Tag Archives: firearms

Wild Pig Keeps Wrecking Our Landscaping

Wild pigs can cause significant damage to residential lawns and landscaping with their aggressive rooting behavior while in their quest for grubs, subterranean insects and their larvae, as well as the succulent roots of the grass they are uprooting (Creative Commons photo)

Wild pigs can cause significant damage to residential lawns and landscaping with their aggressive rooting behavior while in their quest for grubs, subterranean insects and their larvae, as well as the succulent roots of the grass they are uprooting (Creative Commons photo)

Question: We live in a residential subdivision in Gualala in Sonoma County and there is a wild male pig rooting around the homes. This pig is making himself at home and rooting up the unfenced ground around our home. Most everyone who lives around here has had this guy at their home. This is a 2- to 5-acre residential zoning so we cannot shoot him, not that we want to. He follows the same evening route just before sunset. I have no objection to Fish and Wildlife setting a trap box here. We don’t venture around our place after sunset. This pig has been sighted in the past two weeks by about six people. We have weekly garbage service which no doubt is an attraction and our homeowners association has notified its membership. What can be done to stop this marauding pig that’s wrecking all of our landscaping? (Jeff W., Gualala)

Answer: First of all I suggest you make sure no garbage or artificial food attractants are being left out to draw the animal into your neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors about this and make sure your homeowners association spreads the word, too.

Homeowners associations differ from place to place, but most are within a designated city limit and most cities impose firearm discharge restrictions for the general populous. Thus, this would make shooting the pig unlawful in most situations. As such, hunting and immediate take are not options. Landowners or your housing association can apply to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) for a depredation permit and then contact a local pig removal company or a federal trapper through USDA Wildlife Services (who operate in select California Counties) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/ to trap and remove the pig.


How many rounds of ammo are allowed for an AR-type gun?
Question: When reading CDFW regulations, I find a shotgun is limited to three rounds of ammo, but I cannot find anywhere how many rounds of ammo a rifle or AR is limited to. I’d like to know as I want no trouble when I go squirrel hunting with my AR-type gun. (Robert K.)

Answer: There are no restrictions in the Fish and Game Code on the number of rounds a rifle can hold while hunting. Rifles sold in California for the past several years are restricted to a 10-round capacity. This is due to other firearms laws in the Penal Code.


Range finding scopes on compound and crossbows?
Question: There are scopes with range-finding capabilities for compound and crossbows available on the market. Is it legal to have one of these scopes mounted on a bow or crossbow in areas where I am legally allowed to hunt in California? (Tim)

Answer: Scopes with laser rangefinders are not prohibited. Just be sure the device does not project any visible light or electronically intensify light for the purpose of either visibly enhancing an animal or providing a visible point of aim on an animal (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353(i)). These devices may be used only for the take of nongame and furbearing mammals as provided in the Mammal Hunting Regulations (CCR Title 14, section 264.5).


How to become a licensed federal trapper?
Question: I have a friend who lost some livestock to either coyotes or a mountain lion. He wants to protect the rest of his animals and was advised to contact the local government trapper. How can a person become a licensed trapper authorized to track down and remove these problem predatory animals? (Anonymous)

Answer: Contact the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS). The mission of this agency is to provide federal leadership and expertise to resolve wildlife conflicts to allow people and wildlife to coexist. For more information, please go to http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/.


Can wildlife officers check my fishing license by my CDL?
Question: While buying my license recently, I was told by the vendor that we no longer need to carry our fishing licenses with us. He said wildlife officers can now scan people’s California driver licenses (CDL) to verify the purchase. Is this true? (Rick B.)

Answer: No, you are still required to have your actual sport fishing license in possession while fishing (CCR Title 14, section 700) and to present your actual license upon request to any wildlife officer who asks (FGC, section 2012). CDFW wildlife officers do not carry CDL scanners.

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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.

Best Practices for Disposing of Fish Remains

Only certain ocean fish are allowed to be filleted at sea. Check section 27.65 (c) in the Ocean Fishing Regulations booklet

While returning fish carcasses after filleting back into the waters where taken can be appropriate for recycling nutrients, you should first check to be sure there are no regulations prohibiting the practice at your location. Doing so from a party boat at sea, like this one, is perfectly legal to do. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is it a good practice to dispose of fish or crab carcasses/guts back into the waters they came from? It would seem that returning the fish remains would be a better ecological practice than sending it to the landfill. What is the best sustainable practice? (Ben M.)

Answer: Returning fish carcasses after filleting back into the waters where taken is sometimes, but not always, appropriate for recycling nutrients. Open ocean environments are more appropriate for this practice but be advised of fillet restrictions. And while it differs from port to port, many harbor masters will not allow carcasses to be dumped inside of harbors because too many decomposing fish carcasses may deplete the oxygen supply in the water. This has been a severe issue in many areas in recent years when concentrated fish oil from too many carcasses in bays or harbors caused seabirds to get sick and die. This occurred when excessive amounts of fish oil contaminated their feathers and they become flightless.

Returning fish carcasses back into freshwater environments may or may not be appropriate, and sometimes it’s outright prohibited. Be aware of the rules in the areas where you plan to do this. In shallow waters and along shorelines, especially in high elevation mountain lakes, there may be local or municipal regulations prohibiting this practice.

Public parks and lakes may also have no-dumping policies within a certain distance from shore due to health concerns and the smell and image of discarded fish carcasses in waters where people are swimming and recreating.

Bottom line … while returning fish carcasses after filleting back into the waters where taken can be appropriate for recycling nutrients, you should first check to be sure there are no state, city or municipal regulations prohibiting the practice at your location.


Is a junior hunter allowed to hunt wildlife refuges by themselves?
Question: I purchased a hunting license at 17 years old and it’s a junior hunting license. Now that I am 18 years old (and still have a junior hunting license) can I hunt wildlife refuges by myself or do I need to be accompanied by a person with an adult hunting license. (Andrew C.)

Answer: Yes. Now that you are 18, you may hunt wildlife refuges independently even though you have a junior hunting license.


Spearfishing in San Francisco Bay?
Question: Is spearfishing for halibut and striped bass allowed in San Francisco Bay? I believe the law changed when it became legal several years ago to spear striped bass. I know that people now spearfish for stripers lawfully in the Sacramento River. Can they do so in the bay as well? And what about for halibut? (Alistair B.)

Answer: Yes, spearfishing is now allowed for striped bass and continues to be allowed for halibut. You may not possess a spear within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.90(a)), and there may be local laws due to safety considerations that do not allow SCUBA diving in parts of the San Francisco Bay.


How many rounds are allowed in a hunting firearm?
Question: How many rounds are legal in a hunting firearm while hunting? I think it’s 10 but somebody else says it is five. Can you please shine some light on the subject for us? (Juan M., California hunter)

Answer: Most rifles hold three to five rounds, but the Penal Code allows for up to 10 rounds. There are no Fish and Game Code sections that restrict the number of rounds a rifle may hold. It would be unlawful to purchase or use a rifle purchased after the enactment of the 10-round restriction found in the Penal Code. There are ammunition restrictions depending upon where you are in the state and what species you are hunting. It is unlawful to use or possess a shotgun capable of holding more than six cartridges at one time to take any mammal or bird (Fish and Game Code, section 2010). Shotguns capable of holding more than three rounds when taking game birds and game mammals is prohibited (CCR Title 14, sections 311, 353 and 507). Beginning in 2019, all ammunition used while hunting must be certified as nonlead ammunition.

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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 Many Feet in the Water to Enter a Legal Hunt Zone?

California mule deer (photo by Carrie Wilson)

California mule deer (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: While hunting during archery season in August, I ran into a situation that I could use your guidance on. While at my campsite, a hunting partner of mine observed a buck feeding near the creek that we were camped near. I was hunting in D7. Unfortunately for me, the buck was on the north side of Deer Creek, and therefore in X9A. I quickly got my bow while my hunting partner sat quietly at camp and watched. I quietly moved into position and waited for the deer to cross the creek. He never did, so therefore I had to let him go, of course.

When a zone’s boundary is defined by a creek, river or other body of water, when is the animal considered to be within your zone and therefore legal to take? Can you take him when he’s drinking and touching the water? Does he need to have two or four feet in the creek? Does he need to completely cross and be across the creek and completely in your zone? Or does he need to be clear of the creek bed all together? What is the law? (Kevin K.)

Answer: The deer would have had to be at least halfway across the creek to be into the correct zone. Keep in mind that animals shot with bow and arrow or a rifle can travel a substantial distance, so it is wise not to hunt right on the border of a zone. A non-lethal shot could easily take you immediately into the closed zone where your tag is not valid.


Ocean sunfish – you can take them, but what then?
Question: I saw some ocean sunfish laying around on the surface in waters off Sonoma County. Are they legal to take? Is there a website or a listing of which fish are illegal to catch? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, ocean sunfish (Mola mola) may be taken by licensed recreational fishermen. While some ocean species have fishing regulations that pertain only to them (e.g. rockfish and salmon), other species do not. Species for which there are no specific regulations, such as ocean sunfish, are covered under section 27.60 on page 34 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. The daily bag limit for species covered under section 27.60(a) is: 10 fish of any one species, with a total daily bag limit of 20 fish. This means you can take up to 10 ocean sunfish plus 10 other fish per day, for a total of 20 fish. Fish that fall under this section do not have seasons (open year-round) or size limits.

Please be aware that ocean sunfish are not a species targeted by most recreational fishermen. This species is generally not considered to be good eating. Keep in mind that it’s a violation to waste a fish after you have taken it (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.87), so you might want to research that a little more before finding yourself in possession of a large fish you don’t care to eat.


Carrying shotguns for ducks and doves at the same time
Question: You recently answered a question about having two shotguns in a duck blind. That made me wonder whether the two shotguns can be loaded with different ammo. For example, if it’s dove season, can I have a 12 gauge shotgun for ducks and keep a 20 gauge loaded with lead shot for doves? (Allen S.)

Answer: Yes, you can carry more than one gun, but while waterfowl hunting, you are required to possess only non-toxic shot regardless of the shot size. Both shotguns must be loaded with non-toxic shot.

In addition to non-toxic shot requirements for waterfowl hunting, nonlead ammunition is now required when hunting on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves regardless of the species pursued. And when hunting during waterfowl season, hunters may only have 25 shells in the field, regardless of the difference of shot size. This means hunters on state wildlife areas are limited to non-lead and only 25 shells total for doves and ducks, combined.

For more information on the phase-out of lead ammunition for hunting in California, please visit http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/nonlead-ammunition.


Corn for carp bait?
Question: Can you point me in the right direction to see the regulation regarding the use of whole corn kernels as bait, specifically for carp, but in general as well? Numerous people have told me corn is illegal to use in California, but I’ve looked through the regulations book at least four times and can’t find anything saying it’s illegal. (Tony)

Answer: The general bait regulation for inland waters says that treated and processed foods may be used as bait, and there is no prohibition on the use of corn kernels (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). This question comes up quite a bit because some states do not allow corn to be used as bait, but California does.

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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.

Drifting for Ducks

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

(Photo courtesy of David A. Jones, Ducks Unlimited)

Question: Is it legal to drift down or anchor a boat in a river to hunt for waterfowl? The river is in the “Balance of the State” zone and is surrounded by unincorporated privately owned farmland, with the occasional house or barn visible from the water. I know you cannot discharge a firearm within 150 yards of a dwelling or near a public road, and I know that all motors must be out of the water. Would drifting be considered forward motion? (Anonymous)

Answer: Drifting is not considered “under power.” What you describe would be legal as long as you access the river from a legal access point, and once you’re hunting, your motion is not due to momentum provided by the motor before it was turned off. You must also take into account the retrieval of the birds you take. Should you take a bird that lands on private property that you do not have the authority to access, you run the risk of a hunting trespass for retrieval, or waste of game if you do not retrieve it. Also, you need to remember not to discharge a firearm within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling, and these may be difficult to see from the river. Finally, there may be other state or local ordinances and regulations (such as no shooting zones) or other restrictions that may prevent you from hunting the section of water you want to hunt.


Importing insects?
Question: I would like to start up a business importing exotic dead insects into California to preserve and sell as curiosities. I realize that if they were alive, that’d be easy (No Bueno!), but what about dead ones? I propose to import them dead but not preserved, and then preserve them myself. Would it make a difference if I imported them already preserved? Aside from this sounding like the intro to a bad ‘50s giant bug movie, is what I am proposing to do legal? (Brent G.)

Answer: State fish and wildlife laws don’t prohibit importation or sale of insects, but there are other laws that you may need to be aware of. You should contact the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Some creatures, although dead, may still contain live eggs within. And if any of the species you propose to import are restricted species, border inspectors will not likely differentiate between whether they are dead or alive.


Compound bow fishing for sharks?
Question: Is it legal to bow hunt sharks? Someone told me a man in California took a 550 pound mako shark with a compound bow. (Robert S.)

Answer: Spears, harpoons and bow and arrow fishing tackle may be used for taking all varieties of skates, rays and sharks, except white sharks. Such gear may not be possessed or used within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County, nor aboard any vessel on any day or on any trip when broadbill swordfish or marlin have been taken. Bow and arrow fishing tackle may also be used to take finfish other than giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, broadbill swordfish and white shark (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 28.95).

Regarding crossbows, under hunting regulations, a crossbow is not considered archery equipment. But under fishing regulations, crossbows may be used for bow and arrow fishing tackle. It does not matter what type of bow or crossbow is used under legal bow and arrow fishing, but a line is required to be attached to the bow and the arrow/bolt (CCR, Title 14, section 1.23).


Carrying rifles through a game refuge?
Question: How do I legally travel through a wildlife game refuge on the way to hunting on the other side of the refuge? With bolt action rifles, we take the bolt out so that it’s not a functioning gun anymore. What about with a lever action gun? How can we legally cross through the game refuge? (Erin)

Answer: The possession of firearms is not prohibited “when traveling through any game refuges when the firearms are taken apart or encased and unloaded. When the traveling is done on a route other than a public highway or other public thoroughfare or right of way, notice shall be given to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) at least 24 hours before that traveling. The notice shall give the name and address of the person intending to travel through the refuge, the name of the refuge, the approximate route, and the approximate time when that person intends to travel through the refuge” (Fish and Game Code, section 10506).

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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.

Fishing Ocean Pinnacles?

(NOAA photo)

Offshore pinnacle (NOAA photo)

Question: I have a question regarding fishing offshore banks and pinnacles for rockfish. The regulations state fishing in the Southern Management Area is allowed on the shoreward side of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour. Does this mean any water shallower than the specified depth contour? For example, there are offshore banks where the pinnacle of the bank is in water less than 360 ft. deep, but there is technically no “shoreward side” of this depth contour. Is fishing for groundfish on offshore banks allowed as long as the depth restrictions are met? (Logan M.)

Answer: No. You can only fish shoreward of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour line, even if there are banks or pinnacles beyond that are shallower than the depth limit on the ocean side of the depth contour line. You are required to stay on the shoreward side of depth limit lines when fishing for groundfish.

Depth constraints are defined one of two ways. During the open season, groundfish species may only be taken or possessed in water depths shallower than the specified depth (per California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)):

In waters shallower than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by general depth contour lines. In waters equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by approximating a particular depth contour by connecting the appropriate set of waypoints adopted in federal regulations (50 Code of Federal Regulations Part 660, Subpart C).

When fishing in waters shoreward of lines approximating the 60-fathom depth contour, since the depth is equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, the waypoints provided in federal regulations will need to be used to determine the depth contour line (CCR Title 14, section 27.45(b).


Land ownership tags?
Question: After 15 years of active military service my family and I are moving to Lassen County. How many acres of land do I need to own in order to apply for land ownership deer tags? (Shawn M.)

Answer: Cooperative Deer Hunting Area landowner tags are available for owners of land encompassing not less than a total of 5,000 acres, of which each individual landowner within that 5,000 acres must own a minimum of 640 acres to qualify. These are areas of private land located within critical deer habitat as determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in deer quota zones that require public drawings (CCR Title 14, section 360).

Cooperative Deer Hunting Areas are designed to encourage the protection and enhancement of critical deer habitat, to provide added protection to landowners from depredations of trespassers and to provide greater access for the public to hunt on privately owned or controlled lands. CDFW may establish cooperative hunting areas and issue permits for the take of deer as specified subject to the conditions listed above (CCR Title 14, section 554).

Another option is the Private Lands Management (PLM) program where tags are issued to landholders. Under this program, CDFW offers landowners incentives to manage their lands for the benefit of wildlife. Landowners who enroll in this “ranching for wildlife” program consult with wildlife biologists to make biologically sound habitat improvements that benefit wildlife (by providing water sources, planting native plants for food, making brush piles for cover, etc). This partnership between wildlife managers and private landowners helps conserve and maintain wildlife habitat in our state.

For application forms and to learn more about these programs, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer and http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/plm.


Freshwater boat limits?
Question: If two of us are fishing for black bass from my boat in the Delta, do I have to stop fishing for black bass if I have reached my limit even though my partner has not? I couldn’t find anything about boat limits in the freshwater fishing regulations booklet. (Kin N.)

Answer: At this point, you must stop fishing for black bass but you can change your gear to target other species. Boat limits apply only in the ocean waters, not in the Delta or freshwater systems. Ocean waters are defined as the ocean and San Francisco and San Pablo bays, plus all their tidal bays, tidal portions of their rivers and streams, sloughs and estuaries between the Golden Gate Bridge and Carquinez Bridge (Fish and Game Code, section 195(e) and CCR Title 14, section 27.00).


Shotgun capacity for coyotes
Question: What is the shotgun magazine capacity while hunting coyotes? (Matt A.)

Answer: Only shotguns capable of holding no more than six rounds may be possessed or used for the take of any mammal or bird (FGC, section 2010). Therefore, the maximum shotgun magazine capacity for hunting nongame species, such as coyote, is six. When hunting game species, the limit is three rounds. Remember that in the Condor Zone and on state wildlife areas, the ammunition in the shotgun must be certified as nonlead.

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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.

Shotgun for Protection When Fishing?

(USFWS photo)

(USFWS photo)

Question: I would like to know if I can carry my 12-gauge shotgun for protection when I’m fishing from the shore. I have a fishing license and the chamber would be empty. Would it be legal? (Aaron A.)

Answer: In many locations along California’s coastline it would be unlawful to have a firearm with you. There are rules specific to state and national parks, wildlife refuges (Fish and Game Code, section 10500(b)) and marine sanctuaries, as well as local and county laws that would make it unlawful to carry a firearm while fishing along the coastline. In order to answer your question, we would need to know where you intend to carry the shotgun. In addition to the locations above, it is unlawful to carry a loaded gun in a public place in an incorporated city (Penal Code, section 25850), e.g. the entire shoreline of San Francisco. Simply having the live ammunition attached to the firearm in any manner constitutes “loaded” for purposes of this section.


Photography in marine protected areas
Question: It is my understanding that on land, CDFW takes care of things in Marine Protected Areas, and in the water, it is the responsibility of NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries. Can one take pictures within the marine protected areas on land or sea and sell them for commercial purposes or does one need a permit? (Lisa W.)

Answer: MPAs are managed by several different agencies, so the answer will vary depending upon the MPA. If the MPA is part of the state park system, you may be required to obtain a permit for commercial photography from the California Film Commission (CCR Title 14, section 4316.) If the MPA is part of a county park, a permit may be required depending on the county. For example, San Mateo and San Francisco counties both require permits for commercial photography in their county parks.


One pig tag for each feral pig taken?
Question: Am I correct in assuming that, similar to deer tags, one must have one pig tag for each feral pig taken, or does the purchase of one pig tag legally allow for taking multiple feral pigs? I saw your comment on a recent feral pig question where you said there is no daily bag limit on feral pigs, but I am assuming that this would mean one would still have to have multiple tags for multiple feral pigs taken over a given time frame. (W.B.)

Answer: Yes, you are correct. Although there is no daily limit for wild pigs, you must possess a tag prior to pig hunting for each pig you intend to take.


Pistachio farmers shooting ravens on my property?
Question: I live about 50 acres away from a pistachio orchard. The owners of that orchard drive around and shoot at the ravens out of their truck. They park in front of my property and shoot at the ravens. I called the sheriff and he said to call Fish and Wildlife since the farmers have a depredation permit and so it’s out of their hands. The farmers also told the sheriff that they are shooting blanks. Since this has started happening, I have found three dead ravens on my property. One was right next to my horses’ watering trough and the other two were out our back door near our barbecue grill.

The orchard owners can see when we are home or away by our vehicles. We live on 10 acres and our house is in the middle of the property. I feel unsafe and creeped out. I came home today to find the third dead raven. Are they allowed to do this? How can I keep them away from my property? Do I have any rights or does their permit supersede my rights? I’ve been taking pictures of the dead ravens. One is even in my freezer. What is my next step? Is there a season they kill the ravens or do they have free rein to do what they want? I have a child and animals and I’m afraid for their safety. (Cindy P.)

Answer: The first place to start is to contact your local wildlife officer to report this. If you don’t have their direct number, contact your local CDFW office. A list can be found on our website at http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions. The wildlife officers should be able to look up the conditions of the owners’ permits and make sure they are acting within the parameters allowed by the permit. At a minimum, it is illegal to shoot within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the occupant. There is no open hunting season for ravens.

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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.

Rainbow Trout in Anadromous Waters

Rainbow Trout (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Rainbow Trout (CDFW photo by Harry Morse)

Question: I have taken up fly fishing again after a long while away. This past weekend I went fishing on the Russian River and caught two rainbows/steelhead (one a hatchery fish and the other a wild fish) and both were about 10 inches long. I am wondering if I have to report fish of that size on my Steelhead Report Card in the future. I recorded them this time out of an abundance of caution, but I don’t want to over-inflate the run estimates needlessly. (Kyle K., Healdsburg)

Answer: It can be a bit confusing because steelhead trout and rainbow trout are the same fish. Its scientific name is Oncorhynchus mykiss (O. mykiss). Generally speaking, rainbow trout are O. mykiss found in land-locked freshwater with no access to the ocean, while steelhead trout are O. mykiss fish found in anadromous waters, which are waters with unimpeded access to the ocean where they live the majority of their life before returning to freshwater to spawn.

For practical purposes and to facilitate compliance, fishing regulations differentiate between rainbow and steelhead in anadromous waters by a 16-inch size threshold. O. mykiss smaller than 16-inches are treated as rainbow trout, and those bigger than 16-inches are treated as steelhead. Fishing for steelhead, meaning any O. mykiss in excess of 16-inches, in anadromous waters will require the purchase of a Steelhead Report Card, even if you practice catch-and-release (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.88).

The report card provides important data to fishery scientists and requires an entry for each day that you fish and statistics on all fish caught and released. Fishing for O. mykiss less than 16-inches does not require a steelhead report card.


Can other law enforcement agencies enforce CDFW regulations?
Question: I am a current sworn recruit in a Southern California Sheriff’s Department Academy. I will be working in a county with a heavy hunting and fishing population and an abundance of wildlife areas. I am just curious, and have been earnestly trying to find the answer on my own accord without luck, about a specific phrase in Fish and Game Code, section 2012. It states:

§ 2012. 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 shall be exhibited upon demand to any person authorized by the department to enforce this code or any law relating to the protection and conservation of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians.

My question is: who are the persons authorized by the department to enforce this code or any law relating to the protection and conservation of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians? Are local police and county sheriffs authorized by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to enforce the Fish and Game Code? If it does exist, is there any statute that expresses that authority? (Calen A., M.A.)

Answer: Only CDFW wildlife officers are authorized to enforce the “exhibit upon demand” authority of Fish and Game Code, section 2012. Police officers and county sheriffs are authorized to enforce most hunting and fishing laws but are not authorized to enforce Fish and Game Code Section 2012.

Aside from CDFW wildlife officers, only Rangers and Lifeguards of the Department of Parks and Recreation are authorized to use that law, and then only while on duty in a state park, state beach, state recreation area, state underwater park, state reserve, or other similar facility. Although other law enforcement officers can’t make a formal demand under section 2012 to see someone’s licenses, fish, game, or equipment, they can still enforce fish and game laws and inspect these items if they are in plain view or with the person’s consent.


Discharging a firearm along public roadway
Question: As a firearms instructor and hunting enthusiast, I am continually asked the question, “When hunting and on foot (outside of a vehicle), can you discharge a firearm or other weapon (e.g. compound bow) from or along a public roadway?” Is there a minimum distance from a public roadway? For example, an inhabited structure or barn at 150 yards away? (Don S., Fresno)

Answer: It unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Discharging a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is also prohibited (Penal Code, section 374c). In addition, it is a felony to willfully discharge a firearm in a grossly negligent manner that could injure another person (Penal Code, section 246.3). Many cities and counties have also adopted ordinances further restricting where firearms may be fired, so hunters should consult their local law enforcement agency for specific information about the area where they wish to shoot.


Halibut fishing in SF Bay
Question: If I’m trolling for halibut in the San Francisco Bay, can I use another line that has only dodgers and flashers on it without any hooks to attract the fish closer to my boat? I will only have one pole or line with a hook on it. (J.V., Rodeo)

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.