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.