized fish out of the water, but the regulations (as part of several special protections for white sturgeCarrie_sturgeon_4421on) also state that, “Any white sturgeon greater than 68 inches fork length may not be removed from the water and shall be released immediately” (CCR Title 14, sections 5.80 and 27.90). These sections give anglers what amounts to an 8-inch margin of error when measuring white sturgeon in the water.

As far as what’s best for any sturgeon that will be released, according to CDFW sturgeon expert Marty Gingras, the answer is clear. “End the fight quickly and keep the sturgeon’s head in the water. Blood-chemistry studies show sturgeon become stressed from the fight and from being removed from the water, and tissue studies show stressed females that survive are less likely to spawn normally.”

Handling these behemoths with care is critical as they are essentially protected broodstock. These large fish will be important to carry California’s sturgeon populations through droughts and other challenges, as well as to build future generations of these incredible fish for tomorrow’s anglers.


How to become a hunting guide?
Question: How can I become a hunting guide? Do I have to have a license or is there a course I need to go through to become a hunting guide? (Billy S.)

Answer: There are no courses or tests to take to become a hunting guide. “Guide” means any person who is engaged in the business of packing or guiding, or who, for compensation, assists another person in taking or attempting to take any bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, or reptile. “Guide” also includes any person who, for profit, transports other persons, their equipment, or both to or from hunting or fishing areas.

The basic requirements are to first fill out an application with the CDFW and pay the license fees. Current cost of an annual resident guide’s license runs $212.70. Employees of the guide who assist in the service are also required to have a Guide Employee Registration license that costs $46.87.

Guides may not have any CDFW violations in their past so applicants may be required to go through a CDFW background check to check for previous violations.

The last requirement is for the guide to purchase and maintain a “performance bond.” The bond assures that any deposit money received from a client to reserve a future trip will be returned in the event that the guide cancels and tries to keep the deposit.


Redeeming gift vouchers?
Question: I received a 2015 annual fishing license as a gift but I’d already bought mine for the year. Can I turn it back in for a refund? I’ve heard that fishing license gift vouchers require the recipient to return to the exact store where the voucher was purchased and present all of their personal information in order to trade the voucher for a legal license? Is this true? (Brent G.)

Answer: No, it’s much easier than that. Gift vouchers can be redeemed for an annual resident sport fishing license anywhere licenses are sold, or online at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/. While gift vouchers are nonrefundable, they are transferable since they have no customer attached to them until redeemed. Since you received an extra gift voucher, you can give it to a friend or relative and they can redeem it for a resident sport fishing license.

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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.go

When Prohibited Species Are Accidentally Caught?

Garibaldi, California’s state marine fish, are illegal to take (CDFW photo by Dan Gotchall)

Question: I fly fish for calico bass using barbless hooks in the kelp beds off Catalina Island and the coast, and it’s all strictly catch and release. Garibaldi are abundant in this habitat and are very aggressive. When I can see them I can usually avoid catching them. However, rarely one will take my fly inadvertently. Since they are only lightly hooked through the lip, they survive the accidental catch and release. However, it is illegal to “take” garibaldi. Is this considered illegal if caught by accident and then released? How can one avoid catching them? (Rick B.)

Answer: No, it is not considered an illegal action to accidentally catch a prohibited species as long as it is immediately released back into the waters it came from. Intentionally targeting a prohibited species IS illegal, but you do not seem to be doing that.

As for how to avoid catching them, that’s a tricky question. About the only thing you can try would be to use a larger hook (that the garibaldi might have problems taking into their small mouths), but fly fishing generally doesn’t allow for use of larger hooks. You may need to employ a bit of ingenuity to figure out how to reduce the number of garibaldi you end up hooking.


What to do with banded waterfowl?
Question: This past weekend a banded speckled-belly goose was taken at my duck club. I’d like to report this banded bird to the authorities. The time, date and place, as well as the tag number seem obvious to report. Is there any other information needed, and who should I report this band to? (Larry L.)

Answer: Since waterfowl are migratory, the U.S. Geological Survey has the responsibility of collecting and analyzing all banding information. Government and private sector scientists and waterfowl managers tag and monitor migratory waterfowl every year. This banding information helps them to assess population numbers and track their movement patterns. You may also be asked to provide information about weather and any other waterfowl the goose was flying with when taken. Please go to www.reportband.gov to report banded birds.


Capturing largemouth bass for a home aquarium?
Question: One of my friends has a large aquarium and is interested in putting some largemouth bass in it. I would like to know what the regulations are for catching a largemouth bass in a local lake and then transporting it live to his tank. It would never be released into a different body of water, and it would be taken legally. (Azure C.)

Answer: Transporting fish alive from the water where they are taken is prohibited (California Code of Regulations, section 1.63). Laws allowing certain species of live fish to be maintained alive in closed-systems do not authorize possession in home aquariums. Your friend can legally buy bass for his or her aquarium from a licensed aquaculturalist, as long as he or she does not release it into the wild.


Qualifications for a disabled access hunting site?
Question: I have always enjoyed duck hunting but now after several orthopedic surgeries on my hips and knees, I have considerable difficulty in walking. In the outdoors I must use a staff and can go about 100 yards on a level surface before resting. I am not currently confined to the use of a walker, crutches or a wheelchair, however, in the light of my walking disability, would I be eligible to apply for a disabled access hunting site? I have a permanent disabled person parking card and I hold a Lifetime License. (Vivian N., Marysville)

Answer: Yes, you qualify because you possess a permanent disabled parking placard. To hunt at a disabled accessible hunting site, you must have one of the following:

  • a permanent disabled parking placard, and the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles showing that the placard was issued to you;
  • a disabled veteran license plate and the paperwork from the Department of Motor Vehicles showing that the plate was issued to you; or
  • a mobility impaired disabled persons motor vehicle hunting license.

You might also be interested in the special hunts for disabled persons conducted through the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) during pheasant season. Information about these hunts can generally be found on our website in the fall prior to the season opener, at https://nrm.dfg.ca.gov/DFGSpecialHunts/Default.aspx.

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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.

Why Are Wild Pheasants on the Decline?

Ringneck pheasant

The decline in wild pheasant numbers is primarily a result of habitat loss and fragmentation. For pheasant populations to recover and thrive once again, more improved available habitat must be developed. (Photo by Jeff Cann)

Question: Wild pheasants in the Sacramento Valley have been in steep decline for many years and very little effort, if any, is being made to help this once-abundant game bird make a comeback. Improved habitat conditions, a reduced season and lowered bag limits could help them recover. What was the Fish and Game Commission thinking when they raised the limit and extended the season to what it is today? (Wally S., Westlake)

Answer: One of the factors you mentioned was that improved habitat conditions could help, and that’s true. The decline in wild pheasant population numbers is primarily a result of habitat loss and fragmentation. Pheasant populations are still plentiful in the larger Midwestern states, primarily because those states rely on private lands programs such as the Conservation Reserve Program funded by the Farm Bill. This program provides subsidies to landowners to fallow their land and grow grasses and other vegetation that make good wildlife habitat. These programs also provide habitat corridors between public and private lands that are critical for pheasants to move. In the Central Valley, rice and other crops have higher values than the crops grown in the mid-west and so the economic incentives for landowners in California to modify their farming practices to benefit wildlife habitat are not there.

According to CDFW Senior Upland Game Scientist Scott Gardner, the general pheasant hunting season was increased by three weeks about 10 years ago because CDFW knew that few people continued to hunt wild pheasants after the opening weekend and the first few weeks of the season. The scientific literature suggests that rooster-only harvest has little effect on population growth, so this increase was not expected to have any effect on pheasant population growth. CDFW is currently working with Pheasants Forever and United States Geological Survey scientists to study pheasant population dynamics and identify factors limiting their populations. If the data suggests that reductions in pheasant hunting are needed, CDFW will make those recommendations to the Fish and Game Commission.

However, pheasant populations will not come back to their former levels through reductions in hunting alone. In order for wild pheasant populations to recover and thrive again, more available improved habitat is a must. This means more quality grasslands and small shrub habitat to provide undisturbed areas for cover, feeding, nesting and brood-rearing, along with travel corridors between fields and other habitats to allow them access to move around.


Using crabs to catch more crabs?
Question: It is legal for boaters fishing crab traps to pull their limit of 10 Dungeness crabs and then leave any extra legal-sized crabs in the pot for harvesting the next day? Those crabs left in the trap may help encourage other crabs to load up in the traps to take another day. Is there anything illegal about this? (Jayna S.)

Answer: It is not legal for someone to take their limit and leave additional crabs in their trap(s). Sport fishermen are allowed 10 Dungeness crabs per day and in possession. It doesn’t matter where the crabs are being held, whether on board a boat or in a trap or at home in the freezer. If they are being confined and held in a trap for another day, it is still considered “possession” and counts toward their limit.


Legal limits of take
Question: I don’t get to go fishing that often, so I am wondering if I am fortunate enough to get a limit of fish in the morning and I put those fish on ice in the truck, can I then go back out in the afternoon to catch more? I often travel around 100 miles to go fishing, and with the economy as bad as it is, I can’t go often. Is this legal? Thanks. (Ron F.)

Answer: I can understand you wanting to maximize your fishing experience and harvest due to the troubled economy, however, a “bag limit” means the total that you can take in one day. And “possession limit” is usually the same as your bag limit (at least in ocean waters), so you are only allowed to possess one bag limit at any one time. In order to collect more, you will need to either consume or give away what you have and then fish on another day for more, up to the bag limit allowed.


Laminate my license?
Question: Is it okay to laminate my license to protect it and keep it from getting dirty and tattered? (Joe P., Merced)

Answer: Licenses should never be heat laminated as this will destroy the license. If exposed to extreme heat, licenses will darken and become discolored. However, a discolored license is still valid as long as the text and signature are still readable.

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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.