Tag Archives: regulations

Deer Hunting From My Porch?

California Mule Deer (CDFW photo)

Question: I have a house on five acres in Northern California and have some really nice bucks on my land. Every day they come within a few feet of my house and graze on my garden and plants. If I purchase an A Zone tag this year, can I legally shoot a deer on my land from my house or porch? My house is situated more than 200 yards from any other property or house and it is outside of the city limits. Thanks. (Brian T.)

Answer: Yes. The safety zone law prohibits shooting within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the occupant. As long as it is otherwise legal to discharge a firearm in this area (e.g. not in the city limits or not prohibited by county ordinance), then go for it! (Aug 2010)


Can lakes set their own fishing regulations?
Question: The local municipal water district operates a nearby lake that is open to the public for fishing and day use. My question is regarding the regulations set for this lake. The maximum daily catch limit is lower than the limits the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) authorizes. Do they have the authority to do this? Who has the ultimate jurisdiction in this matter? (Roger S., Ojai)

Answer: Yes, this is perfectly legal for them to do. Private lake managers can be more restrictive than CDFW regulations but not less restrictive. It is their prerogative to impose more stringent regulations in the interest of better managing their individual waters than what the state requires for managing California’s fisheries statewide.

Sorry, I’m sure this isn’t what you’d hoped to hear. For further clarification, please contact your local game warden.


Trap and release squirrels and possums
Question: I live in a city in Southern California and have an avocado tree in my yard.  Squirrels and possums have been a big problem recently. Can I use a Havahart trap to catch them and then transport them to a more rural location a few miles away? (David S.)

Answer: Yes, most squirrels and possums can be trapped, but tree squirrels will need a depredation permit. When trapping wildlife, traps must be checked every 24 hours and the animals either dispatched or released in the immediate area.

According to CDFW Statewide Wildlife Rehabilitation Coordinator, Nicole Carion, squirrels and possums that have caused property damage can be trapped by legal means (Fish and Game Code, section 4180). They can either be humanely euthanized or released in the immediate area. “Immediate” is not defined in regulations but the immediate area means “near” and most importantly within the normal home range of the animal. The home range of squirrels and possums varies depending on habitat and other factors.

Squirrels and possums may not be “relocated” long distances from where they were trapped for many reasons, the most important being to prevent the spread of disease. No matter how close or far a potential release site may be to the capture site, don’t release any animal in any location for which you do not have specific authorization from the owner of the property, including government agencies on public land. It’s not a law, just common courtesy!

Please be very cautious about trapping in the springtime because this is when wild animals have offspring. Trapped nuisance wildlife cannot be taken to wildlife rehabilitators. Although rehabilitation facilities can take in orphaned wildlife, the orphaned animals will have a much higher chance of survival if they are raised by their wild mothers. Often wild animals only take up residence somewhere temporarily during the springtime.

There are many humane options available for keeping out animals seeking shelter in homes and structures on private property. For more information on preventing wildlife access to human food sources, please visit our website at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/products.html.


How many abalone in the freezer?
Question: I have been an abalone diver for nine years now and always keep my abalone frozen in my freezer to enjoy until the next year’s harvest. I am hearing mixed messages about the rules now and am confused as to whether it’s legal to do that. I might have anywhere between one to 20 abalone in my freezer, all still tagged with the appropriate tag. Please confirm if it is legal to keep an overlimit of tagged abalone in my home. (Bill D.)

Answer: The limit is actually three abalone per day and in possession. This means that legally, one individual can have no more than three abalone in their possession (at the dive site, at home, in your vehicle, in your freezer, etc.) at one time.

You can still give away your abalone to friends or family members living in the same house with you. Each person may have no more than three abalone in their possession at any time.

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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.

Fish Parasites – Will Cold Smoking Kill Them?

(CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton)

(CDFW photo by Debra Hamilton)

Question: I recently caught a number of trout that had what I believe to be parasites called “Lernaea” attached to them in various places. I know after reading another posting from this column titled “Parasites and Trout” that these “are killed during cooking, effectively eliminating any possibility of infecting humans eating the fish,” but I am considering smoking them. Would these parasites pose any threat if the trout were cold smoked rather than cooked, or would the curing that takes place eliminate any threat as well? Presumably if they were hot smoked there would be no threat because the fish are then cooked. I appreciate any info you can provide. Thanks. (Keith R.)

Answer: First off, Lernea and other external parasitic copepods of fish are not transmissible to humans.

As far as fish brining and smoking (even hot smoking), according to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, there are other parasites that warrant more serious consideration, such as anasakine nematodes and human tapeworms. These parasites are not reliably killed by brining, smoking or even freezing. The only way to ensure they are killed is to thoroughly cook your fish. Generally, we are not worried about those parasites in freshwater fish caught in California. But, nematodes are a concern and they are commonly found in saltwater fish of all species.

For any additional questions related to human health issues, please contact the California Department of Public Health www.cdph.ca.gov.


How are deer hunting zones determined?
Question: What is the history of the deer hunting zones in California and how were they formed and decided upon? I assume the decision on the zone boundaries, tag quotas, seasons, etc. involved the Fish and Game Commission, science gathered by wildlife biologists and land managers, the public, etc. When did the random drawing fund-raising tags for big game begin? (Travis B.)

­Answer: California deer zones were originally developed in 1978 to reduce deer hunting pressure in certain areas of the state. Here’s how they came about.

In the late 1940s and early 1950s, there was a tremendous demand for lumber to satisfy a growing demand for housing. Timber harvest created large areas of early successional habitat upon which mule and black-tailed deer thrived. By the 1960s and 1970s, changing land use practices began to change the landscape. Fire suppression, grazing and commercial/residential development projects caused the loss or degradation of deer habitat. With the reduced areas of deer habitat (and land available for hunting), the result meant higher concentrations of hunters in certain areas.

As land use practices changed and deer habitat was lost, by the winter of 1966-67 significant decreases in deer numbers were also observed. These low deer numbers were likely due to a combination of factors including habitat loss and degradation, and severe winter conditions.

Harvest numbers continued to show a downward trend into the 1970s and it was during this time that CDFW began to implement more conservative deer hunting regulations. Fewer deer and intense hunter pressure (particularly on mule deer) required new conservation measures to sustain deer populations. To relieve hunting pressure on mule deer, the decision was made to go to a zone system.

In 1978, CDFW used the best available information (along with the public’s input) to establish hunt zones that reflected the biological needs of the state’s 81 deer herds and their associated habitats. Currently, California has 44 hunt zones with some designated as premium hunts available through a lottery system. The zone/tag quota system currently in place is the result of the changes that began in 1978.


Handing off?
Question: Can two people be in a boat (both with licenses) with one person diving and handing abalone to the other person on the boat? (Janet R.)

Answer: No. Abalone may not be passed to another person until they are tagged and recorded on the abalone report card. “Cardholders … shall not transfer any abalone from his or her immediate possession unless they are first tagged and recorded on the report card” (CCR Title 14, section 29.16(b)(1)). After they are tagged and recorded, the diver can give his or her daily bag limit of abalone to the other person, but the diver cannot take any more abalone that day.


Can mice be used as bait?
Question: Is it legal to use mice as bait for stripers and bass? (Chris M.)

Answer: Despite the fact that there are many artificial lures on the market that look like mice, real mice may not be used in inland waters. Only legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs and treated and processed foods may be used for bait (CCR Title 14, section 4.00). In ocean waters, there are no restrictions on using mice as bait for stripers.

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

Hunting in the Rut?

Mule deer in the rut

Mule deer in the rut

Question: You recently said it’s easier to hunt deer during the rut — where do you get your information? Have you compared the buck kill rates in states that allow deer to be hunted during the rut against the deer harvest in California? The buck-to-doe ratio in California is terrible. I don’t believe the deer kill in California would be any higher than in any states that allow the deer harvest during the rut. It is not that easy to hunt deer in other states during the rut. If that were true the deer kill would be huge in those states, rather than their average yearly take.

Also, why does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) require that those hunters that do not harvest a deer in California must still call in or go online to report a non-harvest? If 260,000 licenses are sold and 50,000 hunters report a successful kill, why do the other 210,000 hunters have to report unsuccessful hunts? You already know simply by the successful hunters reports that the rest of the hunters were unsuccessful. What possible information can you gather by asking the unsuccessful hunters to verify an unsuccessful hunt? It is redundant information. (John M.)

Answer: Bucks in rut are much more vulnerable to all forms of predation — including by humans — because all they are interested in is mating and fighting, nothing else. They don’t even eat during that time period because they are so focused on the other activities. Plus, they are usually concentrated in certain places because rut hunting usually occurs on winter ranges for migratory deer.

According to CDFW Game Program Manager Craig Stowers, the reason we don’t do more is because most California deer hunters would prefer a chance to hunt every year instead of having to wait to be drawn for a buck hunt. Our stats show hunter success numbers for late season hunts are much higher than general season hunts, thus requiring fewer hunters in the field to reach harvest goals. To view all of the harvest reports posted online, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/deerhunt.html.

It would make sense if the other states you are referring to are whitetail states where they are actively trying to reduce populations. That would explain why they actively hunt in the rut.

We ask the success questions because we need to determine more information than just how many deer are killed. We want to know why people were unsuccessful. For example, if they were unsuccessful because they didn’t even go hunting, we need to delete their information from the harvest results to give a true picture of success — those that don’t even try shouldn’t be included in the calculations. We ask other questions like days spent hunting so we can paint a better picture of the amount of time and money hunters spend — all factors we use to justify the continuation of hunting. It’s not just about figuring out how many deer are killed.


Chopped up carp chum?
Question: Is it legal for me to catch carp and then chop it up to use as chum when I go ocean fishing? (Chris S.)

Answer: Yes, carp can be legally used as chum in ocean waters. In inland waters, chumming is legal in only a few freshwater lakes and streams. For a list of acceptable waters, please check section 2.40 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.


Is it illegal to have a trout on a stringer?
Question: I know that trout may not be maintained or possessed in a live condition in any container on or attached to any boat, but is it also illegal to have trout on a stringer? We like to keep our catch on a stringer and the stringer in the water to preserve the meat. We do not attempt to keep trout alive with the intent of changing out the smaller ones. We just enjoy a good fish fry. Thank you for any help. (Stas and Holly A., Buena Park)

Answer: Keeping your fish on a stringer in the water is perfectly fine. The fish cannot swim freely when on a stringer, and this method does help to keep them fresh until you’re ready for your fish fry!


Fishing for sanddabs
Question: When fishing for sanddabs, how many hooks can be attached to the line on a single rod? (Len P.)

Answer: You may fish for sanddabs with as many hooks as you like on a single rod, unless rockfish, lingcod or salmon are on the vessel or in possession, in which case special restrictions apply (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65).

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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.

Relocating Rescued Rattlesnakes

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Rattlesnake (CDFW photo)

Question: I found and took home a dying Northern Pacific Rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) after it became a victim of a wildfire. It’s now eating great and able to move fluently which is great and a job well done in my eyes. I’ve had it in captivity close to three weeks now. Is it okay to place it back into the wild (away from humans, of course)? (Daniel G.)

Answer: While we appreciate your desire to help injured wildlife, it is illegal for members of the public to rehabilitate wildlife without possessing a wildlife rehabilitation permit.

If you kept the injured rattlesnake near or with other captive reptiles at your house, the snake should not be re-released back into the wild due to the inherent danger of spreading disease into wild populations of rattlesnakes after release.

Wildlife rehabilitation is regulated in California to ensure animals are cared for and housed properly and that their reintroduction into the wild is done very carefully. Wildlife rehabilitators often give pre-release medical exams or observe wildlife patients for an extended period of time to evaluate the health of an animal prior to release. All rehabilitation facilities have a veterinarian of record who help them with medical issues and can help them assess whether an animal is healthy enough for release. Wildlife rehabilitators must return wildlife within three miles of where the animal originated and often work with the department to find suitable release sites.

We encourage you to find a wildlife rehabilitation facility that is willing to take the rattlesnake and go through the proper channels for its release. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html .


Can cowcod caught in Mexico be imported to U.S. waters?
Question: If we’re fishing in Mexican waters and catch a cowcod, can we legally bring it back into a California port as long as we have all of the proper licenses and the Declaration for Entry form properly filled out? I’d just like to know for sure as we fish Mexican waters frequently targeting rockfish and I’d like to avoid a citation. (Jeff M., San Diego)

Answer: No. Cowcod may not be imported or even possessed in California regardless of where caught (Fish and Game Code, section 2353(a)(2)). Broomtail groupers and canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes are also illegal to be possessed or imported into California under this regulation and under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.55(b)(1), even if they were taken legally in Mexico.


Hunting deer over water?
Question: I was having a conversation with my uncle the other day and we were discussing whether it would be legal to hunt over a horse or cattle trough. With the recent drought, I’m worried that the deer in our area aren’t getting sufficient watering holes. I have read the section on baiting in the Big Game Digest, but am under the impression that water is not considered bait. So our main question is, is it legal to hunt over a horse/cattle trough or any other type of man-made pool of water if there are no horses or cattle? (Tony S., Davis)

Answer: Although there are some specific exceptions, it is generally legal to hunt near cattle troughs or other sources of water. Keep in mind that many wild animals like deer will water before or after legal hunting hours.

In addition, it is NOT legal to hunt, camp or otherwise occupy for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the California Desert Conservation Area, within 200 yards of guzzlers or horizontal wells for wildlife on public land, and within one quarter mile of five wells in Lassen County and one well in Modoc County is prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 730). “Wildlife watering places” are defined as waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.


Abalone dinner donations?
Question: If a non-profit organization puts on a dinner and only requests donations to attend, can a group of divers legally donate abalone to the organization to be used for the dinner? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, but only as long as the dinner is not advertised as being an abalone dinner and as long as paying for the dinner is optional. You may charge for the rental of the facilities, tables, chairs, etc. and charge for the plates, napkins, cups, etc. Abalone (like all sport-caught fish and game) cannot be bought, sold, bartered or traded.

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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.

Moving Turtles and Other Wildlife Due to Drought

Red-eared Slider - Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Red-eared Slider – Trachemys scripta (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: I live in San Luis Obispo and have a quick question regarding relocating three baby turtles. My wife and I have visited this small pond for quite some time, and due to the drought we are afraid that the turtles will die due to the pond getting smaller and smaller. We know that the California turtle is in danger to become extinct due to the red-eared turtle influx here in California. I need to know if I need a permit to move them off of state land. (Kevin M., SLO)

Answer: While it’s natural to want to help, moving animals is not only illegal, it is potentially detrimental, and your good intentions could have very bad consequences. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Statewide Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Coordinator Laura Patterson, many animals, including some turtles, have a natural homing instinct and will not stay where they are transplanted. They may be carrying diseases or parasites that could impact the animals at the release site.

In addition, transplanted animals may be genetically different, and interbreeding with the existing population could produce offspring less adapted to local conditions. At the very least we know that in times like these with very limited resources, they will now compete with the animals already existing at the site, resulting in even worse overcrowding and potentially lowering survival and reproductive success even more than would have happened from the drought conditions.

By law you can take only non-native turtles with a California sport fishing license (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 5.6), but release into the wild or relocation of an animal (native or non-native) requires a permit from CDFW. In the case of aquatic turtles, the law says it is unlawful to place, plant or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this state, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the state, without first submitting it for inspection to, and securing the written permission of, the department (Fish and Game Code, section 6400).

The situation you describe is very unfortunate, but all of California is experiencing a severe to exceptional drought, and many ponds and creeks have already gone dry or are expected to dry by summer’s end throughout the state. This is affecting the state’s wildlife, including many native species that are listed as endangered or threatened under state or federal law.


Abalone and scuba gear?
Question: If I’m out spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear together while on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip for abalone.


Shooting across a public road with a bow and arrow?
Question: The law says that you cannot shoot across a public road with a firearm or hunt within 150 yards of another home or building without permission, but what about archery? What about target shooting with archery? If there is no law in your community, or unincorporated area of a county that prohibits or limits use of archery, and you want to shoot archery for target practice, does the same distance law apply? (James S.)

Answer: The same rules for firearms apply to archery equipment in this case – you may not shoot across a road or within 150 yards of a neighbor’s home, barns or outbuildings – even if just target shooting (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). In addition to shooting across a roadway, this section also makes it unlawful for any person to intentionally release any arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public roadway open to the public in an unsafe manner. Beyond this, different counties and communities may have more restrictive ordinances that they enforce so you should check with your local law enforcement office for this information.

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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.

Helicopter Fishing?

(Photo from Creative Commons)

(Photo from Creative Commons)

Question: You’ve answered readers’ questions several times in the past about the legalities and illegalities of fishing with a remote controlled boat. But my question is about a radio controlled helicopter. I just saw a video on YouTube showing a guy maneuvering his helicopter around a small lake that was dangling a line with a hook and bait on it. The craziest part of this was that he actually caught a sunfish with this rig and the helicopter flew the fish back to him on shore so that he could take it off the hook and release it back into the water. Seems like a great idea but I’m betting it isn’t legal in these parts. What do you say? (Steve C., Chico)

Answer: All fish caught in freshwater must be taken by angling which means hook and line with the line held in the hand, or with the line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended in such a manner that the fish voluntarily takes the bait or lure in its mouth (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.05). Thus, the remote controlled helicopter could be used as a vehicle to take the line out further but the line would need to be directly controlled by the angler. Depending on the location where the “helicopter angler” wants to use it, they should first make sure there are no local ordinances or specific rules imposed by the lake property owner or concessionaire prohibiting this practice and the flying of remote-controlled helicopters.


Bow hunting with a concealed firearm?
Question: When bow hunting in California, can you carry a concealed firearm if you possess a concealed carry permit? (DeWayne T.)

Answer: Unless you are an active or honorably retired peace officer, as specified in Fish and Game Code, section 4370(b), you may not carry a firearm during an archery only (AO) deer season or while using an AO tag, regardless of whether the firearm is concealed. Fish and Game Code, section 4370 requires:

(a) In every area in which deer may lawfully be taken during the general open season, there is an archery season for the taking of deer with bow and arrow. … Except as provided in subdivision (b), a person taking or attempting to take deer during such archery season shall neither carry, nor have under his or her immediate control, any firearm of any kind.

(b) A peace officer … whether active or honorably retired, may carry a firearm capable of being concealed on his or her person while engaged in the taking of deer with bow and arrow in accordance with subdivision (a), but shall not take or attempt to take deer with the firearm.

AO tags/seasons are only one option though. You can instead choose to hunt during the general season under a general tag with a bow, and then you could carry a firearm. Hunting under the AO authority grants a special opportunity to archers in exchange for leaving the firearm in camp.


Landing a large fish from a pier?
Question: While fishing from a public pier without a fishing license, am I allowed to go down onto the beach to land a big fish that I hooked on the pier? (Pete T.)

Answer: No. A fishing license is required when fishing everywhere except from a public pier. Even if you hooked the fish on the pier and only came down onto the beach to land the fish, you would need a valid license to avoid a potential citation. Purchasing an annual fishing license will make this a non-issue; or you may want to buy a pier net to help you land bigger fish from the pier.


Peacocks
Question:Is it legal to trap wild peacocks? If so, is it legal to sell them? Is it legal to kill wild peacocks? (R. Om)

Answer: Peacocks are not protected by California Fish and Game laws and so the CDFW has no regulations regarding trapping, selling or taking them. Check with your local animal control as peacocks are domestic animals.


Carcass possession limits?
Question: I fish for rockfish out of Santa Barbara and afterwards freeze the carcasses to use for crab bait. I am aware of the daily bag limit for rockfish but have not found any regulations for the leftover carcass (head, body, skin and guts). Are there any possession limits for rockfish carcasses? (Jim P.)

Answer: Although the general rule is once the meat has been removed and consumed or given away and you only have a carcass, it no longer counts as part of your possession. However, even parts of fish are legally considered “fish.” The letter of the law is you may not possess more than a daily bag limit of fish. So, if you catch fish and take them home to clean and you freeze the carcasses for use as bait in the future, be sure you do not take more than a possession limit of carcasses with you when you go crabbing.

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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.

Catching Limits from Different Waters on the Same Day

When fishing at night, make sure you can still identify your catch. (USFWS photo by Steve Hillebrand)

(USFWS photo by Steve Hillebrand)

Question: I enjoy your weekly newspaper columns and now I have a question that I hope you can answer. When fishing for striped bass at a local lake where there is a 10 fish limit with no size restriction, what happens if on the way home I stop at the Delta to fish for catfish and a wildlife officer checks me out and I have 10 striped bass already? How do I prove I caught them at say New Hogan Lake several miles away and not the Delta? Another thing, if I catch eight striped bass at the lake, can I still catch two more out of the Delta? Thanks for your consideration. You keep writing them and I’ll keep reading them!! (Mark S., Tracy)

Answer: A fisherman could lawfully catch eight striped bass at a lake and then catch two more in Delta waters during the same day for an overall possession of 10 fish. There is nothing in the Fish and Code or regulations to prohibit a person with 10 striped bass from stopping to fish for catfish in the Delta. However, you should expect any wildlife officer who contacts you will conduct a thorough investigation of the source of your fish. I can only suggest you try to keep those fish caught at the lake clearly separate and even stow them away in your car in a separate cooler. Also, if the lake is one where you can get a receipt showing you fished there first, then it helps give you a little more evidence. Because this can be difficult for you to prove, and unless you want to take those fish home before heading out again to the Delta, I suggest you do whatever you can (e.g. pictures or video on your phone) to prove the fish were caught in different waters. Then if a wildlife officer questions you, the situation will be more clear.


Shotgun magazine capacity
Question: I know when bird hunting, you are allowed two shells in the magazine and one in the chamber. Are the rules any different when hunting big game with a shotgun? (Brian H.)

Answer: No, the rules are the same. The law says shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing single slugs may be used for the taking of deer, bear and wild pigs. In areas where the discharge of rifles or shotguns with slugs is prohibited by county ordinance, shotguns capable of holding not more than three shells firing size 0 or 00 buckshot may be used for the taking of deer only (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353(b)).


Spearfishing for white seabass
Question: As a spear fisherman, could I complete a two fish limit for a boat with two divers? For example, let’s say the other guy gets sick, can I go shoot a second fish for his limit of one? (Alex V.)

Answer: No. Boat limits only apply to anglers (hook and line fishermen). If you speared more than one daily bag limit you could be cited for taking an “overlimit” of fish.


Free fishing group permits
Question: I have some sponsors interested in helping host some fishing events to benefit military men and women who have returned from duty overseas and now have combat-related injuries or disabilities. Can any special provisions be made to waive license fees for the troops during these hosted fishing trips? What about for these veteran individuals who just want to go fishing on their own? Would you be so kind to explain what opportunities there may be and who I would contact? (Randy H., La Granada)

Answer: Yes, there are “Free Group Fishing Permits” available allowing for free fishing under certain conditions and the requirements for these permits are very clear and specific (Fish and Game Code, section 7151 [d-e]). With this approved form, the following persons may fish under this authority:

* Mentally or physically disabled persons
* Active duty military personnel receiving inpatient care in a military or Veteran’s Administration hospital
* Veterans with service connected disabilities

Fish and Game Code, section 7151(d) allows for these special sport fishing permits to be issued to groups of mentally or physically handicapped persons under the care of:

1. A certified federal, state, county, city, or private licensed care center, or
2. Organizations exempt from taxation under Section 501(c)(3) of the federal Internal Revenue Code, or
3. Schools or school districts.

Employees of private licensed care centers, tax-exempt organizations, schools or school districts are also exempt from Section 7145 only while assisting physically or mentally disabled persons fishing under the authority of a valid license issued pursuant to this section.

For more on free and reduced-fee fishing licenses, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/sportfishingfreereduced.html. The Free Group Fishing Permit application forms can be obtained through our License and Revenue Branch office in Sacramento.

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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.