Tag Archives: bears

Fishing for Manta Rays in California

bat ray D. Troutte

California Bat Ray (Photo by Dean Troutte)

Question: Is it legal to fish for manta rays in California, specifically in the San Francisco Bay area? (Gina T.)

Answer: Manta rays are generally not found off California, and since they are filter feeders, it may be difficult to persuade one to take your bait. The northernmost limit of their range in the eastern Pacific Ocean is around San Diego, where they are only spotted occasionally. However, if a manta ray were to stray farther north, then yes, it may be legally taken by hook and line off California. I suspect you instead may be referring to bat rays which are more widely distributed and caught fairly regularly on hook and line. If so, they too are legal to take.


California lizardfish
Question: Please verify for me the catch limit on California lizardfish. My understanding is the limit is 10 fish/species with a total bag limit of 20 fish of all species. Right? I don’t see this species mentioned as one of the “no limit” species. Lizardfish are being caught 4-5 at a time on the piers on the Central Coast and someone is telling the anglers there is no limit, so keep all you catch. (Rose H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: You are correct. A bag limit of up to 10 lizardfish per angler is allowed. There are no size or season restrictions for these fish though.


Selling a polar bear rug
Question: I’ve inherited a white polar bear rug that has been in the family for 30-40 years. I have no papers or receipts for it. Can I still sell it? (Christian P., Tulare)

Answer: No. Fish and Game Code section 4758 prohibits the sale of any bear parts, even if the bear is not native to California, and violations are prosecuted as felonies.


Big game baiting
Question: I have a question regarding the “baiting” of big game. In the Mammal Hunting regulations booklet on page 12 it says:

257.5. Prohibition Against Taking Resident Game Birds and Mammals by the Aid of Bait.

Except as otherwise provided in these regulations or in the Fish and Game Code, resident game birds and mammals may not be taken within 400 yards of any baited area.
(a) Definition of Baited Area. As used in this regulation, “baited area” shall mean any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed.

Does this also prohibit aerosol attractants? An aerosol is not considered feed but it is “capable of luring, attracting or enticing.” In the regulations it does not specifically prohibit non-feed attractants. (Ken M.)

Answer: This section (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257.5) prohibits the use of any feed (real or artificial) that is capable of attracting an animal to an area, and when the attractant used causes the animal to feed (on the substance), it is prohibited. Generally, aerosols sprayed into the air are permissible because there is nothing to feed on. But the same products applied to a surface (e.g. tree, brush, rock, etc.) where the animal licks, eats, chews, nibbles, etc. the surface is considered feed and is a violation.

Intentional acts that disrupt any birds’ or mammals’ normal behavior patterns (CCR Title 14, section 251.1), and feeding big game mammals (CCR Title 14, section 251.3) are also prohibited.

For the complete regulations, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/ to find the California Mammal Hunting Regulations for 2013-2014.


Electric fishing reels
Question: Are electric fishing reels allowed in the state of California? (John M.)

Answer: Yes. Nothing in the Fish and Game Code prohibits the use of electric fishing reels manufactured for sport fishing. Acceptable fishing methods and gear restrictions can be found in section 2.00 of the Freshwater Regulations booklet and 28.70(a)(3) in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/ or wherever fishing licenses are sold.

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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.

Can Fish Food Attract Bears?

Black bear (Photo: USFWS)

Black bear (Photo: USFWS)

Question: I have a question regarding a fish pond at the house we recently purchased in Tahoe. We aren’t up there all the time so I was thinking about tossing in a time-release fish feeder but do not want to attract bears. It would basically be the flake stuff in a compressed block form. The four goldfish occupying the pond seem to do fine for long periods without food and even survived for several months before we bought the house. They must have been eating bugs, algae or whatever. I’d hate for them to have struggled to survive all that time, and then I come along and think I’m doing a good thing by feeding them, and end up attracting bears.

The house is definitely in bear territory and only a block away from forest area. The fish are located in a pond in the front yard. My question is whether or not a bear is able to smell a time-release Tetramin fish feeder. Is this something to worry about? Any information you can provide would be much appreciated! Thanks. (Liz C., Lake Tahoe)

Answer: Regarding bears’ ability to smell and potentially be attracted to your automatic feeder, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Black Bear Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, the answer is yes. Bears can smell fish food and are attracted to it. What’s worse is if they are attracted to the pond by the smell of the feed, then they may decide to snack on your fish in addition to the fish food.

Kenyon recommends feeding your fish with time-release pellets (feeding blocks). He has done this with his aquarium fish while away on vacation or out in the field, and he claims it worked well for him. These pellets are little disks that you toss into the pond, and over time water dissolves the material that holds it together. This process works slowly, and depending on the size of the pellet, it could last for about a month or two. The benefit to this approach is that because they are submerged, they do not put off any odor into the air, and thus bears won’t be attracted to your pond.


Boat limits with multiple trips
Question: An interesting question came up at the fish cleaning station concerning an actual trip. This was sport fishing, not commercial or commercial passenger. There is one boat that holds three people, including the captain. The scenario is the captain goes out ocean fishing with fisherpersons A and B, and returns with full limits of salmon (6). The captain drops off both people and picks up fisherperson C. Can the boat still fish with two rods under the boat limits rule, or are they limited to one rod as the captain has already caught his fish earlier in the day? The consensus at the table was he would be at risk of a violation. (David G.)

Answer: No. They can both fish until the last fisherman’s bag limit is filled (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(c)). While the skipper can still only take one bag limit per day, under a boat limit, the skipper is not done until the fishing trip is completed when he returns for the day. Boat limits apply to all species except sturgeon.


How to follow the number of tags currently sold?
Question: Is there a way to follow how many bear and deer tags have currently been sold? Can you tell me how many have been sold so far this year? Is there a public record or data somewhere? (Norm G.)

Answer: Yes, the deer tag seasons and tag quotas adopted by the Fish and Game Commission are posted online at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/tags/index.html. In addition, a daily list of the current available deer tags is posted at: www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/. There is no bear tag quota, but the season is monitored by the number of bears reported taken. Bear season runs through Dec. 29, or until 1,700 bears are reported taken. If 1,700 bears are harvested before Dec. 29, CDFW will immediately close the season early. For daily updates on the number of reported bear harvested, please visit our website at: www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/bear/harvest.html.


Garden destroyers
Question: I have cottontail rabbits, gophers and rats that are destroying my garden and property. Do I need a license to shoot them on my private property? (Rodger D.)

Answer: Landowners and their tenants are not prohibited from taking cottontail rabbits, gophers or rats that are damaging their crops, gardens or ornamental plants (Fish and Game Code, section 4186 and CCR Title 14, section 472(a)). However, you should check with your local police department or sheriff to determine whether you may discharge a firearm where you live.

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

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What’s the Scoop on Sea Urchins?

Purple sea urchins (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Purple sea urchins (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I’m a scuba diver living in Southern California and am hoping you can point me to where I can find information on sea urchins – type of license needed, limits if any, is there an open/closed season, type of sea urchins that may be fished, etc? Is there any place they may not be taken? I have never fished for them and do not know the regulations. (Rod P.)

Answer: Yes, sea urchins are legal to take in California with a sport fishing license. The season is open year-round for all species of urchin and the limit is 35 urchins (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). These regulations can be found in the Sport Fishing Regulation Booklet, along with listings of the state beaches and Marine Protected Areas in Southern California that are closed to the take of sea urchins. If you still have questions after reviewing the regulation book, please call your local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) office.


Why do second deer tags cost more than the first?
Question: Why does a second deer tag cost more than a first deer tag? (Rod P., Napa)

Answer: The reason is because the second tag is a privilege after the purchase of the first tag and so is sold at a higher fee.


Starry flounder fishing in San Francisco Bay?
Question: Can anglers catch starry flounder in the San Francisco Bay? If so, can we catch them from a kayak or boat near shore? (Paul R.)

Answer: Yes, when the season is open, and it’s open now. Since starry flounder is considered a federally managed groundfish species (per CFR 50, section 660.11) it can only be taken in the San Francisco Groundfish Management Area (San Francisco Bay) from a boat between June 1 through Dec. 31. The season is closed to boat-based anglers the rest of the year. For divers and shore-based anglers, starry flounder can be taken year round in San Francisco Bay.

There is no limit for starry flounder in the ocean and San Francisco Bay (CCR Title 14, section 27.60(b)). The limit on starry flounder for boat-based anglers would either be zero, or no limit, depending on the time of year.

For a quick online reference guide for San Francisco Bay that specifically mentions boat-based angling, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mapregs6.asp.


Selling bear taxidermy?
Question: I am a taxidermist and have a life size black bear mount that I mounted for a guy in 2008. He has not claimed it and I’ve sent a certified letter (I have the receipt and tag). He still hasn’t called or come to get it, so can I consider it abandoned and sell it here to recover my out-of-pocket costs? (Cindy B.)

Answer: You must first comply with the conditions in Fish and Game Commission regulations, see:

Title 14 section 695(d) Sale of Unclaimed or Unredeemed Specimens. Every person who prepares, stuffs or mounts the skin or any part of fish, reptiles, bird or mammal for another person and who keeps the records provided in (a) may sell unclaimed or unredeemed skins under the following conditions:

(1) A notice shall be posted where it is visible to all persons who bring skins to a taxidermist for preparation, stuffing, or mounting, stating that the skins will be sold pursuant to chapter 6 (commencing with section 3046) of part 4 of division 3 of the Civil Code if unclaimed or unredeemed by the owner.

(2) The department shall, upon request, be provided with the name and address of any person who has failed to claim or redeem any skin or part thereof.

(3) The sale price of any prepared, stuffed, or mounted skin or part thereof, shall not exceed the actual cost of labor, preparation and advertising costs relating to the sale, less any amount already paid by the owner of the skin for its preparation, stuffing, or mounting.

(4) No skin or part of any fully protected, rare, or endangered species of fish, reptile, bird or mammal may be sold.

(5) No skin or part of any migratory bird covered by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act or Bald Eagle Act may be sold without approval of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

(6) The notice to customers required in (1) above shall include a copy of subdivision (d) of this regulation.
The complete Fish and Game Code and complete Title 14 are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

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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.

Why Do Turtles Sold as Pets Have a Size Limit?

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

This is a Red-eared Slider (Trachemys scripta), a common turtle in the pet trade. They compete in the wild with our native Western Pond Turtle, so they should never be released. (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: Is there a size limit on the sale of turtles that are sold as pets? (Robert Bruce, Antioch)

Answer: Yes, federal and state laws require that turtles must have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed (California Code of Regulations Title 17, section 2612.1). This restriction was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths. Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle Salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the United States (Source: http://exoticpets.about.com/od/reptilesturtles/a/turtlesales.htm.)


Sabiki rig?
Question: I frequently fish at the Point Arena pier but am not clear on a specific rule. I know you may only have two hooks on one fishing line, but is it legal to use a Sabiki rig with multiple small hooks to catch bait fish? (Steve Lum)

Answer: When fishing from Point Arena pier, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don’t have rockfish, cabezon, greenling or lingcod in your possession. If you happen to catch one of these species while using more than two hooks on your line, you must release the fish.

You are limited to no more than one line and two hooks when fishing for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or if these species are in possession. On a public pier, you can use up to two fishing appliances (rod and reel, hoop net, crab trap, etc.) with no restrictions on the number of hooks (unless you are targeting the species mentioned above or have them in your possession).


How to legally exchange bear skulls and claws?
Question: Are there any regulations prohibiting someone from giving me a bear skull or claws if legally taken either in California or out of state? No money or goods would be exchanged. Would I need to have proof to show where the parts came from or who gave them to me? (Tom H.)

Answer: No. If the skull or claws were taken from a bear in California, and as long as no money or goods were exchanged for the acquisition, you may legally receive and possess these bear parts. If the bear parts are from a bear taken in another state, then you will need to follow the regulations for sale or gifting of bear parts from that state and submit a “Declaration for Entry” form, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.


Why early stop shooting times for turkeys?
Question: I have been turkey hunting in California for several years and always wondered why the shooting times are limited until only 4 pm. I have heard it protects them so they can return to roost in the evening, but this makes no sense since there is an over-abundance of turkeys in California, more than a lot of other states. Many other states allow turkey hunting until sundown, similar to big game. What’s the reason for this early shooting stop time? (Dave Johannes, Modesto)

Answer: Shooting hours for the spring wild turkey season is always one-half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. The reason for the early stop time in the spring (versus the stop time of sunset in the fall) is because the spring season occurs during turkey breeding season. Only the toms (and bearded hens) may be taken in the spring to allow the hens to nest successfully. The goal is to maximize the opportunities for hunters to take turkeys while protecting nesting hens. Setting this early shooting stop time gives the birds a break from hunting pressure, allows the toms to return to the roost and the hens to get back to their nests.  Historically, the stop time was 1 p.m., but as wild turkey numbers have flourished, the stop hunting time was moved to 4 p.m.

Turkeys typically roost communally and may have only one or no more than a few trees where they roost at night. They become more vulnerable toward the end of the day as they return to their preferred roost. If the turkeys are disturbed along the way by gun shots, they may select unfamiliar roosting areas, thus making themselves more vulnerable to predation.

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

How Much Fishing Until Boat Limits Apply?

(CDFW photo by Ed Roberts)

(CDFW photo by Ed Roberts)

Question: I heard this question asked on the radio last season while fishing for salmon in Monterey. The answers from mostly experienced and knowledgeable anglers were mixed. No one seemed to be certain. So here’s the situation:

Two anglers, both legally licensed, one rod trolling per angler, barbless hooks, one lure per line. The anglers take turns hooking up and fighting the fish. Soon they have three legal salmon on the boat. One angler has a limit, and the other angler needs one more and wants to catch his own. The question: Can the two anglers continue trolling with the two rods out?

My reading of the ocean regs is yes, they can, because there is nothing in the regs saying the angler with a limit must stop fishing while the boat/anglers are not over limit. If the next one to hook a fish was to fill the boat limit, then the angler with the limit would not be able to even touch the rod. However, since catch and release fishing is not prohibited, both can continue to fish until the last fish is netted. Do you agree? (Dave R.)

Answer: Yes, boat limits apply. Boat limit: When two or more persons that are licensed or otherwise authorized to sport fish in ocean waters off California or in the San Francisco Bay District … are angling for finfish aboard a vessel in these waters, fishing by all authorized persons aboard may continue until boat limits of finfish are taken and possessed aboard the vessel (CCR, Title 14 section 27.60 (c )).


How to become a Hunter Ed Instructor?
Question: How can I sign up to become a Hunter Education Instructor?

Answer: Applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • Be at least 18 years of age
  • Successfully complete the hunter education course prior to submitting an application
  • No felony convictions
  • Completed a course of study prior to taking a supervised examination covering the basic topics of hunter education

The testing process to become a certified instructor takes about two hours and applicants must score a minimum of 80 percent. After passing the exam, the volunteer will take an oath and work with an experienced instructor before leading their own class.

To retain current HEI certification, an instructor must teach one class per year and attend one conference. More information on the requirements can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/huntered, or speak with one of our wildlife officers at the upcoming Fred Hall Shows in either Long Beach or Del Mar.


Lobster report card for two different types of traps?
Question: If I am fishing with both flat and rigid types of hoop nets in one set, do I need to fill out two lines on my lobster report card (e.g. one line with a gear code for flat and one line for the non folding type?) (Dixon C.)

Answer: Yes. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Scientist Travis Buck, instruction 2 on the lobster report card says “make a separate entry for each location fished and each type of gear used.” You’ll see under gear codes that flat hoop nets are gear #1 and rigid hoop nets are gear #2. So create separate lines for each type of net, and record the corresponding number of lobsters retained for each type of net. Thank you for paying attention to this detail!

Also, hunters and anglers are now being offered the ability to report harvest data online at: www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/harvestreporting/. This means you will be able to enter your 2012 lobster report card data online. Thanks and good luck lobster fishing.


Importing USDA processed black bear meat?
Question: Can I bring USDA processed black bear meat into California from Colorado and Nevada from USDA plants to sell here locally? (Anshu P.)

Answer: No, California Fish and Game law prohibits the sale of the pieces or parts of any bear in California, and it makes no difference if the item was a bear that was killed in California or in another state and imported into the state. (See Fish and Game Code, section 4758.)

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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.

Taking Youth Hunters to Public Wildlife Areas

Family waterfowl hunting at the Yolo Wildlife Area Basin

Family hunting at the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (DFG photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: My son is 11 years old and a licensed hunter. We would like to duck hunt this year at state and federal Wildlife Areas. Does he need a one or two day pass? Does he need any paper work aside from his license? I would hate for him to be turned away from the check station the morning of our hunt because we were not properly prepared. (Steve H.)

Answer: Persons hunting under the authority of a Junior Hunting License on state Wildlife Areas (or federal areas managed by Department of Fish and Game (DFG)) where entry permits are required are exempt from the permit and pass requirements, except they must have a no-fee entry permit issued to them. Holders of Junior Hunting Licenses are only eligible for entry permits when accompanied by an adult (18 years or older). One adult may accompany up to two holders of Junior Hunting Licenses. In addition, adults must accompany holders of Junior Hunting Licenses on Type A and Type B areas.

For additional information regarding hunters using Junior Hunting Licenses on state Wildlife Areas, please see sections 551 (f), (g), & (h) in the 2012-2013 Upland Game and Waterfowl Regulations / Regulations for Hunting on Public Lands booklet, available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.

Additional and specific information regarding entering and hunting on State Wildlife Areas is available for each Area online at www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/index.html.


Catching salmon while fishing for halibut?
Question:I have an ongoing debate with a friend and am hoping you can resolve it. Let’s say salmon season is open but I’m drifting for halibut and hook up on a legal-sized salmon on a halibut rig, what is the protocol? I was unable to find anything about this in the regulations booklet, but I did find where it says it is illegal to catch and waste fish. Also, what is the protocol if trolling for salmon with regulation gear and hook up with an untargeted ling cod? If you can cite which code is correct for these situations, I can finally put this to bed. Your help will be greatly appreciated. (Tom C.)

Answer: First of all, salmon may only be taken on a barbless hook. Possession of salmon taken on any gear other than the gear described in regulations is illegal. Thus, unless your halibut rig is a barbless circle hook (doubtful!), you would have to immediately release any salmon you catch on it, regardless of the condition of the salmon (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.80).  

Hooking and keeping lingcod on your salmon rig is permitted as long as you are within the depth limit of the groundfish management area, and the groundfish season is open (CCR Title 14, sections 28.27 and 28.65).


How to avoid bear “baiting” situations?
Question: The regulation booklet says no baiting for bear or no bear shall be taken within 400 yards from baited areas. I’m confused, since the law says NO BAITING, but then it says no bears to be taken within 400 yards of a baited area. Is the law implying that baiting is allowed as long as the hunter shoots the bear from more than 400 yards away? How can Fish and Game tell if a bear was taken from areas with or without baits? How can hunters tell if the area was baited or not? Also, what if I had just dressed a deer and the next day a bear came after the remains, and I shot the bear. Is that not legal as long as I have a bear tag?  Please clarify. (Pao H.)

Answer: Regulations prohibit placing feed, bait or other materials capable of attracting a bear in any location for the purpose of taking a bear (CCR Title 14, section 365(e)). This portion of the regulation prohibits these acts and is not dependent on distance. It is illegal to place “bait” out for the purpose of taking a bear.

In addition, the regulation also prohibits taking a bear within 400 yards of a garbage dump or any place where bait has been placed even though you may not have put it there. It is your responsibility to carefully inspect the area you intend to hunt and determine it complies with the law.

Under this regulation the remains of a deer constitute feed or bait and it is illegal for you to dispose of them with the intention of attracting a bear to the site, and to take any bear within 400 yards of the remains.


Limit on number of sand crabs?
Question:I’ve been advised that there is a limit on the number of sand crabs a surf fishermen can possess. Is this true? (Drew B.)

Answer: Yes, there is a limit on the number of sand crabs (Emerita analoga) a fisherman may possess. The limit is 50 sand crabs (CCR Title 14, section 29.85(d)).

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

A Trick to Get Rid of Pesky Gulls?

Photo by Carrie Wilson

Question: There is a video floating around of a local captain offering advice on how to get rid of pesky gulls. He ties sardines (no hooks) to each end of some monofilament line and goes on to explain that one gull will grab the bait, and then all the others will follow.

Is that legal? Seems like birds could get tangled up and die. Introducing mono into the sea also seems to be dangerous to the creatures there. Is this practice acceptable? (Phil F.)

Answer: No, this practice is not legal. Intentionally putting monofilament line into the water is littering. It is also harassment of animals, which is prohibited by Title 14 section 251.1. This provision defines harassment as an “intentional act which disrupts the animal’s normal behavioral patterns, which includes but is not limited to breeding, feeding or sheltering.”  From what you describe, the whole point of this practice is to disrupt the gulls’ normal behavioral patterns.


Hunting upland birds and waterfowl at the same time
Question: If I’m in the field upland bird hunting and a flock of ducks/geese fly overhead, am I allowed to shoot those birds, too? (Robert G.)

Answer: Yes, but only if the season for waterfowl is open in the area, if you have the required state and federal waterfowl stamps affixed to your license, AND you only have steel or other non-toxic shot in your possession.


Black bear (FWS photo)

Effects of hunting bears and bobcats without dogs
Governor Brown signed SB 1221 on Sept. 26, 2012 to repeal authorization for the use of dogs to pursue bears and bobcats. The DFG has received a large number of questions from the public regarding what effects it may cause. Below are some of those frequently asked Q&As:

Does SB 1221 affect the current bear hunting season?
No. The new law will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2013. The 2012 bear hunting season closes on Dec. 30, 2012, or when the DFG determines that 1,700 bears have been taken, whichever occurs first.

What will be the effect on the bear population?
The DFG does not believe this law will negatively affect the State’s black bear population. Any increase or decrease in the overall bear population will likely be reflective of bear habitat, since habitat quantity and quality have more impact on the bear population than current hunting effort.

Will I be able to surrender and get a refund on my bear or bobcat tag(s)?
No. Hunters are able to hunt bear and bobcat with dogs through the end of the current season, or until Jan. 1, 2013, whichever occurs first. After that date, hunters retain the ability to take those species during open seasons without the use of dogs.

Will officers kill my livestock guard dog if it inadvertently chases a bobcat or bear?
This law applies specifically to the take of bear and bobcat as a method of take during regulated hunting seasons. Current laws (Fish and Game Code, sections 3960-3961) allow for the protection of game mammals during the closed season on the animal. If a livestock dog were to attempt to take a bear or bobcat during the open season, it would be considered an unlawful method of take and appropriate enforcement action would be pursued.

However, SB 1221 will add a new provision to the Fish and Game Code, subdivision (b) of section 3960.6, which states “Notwithstanding Section 3960, the pursuit of bears or bobcats by dogs that are guarding or protecting livestock or crops on property owned, leased, or rented by the owner of the dogs, is not prohibited if the dogs are maintained with, and remain in reasonable proximity to, the livestock or crops being guarded or protected.”

While the law allows for the capture or killing of dogs inflicting injury to certain mammals, DFG staff are careful in exercising its discretion and have rarely used this authority. The DFG does not expect SB 1221 to result in an increase in incidents involving the killing or capture of livestock guard dogs.

Will the DFG still meet its bear hunting season quota of 1,700?
The 1,700 bear harvest cap is not technically a quota. The DFG is not specifically targeting a specific number of bears to be killed each hunting season. This harvest cap exists because the Fish and Game Commission has determined that the bear population and the environment will not be negatively affected at this level of take.

In the past ten years, this cap has been met only three times. The DFG will continue to collect data and information on the bear population. From this data, we will continue to develop information for population trends and propose tag and take levels to the Fish and Game Commission consistent with the DFG’s Black Bear Management Plan.

Where can I find a copy of SB 1221?
Go to http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/, and in the top right-hand corner under quick search, type SB 1221 next to Bill Number.

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Carrie Wilsonis a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.