Category Archives: Info

Ground Squirrels for the BBQ?

Ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

California ground squirrels may be taken at any time. However, before tossing one on the barbecue, you should be aware of the possible health dangers (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I heard there are some concerns with eating ground squirrels in general. Is there some truth to this? If so, why do I see recipes to cook and eat them? Are they like chicken and pork where if you ensure the meat is cooked thoroughly, you should be okay? I like to go squirrel hunting with my son, but since tree squirrels may not be hunted now, ground squirrels are our only option. Any guidance would be helpful! (Highhorse L.)

Answer: Tree squirrel season runs between September  and January. California ground squirrels are not a game animal though, so from a legal standpoint, they have no seasons, bag or possession limits. If taken in the condor zone, ground squirrels must be hunted with non-lead ammunition.

Before attempting to eat them though, according to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) veterinarians, there’s a lot we don’t know about diseases in ground squirrels. We do know they carry fleas and are highly susceptible to plague and probably die within a short period of time after exposure to the disease agent.

Also, anyone even thinking of eating ground squirrels should first make sure there is no chemical ground squirrel control going on in the area because ground squirrels are commonly controlled by anticoagulant rodenticides. If the ground squirrel consumes a non-lethal dose, the rodenticide would still persist in their tissues for a few weeks or months.

Be aware that both the Center for Disease Control and Prevention website www.cdc.gov/plague/and the California Department of PublGround_Squirrel_USFWSic Health site www.cdph.ca.gov/healthinfo/discond/Pages/Plague.aspx indicate the greatest risk of acquiring plague is being around infected rodents like ground squirrels due to their fleas. Humans usually get the disease after being bitten by a rodent flea that is carrying the plague bacterium or by handling an animal infected with plague. During the Middle Ages, plague is infamous for killing millions of people in Europe. Today, modern antibiotics are effective in treating plague. Without prompt treatment, the disease can cause serious illness or death.

Plague is endemic everywhere in California, except the southeastern desert and the Central Valley. It is not active everywhere in that range though, so before your hunt I suggest you contact the county public health department in the areas you will be hunting to find out the status and history of plague in those areas. Watch out for the state-protected Mohave ground squirrel found only in the Mojave Desert. They are not legal to take, so be sure you can tell them apart from the California ground squirrel.

If after reading all this you’re still determined to eat ground squirrels, like with all wildlife, make sure they are cooked thoroughly. Proper preparation and cooking is key to avoiding and minimizing exposure to disease. Bon appetit!


Can my kids spearfish for carp?
Question: I have a question concerning spear fishing for carp. When I was a kid, we used to go into the creeks and spear big carp. On the Russian River during the fall, I would see tens of thousands of huge carp congregating. Can I let my kids go into the water with a mask and fins and spear these 10-20+ pound carps? I would think that would be helpful for the river and we can pass the meat out to our multi-cultural friends. (Anonymous)

Answer: Spearfishing for carp is allowed only in the Colorado River District (all year) and in certain areas of the Valley District, Black Butte Lake and the Kern River (from May 1 to Sept. 15) (CCR Title 14, section 2.30).


Why no harvest odds this year?
Question: Why did the Big Game Digest omit the harvest odds for deer this year? Why do they not publish buck-to-doe ratios either? Other states share that information and it’s a lot more helpful than those colorful articles in this year’s booklet. I am afraid to spend my points blindly. (Todd S.)

Answer: The answer has more to do with timing than anything – harvest and ratio data were simply not available when the Big Game Digest was developed. We are still adapting the harvest analysis to the new Automated License Data System (ALDS). Harvest data first has to be entered into the database, and then the analysis takes place. The deer harvest data was posted on-line as soon as it was available at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/deerhunt.html.


Fishing license when practicing fly fishing?
Question: Will we need a fishing license at Big Bear Lake if we are only fly rod casting in the water? We just want to learn how to cast a fly rod and will be using a fly without a hook on it. (Patrick G., Las Vegas, NV)

Answer: You do not need to have a license if the fly is not capable of hooking a fish.

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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.

Please do not reply to this e-mail. DFGNews@wildlife.ca.gov is for outgoing messages only and is not checked for incoming mail. For questions about this News Release, contact the individual(s) listed above. Thank you.

Crab Hawk Traps

Crab traps must contain escape ports to allow undersized crabs to freely escape (Dungeness crab photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is the Crab Hawk legal for use in California during open 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. Please clarify this for me and cite the appropriate section in the event you determine it is illegal. (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.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Lt. Dennis McKiver, 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.


Fishing Lake Havasu with a California Colorado River stamp?
Question: I am a California resident and get a yearly California license with the Colorado River stamp. I also buy a yearly nonresident Arizona fishing license in that state with no Colorado River stamp. Now the question is can I fish from the Arizona side in the river or launch my boat in Lake Havasu and be legal with what I have, or do I need an Arizona Colorado River stamp in addition to the California one? (John C., Banning)

Answer: Based on your question, it appears you buy the nonresident Arizona license so you can fish from shore in Arizona along boundary waters with California. If that is the case, what you have should be fine. A Colorado River Special Use Stamp is required for anyone fishing from a boat or other floating device on the Colorado River or adjacent waters forming the California-Arizona border. In addition, the holder of a California license must have an Arizona Use Stamp, and the holder of an Arizona license must have a California Use Stamp.


Steel shot required for doves and quail?
Question: In a very heated discussion in a duck blind recently, I was challenged to a bet over whether there is public land that requires the usage of steel shot for doves and quail. We eliminated the obvious like refuges, military bases like Camp Roberts and Hunter Liggett, and areas like the San Luis Wildlife Area.

Can you please clarify this situation or point me in the right direction? My friend feels very strongly that the condor zones have not only changed where we can use lead shot but also those requirements have flown down to other areas. (Don S.)

Answer: There have been no recent changes in the use of lead shot for small game including birds within the condor range.

According to DFG Lt. Todd Tognazzini, steel shot is only required for taking all game/nongame on some military bases, National Wildlife Refuges and Wildlife Areas. Lead shot may be used for taking all game birds (excluding waterfowl, of course) and small game (rabbits and tree squirrels) within the condor range.


Fundraising tags
Question: How do the fundraising tags affect the other big game draw tags? I know we are only allowed two deer tags per season. If someone applies for both deer zone tags and the fundraising open zone deer tag and then by chance is drawn for the open zone deer tag, would the open zone deer tag then be the first deer tag? I want to apply for the fundraising tag but don’t know how it will affect my regular deer tags? (Madrigal A.)

Answer: Hunters are limited to no more that two deer tags each season. According to DFG License Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, if you were fortunate enough to draw the fund raising deer tag, you would have to surrender either your first or second deer tag (your choice) prior to issuance of the open zone deer fund-raising tag.

DFG has a list of frequently asked questions that are similar to the one you asked available at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/hunting/huntingfaqs.html.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Can Ducks See Color?

Because waterfowl have a high number of cones — which dictate color vision in humans — they have color vision where colors are more vivid than what humans have the ability to see (Wood duck photo courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Question: Can ducks see color? I know deer see different shades of gray, but what about ducks and geese? (David V.)

Answer: Well, this actually is a fairly entertaining question since waterfowl are much different than many other animals — especially us!

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) waterfowl biologist Shaun Oldenburger, waterfowl can control the curvature of both the lens and cornea (mammals, including humans, only control the lens). This is basically how birds can see extremely well while flying and while in the act of diving/feeding. In addition, their eyes act independently and they use one at a time to allow for depth-perception since nearly all waterfowl have monocular, not binocular, vision (they can’t stare forward at objects).

Another unique thing about waterfowl is they can see in almost all directions. A few ducks are the exception to the rule, but usually the eye placement allows them to view in many different directions at the same time. Secondly, waterfowl have a very high number of cones (which dictates color vision in humans) which allows them to see sharp images and have color vision where colors are more vivid than humans’ ability. The breadth of color vision is much wider than our own since UV light can be observed by waterfowl (UV light is absorbed by lenses in humans). This allows waterfowl to fly at night or feed in the dark or at low light conditions.


Are pier anglers considered shore-based anglers?
Question: I know that rockfish, lingcod and all groundfish are open year round to shore-based anglers. Does that include pier anglers? Seems to me that piers are shore-based, but thought I’d best check to be sure since I don’t see it spelled out in the regs. (David B.)

Answer: Yes, pier anglers are considered shore-based anglers.


Hunting deer after dropping their antlers?
Question: I have a question about a deer being legal to take after it drops its antlers. I hunt during the late archery deer season and was hunting one buck for about a month. By the end of the A-22 archery season, the buck had dropped both antlers. The regs read as follows:

§351. Forked-Horn Buck, Antlerless and Either-Sex Deer Defined.

  • (a) Forked-Horn Buck Defined. For the purpose of these regulations a forked-horn buck is defined as a male deer having a branched antler on either side with the branch in the upper two-thirds of the antler. Eyeguards or other bony projections on the lower one-third of the antler shall not be considered as points or branches.
  • (b) Antlerless Deer Defined. For the purpose of these regulations, antlerless deer are defined as female deer, fawns of either sex other than spotted fawns, and male deer with an unbranched antler on one or both sides which is not more than three inches in length.
  • (c) Either-Sex Deer Defined. For the purpose of these regulations, either-sex deer are defined as antlerless deer as described in section 351 (b), or legal bucks that have two or more points in the upper two-thirds of either antler. Spike bucks may not be taken.

The way I read the regs, it would be illegal to shoot a buck after it dropped its antlers. Can you clarify this for me please? (Jim P.)

Answer: Yes, you are correct. That deer got lucky this year!


Lifetime licenses?
Question: Why did California stop sending lifetime licenses out? At the time of purchase there were no restrictions implying I had to remain a resident of California and I had no intentions of moving. Circumstances changed though and now I live out of state. Does this negate the lifetime license privileges that I’ve already paid for? (Aron H., Homer, Alaska)

Answer:  No, your lifetime license status has not changed because you moved out of state. According to DFG Sport Fishing/Waterfowl/Upland Game Program Analyst Glenn Underwood, a change in lifetime license issuance procedures was made when we launched the Automated License Data System in 2010.  Lifetime license customers must now verify that their personal information is correct and request their license annually.

There are three ways to claim your license:

1. Pick up your license at any license agent. A list of license agents is available at www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/internetsales/OutletSearch/FindOutlet.

2. Order it online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing. Log in and complete your transaction as though you are making a purchase. There will be no charge for your lifetime license.

3. Call (800) 565-1458 and your license will be mailed to you.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Why Shot Shell Limits in Refuges and Wildlife Areas?

Northern California Patrol Chief Mike Carion enjoying a beautiful day of hunting on a Sacramento Valley refuge (DFG photo)

Question: During the four duck limit era, the 25 shot shell limit in refuges and wildlife areas made sense. However, now that the limit is seven ducks, and in some cases the goose count can be six, why aren’t we allowed to carry more shells into the field? Inevitably, that limitation leads to one of us doing the “walk of shame” back to the truck to retrieve another 25 shells for a full day of hunting in a blind. That is not the most fun task given some of the walks at refuges like Little Dry Creek can be more than a mile in one direction. (Russ L.)

Answer: This is a rule that applies to many National Wildlife Refuges (NWR) and Wildlife Areas (WA) in the state. It was put into place to increase effective shooting by waterfowl hunters on public hunting areas, thus ensuring a more enjoyable hunting experience for all hunters on the area. By limiting the amount of ammo a hunter can carry into the field, the goal is to reduce possible unsportsmanlike behavior (e.g. excessive and/or less discriminating shooting) which will improve the hunting experience.

According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Waterfowl Biologist Shaun Oldenburger, Los Banos WA established the first shotgun waterfowl shell restrictions in 1977 with a limit of 50 shells per day. In 1978, this regulation was expanded to Kern NWR (25 shells) and in 1979 expanded to nearly all San Joaquin Valley NWRs and WAs (25 shells). Grizzly Island was included in 1980. By 1985, shell restrictions expanded to all Sacramento and San Joaquin Valley NWRs and WAs, and in 1986 San Jacinto was included.

In 1979, when the 25 shotgun shell restrictions were first established in the San Joaquin Valley, the waterfowl season length was 93 days with a seven bird bag. By 1988, waterfowl populations had declined and so the season was reduced to 59 days and four duck bag limits. Still, the primary purpose of the 25 shotgun shell restrictions is to increase both the hunting experience and improve overall shot selection by waterfowl hunters. Daily bag limits will not dictate these restrictions, since removing them may increase the unsportsmanlike behaviors that caused their introduction to begin with.

Fortunately, waterfowl populations in California are currently healthy and so a more liberal bag limit is now in place. Hopefully, with this combination of healthy waterfowl populations and the 25 shotgun shell restrictions in place within the NWRs and WAs throughout the state, hunters are enjoying their hunting experiences now and will continue to do so well into the future!


Scuba to catch Dungeness crabs?
Question: Is it legal to use SCUBA equipment to catch Dungeness crabs? (David B.)

Answer: SCUBA divers may take Dungeness crab using only their hands. No hooked device may be possessed while taking Dungeness crab while diving (California Code of Regulations, section 29.80(g)).


Archery hunting within the city limits?
Question: I hunt using archery and am wondering if it is legal to hunt within city limits, with permission, on a golf course for excess turkey and deer. If so, could you please send me a permission to hunt form that I could use to ask private property owners to sign? (Rev. Mark H.)

Answer: As long as the season is open and you have permission from the property owner, Fish and Game law does not prohibit you from hunting within city limits or on golf courses. According to DFG retired captain Phil Nelms though, many local jurisdictions have enacted ordinances in the interest of public safety that may restrict your ability to hunt in these public areas. Please check with the City Police or County Sheriff to see what, if any, such ordinances may exist in your area. Keep in mind too that any type of firearm or other deadly weapon (archery) may not be discharged within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling (Fish and Game Code, section 3004).

Permission to hunt on private property must consist of a one-on-one agreement between the property owner and the hunter. A sample signatory form can be found on DFG’s website at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/pdffiles/FG994.pdf.


Where to find fishing regulations?
Question: I don’t live near any DFG offices and would like to know how I can obtain a copy of the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. (Rob B.)

Answer: Regulations are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/sportfishing_regs2011.asp and from DFG license offices and businesses that sell fishing licenses. To find a distributor in your area, go to www.ca.wildlifelicense.com/InternetSales/OutletSearch/FindOutlet and enter just your city and zip code. You will then be provided with a list of locations in your area that distribute regulation booklets.

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.


Releasing Sea Creatures Back to the Wild?

DFG photo

Question: Instead of taking life by the act of fishing or eating sea creatures, I want to save the lives of those creatures from seafood markets that are about to be killed for food by buying them and releasing them back to the ocean. Please let me know what kind of live sea creatures (crabs, oyster, shrimp, fish, etc.) are allowed to be legally released back to the ocean. I don’t want to do anything illegal, so please let me know of any restrictions I may need to know. (Justin)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is illegal to release any ocean finfish or shellfish from captivity back into ocean waters (Fish and Game Code, section 6400). Animals living in a fish tank or captive environment may have been exposed to foreign diseases and/or parasites and now carry them. To protect the natural ocean environments and prevent captive finfish and invertebrates from introducing these foreign diseases and/or parasites to healthy wild stocks, it is illegal to move or reintroduce them to the wild.


Shooting a nuisance bear?
Question: I have a buddy who lives near Lake Arrowhead. They have a bear that has been vandalizing their property (like getting into trash cans), threatening animals and making them on edge at night or during the day. Would it be legal to shoot this nuisance animal? (Joey Cox, Tulare)

Answer: No, it is not legal to take this or any bear unless you are a holder of a valid bear tag during the open season or are a person operating under the conditions of a valid Depredation Permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG).

Tell your buddy to contact DFG in Southern California at (909) 484-0167 to report the damage being caused by the bear and to obtain information about the requirements for acquiring a depredation permit.


Where to stick a stamp?
Question: I just bought the new California computerized hunting license. Since it is issued by the state, Big 5 sold me the federal waterfowl stamp separately. The federal stamp is not printed on the license. Where do I stick it on the license since there is no place designated like the past licenses? Also, if a person buys the initial license with no stamps, then decides to duck hunt later, how do they add the printed stamp info? Do you have to pay for a new license over again? (Anonymous)

Answer: The law does not require the federal waterfowl stamp to be attached to the new license. You just need to have it in your possession while hunting (along with your license) so you can present it to a game warden upon request. You may want to just staple it to your hunting license to keep them together. The federal stamp must still be signed no matter where it is kept. If a person buys a license and later wants to get validations for bird hunting, they will be given an additional printout of the validations and must carry that along with the original license.


Big Game hunting with an airgun?
Question: Is it legal to hunt and take big game in California with an airgun of any caliber? I am aware that small game (rabbits, squirrels, etc) may be taken with any caliber airgun and turkeys may be taken with a .20 caliber or larger airgun. I read this question recently on a very widely viewed airgun forum. (Mike Clark)

Answer: Air rifles are unlawful for this purpose. Check California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 353 for the specific methods allowed for the taking of big game.


How fast do abalone grow?
Question: How fast do abalone grow?

Answer. Abalone are relatively slow growing. Tagging studies indicate northern California red abalone take about 12 years to reach seven inches, but growth rates are highly variable. Abalone grow nearly one inch per year for the first few years, and much slower after that. It takes about five years for red abalone to grow from seven inches to eight inches. At eight inches, growth rates are so slow it takes about 13 years to grow another inch. Slow growth makes abalone populations vulnerable to overfishing since many years are needed to replace each abalone taken.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

 

Halibut Fishing Alternatives

DFG Associate Marine Biologist with a California halibut (Photo by Travis Tanaka)

Question:  I fish out of Morro Bay for halibut but there’s no live bait available this year. Because of that, I’d like to try ball bouncing for halibut and am thinking about trolling a Rapalla fishing lure as bait. I have two Rapalla lures with three galvanized treble hooks attached to them. I know the limit is only two hooks for most ocean fishes. Can I use these lures as they are designed or do I have to cut a set of hooks off them to be legal? (Chris Jones)

Answer: There are no hook restrictions for halibut, so the lure you have described would be legal to use. However, according to our halibut program expert, Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Associate Marine Biologist Travis Tanaka, you should remove one of the treble hooks. There are two reasons for this. First, a hooked fish would be safer to handle because you wouldn’t have the additional hooks (not hooked in the fish) possibly hooking your clothing or skin. Second, short fish would be easier to release because again you wouldn’t have to worry about the additional hooks catching where you don’t want them to.
Tanaka says many anglers will also use a rig similar to that used for salmon, basically a hoochie/flasher trolled on the bottom. He’s also caught halibut drifting frozen anchovies.

We recommend a soft, knotless landing net. Sublegal-sized halibut landed with this type of net don’t fin split (damage their fins) and they will have a greater chance of survival when you release.


Booking a hunting trip?
Question: Can you direct me to a legitimate site to book a hunting trip? How can we hunt on government land? What are the costs? (Cheri Wengronowitz)

Answer: DFG makes no recommendations in support of any particular guide or hunting service. Hence, your best bet is to contact other hunters to ask about their experiences in order to help you decide which guide service to go with.

According to DFG’s Bear, Mountain Lion and Wild Pig Programs Statewide Coordinator Marc Kenyon, you can hunt on certain government-owned (public) lands in California. Public lands in California are primarily owned, operated and maintained by DFG, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Department of Defense or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). Each of these agencies has developed rules and regulations for the lands they administer. They provide details of which lands are open to public access for outdoor recreational activities (including hunting), and the time of year they are open. Some of these lands are open year-round with no access fees, but some lands are open only certain times of the year with an access fee. Moreover, some public lands are entirely closed to all public use, mostly for protection of certain plant and animal species.

Generally speaking, most big game mammal hunting occurs on DFG, BLM, Military or Forest Service lands. Small mammal and varmint hunting occurs on BLM and Forest Service lands. Waterfowl and upland game bird hunting occurs on DFG and USFWS lands.

For the regulations governing the use of DFG lands, please go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/lands. Please contact the other land management agencies for rules or regulations concerning their lands.


Gaffing salmon?
Question: Is it legal to gaff a keeper salmon in the ocean instead of using a net?

Answer:  In ocean waters it would be legal to gaff a legal size salmon pursuant to the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.65(d), but you must still have a landing net that is at least 18 inches in diameter on board to land any undersize fish. In inland waters, CCR Title 14, section 2.06 makes it illegal to use or possess a gaff throughout California with one exception, which is a section of the Sacramento River below the Deschutes Road Bridge where gaffs three feet or less in length may be used to land legal sized fish. This exception only applies to anglers fishing from a boat.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Why Do Fawns Have Growths on their Necks and Chins?

A healthy mule deer fawn (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

Question: Many of the fawns I am currently seeing here in Santa Barbara County appear to have growths or swelling on their necks or chin about the size of a baseball. I’ve seen this over the last several years. What’s up? (Larry F., Solvang)

Answer: According to DFG Veterinarian Dr. Ben Gonzales, deer can have multiple lumps due to cutaneous tumors (aka papillomatosis or fibromas) which are thought to be induced by viruses.

The location you describe of these lumps makes him think they are more likely jaw abscesses which can develop from a broken tooth, or more likely from the migration of grass awns or foxtails. Foxtails migrate forward and find the path of least resistance. The body tries to fight this foreign body by delivering white cells (neutrophils), which collect, die and form pus-filled abscesses. The abscesses also find the path of least resistance between tissue layers and thus can end up on the upper neck. Since this is the time of year when foxtails are dry and are easily picked up and ingested during feeding, my best educated guess is that you’re seeing foxtail-induced abscesses.


Trapping tree squirrels
Question: My cat often hunts and kills squirrels, then brings them home and eats them on the porch. I’d like to reduce the number of “prizes” my cat brings home for me, so what kind of license do I need to trap the tree squirrels, and what types of traps would you recommend? (Billy James)

Answer: A hunting license is required to take all species of squirrels, and for tree squirrels there are seasons, bag limits and geographical restrictions. Tree squirrels cannot be taken with traps during the open season (see below for exception), but traps can be used to take ground squirrels. According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Capt. Phil Nelms, you have slightly different options for dealing with problem tree squirrels depending on which species are causing problems:

Gray squirrels that are causing damage can only be taken under the provisions of a special permit issued by DFG. Please check with your local DFG office to apply for a permit.

California ground squirrels may be taken with traps in accordance with sections 475 – 465.5(g) in the Mammal Hunting regulations (CCR Title 14, sections 475 through 465.5(g)). There is no closed season or bag limit for ground squirrels. A hunting license is required except when taking them to protect your property, in which case no license or permit is required from DFG.

Red fox squirrels can only be taken with traps when they are found to be injuring growing crops or other property. Traps have to be used in accordance with California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5(g). Please see the 2011 Mammal Regulations booklet. Check out section 465.5(g) under furbearing mammals regulations or online at http://www.fgc.ca.gov/regulations/current/mammalregs.asp.

If trapped squirrels are not immediately killed, you must release them immediately in the area taken. The law does not allow live-trapped animals to be relocated from their immediate surroundings. If taken away from its known surroundings, the animal is more likely to suffer from lack of food and water. Humanely killing the animal is the only realistic option.

We do not have a product recommendation regarding types of traps to use. You should check with the agency that provides animal control services in your area or maybe try a large nursery/garden supply business.

Squirrels may not be taken with cats! Joking aside, you are not in much danger of being cited or prosecuted for the predatory habits of your cat as long as you are not training, controlling or otherwise encouraging it to kill the squirrels. See section 307 in the current Mammal Hunting Regulations (CCR Title 13, section 307) available online at http://dfg.ca.gov/regulations/.


Sturgeon possession limits
Question: I enjoy sturgeon fishing and regularly go down to the Bay for a two-day fishing trip this time of year. How many can I have in possession? Let’s say I go to San Pablo on a Friday, catch a legal-size sturgeon, tag it and then take it back to my truck to put in an ice chest. Can I then fish on Saturday and catch and tag another sturgeon? If so, upon returning to my truck I would then have two sturgeon in my possession. I believe there is a yearly limit of three, but what is the possession limit up to those three sturgeon? (Mike G., Rio Oso)

Answer: No more than one daily bag limit (one sturgeon) may be taken or possessed at any time, even if the animal is frozen or otherwise preserved (CCR Title 14, section 1.17).

Photo credit: A healthy mule deer fawn (Photo courtesy of UDWR)

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 Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.