Tag Archives: Deer

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.

Why Problem Deer Are Not Relocated

Mule deer (USFWS photo)

Mule deer (USFWS photo)

Question: I live in the Christian Valley area above Auburn. The deer are overpopulated but they are protected in the area. The deer are starving and eat everything in sight. I’ve bought deer-resistant plants and cover them at night, but then they rip off the covering and devour my plants. I’ve spent hundreds of dollars to try to keep plants on my property. I’ve even bought coyote packets to scare them away, but they tear them off and go right by them. I try to chase these deer away but they are so domesticated now that they have charged me and kicked my dog. I need help! How can I get Fish and Wildlife to transfer the deer to a higher location? I love animals but the deer here are destroying all I’ve put out. (Mary N., Auburn)

Answer: Unfortunately, because most of the deer in your area are migratory, moving them up the hill won’t help as they will soon be moving back because of snow and forage availability anyway. More than that though, according to Game Species Conservation Program Manager Craig Stowers, it is the policy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to not move depredating deer. There are several reasons for this:

1)     Several studies (including one of our own) have indicated the survival rates for these animals are extremely low.

2)     The benefits from all wildlife captures must be weighed against the risks of injury/death to the individual animals and personnel involved. Since the survival rates are so low in these instances, the benefits most definitely do not outweigh the risks.

3)     There is a very real potential for introducing new diseases and/or parasites when moving animals from one area to another without health testing, and the only way that can effectively be done is through a quarantine process. Unfortunately, we don’t have the facilities for that and couldn’t take care of the deer long enough for test results to come back.

4)     Physical deterrence is the only proven long-term solution (fencing or some type of barrier). Even if we could move a large number of deer, there are others which would eventually move in to replace them.

As California becomes more urbanized, these types of problems will continue to increase in frequency. Traditional methods of managing wildlife populations are becoming increasingly unavailable to us, primarily because of public safety issues and changing societal values. CDFW has implemented a pilot project in the San Jose area to address a very similar problem and we are hopeful it can turn into something we can use in the future as these problems are only going to continue.


Cotton destruct for crab pots

A sport crab pot with a cotton destruct line that will eventually rot to allow the trap lid to open in the event the trap becomes lost (Photo courtesy of Captain Tom Mattusch of the F/V Huli Cat)

Breakaway lines on crab pots?
Question: Are cotton breakaway lines required on sport Dungeness crab pots? (Clinton M., Petaluma)

Answer: Breakaway lines are not required on sport crab pots, but using cotton twine to secure escape rings and crab pot doors is a very good idea. On lost pots, the cotton eventually rots away and opens the pot so that crabs and other marine life can more easily escape. Without the destruct device (such as rotten cotton or cotton twine), the pot essentially becomes a self-baiting trap). We encourage you to use traps with self-destructing components. Rotten cotton also works well on the elastic or rubber between the band and the hook. When the cotton breaks, the hook falls away and the door opens. The majority of sport crab pots do not have removable escape rings, so cotton between the hook and the elastic is better for the resource.


Duck hunting youth on refuge
Question: I am a minor (17 years old) but possess an adult hunting license. Can I transport a shotgun in my vehicle for duck hunting on one of the California refuges where you only have to be 16 years of age to hunt by yourself? (James M., Modesto)

Answer: Yes, as long as your shotgun is unloaded. Persons 16 or 17 years of age in possession of a valid resident or nonresident hunting license will be issued entry permits and may hunt by themselves, but may not be accompanied by apprentice hunters (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 551(h)).


Second rod stamp required for youth?
Question: My son is 11 years old. When I take him fishing at the lake and he fishes from shore, can he fish with two rods or must he stick with one rod only? (H. Tran)

Answer: Your son can fish with two rods. However, once he turns 16 he will need a fishing license and a second rod stamp in order to fish with two rods.

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

Hunting From a Houseboat?

Houseboat on Lake Shasta (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Houseboat on Lake Shasta (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: On Lake Shasta, I have heard of incidents where an archer shoots at deer on the shoreline adjacent to a beached houseboat. Is this a violation of Fish and Game Code, section 3004 which forbids the discharge of a deadly weapon within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, residence or building? In addition, people on houseboats often throw out fruit and salad scraps for the deer to eat, so the deer have become conditioned to looking for an easy meal from houseboaters when they beach the boats. The deer wander down close to the houseboats where unscrupulous archers in houseboats or small aluminum boats prowl the shorelines near the houseboats looking for an easy kill. I can’t believe it’s legal to hunt deer from boats like this. What’s the law? Thanks for all you do. (John D., Shasta County)

Answer: Archery hunting from boats on Lake Shasta is a common practice and perfectly legal provided certain rules are followed. The lake is managed by the U.S. Forest Service and no hunting is allowed around boat ramps, marinas or campgrounds. Houseboats are considered dwellings (per FGC, section 3004), so hunting and discharging a firearm or bow within 150 yards is prohibited unless the hunters have specific permission from the boat’s occupants in advance. Hunting from boats is legal as long as when shooting the boat is not moving under the power or influence of a motor or sails (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251(a)(1)). Feeding deer and all big game is illegal, and this includes tossing out fruits and salad scraps for the deer (CCR Title 14, section 251.3). I you see any of this activity going on, please call 1-888-DFG–CALTIP to report violations.


Dogs hunting fish?
Question: Some friends of mine recently sent me photos of their yellow lab “hunting” fish in a stream. They claim the dog can track and then bite the fish right out of the water. The dog then brings the fish (while still flopping) back up the beach to his master, where the fish then get cleaned and cooked. Apparently, this practice is legal back East where my friends live, so now I’m wondering about California. Can dogs be used/trained to “hunt” fish here? Since this is clearly a kind of “take,” is it legal? If so, what kind of license/tag would one need? (Thom C.)

Answer: If you review sections 2.00-2.45 in both the freshwater and ocean sport fishing regulation books, you will find the approved methods of take for harvesting fish, and using a dog is not a listed legal option (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 2.00– 2.45).


Sharing a hunt?
Question: My hunting partner has been very assiduous in accumulating points toward a cow elk hunt and estimates that he has two chances in three this year of getting a tag. He invited me along to help cut up the carcass and to share the meat. My question is can I can bring a rifle in case a finishing shot is needed? We would only tag one elk in any case, and naturally my hunting partner would get the first shot. He’s a pretty good shot so I expect the animal to go down quickly. I’m just wondering (Walter M., Lakewood).

Answer: Leave your rifle at home unless you have a tag. The only person authorized to take or assist in taking the elk is the person with the tag.


Residency requirements to buy a fishing license?
Question: I recently went to buy a California fishing license and noted I must declare that I have resided in California continuously for the past six months. My issue is I have residences in California, Idaho and Arizona. I utilize all of them during the year but don’t spend more than six months in any one of them. Do I have to buy a non-resident license in all three states? I’m a little confused so can you please clarify the law for my situation. (G. Dzida, Redlands)

Answer: California law is clear on the definition of a “resident.” A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or persons on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch or Job Corps enrollees.

If you are not a California resident by this definition, you cannot purchase a California resident license. However, if you have an Arizona fishing license with Colorado River Special Use Stamp affixed to it, you may take fish from a boat or other floating device on the Colorado River or adjacent waters that form the California-Arizona border.

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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.

Golden Sturgeon?

(CDFW photo)

Ryan Mayfield holding a white sturgeon (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Question: I caught a couple of sturgeon recently that were golden around the edges of the fins. I called them “golden sturgeon” but have never heard of sturgeon being this color. They were 40-45 inches in length. Could they just be young white sturgeon, or are they something else? (Dan)

Answer: According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Sturgeon Monitoring Program Manager Marty Gingras, California has only green and white sturgeon, and those species have never been hybridized. We’ve never seen or received reports of a white sturgeon that looked golden. A “golden sturgeon” is most likely a green sturgeon that appears a bit golden. Please remember that green sturgeon may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.81(b)).

To differentiate between green and white sturgeon, here are a few quick and easy tips:

  • Dorsal scutes (bony plates) – Greens have 1-2 dorsal scutes trailing the dorsal fin, but on white sturgeon they are absent
  • Vent – Greens have the vent between the pelvic fins, but on white sturgeon it’s found toward the tail
  • Belly stripe – Present on greens but absent on white sturgeon.
  • Scutes along the side – Greens have 23-30 scutes while whites have 38-48

The first three characteristics above are most readily apparent and should help correctly identify the species. Sometimes the bluntness of the snout and location of barbels is mentioned, but these are variable and somewhat subjective.

You mentioned the fish you caught were 40-45 inches in length and you wondered if they were young. Unfortunately, not much is known about green sturgeon, but white sturgeon of that size are usually 10-15 years old, and quite likely have not yet  spawned for the first time.

For more information on sturgeon, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/fish/Resources/Sturgeon/.


Are lighted arrow nocks legal for bowhunting?
Question: I would like to use luminocks or nocturnal lighted nocks on my hunting arrows to help better recover arrows after the shot. I’ve heard current laws were being amended to allow the use of lighted nocks on arrows for bowhunting. I plan to hunt for bear and deer but want to be sure they are legal in California? (Carl)

Answer: Yes. As of July 1, 2013, the following regulation was amended to specifically allow lighted nocks. Please see the last sentence below.

CCR Title 14, section 354(c): For the taking of big game, hunting arrows and crossbow bolts with a broad head type blade which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths inch in diameter shall be used. Mechanical/retractable broad heads shall be measured in the open position. For the taking of migratory game birds, resident small game, furbearers and nongame mammals and birds any arrow or crossbow bolt may be used except as prohibited by subsection (d) below. Notwithstanding the general prohibition of the use of lights in Fish and Game Code section 2005, arrows or crossbow bolts with lighted nocks that do not emit a directional beam of light may be used.


Video while fishing
Question: I am an avid videographer and I like to take a lot of video while fishing. I recently purchased a camera mount that will allow me to take underwater fishing videos while trolling. My plan is to set this up on a separate pole with heavy line to drag behind the boat as we fish. The only thing on the end of the line will be the weight and camera. There will be no lures or hooks on the line. The video will not be used in an attempt to take fish. Instead, I will use it later when I edit videos of my trip to provide hook up and action scenes. Is any of this against fish and game regulations? Can having the camera mounted at the end of the line on a pole not being used for fishing be considered as another rod in the water? Just want to make sure I am not doing anything wrong in case we get checked by a warden. (Gerry M.)

Answer: As long as the rod is used only for video equipment and is not as an additional rod to take salmon, this is all legal.


Replacing lost deer tags
Question: After a long search I am certain I have lost my deer tags. How do I get replacements before my hunt next Saturday? (Jim C., Yuba City)

Answer: Replacing a lost or destroyed big game tag (deer, bear and pig tags) can be done only through a CDFW license sales office and requires signing an affidavit and paying a fee of $9.79.  The duplicate tag can be obtained in person or through the mail.

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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.

Collecting Marine Invertebrates for a Home Aquarium?

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Octopus with shrimp peering out from inside a reef at Anacapa Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: What are the explicit regulations concerning the collection of live marine organisms for use in a personal marine aquarium? I am interested in collecting octopus. From what I understand, live fish are not to be taken under any circumstances. But it seems that some other organisms are allowed as long as they do not come from a protected area. I am a marine biology student who wants to have a simple native “tide pool type” of aquarium for my own personal delight. I do have a California sport fishing license. (Cristiana A.)

Answer: Octopus may be collected for a home aquarium and transported live under the authority of a sport fishing license as long as they are exclusively for that person’s personal aquarium display. Maintaining live sport-taken octopus in a home aquarium is not considered public “display” and thus does not fall under the provisions of the marine aquaria pet trade (Fish and Game Code, sections 8596-8597). Transporting live “finfish” (as opposed to mollusks and crustaceans) is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.62).

Invertebrates collected under the authority of a sport fishing license may not be used to establish breeding colonies for sale or trade with other people. Any trading, selling or possession for sale or trade of these animals constitutes commercial marine aquaria pet trade activity and requires all parties to hold “marine aquaria collectors permits” authorizing this practice. A marine collector’s permit is also required for any animals on display for the public.

People collecting live marine invertebrates for a home aquarium may do so only under the authority of a sport fishing license, and only those species allowed under a sport fishing license may be taken. In addition, any species with sport fishing restrictions (e.g. bag, size, possession, season limits, methods of take, etc.) are still covered under those regulations, and so collectors must also abide by these laws.


Number of rods to land last fish?
Question: When legally fishing with two rods and you are one fish shy of your limit, can you still fish with two rods or do you need to cut back to just one for the final fish to fill your limit? (Neil M.)

Answer: You can keep using both rods until you get your limit.


Are premium deer tags becoming unrestricted?
Question: I have a question about premium deer tags. When reading the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) definition of what determines if a tag is premium, it is very clear and I understand it. What I have not found is information that clarifies the procedure for a premium tag becoming unrestricted. If a tag is premium and the quota does not fill on or before the first business day after July 1, does it become an unrestricted tag the following year? That would make sense, however, when I look back at the drawing statistics in past years I have noticed it is not always what happens. As an example, A22 was a premium tag from 2003 through 2008 even though most of the 1000 tags were left over each of those years. In 2009 it went back to unrestricted. This year A22 and A31 were premium and did not fill in the drawing. Will they still be premium next year? (Steve B.)

Answer: Under the current regulations:

  • A Premium Deer Hunt is any hunt where the quota filled on or before the first business day after July 1, of the previous year.
  • A Restricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that filled on or before the first business day after August 1 of the previous year.
  • An Unrestricted Deer Hunt is any hunt that did not fill on or before the first business day after August 1, in the previous year.

The examples you provided occurred before the current regulations were adopted. The tag classification regulations that we have now where adopted in the 2009 big game drawing season.

This year, the deer tag quotas for A22 and A31 both filled on July 2, which is the first business day after July 1, so A22 and A31 will remain premium tags next year. The date in which a deer tag fills is the determining factor of which classification a tag is listed under, not whether the tag quota fills in the drawing or not. With this in mind, hunters need to pay close attention to which classification their tags are listed in each license year.

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.

Annual Fishing License Required to Keep Reptiles?

Chuckwalla lizards

Chuckwalla lizards (Photo by Raimond Spekking)

Question: I know a California fishing license allows a person to “take” a certain number of each reptile and amphibian species, which are defined in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. I also understand “take” is defined as “hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles …” or attempting to do so. If I legally take a chuckwalla with a fishing license this year, do I need to have a fishing license for each year after 2013 in order to continue to keep it? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. In order to legally take a non-restricted native reptile from the wild, you will need a valid 2013 Sport Fishing License. In the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations, go to page 20 for the list of reptiles and bag limits. As long as the chuckwalla is legally taken with a sport fishing license, you are not required to purchase additional licenses just to keep the reptile.

Regarding the possession of other native reptiles, there are some species that are listed as “Restricted Species”, which means they may not be taken or kept as pets. For the list of Restricted Species Laws and Regulations, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/ and go to the California Code of Regulations Title 14 link and search for Section 671(c)(11).


Definition of Multi-Day Fishing Trip?
Question: My friends and I are planning our annual, multi-day fishing trip off the coast this summer. I have a question related to the regulations that might apply to our trip, so we don’t run into a problem with a game warden.

Under Section 27.15 on page 28 of the 2013/14 Ocean Fishing Booklet, multi-day fishing trips are described as being “continuous and extend(ing) for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip, and no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore.” Our trip will be for four days, we’ll fish for 12 hours every day, and we will anchor the boat in a protected cove off shore. It is not clear though if we are required to be physically fishing or to actually remain aboard the vessel the whole time. It seems we would meet the definition of a multi-day trip; however, we may wish to camp and sleep ashore overnight. If we fish from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM on Day #1, then anchor the boat offshore, sleep on land, and resume our fishing from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM the next day, is this still considered “continuous?” Similarly, if we remain aboard, but stop fishing between 6:00 PM and 6:00 AM, is this still considered “continuous?” Could you please describe any definition provided in the regulations for “continuous” that could clarify this question? (Neil P.)

Answer: A Declaration for Multi-Day Fishing Trip requires that the trip is continuous and extends for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip. In addition, no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore (CCR Title 14, section 27.15).

The multi-day fishing permit is intended to allow persons fishing offshore, on a trip that lasts multiple days, to catch and keep up to three daily limits of finfish, lobster and rock scallops, and up to two limits of abalone. The situation you described could be viewed as a land-based camping trip, using a vessel to get to your destination and fish from.  The warden that observed your activities would have to use discretion to determine if your activities met the conditions of a multi-day fishing trip. While there is no definition of “continuous” provided, if you choose to camp or fish on the mainland coast, it would be a stretch to say that you were still on a fishing trip on your boat.


Selling elk antlers and sheds
Question: I know it’s not legal to sell deer antlers, but what about elk antlers, either sheds or those that include a skull plate? I read your column about selling any animal native to California and wonder if that includes elk antlers, which many use for decorative purposes, knives, etc, as there is a market for such items. (Scott W.)

Answer: It is unlawful to sell or purchase any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. Since elk are found in the wild in California, this applies to elk antlers. However, shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically-reared animals that have been manufactured into products or handcraft items, or that have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted, may be purchased or sold (see Fish and Game Code, section 3039).

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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.

Ground Squirrels for the BBQ?

Ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

California ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I heard there are some concerns with eating ground squirrels in general. Is there some truth to this? If so, why do I see recipes to cook and eat them? Are they like chicken and pork where if you ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly, you should be okay? I like to go squirrel hunting with my son, but since tree squirrels may not be hunted now, ground squirrels are our only option. Any guidance would be helpful! (Highhorse L.)

Answer: Tree squirrel season runs between September  and January. California ground squirrels are not a game animal though, so from a legal standpoint, they have no seasons, bag or possession limits. If taken in the condor zone, ground squirrels must be hunted with non-lead ammunition.

Before attempting to eat them though, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) veterinarians, there’s a lot we don’t know about diseases in ground squirrels. We do know they carry fleas and are highly susceptible to plague and probably die within a short period of time after exposure to the disease agent.

Also, anyone even thinking of eating ground squirrels should first make sure there is no chemical ground squirrel control going on in the area because ground squirrels are commonly controlled by anticoagulant rodenticides. If the ground squirrel consumes a non-lethal dose, the rodenticide would still persist in their tissues for a few weeks or months.

Be aware that both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/plague/and the California Department of PublGround_Squirrel_USFWSic Health site www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/Plague.aspx indicate the greatest risk of acquiring plague is being around infected rodents like ground squirrels due to their fleas. Humans usually get the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. During the Middle Ages, plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

Plague is endemic everywhere in California, except the southeastern desert and the Central Valley. It is not active everywhere in that range though, so before your hunt I suggest you contact the county public health department in the areas you will be hunting to find out the status and history of plague in those areas. Watch out for the state-protected Mohave ground squirrel found only in the Mojave Desert. They are not legal to take, so be sure you can tell them apart from the California ground squirrel.

If after reading all this you’re still determined to eat ground squirrels, like with all wildlife, make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Proper preparation and cooking is key to avoiding and minimizing exposure to disease. Bon appetit!


Can my kids spearfish for carp?
Question: I have a question concerning spear fishing for carp. When I was a kid, we used to go into the creeks and spear big carp. On the Russian River during the fall, I would see tens of thousands of huge carp congregating. Can I let my kids go into the water with a mask and fins and spear these 10-20+ pound carps? I would think that would be helpful for the river and we can pass the meat out to our multi-cultural friends. (Anonymous)

Answer: Spearfishing for carp is allowed only in the Colorado River District (all year) and in certain areas of the Valley District, Black Butte Lake and the Kern River (from May 1 to Sept. 15) (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Why no harvest odds this year?
Question: Why did the Big Game Digest omit the harvest odds for deer this year? Why do they not publish buck-to-doe ratios either? Other states share that information and it’s a lot more helpful than those colorful articles in this year’s booklet. I am afraid to spend my points blindly. (Todd S.)

Answer: The answer has more to do with timing than anything – harvest and ratio data were simply not available when the Big Game Digest was developed. We are still adapting the harvest analysis to the new Automated License Data System (ALDS). Harvest data first has to be entered into the database, and then the analysis takes place. The deer harvest data was posted on-line as soon as it was available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/deerhunt.html.


Fishing license when practicing fly fishing?
Question: Will we need a fishing license at Big Bear Lake if we are only fly rod casting in the water? We just want to learn how to cast a fly rod and will be using a fly without a hook on it. (Patrick G., Las Vegas, NV)

Answer: You do not need to have a license if the fly is not capable of hooking a fish.

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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.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.