Question: I’ve been learning about the Benjamin Pioneer Airbow and am curious about the legal status of using these for hunting. It seems to be the functional equivalent of a crossbow and so I would think they would be appropriate for general big game seasons where archery is a legal method of take. Does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) have a position on this innovative hunting tool? (Gregory Z.)
Answer: Airbows are essentially airguns that shoot arrows. They are not firearms nor are they (by definition) bows or crossbows (see California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354). Game mammals and birds may only be taken by the methods listed in CCR Title 14, sections 311, 507 and 354. While firearms, bows and crossbows are all allowable methods of take, the airbow does not fall under any of these definitions, and thus may not be used to take wildlife in California.
Chumming for Pacific halibut?
Question: Is it legal to fish for Pacific halibut using a chum bag? The bag would be independent with no hooks, just a bag of bait on the ocean floor. (Dan R.)
Answer: Yes, chumming is legal in the Ocean and San Francisco Bay District (see CCR Title 14, sections 1.32 and 27.05.). Please be aware that Pacific halibut is managed as a quota fishery and will close once the annual quota is reached. Before engaging in fishing activity, please check our Pacific halibut website for weekly tracking of harvest while the season is open or current closure notifications or call one of the hotlines listed at this site.
License required for frogs, bugs and other insects?
Question: I know I need a license to catch fish, but I was wondering if I need a license to catch dragonfly nymphs, snails or any other kind of water bugs as long as they are not a fish. Do I need a license to catch frogs and tadpoles? I’m going to take my kids to a river and help them explore and I know I’m going to have to help them catch the small water critters. (Pedro A.)
Answer: Thank you for taking the time to ask about the regulations before taking your kids out. Here are the basics: A sport fishing license is required for individuals 16 years of age or older who wish to take fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans, invertebrates or reptiles in California (freshwater or ocean waters).
Remember that tadpoles are baby frogs, and only the amphibians listed in CCR Title 14, section 5.05 may be taken. While technically it is legal to catch (and collect) certain tadpoles under a fishing license, you have to know how to ID them so you don’t accidentally collect a species that is not on the list. The species not in section 5.05 are endangered or threatened species, or species of special concern, and their possession is illegal without a special permit. Also, if you and your kids want to collect and rear the tadpoles to frogs, be aware they must be kept for life or given away because it’s illegal to release them back into the wild after being taken into captivity.
If you are going to actively catch frogs, tadpoles, etc. (amphibians) with your kids, you should first have a fishing license. If the kids do all of the work themselves and they’re under 16, they don’t need a license.
This information is contained in the current Freshwater Fishing Regulation booklet beginning on page 5 which can be found online or at any CDFW license office, bait shops, sporting goods stores or other places where fishing licenses are sold.
Importing mount of a species prohibited to hunt in California?
Question: Is it legal to own a mount of a wild animal that is illegal to hunt in California, but legal in another state? The critter is a sandhill crane that is illegal to hunt in California, but was legally bagged in another state (some 15 states consider these game animals, but not here). Can I bring this mount into California and publicly display it? (James S.)
Answer: Yes, but you should keep all documentation of where it came from and/or hunting licenses with it in case the origin of the mount ever comes into question.
Fish and Game Code, section 2353, requires that you declare the entry into California of any legally taken birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians. The Declaration for Entry form requires you to put down information such as a hunting license number, game tag number, etc. and indicate the county and state in which the animal was killed. With the exception of animals like a mountain lion or mountain lion mount that cannot be legally imported, you are allowed to import legally acquired wild animals or wild animal mounts and should have documentation of where and how they were acquired as some states allow the sale of wildlife and wildlife mounts, too.
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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.