Can Crab Hawk Traps Be Fished in California?

Dungeness crab (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Dungeness crab (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is the Crab Hawk legal for use in California during crabbing season? The ads say it is not a trap, and because it opens, crabs would not be damaged should they need to be released. Can you please clarify this for me? (Dennis J.)

Answer: The Crab Hawk traps are indeed traps and are not legal as sold because California state law requires traps to possess escape rings.

Crab traps are required to have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter inches inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five inches from the top of the trap (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(c)).

Traps that are not specifically provided for in this section may not be used for crabs or other invertebrates. The Crab Hawk trap is not specifically provided for, nor does it meet standards for crab traps in California, so it is not legal to use in the state.


Neighbor feeding seagulls
Question: I have concerns about a neighbor who, for several years, continues to feed seagulls despite many requests to stop. Every day, and sometimes twice a day, this elderly woman feeds seagulls bread. I have recorded this by video and photographs. It has been going on for several years now. She has been asked numerous times by property management where she lives not to feed the gulls. She has received letters and notices explaining the harm she is doing, but she ignores all. The only time the community doesn’t have trouble is when the birds migrate inland in the spring. But then once winter rolls around, the gulls return and the problem starts all over again, year after year.

Motorists are distracted by birds swooping down across traffic when she feeds them. The seagull droppings are damaging the recently replaced rooftop of the school district building where a large flock gathers and roosts, waiting to see her leave the building where she lives. Bird feces damage paint on the cars, and on and on. Business owners have complained because of the mess the birds leave. Police have been called with complaints, but they say there is no law against feeding the birds.

However, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1prohibits the harassment of wildlife and defines harassment as an intentional act that “disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering.” They are also protected under one of America’s oldest environmental laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. That’s because gulls live on the Pacific Coast in the winter and migrate inland every spring to lay eggs. The California “Seagull Law” does not necessarily pertain to seagulls in California, but to seagulls on the entire West Coast of the United States.

Another concern is seagull feces and the health hazards that can potentially make humans sick. This activity has gone on for years. We have tried to convince her many times and in many different ways to stop feeding the seagulls, but she has ignored our requests and refuses to listen. Please, if there is any advice you may have that will help, I would greatly appreciate it. (Gina B.)

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor’s unfortunate and selfish behavior. You are correct that CCR Title 14, section 251.1 prohibits the harassment of wildlife. Feeding the birds bread offers them very little nutrition. Bread just fills them up but offers virtually none of the important vitamins and minerals that they need as part of a healthy diet.

Since this woman refuses to listen to your complaints, you might consider reporting to your local public health department regarding your concerns that the excess fecal matter is creating a health hazard. Depending on where you live, you could also try to contact your local CDFW office and ask to speak to the regional wildlife biologist. Hopefully, they will have some suggestions for you as far as how to handle this situation and/or may be able to put you in touch with a local wildlife officer. To find your local regional office, please go to: http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions.

I have written about this issue many times. Here’s a similar one from a couple of years ago that you might find helpful: https://californiaoutdoorsqas.com/2014/01/16/feeding-wildlife-can-do-more-harm-than-good/. Good luck!


Dead farm-raised trout for bait in lakes and streams?
Question: Is it legal to use dead farm-raised trout for bait in inland waters? I’ve found only “live trout” is called out. Costco has farm-raised rainbow trout for sale at a great price and I was thinking it might make great catfish bait for my kids. (Marcus)

Answer: No. Trout may not be used for bait (CCR Title 14, sections 4.00-4.30).

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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.

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