Category Archives: Abalone

Crabbing from Shore with a Launcher?

California crab fishermen who is fishing with a crab snare. (Creative Commons photo)

California crab fishermen who is fishing with a crab snare. Crab loop traps (crab snares) may have up to six loops. (Creative Commons photo)

Question: While crabbing from shore with a rod/reel/crab snare, I was not having any luck. I noticed a guy on a paddle board with a crab trap just past my maximum casting distance, and he was catching crabs no problem. Would it be legal to launch a crab snare, attached to the line of a rod and reel, with a catapult, trebuchet, water balloon launcher or similar device? If only I could get it out 10 more feet or so I feel I would have better success. (Ivan M., San Francisco)

Crab loop trap or crab snare (Creative Commons photo)

Crab loop trap or crab snare (Creative Commons photo)

Answer: There are no Fish and Game regulations that prohibit the use of a device to send your terminal gear out to locations beyond where you can cast. However, you might want to check local (city, county, state beach, etc.) ordinances for the beaches where you will be crabbing prior to using one of these devices. Some people use kites or remote controlled boats for this purpose.


Can retired peace officers countersign a deer tag?
Question: I was reviewing the persons authorized to countersign a deer tag recently and was wondering if you could clarify whether peace officers (salaried and non-salaried) are authorized? If so, can retired peace officers also sign off another person’s deer tag? I have been told yes and no by two different wardens. (Mike D., Salinas)

Answer: Retired officers are not authorized to countersign deer tags. The only people authorized to countersign deer tags are those people listed under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 708.6., which include:

(A) State:
1. Fish and Game Commissioners
2. Employees of the Department of Fish and Game, including Certified
Hunter Education Instructors
3. Employees of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
4. Supervising Plant Quarantine Inspectors
5. Junior, Intermediate and Senior Plant Quarantine Inspectors

(B) Federal:
1. Employees of the Bureau of Land Management
2. Employees of the United States Forest Service
3. Employees of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service
4. All Uniformed Personnel of the National Park Service
5. Commanding Officers of any United States military installation or their
designated personnel for deer taken on their reservation
6. Postmasters and Post Office Station or Branch Manager for deer brought
to their post office

(C) Miscellaneous:
1. County firemen at and above the class of foreman for deer brought into
their station
2. Judges or Justices of all state and United States courts
3. Notaries Public
4. Peace Officers (salaried and non-salaried)
5. Officers authorized to administer oaths
6. Owners, corporate officers, managers or operators of lockers or cold
storage plants for deer brought to their place of business


Question on abalone start time
Question: I know that the start time for abalone diving is now 8 a.m. If it takes me 15 minutes to swim out to the spot I want to start diving for abs, can I enter the water at 7:45 a.m. and not make my first dive until 8 a.m., or does the law mean that there is no entry into the water at all until 8 a.m.? Thanks, (Don C.)

Answer: Abalone may be taken only from 8 a.m. to one-half hour after sunset (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(b)(2)). Although “take” includes the pursuit of abalone, as long as you are just swimming on the surface out to your dive spot and don’t begin your actual searching or diving down for these mollusks until 8 a.m., you would not violate the start time.


What determines wanton waste of fish?
Question: What would be considered deterioration or waste of fish? I understand that leaving them on the shoreline or in a garbage can would be waste, but would it also apply to using the whole fish as fertilizer or something like that? (Zach T.)

Answer: Anglers are expected to make reasonable efforts to retrieve and utilize any fish taken. It is unlawful to cause or permit any deterioration or waste of any fish taken in the waters of this state (CCR Title 14, section 1.87). Although most fish taken under the authority of sport fishing licenses are utilized for human consumption, the regulation does not prescribe how fish are to be used.

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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.

Can Sport-Caught Fish Be Donated to a Food Bank?

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Sport-caught fish can be donated to a food bank or soup kitchen as long as they were legally taken, don’t exceed the angler’s bag limit and as long as the food bank or soup kitchen will accept them. Be sure to check with them first! (CDFG photo)

Question: We often take folks out fishing while they are visiting the area and staying at hotels, bed-and-breakfasts or campsites. Unfortunately, they are often not able to consume all of the fish that they catch. We understand we are allowed to gift fish to friends and family members (as long as each individual does not possess more than one bag limit per person per day).

Are there restrictions on gifting extra fish to local food banks or soup kitchens as long as the food bank would want and accept them? This is a question from a traveler who is interested in planning a future trip. (Jenny O., Santa Cruz)

Answer: Yes, a person is allowed to donate (gift) any fish taken to a food bank or soup kitchen that does not charge money for the fish as long as the fish were legally taken and the daily bag limit was not exceeded. Since every person is only allowed to take or possess one daily bag limit of fish per day, anglers should individually donate their fish to avoid having someone transport more than a possession limit of fish at any time. Since many food banks and soup kitchens no longer accept donations of meat or fish that is not USDA-certified, you may want to check with them in advance.


Airguns and Upland Game Hunting?
Question: My buddy and I are part of the ever increasing population of airgun hunters. We typically take rabbits and ground squirrels, but would like to use these .22 caliber precharged pneumatics for turkey and other upland game, such as quail and dove. While we believe the regulations cover the turkey hunting explicitly, can you confirm if it is also legal to take dove and quail with these firearms? (Jason C., Windsor)

Answer: Resident small game (as listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 257) may be taken with an air rifle firing pellets and powered by compressed air or gas. This includes: wild turkey (must use at least 0.177 caliber or larger), Eurasian collared doves, quail, non-protected squirrels, jack rabbits and cottontails, in addition to the other resident small game species defined in section 257.

Western mourning dove, white-winged dove and band-tailed pigeons are listed as migratory game birds and may not be taken with an air rifle.


Continue diving for fish after abalone limit reached?
Question: Just a quick question now that abalone season is upon us. I took up spearfishing last season and really enjoy it. I know the regulations state that once you reach your limit on abalone you must immediately stop diving. Does this mean stop diving altogether or just for abalone? I guess the question I am asking is can I continue to dive and spearfish after I get my limit of abalone? (Tom R.)

Answer: It is legal to spearfish after harvesting abalone. Abalone divers may take up to three abalone per day, and no more than three abalone may be possessed at any time. Nothing in the regulations requires you to exit the water after harvesting a limit of abalone. However, individuals “taking abalone shall stop detaching abalone when the limit of three is reached” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(c)). This section also requires abalone divers to retain all legal-sized abalone they detach until they reach the limit.


Crayfish for bait?
Question: I was wondering if you can use crayfish as bait when fishing for freshwater fish, such as bass? (Jerry Y.)

Answer: Generally, crayfish may be used for bait statewide, with some exceptions (see CCR Title 14, sections 4.00 and 5.35). Even though crayfish are allowed as bait for bass fishing in most areas of California, if the crayfish were not caught and used in the same waters from where taken, many lakes prohibit anglers entering lakes with live bait. This is due to the potential for the introduction of exotic species, such as quagga and zebra mussels. There is no way to certify the bait and water holding the bait are free from these species. If you plan on using crayfish brought into a lake, it is important to check ahead of time with the operator of the lake to see if they allow importation of legally acquired bait.


Underwater camera to find trout?
Question: Is it legal to use an underwater camera to look for trout that may be hiding underneath the creek/river bank? Does it matter if it’s used while engaged in the actual activity of trout fishing or when not in possession of a fishing pole? (Jim B., Elk Grove)

Answer: An electronic viewing device, such as an underwater camera, would be legal but a non-electronic viewing device (such as goggles, scuba mask, etc.), would be prohibited for taking fish (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.09). There’s an exception, though, under the provisions of spearfishing (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).

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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.

 

Hunting with Drones

(Photo from Creative Commons)

The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California. (Photo from Creative Commons)

Question: What laws apply to big game hunting with camera equipped, radio controlled, drone aircraft? (Terry B.)

Answer: The use of drones to hunt or pursue wildlife is prohibited in California.

“No person shall pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile. Additionally, no person shall use any motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft or other device capable of flight or any earth orbiting imaging device to locate or assist in locating big game mammals beginning 48 hours before and continuing until 48 hours after any big game hunting season in the same area” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251(a)).

The pursuit of birds and mammals by the use of any “motorized water, land or air vehicle” to “pursue, drive or herd any bird or mammal” is also prohibited, with limited exceptions that do not include hunting (Fish and Game Code, section 3003.5). (159)


Transporting legal black bass to my home?
Question: Is it permissible to catch a legal black bass, keep it alive while fishing, and then transport it alive to one’s home? (Jim E.)

Answer: While on the water, you can keep the black bass alive either in your live well on the boat or on a stringer in the water from where it was taken. However, you cannot then transport a live fish away from the waters where taken. Once you leave the water, all fish that you are taking with you must be dead (CCR Title 14, section 1.63).


Replacing abalone back to same rock?
Question: If an abalone diver takes a legal-sized abalone, is it legal for him to return it to the same rock if he does not remove more than three abalone during the day? I know some divers that will dive for several hours and may “pop” one to three abalones without damaging them, and keep none of them, returning all of them to the rocks where they were removed. I don’t think there is anything, technically, in the laws that prevents this, but maybe there should be. (Anonymous)

Answer: There is a law prohibiting this both for the health of the abalone and to prevent high-grading. All legal-sized abalone detached must be retained by the person who detaches it. In addition, no undersize abalone may be retained in any person’s possession or under his control. Undersize abalone must be replaced immediately to the same surface of the rock from which detached. (FGC section 29.15[d]).

No person shall take more than 18 abalone during a calendar year (FGC section 29.15[c]). If the diver takes three legal-sized abalone and puts them back, those abalone still count toward both the diver’s daily and yearly limit. This means that divers must still record those abalone on their report card so as to not exceed their yearly limit.

If a wildlife officer sees someone take a large abalone that is obviously larger than seven inches and the person puts the abalone back, this person has just violated section 29.15(d). If that person then doesn’t record the abalone, he is guilty of failing to complete the Abalone Report Card as required. Wildlife officers on the north coast have written several citations for this, usually to trophy hunters looking for that elusive 10-inch abalone. Wildlife officers try to convince people hunting for trophy abalone to measure them before removing them from rocks.


Turtles from pet stores
Question: I know it’s against the law for pet stores to sell baby turtles, as they can carry salmonella and other dangerous bacteria, plus children can swallow and choke on them. The other day I saw something in my local pet store that confused me. The store was offering a free baby turtle with the purchase of their turtle habitat setup – aquarium, gravel, filter, etc. Technically, they weren’t selling baby turtles, but doesn’t this circumvent the intent of the law, which is to protect public health? (Ed R.)

Answer: What you describe wouldn’t violate any California Fish and Game Code or its implementing regulations but would most likely violate federal and state laws designed to protect public health. Turtles are required to have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed (CCR Title 17, section 2612.1). This restriction was brought into effect under the Public Health Services Act by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1975 to address the problem of Salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths. Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle Salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the United States (Source: http://exoticpets.about.com/od/reptilesturtles/a/turtlesales.htm.)

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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.

DIY Personal Domoic Acid Testing of Crabs?

Dungeness crabs from San Francisco (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Dungeness crabs from the San Francisco Bay Area (photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is there any kind of domoic acid test kit available that a consumer can use to test his/her own crabs? I would think there would be a lot of interest in this. I love to catch and eat crabs but also hate risking getting sick! (Bob W.)

Answer: If you do a google search you will find some kits that state they will detect domoic acid toxins in shellfish, marine algae and water samples. However, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) cannot comment on the suitability of these products to address your concerns. You can minimize your risk though by following California Department of Public Health (CDPH) advisories. In their recent news release, CDPH advised that meat from Dungeness crabs caught in areas where the advisory has been lifted is safe to consume. However, consumers are advised to not eat the viscera (internal organs, also known as “butter” or “guts”) of crabs.

Crab viscera usually contain much higher levels of domoic acid than crab body meat. When whole crabs are cooked in liquid, domoic acid may leach from the viscera into the cooking liquid. Water or broth used to cook whole crabs should be discarded and not used to prepare dishes such as sauces, broths, soups or stews (i.e. cioppino or gumbo), stocks, roux, dressings or dips.

To check for current health warnings on the consumption of crabs and other shellfish, I suggest you call CDPH’s shellfish hotline at (800) 553-4133 or visit CDPH’s Domoic Acid health information Web page. This information is always up to date and available via a recorded message 24/7.


If I see a mountain lion, who do I call?
Question: What do I do when I see a mountain lion come on my property? Who do I call? (Darren M.)

Answer: If you see a mountain lion come onto your property, you don’t need to call anyone unless the animal is acting aggressively toward you or your family, or if it appears to be sick or diseased. If you feel it is an immediate threat to you, call 911. But mountain lions are usually just looking for deer or other prey animals.

If you do know you have a mountain lion around your home, I suggest you keep small children, pets and other animals in a protective area, especially from early evening through mornings when mountain lions are most active. If the animal is just passing through, as they typically do, you might just watch it and enjoy the unique opportunity you’re being given to actually see one. Most people will never have the chance to see one in their lifetimes.

For more information, please check out our living with mountain lions webpage.


Do blue catfish reproduce in California?
Question: Do blue catfish reproduce in California lakes? If not, why? (Mike M., Anaheim)

Answer: Blue catfish can reproduce if they are mature (which can take 4-7 years) and the right temperatures and other environmental conditions exist. In the wild, they typically prefer a cave habitat where they can construct a nest (eg: under rock ledges, logs, or undercut banks) and it is the male that guards and protects the eggs and young fry. Catfish farmers often place into their ponds containers like old milk cans to help the spawning catfish establish nests so that the eggs are easily retrieved and further nurtured in the hatchery. In California, spawning season is late spring/early summer, as temperatures are warming.


Lifetime license still valid if I move out of state?
Question: I was looking into the Lifetime Hunting/Fishing license. This may be a stupid question but if I leave the state of California and change my residency, do I forfeit the whole lifetime license? I assume I must live in California in order to qualify. (Bill)

Answer: No, you won’t forfeit it. Under the provisions of a Lifetime Hunting or Fishing License, your license is valid for hunting/fishing when you return to visit even if you move out of state. You would be required to buy non-resident tags for big game species but the license is still valid. For more on the benefits and privileges of hunting and fishing lifetime licenses, please visit the department website.


Can you harvest abalone for a handicapped individual?
Question: Just curious if there are any provisions in the abalone regulations to allow someone to assist a handicapped person. For example, if the person is unable to dive for abalone, can someone else harvest the catch for them? (Todd J., Milbrae)

Answer: No, an individual may only take or possess one daily limit of abalone (which is three). A diver could take three abalone one day, record and tag them with their abalone report punch card and tags, and then give them to a disabled person who is not able to dive. Then the following day, the diver may go out to get three more abalone for themselves, and again, report them on the punch card and tag them in accordance with the regulations.

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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.

Selling Tickets for a Fundraiser Serving Abalone?

Red abalone can be shipped out of state only certain conditions. (© Derek Stein)

Sport-taken abalone may not be bought, sold, bartered or traded. To use abalone for a non-profit fundraising dinner, the cost of attending the dinner must be advertised as a requested donation to the organization putting on the dinner (Photo by Derek Stein)

Question: My husband and I dive for abalone in Humboldt where we live. If we don’t consume them right away, we freeze them whole in the shell as the local wildlife officer advised us years ago. I also work for a nonprofit hospice in Sutter County and they will soon have a fundraiser at a private house where many of our staff will prepare appetizers for 100 guests. I want to prepare abalone appetizers from three abalone that we already have tagged and frozen from last season. The event is being professionally catered for the meal and dessert and so they are selling tickets, but no one is paying for or making money from the abalone I want to cook. The abalone is such a minuscule part of the meal. I just want to make sure I am allowed to bring it to an event like this and I was not able to find anything specific about that in the regulations. Please advise. Thank you. (Amy M.)

Answer: Sport-taken abalone may not be bought, sold, bartered or traded (Fish and Game Code, section 7121.) If sport-taken abalone are used for a non-profit fund-raising dinner, then the cost of attending the dinner must be advertised as a requested donation to the organization putting on the dinner. In your situation, if you are just providing a few abalone for an appetizer, and as long as the dinner is not advertised to contain abalone in order to sell more tickets to the fund-raising dinner, then you will not be violating the law.


Are hunters required to wear blaze orange hunting vests?
Question: I recently completed my hunter safety education course, got my license and went hunting with a small group on private land. None of us wore hunter safety orange vests as we were all together at all times and in each others line of sights. I see hunting shows where they sometimes don’t wear the orange hunter vests either. When do you wear the vests? Is it acceptable to not wear them while on private land when you’re with a small group and know where everyone is? Or, do you have to wear blaze orange all the time while hunting? (Joseph L.)

(Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)

(Photo courtesy of National Shooting Sports Foundation)

Answer: Though some states require hunters (especially when hunting upland game) to wear blaze orange all the time while in the field for safety reasons, California Fish and Wildlife laws do not require it. However, keep in mind that some military bases such as Camp Hunter Liggett and Camp Roberts do require blaze orange. It is a good idea to wear this distinctive color whenever possible for your safety as it does help you to stand out. You’ll find that orange is being incorporated more and more into hunting camouflage patterns to provide greater safety. One thing to note for deer hunting, deer cannot detect the color orange. To deer, orange looks gray.


Can local police issue Fish and Game citations?
Question: Can local police issue a violation for no fishing license? (Phil F.)

Answer: Yes, they are authorized to cite people who are breaking fish and wildlife laws but in many cases they will contact the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and turn the case over to our wildlife officers.


Shooting clay pigeons in dove fields when doves out of season?
Question: Is it legal to shoot clay pigeons in the same fields that I use for dove hunting when doves are not in season? (Richard X.)

Answer: Fish and Game laws do not generally cover target practice. However, Fish and Game law does prohibit target practice on most state wildlife areas, except in specifically designated areas that are identified as such. Keep in mind that shooting clay targets produces a lot of litter. Please make sure you have the property owner’s permission before you do it and comply with their requirements regarding cleanup.


Glasses when abalone diving?
Question: I wear reading glasses. I don’t like to take my glasses on the beach or in the water with me because I don’t want them to get scratched. However, without my glasses, I cannot clearly read the new abalone cards. Last season I accidentally used the wrong tag (one that was not in sequential order) because I could not read the numbers. What can I do to make this easier? (Zoe D., Trinidad)

Answer: I can empathize with your frustrations. You may want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses and/or a small magnifying glass in your dive bag or innertube. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations.

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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.

Harvesting Sea Urchins before Abalone Start Time

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same locations (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same or similar locations but only urchins can be harvested before 8 a.m. (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Question: My question is about the requirement that abalone may not be taken before 8 a.m. This year there are a few good minus tides that bottom out before 8 a.m. Is it legal to be on the abalone grounds to harvest sea urchins prior to 8 a.m., and then go abalone picking after 8 a.m.? (Paul N., San Francisco)

Answer: You can go out before 8 a.m. to harvest urchins, but you cannot take any action that will assist in your later take of abalone. For example, you may not search for abalone or mark the location of any abalone that you encounter while taking urchins. If you choose to dive before 8 a.m., don’t be surprised if you are questioned by a warden. If your activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then you can be cited.


What to do with inedible harvested non-game animals?
Question: I know that it is illegal to waste harvested game animals, but what about non-edible, non-game animals (such as jackrabbits, rock doves, coyotes, etc.)? What are the legal/ethical guidelines on what to do with these harvested animals? Should they be buried, left in the field, trashed or something else? (Bill S., Rancho Cucamonga)

Answer: Jackrabbits are small game, and if someone is going to kill them recreationally, then they should be used. They certainly are edible and many people hunt them for consumption. There is no standard way to dispose of legally taken non-game mammals. Some non-game animals like crows require retrieval while others don’t. If they are a species that does not require retrieval, ethically, it is up to the individual. Hunters are encouraged to fully utilize all harvested wildlife. However, even if it is a non-game species where retrieval is not required by law, hunters should still make every effort to properly dispose of it. To just let animals lay where they’ve fallen without retrieval or attempts to properly dispose of them reflects badly on the image of those of us who are conscientious and ethical hunters.


Combination of sabiki rig and drop shot rig
Question: I often go sport fishing around Santa Cruz with my kayak. I would like to catch live fish with a sabiki rig with multiple hooks, then use them with a drop shot rig with two hooks to catch rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod and halibut. Is this allowed? (Kota T.)

Answer: Yes, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don’t take or possess a species which has a more restrictive method of take than the general gear restrictions (e.g. rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod or salmon). If you happen to catch one of these species while using more than two hooks on your line, you must release the fish.

You are limited to no more than one line and two hooks when fishing for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or if these species are in possession. Once you begin fishing for the species that have hook restrictions, you will want to stow the sabiki rig so that it clearly is not in use.


How many turkeys per year?
Question: Can you legally harvest five birds a year by taking three bearded birds during the spring season and two birds during the fall season, or does the three bird limit apply to a full calendar year? (Pete R.)

Answer: You can legally harvest five turkeys in a year but can never possess more than three at one time. So long as you are eating your game regularly, you should not have an issue so be sure to consume or gift your spring birds before the fall season.


Hunter update email from CDFW?
Question: My friend recently received an interesting “hunter update” email directly from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) encouraging her to buy a license and go turkey hunting. Although I already have my hunting and fishing licenses, I am interested in receiving updates from CDFW. How do I get on this mailing list? (Monica B.)

Answer: The email your friend received is part of a larger effort by CDFW to increase outreach and education to California hunters and anglers. In order to receive these updates, reminders and other useful information from the department, you need to update your CDFW license profile on our website and provide us with your email address and communication preferences.

To sign-up, visit our online licenses sales page, click ‘Customer Login/Register’ then ‘Edit Customer Profile.’ If you are a new CDFW customer making your first license purchase online or from a license agent, you will be asked for your email address and communication preferences while creating your profile. Any personal information collected will never be disclosed, made available or used for any purpose other than as specified at the time it was collected, except with the written consent of the subject of the information or as otherwise permitted by law or regulation. Fish and Game Code, section 1050.6 and California Government Code, section 11015.5 prohibit CDFW from selling or sharing your information with any third party.

Purchasing your licenses, tags and report cards online is easier than ever and now comes with the added benefit of timely updates and information from CDFW.

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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.

Are Abalone Report Cards Used to Set New Quotas?

North Coast free diver measuring a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) to be sure it's of legal size before taking (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

North Coast freediver measuring a legal-sized red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) before detaching and taking it to the surface (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

Question: I was just filing my abalone harvest report, which rather than being due the end of January like before, is now not due until April 1. While I appreciate the extra time and opportunity to still fill out my report when I go to buy new tags for the season opener, I am wondering if this means my harvest data from last year is not being used to set quotas and limits for the following season. Specifically, is the impact of the Fort Ross closure and potential rebound or the north/south split of the last few years not being accounted for? (Darren M., Folsom)

Answer: I’m afraid you are mistaken about the deadline changing. Abalone report cards are still due Jan. 31. Beginning this year our online reporting system will accept late reports because they still contain valuable information even after the Jan. 31 deadline. In the future, late reporting may result in a mandatory late fee or temporary suspension of the privilege to harvest abalone.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jerry Kashiwada, data from all cards returned to the Fort Bragg office are now being entered and it takes additional time beyond the deadline for that to be completed. These data are very valuable in helping us determine the effects of the current set of regulations but it will take several years to sort out the regulation effects from year to year variations. We had already been noting shifts in fishing effort to Mendocino County before the Fort Ross closure and catch reduction in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Our current management of abalone does not change from year to year in response to report card data. Instead, it is based on the density of abalone monitored by dive surveys at eight index sites. But the card data does provide valuable indications of abalone status at the many sites not covered by index site surveys. The card data helps us determine the effects of the latest regulations, while the surveys show the effects on abalone populations and will largely determine future regulatory changes.

We are currently working on a new abalone management plan and will have public meetings in the near future to discuss details of the plan. For more information, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/red-abalone-fmp.


Hunting chipmunks
Question: I was recently in a conversation about hunting chipmunks and we are curious if it’s legal to do? I do not plan on hunting them, just want to know. (Michael C.)

Answer: Chipmunks are classified as nongame mammals, which generally would mean they may not be taken. However, chipmunks may be taken because California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 472(a) authorizes take of nongame rodents except for tree and flying squirrels, rodents that are designated as furbearers, and endangered or threatened species.


Shark fin prohibition
Question: According to the shark fin regulations, skate wings cannot be possessed as they are the expanded pectoral fins of an elasmobranch. I don’t understand this because the skates are still legal to catch and the only part of a skate that is eatable as far as I know is the wing. How do I prepare the skate if it’s illegal to possess the wing? (Joel)

Answer: “Shark fins” are defined to mean the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached fin or tail of an elasmobranch (FGC, section 2021). Since skates are elasmobranchs, the law applies to detached skate wings. The shark fin law was adopted in part to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty by prohibiting shark fin removal of live fish and to protect wildlife and public health due to high levels of mercury in shark fins. Many people do eat the body and tail of the skate. The harvest of skates for personal consumption is permissible under current law as long as the entire animal is harvested and not just the wings. You should transport the whole skate to where you are going to prepare it for immediate consumption.


Hunting on rental property
Question: I am renting some land and would like to hunt on it. Do I need hunting permission written into the lease agreement? Do I need to carry written permission from the landowner on my person? Do I need verbal permission? Or does my renting the land give me permission to hunt? (Jennifer)

Answer: It is unlawful to enter certain lands for hunting purposes “without having first obtained written permission from the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of that land” (FGC, section 2016). But as the renter of the land, you are the person in lawful possession of the land, so you are not required to carry written permission from the landowner. However, prior to hunting on the land, you should make sure there are no restrictions in your lease or rental agreement that prohibits you from hunting on the property.

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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.