Tag Archives: spearfishing

Can Anglers and Divers Help Fill Another’s Bag Limits?

Divers cannot help one another to fill their bag limits. Only anglers fishing from boats on the ocean can help others fill their limits (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Divers cannot help other divers fill their bag limits. Only ocean anglers fishing from boats can keep fishing until all anglers aboard have limits (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: We do a lot of ocean fishing and spear fishing and have a question: Does an angler or spear fisher have to stop fishing once they reach their bag limit even if they are with another licensed angler or spearfisher without their limit? For example, if I am on my boat fishing for rockfish with a friend and I catch my limit but my licensed friend is having a slow day, can I legally gift him some of my limit and continue fishing? The same with spearfishing. I know in years past I have been on boats where fishing was not stopped until the boat had limits for everyone fishing. This seems like a gray area to me and I just want to make sure I am following legal and ethical methods while diving and fishing. Thank you. (Charlie C.)

Answer: You can help your friends who are having a slow fishing day only if you are fishing from a boat on the ocean. “Boat limits” are allowed only for ocean anglers fishing for finfish while aboard a boat. This does not apply for divers or for people fishing for invertebrates (e.g. lobsters and crab) or for anglers fishing in freshwater lakes and streams. Boat limits mean that all licensed anglers (and anglers under 16) may keep fishing until enough fish have been caught to fill all the anglers’ collective bag limits. It doesn’t matter who caught the fish as long as nobody is over-limit when they depart the boat. This provision is allowed only in this situation for saltwater anglers fishing with hook and line. It does not extend to divers or to shore fishermen or to people fishing in inland waters (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60[c]).


GPS collars for training hunting dogs?
Question: I am training hunting dogs for raccoon and pig hunting and need to buy new tracking collars that I can also hunt with. I’ve always used these old radio frequency collars but want to replace them with some good global positioning system (GPS) collars. One of my hunting buddies says he thinks these GPS collars are going to be illegal to hunt with though. Is that true? (Bart H., Merced)

Answer: Yes, it’s true. GPS collars and collars with treeing switches are prohibited when using dogs for the pursuit/take of mammals (CCR Title 14, section 265(d)). GPS retrieval collars employ electronics that utilize satellite transmissions. Collars with treeing switches utilize a mercury switch mechanism that changes the collars’ signal transmission when the dog raises its head toward a treed animal.


How is the high tide line within MPAs determined and enforced?
Question: In MPA zone mapping, who and how determines what is the “mean high tide” boundary? How is this enforceable to determine if you are in the MPA zone or not? (Anonymous)

Answer: The shoreline shown on nautical charts represents the line of contact between the land and water at a selected vertical datum. In areas affected by tidal fluctuations, this is usually the mean high-water line. In confined coastal waters of diminished tidal influence, a mean water level line may be used. The shoreline of interior waters (rivers, lakes) is usually a line representing a specified elevation above a selected datum. A shoreline is symbolized by a heavy line.


Throw nets to catch baitfish in private lakes?
Question: Can I use a throw net to catch baitfish (threadfin shad) in a private lake? I am assuming that since it is a private lake, it should be fine, right? (Daniel B.)

Answer: California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) fishing regulations generally do not apply in any water that is self-contained without any hydrological connection to state waters, or to any fish that are planted by the owner or person in control of the property. In these waters fishing methods are not governed by CDFW regulations. However, it would be a violation of the law to transport fish alive from the water where they were taken (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).


Can I mount a camera to my rifle scope to record my hunt?
Question: Is there any law against mounting a camera to the scope of a rifle to record my hunting experience? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, there is no law against this as long as there is no light emitted from the camera.

#  #  #

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

Why Don’t Some Deer Shed Their Antlers?

Stag1

Deer that don’t shed their antlers are commonly called “stags”. This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles. Weird looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I recently heard about a few Southern California bucks that seem to carry their antlers year round. One person I heard from insisted they were mountain biking and repeatedly saw the same deer in January and in May with a 4×3 rack. While I disagreed with the person telling me this, I admitted I am no biologist and didn’t know what they were seeing. Do some deer out here not shed their antlers? I was under the impression that even though nutrition, water and climate might affect when they shed, that deer always shed their antlers. Can you share some info or point us in the right direction to learn more about the antler shedding process here in SoCal? (Al Q.)

Answer: Deer that don’t shed their antlers are commonly called “stags”. This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles. Testosterone plays a role in both antler development and shedding, so injuries can really affect the types of antlers they have. Weird looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet … but those kind usually fall off normally and are replaced the next year with “normal” antlers.

So, this proves there are indeed exceptions to every rule — even biological ones!


Incidental take while spear fishing?
Question: What happens if a spearfishing diver spots a large fish and shoots and spears it without realizing until too late that it’s a giant (black) sea bass or another prohibited species? Then after the fish is speared and brought to the surface, the spearfisher identifies they have a fish they can’t take or possess and promptly returns it to the ocean. Has the spearfisher violated any laws?

A fisherman (angler) who catches a prohibited species while fishing for other species can argue that the take was unintentional/incidental. Could the spearfisher successfully make a similar argument? (Steve H.)

Answer: Spear fishermen are responsible for identifying their targets before they pull the trigger and can be held accountable for shooting a prohibited species. They are also responsible for ensuring that any fish they shoot meets the minimum size limit requirements for that species, again, before they pull the trigger.

A short lingcod or illegal giant sea bass, for example, is unlikely to survive after being shot by a spear fisherman who has the ability to select his target carefully; a short or illegal fish is much more likely to survive being hooked and released by an angler fishing from a boat, who cannot selectively target which individual fish he wishes to catch.

If a diver is unsure about the size or identity of the fish he/she’s aiming at, he/she should choose a different target. Shooting a fish that you’re unsure of could be illegal, and we believe that many spear fishermen would consider it unethical, as well.

All of these same principles also apply to hunters. No one with a rifle, shotgun, spear gun or even bow should pull the trigger unless absolutely 100 percent sure that their intended target is of legal size, species, gender, etc. An accurate (or even lucky) shot made, but with an error in judgment, isn’t worth the repercussions of breaking the very laws enacted to protect the state’s fish and game.


Why the health warnings for brown trout?
Question: In the fishing regulations there are safe eating guidelines for Donner Lake. I am trying to figure out why there are different recommendations for brown trout compared to rainbow trout. The guidelines suggest people eat only one serving of browns vs. seven servings of rainbows. Why? (Tim Worley)

Answer: The recommendations in our regulation booklet are from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA). The recommendations are probably from actual studies done by OEHHA of mercury levels in edible flesh from these two species from Donner Lake.

According to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Program Manager of Fish Production and Distribution, we do not plant brown trout in Donner and so those fish are essentially wild and older in the system. Therefore, they have been on natural diets and accumulating mercury from the naturally occurring insects and aquatic life that comprises their food chain.

CDFW does plant rainbow trout in Donner as part of what we call a “put-and- take” fishery. For most of their lives those fish are not eating natural feeds, and are generally not piscivorous like the brown trout, so they accumulate much less mercury. Humans, especially children and women of child bearing ages, need to limit their intake of mercury because it can have serious health effects, including death.

#  #  #

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.

Herding and Spearing Fish in Shallow Saltwater

Thornback skate (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Thornback skate (CDFW photo by Derek Stein)

Question: Over the past few years, I have noticed an increasing number of people attempting to spear corbina while wading in shallow nearshore waters (multiple counties in Southern California). These folks are in the water but not transiting to deeper water. They do not ever swim or float, they are throwing their spears/Hawaiian slings at fish while standing upright upon the bottom. In some cases, they even work in small teams to corral fish by driving them into shallow beach depressions.

I note that the 2013-14 regulations, section 28.90 starts with: “Persons who are floating or swimming in the water may use spearfishing gear and skin or SCUBA diving equipment to take…” So, I guess this question revolves around the definition of the word “swimming” as interpreted by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Are either of these practices legal? (Anonymous)

Answer: The activities you describe are neither swimming nor floating. This activity is allowed only for the take of skates, rays and sharks (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.95). If they want to spear any other type of fish, they need to be swimming or floating. Corralling the fish with their bodies would be legal if they were swimming or floating.


How many spider crabs?
Question: We were fishing off the Santa Barbara Pier last weekend and kept catching spider crabs. We wanted to keep them but couldn’t find them mentioned in the regulations and so didn’t know if we could take them. What are the limits or regulations are on spider crabs? (Stan M., Modesto)

Answer: Spider crabs fall under the general section 29.05 in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. Therefore, there are no closed seasons, closed hours or minimum size limits. The bag limit on spider crabs, as well as other invertebrates not covered in more specific laws for which the take is authorized and for which there is not a bag limit otherwise established, is 35.


Calls and sounds to attract a buck?
Question: I have done most of my hunting in other states and am wondering two things. First, can I use a buck grunt, rattle horns together or use a non-electronic doe bleat to attract a buck? Second, does California require deer hunters to wear blaze orange during rifle season? (Colt Wells)

Answer: Yes, buck grunts, rattle horns and doe bleats to attract bucks are legal to use as long as none of these sounds are electronically produced or transmitted. Regarding blaze orange, California fish and wildlife laws do not require hunters to wear blaze orange while hunting deer, but some local rules in some areas, such as military reservations, may require blaze orange to be worn. Even if it is not required, wearing blaze orange does help you to be more visible to other hunters, so it’s a good idea to wear whenever possible for your safety. One thing to note regarding deer, they cannot detect the color orange. To deer, orange looks gray.


Trout possession limits
Question: I know that certain lakes allow the take of five trout per day. I understand if I’m fishing with my son (10 years old), we can take 10 fish. My question is, does it matter who catches how many? Do I have to stop fishing once I have five fish even though between the two of us, we do not have the limit for the day? Does it matter which fishing pole? If his fishing pole catches two fish but I help pull a fish in on his pole for him, does the fish register as my fish or his? Even though he knows how to cast, he is not strong enough to throw as far as I do. Can I cast for him? When he has a bite, can I help him with the fish as long as he is the one reeling it in? I know I am asking a lot of questions but I’ve heard people tell me different things and it’s not listed specifically in the California regulations. Just want to make sure I’m not doing anything wrong when fishing out there. Thanks for your help. (Kyosuke)

Answer: You and your son can each take five fish, and yes, it does matter who catches what. Each person is responsible for their own catches. Once you catch your bag limit, you must stop fishing. While “boat limits” are allowed when fishing on the ocean from a boat, this same practice is not allowed when fishing from shore or when fishing in freshwater. You can offer your son some assistance, but he must do his own fishing.

#  #  #

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.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

Subscribe to CDFW News via e-mail or RSS feed. Go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/news.

Like CDFW on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW” http://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaDFW and Twitter @CaliforniaDFW.

Ground Squirrels for the BBQ?

Ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

California ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I heard there are some concerns with eating ground squirrels in general. Is there some truth to this? If so, why do I see recipes to cook and eat them? Are they like chicken and pork where if you ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly, you should be okay? I like to go squirrel hunting with my son, but since tree squirrels may not be hunted now, ground squirrels are our only option. Any guidance would be helpful! (Highhorse L.)

Answer: Tree squirrel season runs between September  and January. California ground squirrels are not a game animal though, so from a legal standpoint, they have no seasons, bag or possession limits. If taken in the condor zone, ground squirrels must be hunted with non-lead ammunition.

Before attempting to eat them though, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) veterinarians, there’s a lot we don’t know about diseases in ground squirrels. We do know they carry fleas and are highly susceptible to plague and probably die within a short period of time after exposure to the disease agent.

Also, anyone even thinking of eating ground squirrels should first make sure there is no chemical ground squirrel control going on in the area because ground squirrels are commonly controlled by anticoagulant rodenticides. If the ground squirrel consumes a non-lethal dose, the rodenticide would still persist in their tissues for a few weeks or months.

Be aware that both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/plague/and the California Department of PublGround_Squirrel_USFWSic Health site www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/Plague.aspx indicate the greatest risk of acquiring plague is being around infected rodents like ground squirrels due to their fleas. Humans usually get the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. During the Middle Ages, plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

Plague is endemic everywhere in California, except the southeastern desert and the Central Valley. It is not active everywhere in that range though, so before your hunt I suggest you contact the county public health department in the areas you will be hunting to find out the status and history of plague in those areas. Watch out for the state-protected Mohave ground squirrel found only in the Mojave Desert. They are not legal to take, so be sure you can tell them apart from the California ground squirrel.

If after reading all this you’re still determined to eat ground squirrels, like with all wildlife, make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Proper preparation and cooking is key to avoiding and minimizing exposure to disease. Bon appetit!


Can my kids spearfish for carp?
Question: I have a question concerning spear fishing for carp. When I was a kid, we used to go into the creeks and spear big carp. On the Russian River during the fall, I would see tens of thousands of huge carp congregating. Can I let my kids go into the water with a mask and fins and spear these 10-20+ pound carps? I would think that would be helpful for the river and we can pass the meat out to our multi-cultural friends. (Anonymous)

Answer: Spearfishing for carp is allowed only in the Colorado River District (all year) and in certain areas of the Valley District, Black Butte Lake and the Kern River (from May 1 to Sept. 15) (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Why no harvest odds this year?
Question: Why did the Big Game Digest omit the harvest odds for deer this year? Why do they not publish buck-to-doe ratios either? Other states share that information and it’s a lot more helpful than those colorful articles in this year’s booklet. I am afraid to spend my points blindly. (Todd S.)

Answer: The answer has more to do with timing than anything – harvest and ratio data were simply not available when the Big Game Digest was developed. We are still adapting the harvest analysis to the new Automated License Data System (ALDS). Harvest data first has to be entered into the database, and then the analysis takes place. The deer harvest data was posted on-line as soon as it was available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/deerhunt.html.


Fishing license when practicing fly fishing?
Question: Will we need a fishing license at Big Bear Lake if we are only fly rod casting in the water? We just want to learn how to cast a fly rod and will be using a fly without a hook on it. (Patrick G., Las Vegas, NV)

Answer: You do not need to have a license if the fly is not capable of hooking a fish.

#  #  #

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.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

If White-tailed Deer Stray into California, Can We Shoot?

White-tail deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

White-tailed deer (Photo courtesy of USFWS)

Question: If white-tailed deer were to migrate into California from Oregon or Idaho, could they be shot here on sight since there is no season or provision for that species? (Scott H.)

Answer:  No. Since Fish and Game Code, section 3950(a) defines deer as genus Odocoileus, which includes white-tailed deer, white-tailed deer can only be taken under the normal deer hunting provisions for the area in which it wandered.


Spearfishing in the Sacramento River
Question: I live in the Valley District and am wondering if it is legal to spearfish in the Sacramento River? I know there are carp, pikeminnow (squawfish) and western suckers. I’ve been searching online and many people say you can’t spearfish in any fresh water system, including streams, lakes and rivers. I have spearfished in the ocean but not in fresh water yet. I keep hearing different things from people regarding the spearfishing.

Also, is there any recommended equipment for spearfishing? Can homemade or custom-built equipment be legally used for spearfishing? I know the Valley District is only open for a short time (five months) for spearfishing. (J.T. Moua)

Answer: Spearfishing is allowed but there are some restrictions. First of all, please pick up a copy of the 2012-2013 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet available free of charge at most stores or DFG offices that sell fishing licenses or online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/. Section 2.30 (page 15) lists the only species that may be taken in the Valley District between May 1 and Sept. 15. For a description of the boundaries for the Valley District, please see section 6.36 (page 27). In addition, you may not spearfish in designated spawning areas. There are no specific definitions regarding the spears that may be used, so you may build your own or buy a custom made spear. For a definition of what regulations constitute spearfishing, please see section 1.76 (page 13).


How many hooks are allowed when sturgeon fishing?
Question: When fishing for sturgeon, how many hooks are allowed?

Answer: Only one single point, single shank, barbless hook may be used on a line when taking sturgeon.


When a sturgeon is accidentally caught on the wrong gear …?
Question: If a legal-sized white sturgeon is caught accidentally on a barbed hook (e.g. while fishing for striped bass), can it be legally kept as long as the angler possesses a sturgeon report card and tag? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, even if accidentally caught, barbed hooks are not an authorized method of take for white sturgeon. Thus, even legal-sized white sturgeon caught on a barbed hook cannot be kept.


What are the rules for sturgeon fishing from a boat?
Question: Once an angler on a boat has legally caught and kept a white sturgeon, must all anglers on that boat switch to barbless hooks?

Answer: No. However, for the rest of that day, the successful sturgeon angler must no longer fish for sturgeon and must immediately release any sturgeon that is accidentally caught.


Sand Souvenirs
Question: I am developing a souvenir that would contain granules of sand from California beaches. I would only require about a half-gallon of sand. Am I able to take sand from a beach and re-sell it as a souvenir to promote the state and its natural resources? (Paul K.)

Answer: Generally, beach sand is not protected by any California Fish and Game law. However, collection of anything (including beach sand) is prohibited in any park or other marine area that has a specific designation and protection in law. In addition, you may want to consider the corrosive nature of beach sand due to its salt content and other unsuitable qualities resulting from decomposition of biotics before using it in your souvenirs. You may find it more beneficial to purchase treated beach sand that is sold in small quantities at many stores that stock landscape and garden supplies.

#  #  #

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.

Turning in Wasted Waterfowl

Mallard drake (USFWS photo)

Question: Last year during waterfowl season my son and I were hunting in a state wildlife area on a pond. As we were wading across the pond on our way out we found a dead duck on the edge of the pond. The bird had clearly been shot and in the water for perhaps a day or two. We picked up the bird and gave it to the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) folks at the check-out station when we turned in our shoot cards for the day and showed our harvested birds. We were told that since the bird was “in our possession” it counted toward our daily bag total. And since we had limited out, we were now over limit for the day. The folks acknowledged that the bird had probably been dead for a couple of days, but chided us that in the future we should just “let the dead bird lay there” because some animal will eat it eventually. We were not cited but we’re wondering if our behavior was illegal.

Answer: According to DFG Assistant Chief Mike Carion, picking up the duck does add it to the possession of the person. If you find a dead duck and already have a limit, it is best to leave it. Predators and scavengers will quickly put it to use.


Can lobsters be taken from inside San Diego Bay?
Question: Do you know if divers can take lobster within San Diego Bay? (Bob S.)

Answer: Fish and Game regulations do not specifically prohibit diving for lobster in San Diego Bay. However, much of the bay is closed to all public use (including diving) by local ordinances and federal regulations. Diving in these closed areas by the public for any purpose is prohibited. Please contact the San Diego Police Department or San Diego Harbor Patrol for specific information about these closures.


Purchasing a bow-mounted laser range finder
Question: I am an archery hunter and am interested in purchasing a bow-mounted laser range finder. However, the manufacturer’s website does
not list California as a state where this device can be legally used to hunt. The device I’m considering doesn’t emit a visible light so I am wondering what the DFG’s stance is on this before I make the investment into the product for hunting purposes. (L.C.)

Answer: Simple laser rangefinders are not prohibited. Just be sure the device does not project any visible light or electronically intensify light for the purpose of either visibly enhancing an animal or providing a visible point of aim on an animal. (See California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 353(i).)


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 http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/.


Is it legal to spearfish a marlin while diving?
Question: I had an argument with my friend over whether or not we could spear a marlin while diving. I know that you can’t spear broadbill, but I looked up the allowed fish that spearfishermen can take and the regulations don’t say anything about marlin (see Title 14 section 28.90). But my friend read that section and he said a broadbill is a marlin, so that means I can’t spear those fish. Is he right? (Anonymous)

Answer: It is legal to spearfish for marlin but not for broadbill swordfish – they are different species!

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

What To Do About Increasing Mountain Lion Attacks?

California mountain lion (DFG file photo)

 

Question: I am looking for some information on the seriousness of the apparent increase in mountain lion attacks in the news lately. There have been several incidents of bears attacking humans, and we have a bear season. I’m wondering if it might not be time to reconsider having a mountain lion season? I understand that more mountain lions are killed each year now with depredation permits than were ever killed with a mountain lion season.

What can you tell me about the population increase in mountain lions in California in the past 10 years or so? Would it require legislation to overturn the existing law? Would Department of Fish and Game (DFG) data support the need for such a reversal? (Bill T.)

Answer: It’s important to note that mountain lion (puma) attacks on humans are very rare. In the last decade, there have been only four confirmed attacks in California, three of which were nonfatal. Though you may be seeing more media coverage of mountain lion attacks on domestic animals, there’s no evidence that the number of these incidents is increasing. While DFG does not formally track the number of domestic animals killed by pumas, we do keep track of the number of depredation permits issued for problem mountain lions. The numbers of depredation permits issued and resulting pumas killed have actually been fewer in recent years, though (www.dfg.ca.gov/news/issues/lion/depredation.html).

According to Marc Kenyon, DFG’s Statewide Coordinator for Bear, Mountain Lion and Wild Pig Programs, keeping track of those permits is key. Since the original moratorium was placed on mountain lion hunting in California in 1972, DFG has been unable to assess the statewide puma population size in the traditional way (by inputting harvest numbers and age and gender ratios into statistical models). Researchers have attempted to develop indirect count methods over the years, but none have proven to be cost-effective with widespread applicability.

Hence, Kenyon relies on the annual number of depredation permits as an index to the statewide population size. It’s a logical assumption that as the number of permits decreases, so too does the puma population. He believes the puma population is following this index, and the population size is, in fact, smaller than it was 10 years ago. This trend in the puma population closely follows the trend in the statewide deer population, as depicted on DFG’s website (www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/population.html). When viewing this website, note the similarity in the curves depicted on the graphs from the years 1972-2000, understanding that predator and prey populations traditionally cycle with a three to four year lag (the predators lag behind the prey).

The California Wildlife Protection Act of 1990 (Proposition 117) placed the current ban on puma hunting in California. According to the language in the Act, a four-fifths vote by both houses of the Legislature is required to approve any amendment to the Act. The Act further states (in Section 8): “Any amendment of this act shall be consistent with, and further the purposes of, this act…” which essentially means that no amendment shall reverse the Act’s intent. A 1996 ballot measure, Proposition 197, asked voters whether the specially protected status of the mountain lion afforded by Proposition 117 should be repealed and the species managed by the Fish and Game Commission like all other mammals. This measure failed with a vote of 58 percent opposed, 42 percent support.

It is difficult to answer your last question regarding the data supporting a need to reverse the legislation. We have data that documents puma densities in a few University-sponsored study locations throughout the state. We have puma depredation and public safety incident data. We have deer (prey) numbers throughout the years. We have habitat availability models. However, the amount of data needed to adequately support this type of legislative action is subjective. Kenyon says that he suspects any such proposal would be highly controversial.


Spearfishing rockfish and lingcod after dark?
Question: Can rockfish and lingcod be taken by spearfishing after dark? (Brian S.)

Answer: Yes, you may spearfish for rockfish and lingcod at night, except in San Francisco Bay (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.56).


Is it legal to keep live wild pigs on private property?
Question: Are there circumstances under which a California resident can keep live wild pigs on their property? Where can I find a regulation that addresses this? (Mike A.)

Answer: It is not lawful for a California resident to possess wild pigs (Sus scrofa) (CCR Title 14, section 671(c)(2)(Q)). However, there is an exception for Sus scrofa domestica, also known as the domesticated pig one commonly sees on a farm (CCR Title 14, section 671(c)(2)(Q)(1)).

# # #

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.