Bad Behavior on a Waterfowl Wildlife Area

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

One response to “Bad Behavior on a Waterfowl Wildlife Area

  1. The complaint about the Hunting Refuges not posting the individual blind results is a sour grapes point of view; its been that way at least the past 3 years now and actually now its even better. If you ask the guy taking the Reservation Cards at the podium to help you pick the best available blind available at that point in the draw, he will do so and they don’t hold back; I’ve seen them help hunters get the jewels of the refuge if they hadn’t been picked previously and it used to get me pretty mad watching my favorite spots given to someone who hasn’t hunted much and put in his time to learn the refuge. I just keep telling myself it’s for the good of the sport. As for hunters not turning in their cards so the refuge won’t know how good the area is, I seriously doubt it. Unless they are hunting the same area day in and day out, eventually the staff will get cards from the area and also from the wardens out in the field. Unless the hunters are using suppressors on their weapons, it’s not to hard to tell where all the shooting is coming from on any given day.

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