Tag Archives: lobsters

Deer Hunting in an Area Closed Following a Fire

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: My son and I have drawn G37 tags. We have been trying for 15 years to draw this once-in-a-lifetime hunt. My concern is that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has closed a big portion of this area because of the Rim Fire and the El Portal Fire. Is there anything that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) can do to get these closed areas open? We don’t want to exchange our tags for the G37 hunt, we would like the USFS to open the closed areas that are in the G37 zone that burned. We and the other hunters would appreciate whatever CDFW can do for us. Thank you. (Dennis and Brent S.)

Answer: Unfortunately, there’s nothing we can do to require them to reopen the burned area. The fire closures are implemented whenever the USFS decides they are warranted. The best we can do is to refer you to the USFS district office so you can talk directly to those making the decisions. That might be your best hope.

And regarding your tags, even if you did want to exchange your tags, there are no refunds for deer tags. There are no exchanges for premium tags either. We can exchange restricted and unrestricted deer tags provided the following: 1) the earliest season for their zone has not already started, 2) tag quota for the tag they want to exchange is not yet filled, 3) tags remain in the zone they want to exchange for, and 4) you pay the current exchange fee. For more details, please check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708.14(j).


Shark took my salmon!
Question: While fishing off of Shelter Cove for salmon a while back, a large shark latched onto a salmon hooked on the line. After a few minutes of fight, the shark raised its head out of the water and bit through the salmon it had in its jaws, leaving the salmon head and 6 to 8 inches of flesh. My question is, by regulation, do we have to count the head as one of our take? We kept the head in the fish box and salvaged as much of the flesh as we could so as not to waste resources. (Rick W., Shelter Cove)

Answer: Since you landed the remainder of the salmon, you must count the fish toward your bag limit. However, since the fish was not retained in a whole condition, it would have been illegal to possess since it could not be measured to determine if it met the legal length requirement. So, while salvaging as much of the flesh as you could so as not to waste resources may have been the “right” thing to do, legally, you should have sent the head and remaining carcass back to the ocean to let other marine organisms utilize it. And if you had sent the carcass back down without salvaging the remainder of the fish, it would not count toward your daily bag limit.


How to pay for not returning lobster card?
Question: I did not return my lobster card last season, and I would like to know how/where I can pay my fine so I can get another card for this coming season.

Answer: When you go to purchase your 2014-2015 lobster report card, the clerk should tell you that you need to pay your $20 non-return fee first. After paying this fee, you should be able to purchase your new lobster report card.


Nonlead for all hunting on a wildlife area?
Question: I won a G12 deer tag this year (either sex shotgun only, Gray Lodge Wildlife Area). Because this is a popular waterfowl hunting area, am I legally allowed to use lead slugs or do I need to use nonlead slugs? (Philipp K.)

Answer: Yes, you may use lead slugs. In 2014, the use of lead slugs to hunt on state wildlife areas is not prohibited. However, this may be the last year that you can use lead ammunition for big game at the Gray Lodge Wildlife Area. In 2013, Assembly Bill 711was approved by the Governor and chaptered into law by the Secretary of State. AB 711 added several sections to the Fish and Game Code, one of which (3005.5(b)) requires a complete ban on the use of lead ammunition when taking wildlife for any purposes anywhere in the state by July 1, 2019. This section also requires the Fish and Game Commission to develop a phase-in regulation by July 1, 2015, designed to impose the least burden on California’s hunters while still implementing the intent of the law. (For more information regarding implementation of AB 711, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/lead-free/.)

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

How to Fish the Lobster Opener?

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I know that lobster season opens at 12:00:01 Sept. 27, 2014. If the hoop wet time is a maximum two hours, can I drop my hoops at 10:15 p.m. Sept. 26, 2014 and pull them after midnight? (George G.)

Answer: No, attempting to take lobsters is “fishing” and so if you drop your hoop nets before the season officially opens, you will be fishing out of season. Lobster season officially opens during the first minute of the first day of the season (12:00:01 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 27). The two hour wet time requirement is designed to require the net to be checked every two hours once it is legally in the water. So this means that even if you legally drop your hoop nets in the water a second after midnight, they must be serviced by 2:00:01 a.m.!


Protocols for packing deer out?
Question: I am preparing for my deer hunt and planning to hike 2½ miles one way into a place to try to harvest my deer. If I am successful I will need to pack the animal back out by myself, and this may be an all-day sucker. If this animal is large enough, I am probably going to have to quarter it and hump it out. If this is the case, do I take the head and antlers out with the tag on them, then make successive trips back in, or how do people normally do this? I don’t want to take the head out and put it in the back of my truck, risking someone might take it, and then bring another load out and find I have no evidence. Do you have a suggested protocol I should follow? Thanks. (Rick L.)

Answer: Most hunters in your situation like to bring a small saw to cut the antlers and skull cap from the head as you are not required to keep the whole head of a deer you legally harvest. The law requires that upon taking a deer, you must immediately fill out the tag completely and attach it to the antlers (or ear if an antlerless hunt) and then keep it for 15 days after the close of the season. In your case, the antlers and skull cap could be placed in your locked car in a box or plastic bag until all your meat is hauled out. Depending upon the type of terrain and the size of the deer, many hunters either take out quarters of their deer, or elect to bone it out in the field.

You might also consider using a game-carrier with wheels so that you can keep your game with you at all times while packing it out. Any wildlife officer that contacts you during this process will likely want to check your tagged antlers, but wildlife officers understand that it isn’t always possible to carry the whole deer to your car in one trip.


Ocean salmon loophole?
Question: There has been a lot of discrepancy recently due to a bit of a loophole in the ocean salmon regulations. I have been given different answers by a number of people and would like to have it clarified. I live in Santa Cruz, and in the past few weeks there have been a lot of incidental salmon catches in shallow water while targeting rockfish or lingcod. Because it is entirely incidental catch, I don’t see a problem keeping it even though it was caught on a barbed hook. As long as it was of legal size and landed with a net, it should be ok. Of course, if you choose to keep it you would have to switch to salmon-legal gear, but until you did keep one, you can’t prevent one from slamming an iron as you’re reeling up. So basically, if I am targeting rockfish using the appropriate gear, and I catch a salmon while doing so, could I land it using the required net, and if it was 24 inches, keep it and then resume fishing with salmon legal gear? (Azure C., Santa Cruz)

Answer: You are incorrect about a loophole. It is unlawful to take salmon (north of Point Conception) with a barbed hook, period. No more than two single-point, single-shank barbless hooks shall be used and no more than one rod per angler when fishing for salmon or fishing from a boat with salmon on board. If an angler hooks a salmon while fishing for rockfish using barbed hooks, the fish must be immediately released.


Auto hook setter legal?
Question: I do a lot of fishing in lakes and the Delta. Can an auto hook-setter be used on local lakes and rivers? Please help! (Anonymous)

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.

Can a Private Boat Owner Be Cited for a Passenger’s Violation?

California Spiny Lobsters at San Clemente Island (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I have my own boat and take friends out lobster fishing with me. I always make sure each person has their license and report card. I also make sure each person has their own bag and keeps each lobster they catch separate as they catch them. My question is, if the game warden finds a short lobster in one of their bags, am I held responsible as the boat owner or would the owner of that bag be responsible? Also, do boat limits apply when fishing for lobster? (Jerry E.)

Answer: Lobsters may be brought to the surface of the water for measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat or retained. All undersize lobsters must be released immediately into the water (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90). If the bag or undersized lobster is claimed by any person aboard the boat, that person would most likely be issued a citation for possession of an undersized lobster.

If no one claims the lobster, the game warden can issue citations to everyone aboard the boat (joint possession). Or, since the boat is the property of the skipper, the skipper may be the only one cited because the undersized lobster is possessed aboard the skipper’s boat. Of course, prevention is the best solution, so if in doubt, set it free.

Sport fishing boat limits apply only to fin fish, not lobster. This means that once a lobster fisherman harvests the daily bag limit of seven, he or she may no longer fish for lobster.


Lead ammo for pistol in condor country?
Question: In the lead-free condor zone, can I carry a pistol that is loaded with lead ammo for self-defense, with the intention of NEVER using it for hunting purposes? The purpose of carrying it is for self-defense only. Of course I’ll be carrying lead-free ammo for my rifles, but I want to know about the side arm. Personally, I carry either a Glock 20 in 10mm or a Ruger 44mag. (Brandon C.)

Answer: You may not use or possess lead ammunition in the condor zone while hunting, even if you have no intention of using the lead ammunition to shoot wildlife. For more information on the non-lead requirements in condor country, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/.


Selling sturgeon eggs from a legally-taken sturgeon?
Question: If I catch legal-sized sturgeons with eggs, can I sell the eggs because I don’t eat them? (Byron M.)

Answer: No. It is illegal to sell any portion of a sturgeon or any fish taken under the authority of a sport fishing license (Fish and Game Code, section 7121).


Grizzly bear tooth
Question: I received a grizzly bear tooth amongst some of my grandfather’s possessions after he passed away. My grandfather grew up here in California and was an amateur geologist and never hunted, so I think he either found or purchased the tooth, although I have no proof. I was wondering if it is legal to possess or sell the tooth here in the state of California. I don’t want to break any laws. (Laura J.)

Answer: It is legal for you to possess it but you cannot try to sell it. The sale or purchase of any bear part in California is prohibited (FGC, section 4758 (a)). Even offering it for sale over the Internet is a federal violation that could make you subject to prosecution under the Lacey Act. You may possess the tooth or give it away, but you may not sell it.

Sounds to me like you have an interesting piece of California’s history, as grizzly bears are extinct in the state — Enjoy it!


Retrieving hoop nets with rod and reel?
Question: Is it legal to use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for a hoop net? For instance, I would connect an 18-inch hoop net to the line of my rod and reel (without hooks) and this would allow me to cast the net in order to better fish for lobsters from a jetty. Is this OK? (Jeff C.)

Answer: Yes, you may use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for your hoop net. You are not required to pull your net by hand, nor are you prohibited from pulling it using a rod and reel.

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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.

Luring Lobsters with Snacks?

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

California Spiny Lobster (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: My friends and I are going to Catalina next weekend to dive for lobsters. We know we have to catch them by hand but are wondering if it’s legal to lure lobsters out of their holes by holding a piece of sardine or squid in your hand? (David C.)

Answer: Sure, you can give it a try, but I don’t know how successful you’ll be. The law says that skin and scuba divers may take crustaceans by the use of the hands only and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for them (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80). There is no prohibition against waving snacks in front of them.


Tagging sturgeon
Question: We are planning a sturgeon fishing trip on the Delta but want to check in first to find out what the new sturgeon tagging requirements are? I understand there have been some changes this year. (Anonymous)

Answer: As of Jan. 1, 2014, California sturgeon anglers are seeing a small change to sturgeon tags. Sturgeon anglers have been required to tag all retained legal-sized sturgeon for many years. In the past, the date, location and length of the fish caught were recorded on each tag. Now, in addition to legibly and permanently writing the date, time, location and length, the new tags require the angler to physically punch out the date and month printed on each tag.

The bag limit for sturgeon remains at one per day and up to three sturgeon per year. Failure to attach a properly filled out tag to a retained sturgeon is a misdemeanor violation.


Is licorice legal bait?
Question: My brother and I have two burning questions we have been wondering about. Is it legal to use licorice to fish with as bait? Also, we observed a man with a syringe injecting air into his bait worms so they would float off the bottom. Is this legal? (Marcus O.)

Answer: Processed foods, such as licorice, are legal under bait regulations for inland waters (found beginning in CCR Title 14, section 4.00). It is also legal to inject air into a fishing worm and many such kits are found at sporting goods outlets. This method can be a very effective way to keep a worm off the bottom of lakes with heavy bottom vegetation.


Practicing taxidermy
Question: I want to practice taxidermy and am wondering how I can get some animal hides to practice with. Would it be ok for me to purchase a hide from a tannery? If I do, will I have to just use game animals I take during hunting season? (Spencer)

Answer; As far as game animals, only deer hides can be purchased. The only other hides that can be purchased are hides from fur-bearers taken under the authority of a trapper’s license. Remember, California wildlife (even hides and body parts) cannot be legally bought, sold, traded or bartered.

You can practice on any carcasses you can legally possess (e.g. taken legally by another person who gifts it to you, carcass of non-game/furbearing mammals taken under depredation laws, domestic game animals, etc. In addition, you can also buy many hides from species not found in the wild in California from other states.


Must fishing license be carried while spearfishing?
Question: If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)

Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (FGC Section 7145).


Spotlighting for rabbits?
Question: If I am on my own property, can I hunt rabbits at night with a spot light? (John S.)

Answer: No. It is unlawful for any person, or one or more persons, to throw or cast the rays of any spotlight, headlight, or other artificial light on any highway or in any field, woodland, or forest where game mammals, fur-bearing mammals, or nongame mammals are commonly found, or upon any game mammal, fur-bearing mammal, or nongame mammal, while having in his or her possession or under his or her control any firearm or weapon with which that mammal could be killed, even though the mammal is not killed, injured, shot at, or otherwise pursued (Fish and Game Code, Section 2005(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.

Beach Hunting

(CDFW photo by Melanie Parker)

(CDFW photo by Melanie Parker)

Question: I’ve heard deer and elk are occasionally spotted on a beach in a remote area of Northern California. This beach stretches for several miles and I’m planning to hike it beginning from a public access point. During deer and elk season, what are the regulations regarding hunting from the beach? I will have a harvest tag for the appropriate area and know not to shoot over water or within 150 yards of a dwelling. I believe the State of California owns everything from the mean high tide water line out to three miles, so if it were a low tide, and a deer or elk happened to be below the mean high tide line, could I technically take a shot? Although it’s not likely this scenario would occur, I am curious about the legal and ethical nature of this scenario. (Katie H.)

Answer: There are no California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) laws prohibiting this, but there could be local firearms closures in place. To determine if firearms or archery equipment would be legal to possess and use in the area you’re interested in hunting, you should contact the local sheriff (if an unincorporated area) or the local police department (if an incorporated area) to confirm. Also, these beaches may very likely be managed by either State Parks (where hunting is prohibited) or Bureau of Land Management (who may have restrictions on hunting near trails, camps and beaches). Therefore, you should also contact the local agency having jurisdiction over where you plan to hunt to be sure hunting is authorized there.


Number of fishing rods used in ocean boat?
Question: If we are fishing on a boat in Monterey, how many fishing rods are allowed? If we already have rockcod aboard, do I need to use one rod? Can I use two rods to target lingcod or halibut if we don’t have rockcod? Can I still use a second rod for bait fishing if rockcod are aboard? (Kenual L.)

Answer: Generally, any number of hooks and lines may be used in ocean waters and bays, but there are exceptions involving certain locations and specific species of fish. When pursuing rockfish, lingcod, cabezon, kelp or rock greenlings, or salmon north of Point Conception, or when any of these species are aboard or in possession, only one line with not more than two hooks may be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65(c)). When rockfish are aboard, you may not use a second rod even if for bait fishing. Instead, plan to fish for bait before fishing for these species. Anglers should read section 28.65 on page 46 of the 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet before fishing with multiple hooks or lines.


Crabbing in Santa Barbara (Refugio Beach)
Question: I’m planning to head to Refugio Beach in Santa Barbara to do some crabbing. What do I need to get to trap crabs in the water about 100 yards out? What traps can I use since I’m not a commercial fisherman? (Robert M.)

Answer: Crab traps are illegal south of Point Arguello (north of Refugio State Beach), so you may not use traps there. However, you can take crabs by hand or hoop net (CCR Title 14, section 29.80). Hoop nets must be serviced every two hours. You will need a sport fishing license (unless you go on a Free Fishing Day www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/freefishdays.html), a measuring gauge to measure the crab and hoop net(s). Since lobster season is currently open, if you catch a California spiny lobster, then as long as you have lobster report card in your possession and the lobster meets the size requirements, you can take lobsters by hoop net also. Any spiny lobsters caught outside of the season or that are too short must be immediately returned to the water. Please make sure you’re familiar with all crab (and lobster) fishing regulations before heading to the beach. The 2013-2014 Ocean Sport Fishing Regulation booklet can be found wherever fishing licenses are sold, or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2013.asp.


Methods of crayfish harvesting?
Question: I was wondering if you can harvest crayfish by free diving for them in lakes and streams using only your hands. (Eddie R.)

Answer: Yes. Crayfish may be taken only by hand, hook and line, dip net or with traps not over three feet in greatest dimension (CCR Title 14, section 5.35). Most crayfish have no limit and the season is open all year. However, Shasta crayfish are protected and so there are specific river and lake closures listed for their protection in the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Fishing Regulations booklet (on page 20), as well as online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Look for subsection (d) of this section for the closed waters to avoid.

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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.

Can a Pet Store Rescue and Rehome a Garter Snake?

Garter snake (Photo courtesy of CDPW by David Hannigan)

Garter snake (Photo courtesy of CDPW by David Hannigan)

Question: We own a pet store in Northern California and also help to rescue animals and then place them in suitable homes. A client recently asked us to help rescue a 12-year-old garter snake and then adopt it out back to a good home. My questions are, is it even legal for us to possess a garter snake within our shop? Next, if we are able to possess it in our shop, can we charge our standard adoption fees to a new owner for our services in order to help place this snake in a new home? (Anonymous)

Answer: If the garter snake is native to California, then it is not legal to sell or even possess within the pet store. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Wildlife Officer Kyle Chang, it would also not be legal to charge a fee to rehome the garter snake since they are not on the list of snakes that are legal to “sell” in California, and “sell” includes possession for sale, barter, exchange or trade. Pet shops can only sell snakes under certain conditions. It’s also not legal for anyone to release the snake back into the wild. (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 40(c), 40(e), 43(c), 43(c)(1), 43(f)(2) and Fish and Game Code section 75 all apply to this answer.)

If, however, the garter snake is non-native to California, then CDFW regulations do not apply (except for the illegal release of the garter snake into the wild), but all other state, county and city laws relating to the pet trade may still apply.


Possession limits after multiple days of fishing?
Question: Can you discuss ocean fish possession limits? I often see people coming to our area to fish for several days in a row and they take a limit every day without eating or gifting any of the fish to someone else. On day three, when they depart from the ocean, they have three limits of rockfish in a cooler. It’s not right. Most folks do not know or understand that the daily bag limit is also the possession limit for most fish. Just a thought to help educate. Thanks! (Ryan H., San Luis Obispo)

Answer: You are correct. Regardless of how many days someone ocean fishes, they must abide by both daily bag limits and overall possession limits. In most cases, bag limits and possession limits are the same, so at no time can someone possess more than one daily bag limit. In order to fish again once a daily bag limit is reached, the angler must wait until the next calendar day, and unless a higher possession limit is specifically authorized, the angler must either eat or gift their fish to someone else before taking more. At no time can anyone be in possession of more than one bag/possession limit.


Maximum lobster hoops?
Question: I know the maximum number of hoop nets that can be fished from a boat is 10. We take a couple of multi-day trips every year and invariably lose one or two during the trip. My question is can we carry a couple of spares on the boat to replace any we lose? (Larry H.)

Answer: Unfortunately, you may not. No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed on a vessel (CCR Title14, section 29.80(b)).


What’s meant by the nearest landmark?
Question: I will be hunting for deer and bear this year and noticed on the tags where it asks for the distance and direction from the nearest landmark. What does that mean by the nearest landmark? I am also unsure as to just what kind of landmark they are asking for. Can you please clarify this for me? (Dan B.)

Answer: Harvest data, including the location where an animal is taken, is an important component of wildlife management. The geographic location helps biologists obtain specific location information so the more accurate you can be with distinguishing landmarks, the more helpful it is to managing our wildlife. There are many acceptable locations found on any map for your planned hunt area. Please just provide distance and direction to the nearest mountain, creek, river, city, town, campground or other landmark.

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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.

Firearms to Safely Land Large Halibut?

5x7CAhalibut2011

Francisco J. Rivera set a new state and world record for California halibut on July 1, 2011 with this 67 lb 5 oz fish (Photo by E. VIllareal)

Question: I have a question about safely bringing large halibut onboard. Because the Pacific halibut caught in Alaska are often over 100 pounds, deckhands use pistols or small shotguns to kill the fish before bringing them on board. This is to prevent the fish from causing damage or hurting anyone once on the deck. Would this method be legal to use in California ocean waters with large fish? Of course, the fish would already be “landed” by first being gaffed. Is it even legal to carry a pistol while fishing on a private boat near shore? (Timothy B., Morro Bay)

Answer: Sport fishermen may take halibut by hand, hook and line, spear fishing (when floating or swimming in the water), or bow and arrow (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 28.65, 28.90 and 28.95.) Firearms are not a legal method of take for halibut, so a gun may not be used to assist in taking or landing the fish.

In some areas it may be legal to carry a pistol on a private boat but there are closures that prohibit the possession of any firearm on a boat along portions of the Monterey and San Luis Obispo county coastlines within the California Sea Otter Game Refuge. If considering carrying a pistol on your boat, you need to research local laws and ordinances within the jurisdictions you will be transiting on your fishing trip.


What’s required to catch and breed tarantulas?
Question: I’m interested in catching some local tarantulas to try breeding them. I can’t find anything obviously referring to either tarantulas or prohibitions on such things. Are there any licenses required? Are there any definite prohibitions against it or any issues pertaining to the different public lands (e.g. city, county, state, federal)? (S. Godfrey)

Answer: The Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations currently do not prohibit the take of spiders, but federal laws may apply to the take or breeding of tarantulas. You may want to consult the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding federal prohibitions, and be aware that some public lands (e.g. state and national parks, scientific reserves, etc.) have laws that prohibit the taking of any live animals. You need to check with the jurisdiction of the land on which you want to hunt tarantulas.


Distance from hoop nets allowed?
Question: How far can a fisherman be from his nets once the traps are in the water? 100 yards? 500 yards? (Dixon C.)

Answer: There is no legal limit to the distance you can travel from hoop nets you have set in a recreational pursuit of lobster or crab. However, they must be checked – lifted to the surface – at least every two hours.


Transporting a white-tailed doe deer mount into California?
Question: I am looking to add a mounted white-tail doe head to the family cabin but want to be sure before buying it. It was legally taken and mounted in another state. From what I hear, it’s really old. I don’t believe they are native to California but I want to be sure it’s legal to do before purchasing and transporting it here. (Kristi D.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal in California for you to purchase the taxidermied head of either sex of a white tail deer. California Fish and Game law (Fish and Game Code, section 3039) only prohibits buying or selling any species of bird or mammal that occurs in the wild in California. We have only mule deer and black tail deer here.

One thing you must do before importing it into California is to complete and submit the Declaration for Entry form available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/entry-declaration.aspx.

In addition, when shipping wildlife into California, there are certain requirements regarding how to properly mark containers containing wildlife. “Any package in which birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians, or parts thereof, are offered for transportation to, or are transported or received for transportation by, a common carrier or his or her agent shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof.” (FGC, section 2348).

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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.