Tag Archives: Duck Hunting

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.

#  #  #

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 No Season Limits on Number of Waterfowl?

Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Why is there no season limit on the number of geese or ducks a hunter can legally take and possess? I hunted ducks with my uncle last year who is retired. He had bought into a private hunting blind and has access from his home to three nearby state or national refuges. Last year his season take on ducks was in excess of 190, and for geese it was 54. He hunted on refuges nine times in addition to his private hunting blind. On refuges, he stood in the “sweat line” to be admitted later in the day. It seems to me that hunters who can afford the $2000 price tag to hunt private property and who live close enough to the refuges to register in the “sweat lines” are taking an inordinate number of ducks and geese. I’m sure any consideration to impose a take limit would have a severe effect on farmers leasing out their properties, but the opportunities to hunt ducks and geese are being limited to the fortunate few who have the big money to pay for hunting access.

Also, why not impose a limit on the number of times a hunter can gain access on a seasonal basis to all refuges? I submitted 38 lottery reservation cards last year but was not picked once. I would have tried the sweat lines, but to drive 228 miles to take a chance on being admitted, in front of locals who live nearby, are greater odds than being picked in the lottery. (Joe A.)

Answer: Waterfowl are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which is administered by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) waterfowl biologist Shaun Oldenburger, restrictions on waterfowl hunting regulations (also called federal frameworks) are established by the FWS. Laws have been established for the possession of migratory birds during the hunting season. Although there are no season-long limits, there are possession limits. For both ducks and geese, the legal possession limit for an individual is twice the daily bag limit. For example, in California’s Balance of the State Zone, a daily bag limit consists of seven ducks and eight geese, and a maximum of 14 ducks and 16 geese (twice the daily bag limits) are allowed in possession at one time.

Regulations allow for the gifting of birds to other individuals. However, at no time during the hunting season may any individual possess more than the maximum number of birds (as mentioned in the example). In itself, this regulation limits the number of birds a person can legally harvest during the waterfowl hunting season.

The odds of drawing a reservation for any of the Type A wildlife areas are highly variable throughout the state depending on demand, location, timing of season, the particular hunt day (e.g. Saturday vs. Wednesday), and other factors. While reservations are the best way to ensure access for the morning hunt, it is not the only means to get access to waterfowl hunting areas. Many wildlife areas throughout the state do not completely fill (unless it’s opening weekend or when storm fronts are moving in), so depending on the area, walk-ons may be available. While reservations are highly sought after, if a hunter is willing to modify his or her approach and try some afternoons, some great opportunities may be available on our public areas if you can’t get a reservation.

For more information regarding waterfowl hunting opportunities on public hunting lands, please contact a DFG regional office (www.dfg.ca.gov/regions/), State Wildlife Area (www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/index.html) or National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/refuges/).


Number of crab traps allowed?
Question: What is the limit on numbers of crab traps/rings that can be used by one person on a pier or dock? (Scott T.)

Answer: On public piers, no person shall use more than two rods and lines, two hand lines or two nets, traps or other appliances used to take crabs (CCR Title 14, section 28.65(b).


Rules on shed antler collection?
Question: What are the rules on shed antler collection in wildlife areas, refuges, parks, BLM and Forest Service properties? What are DFG’s policies on these different properties? (Kevin T., Shasta)

Answer: Generally, the Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations do not prohibit the collection of shed antlers. However, there are restrictions as to where you can collect them. While it’s ok to collect them on private property or BLM and Forest Service lands, in many cases it is against the law or the rules to collect them from other public lands, such as wildlife areas, wildlife refuges, state and national parks, etc. Most of these areas do not allow any collecting of anything by the public without scientific collection permits.

#  #  #

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.

Hunting from a Boat along the San Joaquin Delta

Pintail (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: I was recently told that I can hunt anywhere along the San Joaquin Delta for waterfowl as long as the boat is not moving and I don’t use a motor to retrieve the ducks and geese. I am wondering if this is true or are there only specific areas where waterfowl hunting is allowed? (Ryan S.)

Answer: Many areas of the San Joaquin Delta are open to waterfowl hunting from a boat, but general laws do apply so you could not hunt or shoot a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, cannot hunt on private property or within prohibited areas such as municipalities. It is important to research your specific hunting area and know legal access points. No person shall pursue, drive, herd or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat or snowmobile (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251). Exceptions are also listed, including 1) When the motor of such motorboat, airboat, or sailboat has been shut off and/or the sails furled and its progress therefrom has ceased, and it is drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by paddle, oar or pole. Although you cannot shoot a bird while your boat is under power, you can use your motor to retrieve dead waterfowl.


New Lobster Report Card For Every Trip?
Question: I have a question regarding lobster report cards. I was wondering if I have to buy a new one every time I go out. The lady at the sporting goods store said I had to. This doesn’t seem right because the limit is seven lobsters and there are about 100 spaces to fill out. Please let me know as I don’t want to keep buying these every time if I don’t really have to. (Ryan T.)

Answer: No, you do not need to buy a new report card each time you go on a lobster trip. Here are some basic tips for filling out your card properly:

Prior to beginning lobster fishing activity, you must record the month, day, location and gear code on the first available line on the report card. When you move to another location, switch gear or finish fishing for the day, you must immediately record on the card the number of lobster kept for that location using a particular gear type. New lines must be used when changing locations, days or gear types.

Enter only one gear type per line. Even if multiple gear types are deployed simultaneously, each gear type must be entered on its own line with the catch correctly split between the gear types. Only a handful of cards are returned to DFG each year with every single line filled in – using new lines for each instance of changing gear, location, etc. will NOT cause you to have to buy a new card!

Make sure to write the correct information in each field (for example, don’t enter the location code where the number of lobster is supposed to be). Use the location code number – do not write in the name of the location.

Fill in all of the fields. For example, if two locations are fished on the same day, fill in the date for both locations. If no lobsters are taken, fill in “0”.
An additional lobster report card may be purchased in the event an individual fills in all lines and returns the card.

All lobster report cards need to be returned, even if no lobster were taken. In the event a card was bought but not used, you should write, “did not lobster fish” across the card, and turn it in.

DFG will accept late cards but the data is important for monitoring the fishery, so returning it by the deadline helps greatly.

One last thing, don’t forget to use indelible ink.


Carrying a sidearm while upland and small game hunting?
Question: I am a person who does everything by the book and I have a question regarding sidearms while hunting. Is it legal to carry a sidearm for protection while upland game bird and/or small game hunting or is it considered a method of take and illegal? If it is legal, does the lead-free ammunition restriction apply when in the condor range? (Bao N.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to carry a sidearm for protection while upland game bird and/or small game hunting as long as you don’t use it to take the game. If hunting in condor country, the ammunition for your sidearm must be lead-free.

#  #  #

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.