Tag Archives: big game hunting

How Are Sturgeon Weathering the Drought?

Sturgeon photo1

White Sturgeon (CDFW photo)

Question: I have a question about sturgeon. Are they being negatively affected by the drought? Since sturgeon have been around millions of years, they must have endured many droughts and so hopefully this drought will not hit them as hard as maybe some other species that are less hardy and more sensitive to changes. Is this true? (Anonymous)

Answer: That’s an excellent question, but the answer is complicated. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras, plenty of sturgeon in California will likely outlive this drought because of the state’s adaptive management of white sturgeon harvest (green sturgeon is a threatened species so harvest is illegal) and protection from poaching.

Sturgeon and salmon are anadromous species, but salmon mature and then die in just two to three years. By comparison, female sturgeon typically mature after 15-plus years, can spawn more than once (though not annually) and can live many decades. These characteristics mean that sturgeon are resilient, but it also means they can easily be overfished. California’s sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953 due to overfishing. Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is illegal and recreational harvest is now managed through area closures, bag limits, size limits and gear restrictions.

Most sturgeon spawn in the Sacramento River and young-of-the-year fish migrate downstream to rear in the San Francisco Estuary. Large numbers of young sturgeon survive the migration only in years with nearly flooding Sacramento River flows during both winter and spring. For sturgeon it is as though 2014 is the eighth straight year of drought. Although a relatively-good “cohort” of white sturgeon spawned in 2006 will soon be harvestable, we expect the fishery to decline substantially.

Adaptive management of California’s white sturgeon through predictable ebbs in abundance is key to conservation of the species and its fishery.


Deer tag validation required from private property?
Question: If I take a legal buck on my own property, then tag and process it on site, do I need to get the tag validated since it will require me to transport the carcass off my property? (Ruth W.)

Answer: Yes. All deer must be validated even when taken on private property. Remember, wildlife belong to the people of the State of California, not to the owners of land where animals live. The law states the animal’s tag must be validated regardless of where taken and may not be transported initially except for the purpose of taking it to be validated (Fish and Game Code, section 4341).


Dorado limits higher in California
Question: I went fishing out of San Diego twice this fall. The first time we fished in California waters off San Clemente Island and the second time we fished in Mexican waters. I understand the daily bag limit for Dorado in Mexico is two fish, but can’t find it in the regulations booklet for California. What is it? (Chuck K.)

Answer: Dorado do not have a specific bag limit in California and so they fall under the general bag limit of 10 fish of any one species with no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60(a)).


When cancer treatment threatens premium draw deer hunt?
Question: I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in April and have had chemo for four months. I am doing great and am in good shape to go hunting, but I just found out I must have a bone morrow transplant and it looks like it will be around the time of the premiuml draw tag hunt. Can I return this tag and still get my points back? Doctors at Stanford are trying to let me go hunting but it may not happen. (Dennis S.)

Answer: So sorry to hear about your cancer and the treatments you’re going through! In order to return the tag without penalty, I suggest you contact our License and Revenue Branch at (916) 419-7573 immediately. You must return the tag before the season begins along with a letter explaining why you can’t complete the hunt. With some tag drawings there will be an alternate list available with hunters standing by in case of a cancellation. No alternate lists are established for premium deer tags though, so your tag will not be reissued to anyone else. There is a preference point appeal process available. Please go to CCR, Title 14, section 708.14 for the details. And best wishes that your upcoming cancer treatments go well.


Motorized turkey decoys?
Question: Are there any restrictions on using motorized or string motion decoys while turkey hunting in California? (Scott C.)

Answer: No.

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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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Why Don’t Some Deer Shed Their Antlers?

Stag1

Deer that don’t shed their antlers are commonly called “stags”. This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles. Weird looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I recently heard about a few Southern California bucks that seem to carry their antlers year round. One person I heard from insisted they were mountain biking and repeatedly saw the same deer in January and in May with a 4×3 rack. While I disagreed with the person telling me this, I admitted I am no biologist and didn’t know what they were seeing. Do some deer out here not shed their antlers? I was under the impression that even though nutrition, water and climate might affect when they shed, that deer always shed their antlers. Can you share some info or point us in the right direction to learn more about the antler shedding process here in SoCal? (Al Q.)

Answer: Deer that don’t shed their antlers are commonly called “stags”. This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles. Testosterone plays a role in both antler development and shedding, so injuries can really affect the types of antlers they have. Weird looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet … but those kind usually fall off normally and are replaced the next year with “normal” antlers.

So, this proves there are indeed exceptions to every rule — even biological ones!


Incidental take while spear fishing?
Question: What happens if a spearfishing diver spots a large fish and shoots and spears it without realizing until too late that it’s a giant (black) sea bass or another prohibited species? Then after the fish is speared and brought to the surface, the spearfisher identifies they have a fish they can’t take or possess and promptly returns it to the ocean. Has the spearfisher violated any laws?

A fisherman (angler) who catches a prohibited species while fishing for other species can argue that the take was unintentional/incidental. Could the spearfisher successfully make a similar argument? (Steve H.)

Answer: Spear fishermen are responsible for identifying their targets before they pull the trigger and can be held accountable for shooting a prohibited species. They are also responsible for ensuring that any fish they shoot meets the minimum size limit requirements for that species, again, before they pull the trigger.

A short lingcod or illegal giant sea bass, for example, is unlikely to survive after being shot by a spear fisherman who has the ability to select his target carefully; a short or illegal fish is much more likely to survive being hooked and released by an angler fishing from a boat, who cannot selectively target which individual fish he wishes to catch.

If a diver is unsure about the size or identity of the fish he/she’s aiming at, he/she should choose a different target. Shooting a fish that you’re unsure of could be illegal, and we believe that many spear fishermen would consider it unethical, as well.

All of these same principles also apply to hunters. No one with a rifle, shotgun, spear gun or even bow should pull the trigger unless absolutely 100 percent sure that their intended target is of legal size, species, gender, etc. An accurate (or even lucky) shot made, but with an error in judgment, isn’t worth the repercussions of breaking the very laws enacted to protect the state’s fish and game.


Why the health warnings for brown trout?
Question: In the fishing regulations there are safe eating guidelines for Donner Lake. I am trying to figure out why there are different recommendations for brown trout compared to rainbow trout. The guidelines suggest people eat only one serving of browns vs. seven servings of rainbows. Why? (Tim Worley)

Answer: The recommendations in our regulation booklet are from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The recommendations are probably from actual studies done by OEHHA of mercury levels in edible flesh from these two species from Donner Lake.

According to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, we do not plant brown trout in Donner and so those fish are essentially wild and older in the system. Therefore, they have been on natural diets and accumulating mercury from the naturally occurring insects and aquatic life that comprises their food chain.

CDFW does plant rainbow trout in Donner as part of what we call a “put-and- take” fishery. For most of their lives those fish are not eating natural feeds, and are generally not piscivorous like the brown trout, so they accumulate much less mercury. Humans, especially children and women of child bearing ages, need to limit their intake of mercury because it can have serious health effects, including death.

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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.

Ingenious or Illegal?

Red abalone from Santa Cruz Island (Photo by CDFW Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Red abalone from Santa Cruz Island (Photo by CDFW Marine Biologist Derek Stein)

Question: I am going over abalone laws again for any details that I may have missed and I have one quick question.

Measuring devices: You must have a fixed-arm measuring gauge, capable of spanning an abalone’s shell. It is a violation to take an abalone when not in possession of a gauge, even if the abalone is legal-sized.Ab iron_gauge combo

As you can see in this picture, the gauge is part of the ab iron. Since it has a fixed-arm that is capable of measuring abalone, I assume this gauge is legal. I just wanted to confirm since I am hearing that people are being approached for this type of gauge. Thanks. (Jerry)

Answer: In order for this combination abalone iron / measuring gauge to be legal, it must meet the requirements of both a legal abalone gauge and legal abalone iron.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Dennis McKiver, the law says every person taking abalone “shall carry a fixed caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fixed opposing arms of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(f)).

While the idea of carrying one device seems desirable, it is difficult to determine the absolute legality of this particular device from this photo alone. The important thing to consider is that a legal gauge must be “capable of accurately measuring” and the fixed opposing arms must be “of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell.” If there is any question, the abalone fisherman should carry an additional legal abalone gauge with them.

All divers must carry an abalone gauge that measures seven inches and any abalone removed from the rock that measures seven inches or more must be retained (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(d)). Wildlife officers frequently find people trophy hunting with only nine or 10 inch gauges in their possession and they end up citing many of these individuals for high grading because they are detaching and replacing abalone that are less than nine or 10 inches, but are otherwise legal to take.


Slingbow for game hunting?
Question: Is it legal in California to hunt small and big game with a slingbow, provided it can cast an arrow legal for the game being hunted at least 130 yards? Referring to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354, slingbows do have flexible material (the band), and a string connecting its two ends (of the band) as the nock, to satisfy the legal definition. (Jason L.)

Answer: These slingshot-style bows would not be legal because bows are defined only as longbow, recurve or compound bow (under CCR Title 14, section 354(a)). The slingbow falls under the definition of a crossbow (CCR Title 14, section 354(b)) “or cured latex band” and could be used for hunting under crossbow regulations.


Trout fishing with “dough balls”?
Question: While living back east, we used to use “dough balls” for trout. We made them out of corn meal, flour and water or fish meal, flour and water. Is this a legal bait for trout in California? (Mike)

Answer: Yes, processed foods may be used in California’s inland waters where bait is legal. Therefore, where bait is legal, dough balls would be legal.


Resident sport fishing license still legal after moving out of state?
Question: If I bought a California fishing license earlier in the year but then moved out of state, can I still legally fish with that resident license even if I now have an Idaho address? I’ll be coming back and forth during the year to visit family and am hoping this license will be good at least through the end of the year. (James F., Boise, ID)

Answer: Your resident California sport fishing license is valid through Dec. 31, 2014, even if you move out of state.

“Resident” is defined as: Any person who has resided continuously in the State of California for six months or more immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit, any person on active military duty with the Armed Forces of the United States or auxiliary branch thereof, or any person enrolled in the Job Corps established pursuant to Section 2883 of Title 29 of the United States Code (Fish and Game Code, section 70).

“Nonresident” is defined as: Any person who has not resided continuously in the State of California for six months immediately prior to the date of his application for a license or permit (FGC, section 57.)

Next year you will need to buy a nonresident sport fishing license to fish in 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.

Catching Limits from Different Waters on the Same Day

When fishing at night, make sure you can still identify your catch. (USFWS photo by Steve Hillebrand)

(USFWS photo by Steve Hillebrand)

Question: I enjoy your weekly newspaper columns and now I have a question that I hope you can answer. When fishing for striped bass at a local lake where there is a 10 fish limit with no size restriction, what happens if on the way home I stop at the Delta to fish for catfish and a wildlife officer checks me out and I have 10 striped bass already? How do I prove I caught them at say New Hogan Lake several miles away and not the Delta? Another thing, if I catch eight striped bass at the lake, can I still catch two more out of the Delta? Thanks for your consideration. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!! (Mark S., Tracy)

Answer: A fisherman could lawfully catch eight striped bass at a lake and then catch two more in Delta waters during the same day for an overall possession of 10 fish. There is nothing in the Fish and Code or regulations to prohibit a person with 10 striped bass from stopping to fish for catfish in the Delta. However, you should expect any wildlife officer who contacts you will conduct a thorough investigation of the source of your fish. I can only suggest you try to keep those fish caught at the lake clearly separate and even stow them away in your car in a separate cooler. Also, if the lake is one where you can get a receipt showing you fished there first, then it helps give you a little more evidence. Because this can be difficult for you to prove, and unless you want to take those fish home before heading out again to the Delta, I suggest you do whatever you can (e.g. pictures or video on your phone) to prove the fish were caught in different waters. Then if a wildlife officer questions you, the situation will be more clear.


Shotgun magazine capacity
Question: I know when bird hunting, you are allowed two shells in the magazine and one in the chamber. Are the rules any different when hunting big game with a shotgun? (Brian H.)

Answer: No, the rules are the same. The law says shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing single slugs may be used for the taking of deer, bear and wild pigs. In areas where the discharge of rifles or shotguns with slugs is prohibited by county ordinance, shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing size 0 or 00 buckshot may be used for the taking of deer only (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353(b)).


Spearfishing for white seabass
Question: As a spear fisherman, could I complete a two fish limit for a boat with two divers? For example, let’s say the other guy gets sick, can I go shoot a second fish for his limit of one? (Alex V.)

Answer: No. Boat limits only apply to anglers (hook and line fishermen). If you speared more than one daily bag limit you could be cited for taking an “overlimit” of fish.


Free fishing group permits
Question: I have some sponsors interested in helping host some fishing events to benefit military men and women who have returned from duty overseas and now have combat-related injuries or disabilities. Can any special provisions be made to waive license fees for the troops during these hosted fishing trips? What about for these veteran individuals who just want to go fishing on their own? Would you be so kind to explain what opportunities there may be and who I would contact? (Randy H., La Granada)

Answer: Yes, there are “Free Group Fishing Permits” available allowing for free fishing under certain conditions and the requirements for these permits are very clear and specific (Fish and Game Code, section 7151 [d-e]). With this approved form, the following persons may fish under this authority:

* Mentally or physically disabled persons
* Active duty military personnel receiving inpatient care in a military or Veteran’s Administration hospital
* Veterans with service connected disabilities

Fish and Game Code, section 7151(d) allows for these special sport fishing permits to be issued to groups of mentally or physically handicapped persons under the care of:

1. A certified federal, state, county, city, or private licensed care center, or
2. Organizations exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code, or
3. Schools or school districts.

Employees of private licensed care centers, tax-exempt organizations, schools or school districts are also exempt from Section 7145 only while assisting physically or mentally disabled persons fishing under the authority of a valid license issued pursuant to this section.

For more on free and reduced-fee fishing licenses, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/sportfishingfreereduced.html. The Free Group Fishing Permit application forms can be obtained through our License and Revenue Branch office in Sacramento.

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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.

Elk Range in California

Rocky Mt Elk_Yellowstone_USFWS_Bauer_11440_102.3.18

Rocky Mt. elk from Yellowstone National Park were imported into California in 1966 and released in Kern County (U.S.F.W.S. photo)

Question: Why are there no elk in the central or southern Sierra Nevadas? It seems like ideal habitat comparable to that found in Colorado, but the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation doesn’t even show it as a historic range for elk. Is there some reason they could not and do not thrive in the high Sierras, or at least the foothills? (Nick C.)

Answer: It’s true that the historic range of elk in California did not include the Sierra Nevada range. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Statewide Elk and Antelope Coordinator Joe Hobbs, historically tule elk were found in the Central Valley, coast range and the Sierra foothills, but did not occupy the higher elevation regions of the Sierra Nevada.

Previous studies suggest that the Great Basin, combined with the Sierra Nevada and Cascade ranges, served as a western barrier to the natural movement of Rocky Mountain elk (typically found in Colorado, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana).

Hobbs also says elk are slowly expanding in California and we have received reports of elk in various parts of the Sierra (Plumas, Sierra and even Tuolumne counties). Currently, California has three subspecies of elk. In addition to the tule elk of the Central Valley and foothills, Roosevelt elk are found in the north coast area and the coastal interior regions, and Rocky Mountain elk reside in northeastern California.

Although the Sierra does seem to be composed of habitat capable of supporting elk, historically this was not the case due to the topography of California. Tule elk were found in the Central Valley and coast range and evolved for utilization of these habitat types and not those found in the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada. The Great Basin and various mountain ranges prevented the Rocky Mountain elk from dispersing into the western portion of the Sierra Nevada range.


Can female Dungeness crabs be harvested?
Question: May I keep female Dungeness crabs if they are of minimum size? (Larry A.)

Answer: Yes. Recreational crabbers may actually take either male or female Dungeness crab. Males reach a larger size, and thus often contain more meat. Many recreational crabbers let females go as a matter of conservation etiquette to help the population replenish itself. During the first half of the season, the females are often carrying eggs and are often under the size limit as well; they simply don’t reach the larger sizes males do. Only commercial crabbers are restricted from taking female crab.


Can non-hunters carry extra shells for waterfowl hunters?
Question: I have a question about the number of shells a waterfowl hunter may possess while hunting. Is it clarified in the regulations that only hunters are limited to no more than 25 shells in the field during the waterfowl season? If not, a non-hunter could then carry another 25 shells into the field for the hunter to use. (Rick S., Pleasanton)

Answer: Current Fish and Game Commission regulations restrict the number of shot shells that are permitted in the field on some refuges or wildlife areas. The ammunition restriction does not apply to all areas, but in the areas/refuges listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 551(a), the restrictions are twofold:

1) Hunters may not possess more than 25 shot shells while in the field (CCR Title 14, Section 551[q]); and,

2) Only persons with a valid hunting permit for that day are permitted to possess ammunition in the field (CCR Title14, Section 551[b][4]).

Therefore, a non-hunter cannot pack in extra shells for the hunter.


Hunting and fishing at the same time?
Question: Is it legal for me to hunt and fish at the same time? I would like to be on the boat or shore fishing with a shotgun beside me in case a duck or goose comes into range, and vice versa. If I am more serious about hunting that day, can I have a line in the water? Is this legal as long as I follow all the associated rules/laws? (Mike K.)

Answer: Yes

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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.

How to Keep Hunters from Hunting on Our Property?

Mule deer_Clear Lake_USFWS

Mule deer around Clear Lake (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: Our church owns about 700 acres in the foothills of Northern California. We recently had someone shoot at a 6-point buck, wound it, and screech away off the property. We called the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), who sent out a tracker. They followed the trail of blood but never found the wounded animal.

Meanwhile, we have many deer that reside on our property and we are vegetarians. We do not shoot the deer and they wander freely on the property. You can walk within maybe 20 feet of even these majestic big bucks and they won’t flee. We do not want people shooting the animals on our property.

The Fish and Wildlife person who came out told us it was legal for people to shoot the deer on our property unless we fenced it or posted signs (such as “POSTED NO HUNTING”) all over the property. Is this really true? For one thing, it isn’t even hunting season (with a firearm, which this was), and second, it’s private property and we’ve not given written permission to anyone to hunt on our property.

We also don’t want to post “NO TRESPASSING” signs because we welcome the public to visit our beautiful community with 85 homes and a number of businesses, including a school.

Can you help me understand what the law states, and what we must do to allow the public on our land but disallow hunting (and fishing) on our land? (Church Administrator)

Answer: Hunters do not need permission to hunt on private property unless the land is under cultivation, enclosed by a fence, or posted in accordance with Fish and Game Code, section 2016. This section requires that signs “forbidding trespass or hunting, or both are displayed at intervals not less than three to the mile along all exterior boundaries and at all roads and trails entering those lands,” and “signs may be of any size and wording that will fairly advise persons about to enter…that the use of the land is so restricted.”

If you would like to pursue trespassing charges (under Penal Code 602) against specific people who have entered the property for any reason, including without permission to fish or hunt, you can do so but the prosecutor generally wants the owner to state they will testify and also show that the suspect was already warned at least once.

Another law to be aware of is one that states “It is unlawful … to hunt or to discharge while hunting, any firearm or other deadly weapon within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling house, residence, or other building or any barn or other outbuilding used in conjunction therewith. The 150-yard area is a ‘safety zone’.” (FGC, section 3004).

You may need to take measures to discourage deer from becoming too comfortable on your property around humans because this makes them vulnerable to unscrupulous poachers. To do this, remove as many attractants as possible. If the deer are being fed, this is illegal (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 251.3 and 251.1). Also, by encouraging more deer to occupy your property than is normal, this may bring in some additional unwanted side elements (e.g. poachers, Lyme’s disease and mountain lions).


Throw nets to capture live bait
Question: I know round nets can be used to catch live bait like anchovies and smelt from piers, but I am not sure if there is a size restriction for the circumference on the net. I couldn’t find that info in the regs book. (Mike I.)

Answer: There is no size restriction on the circumference of a throw net used in ocean waters at this time. However, throw nets may only be used north of Point Conception (Santa Barbara Co.) and may only be used to take herring, Pacific staghorn sculpin, shiner surfperch, surf smelt, topsmelt, anchovies, shrimp and squid (CCR Title 14, section 28.80.)


Bringing mountain lions into California as “personal property”?
Question: A friend of mine told me that because mountain lions are not endangered or federally protected, that California cannot prevent a person who has taken one legally in another state from bringing it into the state as personal property. Is California blowing smoke? Thanks (Ken)

Answer: No, your friend is mistaken. Fish and Game Code section 4800, which was added to the code as an Initiative Measure (Prop. 117) in 1990, designates mountain lions as “specially protected” in California, and prohibits their possession or importation into the state. However, Fish and Game Code section 4800(b)(2) does allow for mountain lion possession if the owner can demonstrate the mountain lion was possessed prior to June 6, 1990.

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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.

Did Game Warden Have the Right to Search My Car?

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


Antique dealer selling animal parts

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

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

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