Tag Archives: hunting

Bad Behavior on a Waterfowl Wildlife Area

Waterfowl at Gray Lodge Wildlife Area (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Waterfowl at a California Wildlife Area (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I have a question about waterfowl hunter rules/responsibilities on wildlife areas (WLA). We hunters are fortunate to be able to access and utilize these refuges and I have always been under the impression that accurate reporting of waterfowl taken following a hunt is an important rule of the refuges. In fact, I have heard that having accurate bird counts from hunters noting which areas or blinds they hunted helps the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to make good decisions about where to invest time and monies for habitat improvement in the upcoming years.

There is at least one wildlife refuge that I know of where a small number of hunters give the rest of us a black eye. At this refuge, a number of “regulars” refuse to turn in accurate counts of birds taken so as not to reveal their “honey spots” to other hunters. This same group has also been guilty of defacing and vandalizing property on the WLA, making it difficult, if not impossible to share info about the wildlife area with other hunters. Due to the bad behavior of this group of hunters, the wildlife area staff are no longer willing to post the hunt results for each blind as has been done in the past. This type of behavior (not following hunter rules for reporting) makes the rest of us law abiding, rule-following hunters look bad. We just hope to get a chance to come out to these fine refuges at least a few times a season with a reservation draw number, look at the counts and take our chances.

I have been waterfowl hunting in California for over 35 years, and I know that this has been a problem at this WLA over the years due to disgruntled regulars yanking out pages from the book of hunt results that used to be available. Is the rule of reporting accurate bird results something that is enforceable, or is this rule something that is okay to ignore, as has been done at this WLA? (Robert S., Castaic)

Answer: It sounds as though you are referring to one of our Type A Waterfowl Hunt Areas where an entry permit and fee are required. In this case, yes, all visitors must return permit cards and present (record) any fish or game taken to staff at the check station, or upon request of any department employee (not just wildlife officers) (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550(c)(2)(B)). Where CDFW may be operating a self-checkout, the expectation is that hunters do the appropriate and ethical thing, which is to accurately report their harvest.

According to CDFW Wildlife Officer Rick Fischer, it is not uncommon for officers to inspect hunter’s items for waterfowl before they arrive at the check station to make sure they report all waterfowl. While most check stations have the ability to put harvest records behind a window to prevent removal, some may not have that ability and leave results in a binder or on a notice board which may be subject to vandalism.

If a particular area is having a problem with vandalism and/or non-reporting of game taken, please report this to CDFW as soon as possible so that we can take appropriate enforcement action. Please call the 24-hour CalTIP hotline (888-334-2258) to report suspicious behavior and remember to gather essential information such as vehicle license plates, descriptions of suspects, date, time and type of game harvested. You may also send an anonymous tip to 847411 (tip411). In the message, just text CALTIP followed by a space and then the information. You can even send photos. Remember, you can remain anonymous and may receive an award.


What’s the limit on mudsuckers?
Question: I like to catch mudsuckers for eating but can’t figure out if they have a limit. I’ve been told there is a bag limit but the book does not state anything. (Truong A.)

Answer: While some species have fishing regulations that pertain only to them (rockfish, salmon, etc.), there are other species that do not. Species for which there are no specific regulations, such as longjaw mudsuckers, are covered under section 27.60 on page 34 in the current Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. The daily bag limit for species covered by subsection 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 longjaw mudsuckers, plus 10 other fish per day, for a total of 20 fish.

Fish that fall under section 27.60 have no closed fishing seasons (open year-round) or size limits. Regulations pertaining to longjaw mudsuckers can be found in a table at the back of the regulations booklet (see pg. 100). http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/ocean/regulations/sport-fishing.

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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.

Do Lost Crippled Birds Count Toward Bag Limit?

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird and count it to their bag whether they find it or not. (USFWS photo)

Question: I was informed that a downed crippled bird that was not recovered, even though a true effort was made to find the downed bird, still counts toward your bag limit. Where is this stated in the regulations? (Aaron W.)

Answer: It is not in regulation. It is an ethical hunter issue. Ethical hunters will make every attempt to find a downed bird. Even if that bird is never located but the hunter knows it was hit, the ethical hunter will still count it towards their bag limit. Ethical hunters do what is right even when they think no one’s looking.


Fishing and retrieving lobster hoop nets
Question: I understand that each person that drops a hoop net must be the same person that retrieves it. How do you monitor this? If we have four people in the boat and 10 nets, are we supposed to somehow mark each net to distinguish whose is whose? (Bill J.)

Answer: The law states that the owner of the hoop net or the person who placed the hoop net into the water shall raise the hoop net to the surface and inspect the contents of the hoop net at intervals not to exceed two hours.

The intent of this law is to require a minimum checking interval of every two hours at least by whoever placed the net in the water and not to cite somebody for pulling up their buddy’s net. Wildlife officers understand if you are working together as a team, but any net placed into the water is your responsibility to raise and inspect every two hours. Depending on someone else to do that for you may result in you receiving a citation if they fail to comply with this requirement.


Yo-yo fishing
Question: I know jug fishing, yo-yo fishing and the use of trotlines with 20+ hooks per line are the norm in the South. I am interested in yo-yo fishing in California for catfish and possibly trying a two-jug trotline with 10 to 12 hooks on the line to catch catfish. My question is: In California, are private (non-commercial) fishermen limited to fish with just one line with three hooks max? In reading the regs, it seems that an extra pole endorsement is just that, for an extra pole, not an extra line. (Mark H., San Bruno)

In regard to yo-yo fishing and trotline fishing, here is an article from 2007 Outdoor Life: http://www.outdoorlife.com/articles/fishing/2007/09/tackle-free-fishing

Answer: You must closely attend your lines at all times and you are limited to two lines with a maximum of three hooks on each line with a two-pole stamp. Otherwise, you must use a single line with three hooks maximum when fishing bait, or three lures per line which could each have three hooks. It is illegal to allow lines to simply fish themselves while attached to a float. For a similar previous question and answer, please go to: http://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com/2008/11/.


Hunting around Lake Shasta
Question: I have a few questions about hunting in northern California by Lake Shasta. I want to go there to hunt for pig and turkey at the same time when the season reopens. Am I allowed to carry ammo for pig and turkey on me at the same time as long as it is all lead-free? Also, I heard something about a limit on how much ammo may be carried on you at one time? I’m not looking to carry hundreds of rounds but did want to have a spare box plus my clips on me. (Kevin F.)

Answer: Yes, it would be legal to hunt pigs and turkeys simultaneously as long as any shotgun shells for pigs are slugs and not shot. A hunter who possesses shot size larger than No. 2 could be cited while turkey hunting, but the regulation limiting shot size that may be possessed when taking turkey does not address slugs.

Methods authorized for taking big game (wild pig) include shotgun slugs, rifle bullets, pistol and revolver bullets, bow and arrow and crossbow (2015-2016 Mammal Hunting Regulation booklet, page 27, section 353).

Methods of take for resident small game (wild turkey) are shotguns 10 gauge or smaller. Shotgun shells may not be used or possessed that contain shot size larger than No. BB, except that shot size larger than No. 2 may not be used or possessed when taking wild turkey (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 311(b)).

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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.

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.

What’s the Level of Wildlife Officers’ Search Authority?

CDFW Wildlife Officers have broad search authority. Hunters and anglers are required by law to exhibit upon demand all licenses, tags, wildlife, fish, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take fish and/or wildlife.

CDFW Wildlife Officers have broad search authority. People are required by law to exhibit upon demand all licenses, tags, wildlife, fish, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take fish and/or wildlife (CDFW photo)

Question: Do California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens have the authority to search a sportsperson’s truck, boat, cooler, etc. without a warrant or probable cause? If so, how would an abalone check point (for example) not be a blatant violation of the Fourth Amendment of the constitution? I’m all for stopping poachers, but not at the cost of violating what makes our country so special. Thanks. (John McClellan)

Answer: In the hunting and fishing context, wildlife officers are authorized to conduct compliance inspections that would likely require warrants or probable cause in other contexts. Hunting and fishing are highly regulated activities. The fish and wildlife belong to the people of the state and not to any individual. Many states, including California, recognize this and have enacted statutes to allow Wildlife Officers to conduct regulatory inspections when interacting with those who are engaged in hunting and fishing activities. Some of these include:

• Authorization to inspect boats, buildings other than dwellings, and containers that may contain fish or wildlife (Fish and Game Code, section 1006)

• Authorization to “enter and examine any…place of business where fish or other fishery products are packed, preserved, manufactured, bought or sold, or to board any fishing boat…or vehicle or receptacle containing fish…and may examine any books and records containing any account of fish caught, bought, canned, packed, stored or sold.” (Fish and Game Code, section 7702)

Also, people are required to exhibit upon the demand of a wildlife officer all licenses, tags, wildlife, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take wildlife (Fish and Game Code, section 2012)

The courts have consistently upheld these inspection authorities. As for check points, CDFW has used check points for the past 25 years as a focused and effective means of educating resource users and deterring violations of our wildlife laws. In a state as vast as California with a population of over 38 million people and with a staff of only 400 sworn officers, CDFW needs to ensure that the funds and manpower resources we have are put to the most efficient use possible. Conducting checkpoints allows us to contact thousands of people who are using our public trust resources with a handful of officers. For those who are not using our public trust resources, the check points provide us an opportunity to educate them about our state’s wildlife resources and our role in protecting those resources. The courts have established minimum standards that must be followed when we conduct checkpoints, but just like DUI checkpoints, wildlife checkpoints have been upheld by the courts.


Helping friends fill their deer tags?
Question: If a group of friends go hunting for a week, and one of the hunters tags a buck on the first day, can he continue to carry his loaded rifle with him and help his friends fill their tags? If not, can he only help with spotting and drives without a weapon? (Rod P., Napa)

Answer: Once a hunter takes a deer and fills his tag, he may accompany other hunters but cannot assist them in any way in the take of additional deer. In addition, he should leave his rifle behind. Otherwise, if encountered in the field with a rifle or other method of take, wildlife officers may determine the person assisting the hunters is also actively hunting.


Fishing for rockfish and fishing crab snares simultaneously?
Question: Can a kayak/boat angler use one line to take rockfish and then fish a crab snare with another line? In this case, a hand line tied off to his kayak? (Anonymous)

Answer: The law requires that when fishing for rockfish, only one line with no more than two hooks may be used. However, in this case, an angler may also fish for crabs at the same time with a line that attaches to a crab loop trap because these traps will not likely catch rockfish. If approached by a wildlife officer, the angler should be prepared to explain up front that only one line contains two hooks for rockfish and the other line is attached to a crab loop trap. Remember that crab loop traps are restricted to six loops.


Pelagic red crabs
Question: The pelagic red crabs (tuna crabs) are drifting in with the warm El Niño waters and washing up on beaches everywhere. I’d like to use them for bait. Are there any regulations to be aware of? (Andrew S.)

Answer: The limit is 35 pelagic red crabs per day and 35 in possession. There are no size limits and they may be taken only by hand.

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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.

Bowfishing from a Moving Vehicle?

Bowfishing for carp in Big Bear Lake (Photo courtesy of John Poimiroo)

Bowfishing for carp in Big Bear Lake is one of the methods used by water managers to help control the growing invasive carp population. Big Bear is also a popular lake for bowfishing anglers and carp fishing derbies. (Photo courtesy of John Poimiroo)

Question: I get stopped and questioned by officers fairly often while bowfishing. I have been trying to find out more information about the bowfishing regulations but the freshwater sport fishing guide is unclear to me. Is it legal to bowfish from a moving vehicle, like from the bed of a pickup? Is it legal to bowfish in the California Aqueduct or State Water Project? I was told by an officer that it was not. (Justin F.)

Answer: No arrow or crossbow bolt may be released from a bow or crossbow upon or across any highway, road or other way open to vehicular traffic (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354(e)). In addition, no person may nock or fit the notch in the end of an arrow to a bowstring or crossbow string in a ready-to-fire position while in or on any vehicle (CCR Title 14, section 354(i)).

Regarding where and what you may take while bowfishing, “bow and arrow fishing is permitted only for the taking of carp, goldfish, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey, all year, except in:

• Designated salmon spawning areas (Fish and Game Code, section 1505).

• The Colorado River District where only carp, tilapia, goldfish and mullet may be taken.

• The east fork of the Walker River between Bridgeport Dam and the Nevada state line where only carp may be taken” (CCR Title 14, section 2.25).

Bullfrogs may also be taken by bowfishing under some conditions (CCR Title 14, section 5.05).


Hunting on an Indian reservation?
Question: The Colorado River Indian Tribes (CRIT) Reservation is in deer zone D12 along the Colorado River. D12 maps show that all of this land is legal to hunt with a California hunting license and deer tags right up to the Colorado River. Can I legally hunt on CRIT Reservation land because it is within California D12, or should I stay away from reservation land? (Anonymous)

Answer: A person who is not a tribal member and wishes to hunt on the CRIT Reservation would have to comply with both California and tribal law, which requires a hunting license issued by the CRIT in addition to a California hunting license and deer tag. You should contact the CRIT’s Fish and Game Department and consult the CRIT Natural Resources Code for further information about hunting on this Reservation. CRIT contact information and the CRIT Natural Resources Code is available at http://www.crit-nsn.gov/.


Rules on drones in Marine Protected Areas?
Question: What are the rules regarding drones? Specifically, are there any regulations regarding flying drones in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)? (Jeanée Natov)

Answer: It is a violation to fly any aircraft, including any airplane or helicopter, less than 1,000 feet above water or land over the Año Nuevo State Reserve, the Farallon Islands Game Refuge, the Point Lobos State Reserve, the California Sea Otter Game Refuge, and Anacapa, San Miguel, Santa Barbara and San Nicolas Islands, except for rescue operations, in case of any emergency, or for scientific or filmmaking purposes under a permit issued by the department after a review of potential biological impacts (Fish and Game Code, section 10501.5).

Federal regulators of the FAA and NOAA also restrict the use of drones. Flying motorized aircraft (except valid law enforcement) is prohibited less than 1000 ft. above any of the four zones of the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary which are listed in Appendix B (Code of Federal Regulations Title 15, section 922.132(a)(6)). Individuals should consult the MPA- specific regulations in section 632 of Title 14 for special restrictions for individual MPAs. There may be additional regulations prohibiting disturbance of nesting and rafting birds offshore that are covered under federal law.


Firearm for self defense during archery season?
Question: During an archery hunt, can a member of your group who is a licensed hunter, but does not have a deer tag, be in possession of a firearm strictly for self-defense? I will be archery hunting for the first time this year and I plan to travel into the backcountry on foot. A friend who will be coming with me has always had reservations about traveling in bear/mountain lion habitat unarmed due to some unfortunate run-ins in his past. (Kevin K.)

Answer: If it helps put you at greater ease, dangerous encounters by hunters with bears and lions are extraordinarily rare. As long as the person is not hunting with archery equipment, does not have a tag, and is simply accompanying you, then he may carry a firearm. You must be in a location where it is legal to carry a firearm, and your friend cannot assist in the take in any way.

With limited exceptions for active or retired peace officers, archery hunters may not possess a firearm while hunting in the field during any archery season, or while hunting during a general season under the provisions of an archery-only tag (CCR Title 14, section 354(h)).

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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.

Shouldn’t Wildlife Officers Display Badges?

Anglers fishing along the popular Owens River during the Eastern Sierra Trout Opener weekend (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Anglers fishing in the popular Owens River Valley during the Eastern Sierra trout opener weekend (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: During the 2015 Eastern Sierra Trout Opener, I was checked three times by California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wardens for license and barbless hooks. I was in compliance each time. On the three contacts the wardens were wearing jackets and hats that did not have any CDFW insignias or badges on them. On two occasions the wardens stated that they were wardens and I could see radio and gun holsters sticking out from under their jackets. They did not show me any credentials or badge. On the other contact the warden pulled open his jacket collar and showed me his lieutenant bars.

My question is what citizen rights do I have to ask to see a badge or credential during a contact, and what is the policy of CDFW for displaying and showing proper credentials when making a contact, not just telling me he’s a warden? I understand the need to be “undercover” before making a contact, but once the contact is made I think more than just saying you are a warden would be necessary. After the third contact where the warden showed me lieutenant bars, this lack of identification was getting a little old and I believe unprofessional. I had no way of identifying these wardens by name or badge number. (Michael M.)

Answer: You have every right to ask to see their credentials. As I’m sure you know, the Eastern Sierra Trout Opener is a very popular event that draws tens of thousands of anglers to the area during that weekend, and you were fishing in a high contact area, so it’s not unusual that you were contacted by wildlife officers, even multiple times. And because that area is so open and highly visible, and because people are easily seen from a long distance away, wildlife officers often wear a cover shirt over their uniforms and a fishing hat to better blend in and look like another angler so that they can more easily watch everyone without being immediately detected. Our goal is to encourage compliance even when anglers don’t see a wildlife officer in the area.

However, if you were uncomfortable with the contact(s) because you could not be sure the person really was a wildlife officer, by all means, you have the right to ask them, or any peace officer who is contacting you in a law enforcement capacity, for their identification. That is definitely a reasonable request and the wildlife officer should not mind showing you their credentials upon request.

By the way, I spoke to the wildlife officer who likely contacted you (at least one of the times!). He welcomed your comments and wanted me to encourage you to request to see his credentials next time and he will be happy to show them to you.


Rifle silencers for a hunter with substantial hearing loss?
Question: I have substantial hearing loss and my doctor recommended surgery to correct my problem. The issue is that my hearing will be very sensitive to noise afterwards and so shooting a rifle could actually damage it greatly. I am wondering if, when hunting, can an exception be made to allow me to use a silencer on my rifle? (Carlos)

Answer: Unfortunately, the answer is no. It is a felony to possess silencers, except for law enforcement and military purposes (California Penal Code, section 33410). Your best bet is to wear hearing protection while hunting. There are many choices out there and some actually enhance your ability to hear ambient noise while minimizing any loud noises, such as gunshots. Wildlife officers use this type of hearing protection during firearms training.


Ab in a Cab?
Question: I found a sub-legal abalone shell in the stomach of a legally caught cabezon. Is a small abalone shell like this legal to possess? My wife likes it and I want her to know it’s legal to possess. (Ken K.)

Answer: Yes!


How many fishing rods in possession at one time?
Question: How many fishing rods can be in one’s possession? I have a second rod stamp but want to know if I can carry more than two rods with me? Although I may be on foot fishing from the bank, I see anglers on the bass tourney TV shows fishing while still having several rods on their boats. What advice do you have? (Joe P., Red Bluff)

Answer: The number of rods in your possession is not the issue, it is the number of lines that you have in the water fishing at one time. You may have as many rods as you wish in your possession – just make sure to use only the number allowed for the species of fish or for the particular waters that you’re fishing.

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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.