What Defines Wanton Waste?

Deer poaching (CDFW photo)

Hunters must make reasonable efforts to retrieve edible portions of game birds and game mammals. After an animal is harvested, no portion of the flesh usually eaten by humans can be left, either through carelessness or neglect, to go needlessly to waste. (CDFW photo)

Question: Is there a place in the regulations that talks about what I’ve heard hunters call “want and waste”? Can you point me in the right direction for the regulations if such a regulation even exists? The question comes up because my hunting partners and I often argue about what is and is not considered edible on a deer. Could I get a ticket because I do not eat the lungs or the liver or heart? Some people I know feel the ribs are not even worth eating. What is the definition of waste? I’ve heard someone say 30 percent can be left in the field but I’ve never seen what the regs say about the specifics of what you could possibly get a ticket for not taking home to eat. (Anonymous)

Answer: In California, hunters must make reasonable efforts to retrieve edible portions of game birds and game mammals. After a hunter has harvested an animal, the law requires that no portion of the flesh usually eaten by humans can be left, either through carelessness or neglect, to go needlessly to waste. Harvesting any deer and detaching or removing from the carcass only the head, hide, antlers or horns while leaving edible parts to needlessly go to waste, is deemed to be “wanton waste” and the hunter can be cited (Fish and Game Code, section 4304). The intent of the law is to prevent trophy hunting and to stop people from taking animals just for mounts.


Why are Dungeness crabs in San Francisco Bay protected?
Question: Why it is illegal to keep Dungeness crabs from San Francisco Bay? (Judy K.)

Answer: San Francisco Bay is an important Dungeness crab nursery area, so that’s the reason this area has always been considered off limits to the take of Dungeness crab by both sport and commercial fishermen.


Baited traps to catch bait fish?
Question: Can baited traps, such as a minnow traps, be used to catch surf smelts, anchovies or sardines to use as bait? I will be fishing in Southern California in Orange, Los Angeles or San Diego counties. (Jackson T.)

Answer: No. Baited traps can be used only for the take of shiner surfperch, Pacific staghorn sculpin and longjaw mud suckers in San Francisco and San Pablo bays and their tributaries, and in the open ocean and the contiguous bays of Mendocino, Sonoma and Marin counties. In addition, traps cannot be over three feet in greatest dimension. Any other species taken must be returned to the water immediately (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.80.)


Access rights through public land?
Question: Can someone hunt on a riverbank that is considered public land if the person entered through a legal public access or had been given permission by another property owner up river? Can the property owner down river run me out? (Anonymous)

Answer: If the riverbank is clearly public land and you accessed it legally, the landowner should not run you out. It is not legal for someone to interfere with a legal hunting activity (Fish and Game Code, section 2009.) The neighboring landowner should not run you out either unless you are on his/her land. Keep in mind that riverbanks and the beds of rivers beneath streams and lakes are often deeded to be “land” in California, and thus you may actually be trespassing. In addition, depending on the location, there may be local ordinances that would prohibit you from hunting in these areas. You might also check with the agency that has jurisdiction over the land or look up their regulations to make sure that hunting is allowed on the public land you are using. There is also the concern of game retrieval. While you may be able to access the river section, should the game you take land on private property that you do not have permission to be on, you could find yourself in a situation where you engage in either hunter trespass, or if you fail to retrieve the animal, waste of game. Both of these situations constitute citable offenses.


Picking seaweed
Question: Is it legal to pick seaweed along the Mendocino coast? (Raymond L.)

Answer: Yes. Generally, up to 10 pounds wet weight per day may be harvested per person (with no more than 10 pounds in possession at any time). Exceptions include the following prohibited species: sea palm, eel grass and surf grass. However, there are marine protected areas (MPAs) where the take of all living marine resources are prohibited (e.g. Point Cabrillo State Marine Reserve, Ten Mile State Marine Reserve, etc.), so be sure you are not in a restricted area before harvesting seaweed. For information about MPAs, please visit www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/.

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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.

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