Category Archives: Nuisance Animals & Pests

Religious Live Fish Releases

Channel catfish (Photo by Dennis McKinney, CDOW)

Channel catfish (Photo by Dennis McKinney, CDOW)

Question: I am looking for a place/beach to release live fish. Our religion says it is very good to release a live fish because you save a life and also you learn to be merciful to all of the lives in the world. I live in Orange County, but any places/beaches in Los Angeles or Orange County works for us. We have friends who get permission in Europe to do this. The government allows them to release only certain fish species in specific areas only. (Joo Pheng, Ooi)

Answer: What you are proposing cannot be authorized in California, even for religious purposes. It is illegal to transport live finfish as well as to release live finfish into waters different from where taken.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Aquaculture Coordinator Kirsten Ramey, prayer animal release can pose a serious risk to natural resources and society through the introduction of non-native and/or invasive species. California currently faces a variety of significant and lasting impacts from introductions of non-native and invasive species in both fresh and coastal waters. Just a few of these impacts include reduced diversity and abundance of native plants and animals (due to competition, predation, parasitism, genetic dilution, introduction of pathogens, smother and loss of habitat to invasive species), threats to public health and safety (via parasites and disease) and increased costs to business, agriculture, landowners and government (for invasive pest treatment and clean up).

One of California’s costly introductions was attributed to the aquarium trade, based on DNA evidence. Caulerpa taxifoli, an invasive algae originally from the Mediterranean Sea, has cost California more than $6 million to eradicate.

In terms of ecological impacts, the introduction of invasive species is thought to be second only to habitat loss in contributing to declining native biodiversity throughout the United States. California has been invaded by many aquatic plants and animals which have altered native ecosystems and taken a toll on recreation, commercial fishing and sensitive native species. For these reasons and more, it is unlawful to place, plant or cause to be placed or planted, in any of the waters of this state, any live fish, any fresh or salt water animal, or any aquatic plant, whether taken without or within the state, without first securing the written permission from CDFW (Fish and Game Code, section 6400).

Since releasing fish into public waters is not legal, here are a couple of other options. You could get involved with CDFW’s Trout in the Classroom program in which instructors and their students set up an aquarium in the classroom to raise fish for an eventual field trip to an approved local stream or river where the fish are released.

Another option might be to contact one of the registered aquaculture farms found on CDFW’s Aquaculture website. These businesses raise different species of fish and have private stocking permits allowing them to plant fish in approved private waters within the state. Perhaps one of these businesses will allow you to assist and plant one of the fish they will be stocking. Good luck!


Using black or blue rockfish for lingcod bait?
Question: Can one use black or blue rock fish as bait to catch lingcod? I have seen people do this but I believe you cannot since rockfish are considered to be a game fish. (John C., Roseville)

Answer: Yes, anglers can take black or blue rockfish that they have caught to send back down on a hook to catch lingcod. However, while those two species do not have minimum size limits, any legal rockfish you use as bait count toward your daily bag limit of rockfish.


License required for a nuisance coyote?
Question: Does someone need a hunting license to shoot a nuisance coyote on their property, or near their property, if they are the legal distance away from a residence to discharge a firearm? (Carol S.)

Answer: Coyotes are classified as nongame mammals in the Fish and Game Code (FGC) and if found to be “injuring growing crops or other property” (FGC section 4152), they can be taken on your property without obtaining a hunting license. However, if a coyote is NOT injuring your property, you will need to obtain a hunting license before taking it (FGC section 3007). Before you do anything though, you should first check with your local Sheriff’s department regarding any city, county, municipality laws and regulations that may apply to be sure this will be legal to do in your area.


Fish and game regulation of groundfish
Question: Current fish and game regulations limit the fishing depth for groundfish in Southern California to 60 fathoms or 360 feet. I need to know how far from the shore line this depth limitation is enforced. I saw from another link on your website that the State of California’s fishing jurisdiction only goes out to three miles from shore. (James J.)

Answer: The depth limit is enforced out to 200 nautical miles from shore. Groundfish are jointly managed by the states and federal government, and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) extends from California’s three nautical mile state waters boundary out 200 nautical miles. CDFW is authorized to enforce California laws throughout the EEZ regarding individuals and vessels operating out of California ports. CDFW wildlife officers have also been delegated authority to enforce several federal laws in the EEZ. Also, keep in mind that depth limits may differ depending upon which groundfish management area you are fishing in.

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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.

Bow Hunting for Spring Turkeys?

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I am interested in bow hunting for turkeys this year but have some questions. Last week I saw a flock of hens and jakes on the side of a highway and I got to wondering if it’s legal to hunt off the side of a highway. I know we can’t shoot across a highway, but exactly how many yards or feet away does a bow hunter have to be? (Rafael O.)

Answer: It is unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Definitions for road and roadway can be found in the California Vehicle Code, sections 527 and 530. In addition, most counties have ordinances setting the distance from a public roadway that one must be to lawfully discharge a firearm. Many counties require 150 feet, but this distance varies and you will have to check with the appropriate county’s sheriff’s department to determine the legal distance. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm, and the discharge of a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is prohibited (California Penal Code, section 374c).


Bringing a speargun into California
Question: I am coming to California from Australia for a diving holiday and wish to bring my own gear, including a spear gun. Do you know what the rules are about bringing one through U.S. customs? (Edward C.)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate the importation of dive gear, including spear guns. You should check with the Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) and U.S. Customs (www.cpb.gov) to see if they have any special provisions you must follow.


Live rodents as fishing bait?
Question: I have seen several videos about using live “feeder” mice and rats for bass and trout fishing and was wondering whether they are legal to fish with here in California. I wasn’t able to find any regulations talking about using live mice or rats. If not acceptable to use as a live bait, can they be used if dead/frozen? (Anonymous, Sacramento)

Answer: No. The freshwater fishing regulations do not list mammals as acceptable bait options, so rodents may not be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00.)


Hunting Sandhill cranes?
Question: Does California have any type of hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes? I have seen a couple of videos in which the hunters state that the meat is great and some say it tastes like steak. I tried to research any regulations for them but wasn’t able to come up with anything. Can you please let me know if they can be hunted here? (Jose G.)

Answer: While some states do authorize the take of Sandhill cranes during waterfowl season, there are currently no hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes in California.


Kangaroo product ban?
Question: I am the owner of a store that sells kangaroo hide boots and other products made of kangaroo leather. I read in the news that California recently re-instated a ban on the import and sale of kangaroo products. Is this true and if so, what should retailers like me know about the ban? (Anonymous)

Answer: You are correct. The ban on kangaroo products went back into effect Jan. 1, 2016. California Penal Code section 653o prohibits the importation, possession with intent to sell, and sale of any parts of specified animals, including kangaroos. Some common retail products made from kangaroo leather are boots, belts, wallets and soccer cleats.

As you know, California retailers are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations of the state of California and must take the necessary efforts to ensure they do not possess kangaroo products with the intent to sell.

Penal Code section 653o may be enforced by any peace officer in the state, including police officers, sheriff deputies, and wildlife officers. A person who violates section 653o is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to six months in jail for each violation.

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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 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.

When Bullies Intentionally Harm Wildlife

Aleutian_Canada_Geese-4

If while driving you encounter geese or other wildlife crossing the road, give them the right-of-way or risk a fine of $1,000 and six months in jail. (USFWS photo)

Question: I live in an over-55 community in Rio Vista. There are wild turkeys here and Canada geese, which many of us love. Last month someone deliberately ran into turkeys crossing a road to go to their roosting trees. A man who went out every evening to watch them “fly up” saw a car actually speed up to hit them. The driver floored the accelerator and plowed into them instead of slowing down to let them pass. Six were killed. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) was called, and presumably never caught the guy.

A few days ago a golfer in a golf cart plowed into a bunch of geese crossing the golf path. He hit and injured one. The golfer didn’t stop. A woman walking her dog saw it happen and confronted the golfer who said, “Well, the geese shouldn’t be crossing the path.” Yesterday on a main road outside the community a turkey and babies were crossing; eyewitnesses said that instead of slowing down, a car sped up and killed at least the parent.

Many people here are very upset by bullies in vehicles intentionally killing innocent animals. I am making a flier that will go to people on the Nextdoor community email. I want to tell what the legality is about deliberately killing a wild turkey or Canada goose and what the possible consequences might be. I can’t seem to find a clear answer yet and was hoping you could help. (Judith A.)

Answer: Scenarios like you are describing are very disturbing and constitute several violations. The use of a vehicle to take turkeys or geese violates the law because vehicles are not a lawful method of take (California Code of Regulations Title 14, sections 311 (Upland Game/Turkey) and 507 (Migratory Birds/Geese)). Pursuing, driving, herding or taking any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven vehicle is also prohibited (CCR Title 14, section 251). In addition, no person shall harass, herd or drive any game or non-game birds (CCR Title 14, section 251.1). Violations of Fish and Game Code and Title 14 regulations such as these are generally punishable as misdemeanors, with fines of up to $1,000 and six months in jail (see FGC, section 12002 (a)).

Hopefully, you will not encounter these types of situations again, but if you do try to collect as many details as you can including vehicle type, license plate number, date and time. Then call the 24-hour CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or send an anonymous text to 847411 (tip411). In the message, 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 for your efforts.


How to find “What’s Open and What’s Closed” in ocean waters?
Question: I’ve spent hours on the CDFW website trying to find the season and take limits for halibut. Can you please tell me if you know the answer? (Richard G., Redondo Beach)

Answer: Yes! And next time you have a question like this, here’s the first and best place to check: http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Ocean/Regulations/Fishing-Map. This is a great resource, so please bookmark this page! You will find a clickable map of California here. Just click on the portion of the state (along the coast) where you’d like to fish and a list will pop up of exactly what’s open and what’s closed in that area. Then, if you click on the species you’re interested in, you will be provided with the basic fishing regulations and requirements for that species.

In your case, since you are from Redondo Beach and are wondering about California halibut, just click on that location and you will find the following information will immediately pop up:

  • California halibut: The recreational fishery for California halibut (Paralichthys californicus) remains open year-round. The daily bag and possession limit is five fish south of Point Sur, Monterey County. The minimum size limit is 22 inches total length.

In addition, if you click on “California halibut” in this reference, you will find a hot link that will take you to an informational page that will provide you with additional life history information and interesting facts about this species. The same is offered for most every other fish species that you will find included on this clickable map. We always keep this site current and up-to-date, so you can count on that!


How do hunters deal with fleas and ticks?
Question: I’m not a hunter but am wondering if there is a concern for hunters having to deal with fleas and/or ticks jumping off a cooling carcass when field dressing the animal? (Kelly B., Los Angeles)

Answer: Many animals have fleas and ticks and hunters are encouraged to protect themselves from bites by using appropriate sprays or products to reduce the chance of bites and diseases like Lyme disease.

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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.

How to Get to Shore when Boat Fishing is Closed?

Kayak fishing1

Kayak fishing (Creative Commons photo)

Question: I’m aware that during the non-boat rockfish season (i.e., winter/spring), anglers are required to either fish from shore or spearfish for these species. My question is in regard to whether using a boat to access an on-shore fishing spot is acceptable. Specifically, can I use my boat or kayak to reach a good shore fishing location, fish from shore and catch my fish, then get back in the boat for the ride home? I wouldn’t be fishing from the boat, but instead using it to transport me to my shore fishing location. Thanks for your help. (Rick R.)

Answer: No, I’m afraid you will need to strap on your hiking boots and walk in to your favorite fishing spots along the coast during the boat-based fishing closures. Arriving by boat would not be legal as each of the groundfish management areas have a specific section stating, “No vessel or watercraft (motorized or non-motorized) may be used to assist in taking or possessing these species while angling from shore under this provision.” Depending upon which groundfish management area you plan to fish in (Northern [27.25], Mendocino [27.30], San Francisco [27.35], Central [27.40] or Southern [27.45]), this regulation can be found under section (c)(3).


Luring fish with licorice for bait?
Question: My brother and I have two burning questions we have been wondering about. Is it legal to fish with licorice as bait? Also, we observed a man with a syringe injecting air into his bait worms so they would float off the bottom. What do you think the purpose was and is this legal to do? (Marcus O.)

Answer: Processed foods, such as licorice, are legal under bait regulations for inland waters (found beginning in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00). It is also legal to inject air into a fishing worm and many such kits are found at sporting goods outlets. This method can be a very effective way to keep a worm off the bottom of lakes with heavy bottom vegetation.


Are black mussels from Bodega Bay under quarantine, too?
Question: While we were fishing from the shore in Bodega Bay last weekend I noticed a lot of beautiful black mussels on the rocks. I believe the limit is 10 lbs/person but wanted to make sure it was the safe season to eat them. Are they under quarantine for domoic acid, too? Thank you for your help!!! (Ben L.)

Answer: You are correct that the limit is 10 pounds (in the shell) for California sea mussels and bay mussels in combination (CCR Title 14, section 29.55). Mussels are not currently under quarantine. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) monitors for natural toxins that occur along the coast that may affect wild mussels. Mussels are regularly quarantined on an annual basis, usually from May through October, because mussels are a particularly high risk species because they have the ability to concentrate toxins very quickly. When dangerous levels of toxin are detected in mussels, CDPH will begin testing other shellfish species as well for these toxins, if samples are readily available. If samples are not easily obtained, or if toxin levels are increasing rapidly, CDPH will issue a press release announcing a special health advisory for the potentially toxic seafood species in the affected area.

To check for real time advisories, go to http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/healthadvisory.asp.To check for an advisory or quarantine in advance of any mussel-collecting trip, you can also call the CDPH Biotoxin Information Line at (800) 553-4133. For more information about the annual mussel quarantine, please visit the CDPH website at http://www.cdph.ca.gov/Pages/MusselQuarantineFAQ.aspx.


Can pesky squirrels be relocated?
Question: Is it permissible to relocate pesky squirrels that are destroying or damaging private property? (Fred, Redding)

Answer: No. Small nuisance mammals that are damaging property may be taken by the owner but may not be released alive except in the immediate area. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. A depredation permit may be issued for tree (gray) squirrels, unless it is the gray squirrel season when hunters are allowed a four squirrel bag and possession limit.


Must fishing license be carried while spearfishing?
Question: If I am spearfishing from the shore and return with my take, do I need to have my fishing license on my person or can it be in my car? (William H.)

Answer: Persons diving from a boat or shore may have their license on the boat or within 500 yards on the shore, respectively (Fish and Game Code, section 7145).

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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.

Keeping Homes Inhospitable to Nuisance Raccoons

Raccoons are illegal to keep as house pets (USFWS photo)

To prevent raccoons and other nuisance wildlife from taking up residence in and around your house and yard, your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable (USFWS photo)

Question: Raccoons come up through the culverts in our neighborhood and are causing a lot of trouble. Last year, there was one that tore a vent off our house and got in the subfloor and tore up our ducts under there. This year one of them attacked my dog in our back yard. The vet bill was very expensive. Can I trap them in live traps and have animal control euthanize them for me? (Kathy C.)

Answer: You can trap them but Animal Control may not want to euthanize them for you. Your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable. Bolster up your exterior vents and doors to prevent raccoons and other unwanted wildlife from moving in to use for cover. This also means remove all attractants (dog food, fallen fruit, koi ponds, water fountains, etc.). Even water can be an attractant, especially this year. If you do all of this but continue to have a problem, the law allows that it is legal to kill raccoons at any time when they are causing damage.

Some excellent additional information is available online from the UC Integrated Pest Management Program at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.house.html#VERT.


Measuring short lobsters without bringing them onboard
Question: When hoop netting for lobsters from a boat, how are we supposed to bring the nets to the surface and accurately measure the lobsters without pulling the hoop nets onboard? The law states that it is illegal to bring any undersized lobster onboard any vessel, but it is virtually impossible to measure them while hanging over the side of the boat, especially when it’s dark, there’s a swell in the ocean and the boat is bobbing up and down. I’m asking because recently a friend of mine was cited for bringing up his net and placing it on the deck of his boat so he could measure his catch. Can you please clarify this? (Miguel Z.)

Answer: Lobsters cannot be brought onboard boats or kayaks for measuring and must instead be measured at the waterline. Pull up the hoop net, step on the line and lean over and measure it … though I know, easier said than done in the dark and in rough seas.

California spiny lobsters must measure a minimum of three and one-fourth inches along a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. Lobsters may be brought to the surface for the purpose of measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat and retained. All must be measured immediately upon being brought to the surface. Any undersize lobster must be released immediately into the water. In addition, spiny lobsters shall be kept in a whole, measurable condition, until being prepared for immediate consumption (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90).


Transporting migratory game birds
Question: I know the rules state that while bird hunting you must leave a fully feathered wing intact until you get home. When I get back to my trailer at camp (which is considered my second home), can I remove the wings, vacuum seal the bird and freeze it, or do I have to wait until I actually get to my primary home? (Rob D.)

Answer: All birds, including migratory game birds, possessed or transported within California must have a fully feathered wing or head attached until placed into a personal abode or commercial preservation facility or until prepared for immediate consumption. Doves must have a fully feathered wing attached (CCR Title 14, section 251.7(b)).

Waterfowl and other migratory birds that are going to be transported anywhere must have a fully feathered wing or head attached (except for doves, which must have a wing attached). A trailer in camp is not your “abode.”


Selling mounted trophies
Question: I received a collection of museum-quality African game trophies in a divorce settlement and would like to sell them. I recently moved to California but the mounts are still in Alaska. They are not animals that exist in California. Can I sell them on eBay? I want to unload these animals legally. I have read the statutes. I need to know if I can work with someone in Fish and Game, show them the collection, and get their advice. Alaska Fish and Game already gave me an email saying they could be moved to California and sold. (Mary Jane S., Sacramento)

Answer: You should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about any mounts that you would like to import to California and sell. The sale of birds or mammals found in the wild in California is prohibited by Fish and Game Code, section 3039. In addition, California Penal Code, section 653o prohibits the importation for commercial purposes, sale and possession with intent to sell a number of African wildlife species that may be in your collection.

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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.

Is Boat Captain Responsible for Illegal Acts of Passengers?

Private boatQuestion: A friend of mine took some of his friends’ parents on his boat to go rock picking for abalone. Unknown to my friend, some of the parents picked extra abs and chose the biggest three of the lot to keep. It was clearly illegal and they were cited when they got back to the docks.

Since my friend was just transporting people out to the spot where they could find abalone, was he responsible for what they did once they got off his boat after rock picking? He doesn’t want his boat blacklisted. (Craig)

Answer: Typically, someone in your friend’s situation would not be cited for the violations of the passengers, especially if there is no question of who possessed the abalone. However, if the passengers claimed the abalone were not theirs, or if there were overlimits on board, an officer could cite everyone on the boat for jointly possessing the abalone. In this case, each person who violated the law was responsible for their specific violation. As far as the boat being “blacklisted,” the warden who made the case may pay special attention to this boat in the future because of the actions that took place in the past.

The best advice for your friend is to be educated on the fishing laws that pertain to the activity his passengers are engaging in, and to share this knowledge with the people on his boat.


What’s my recourse for wasted game citation?
Question: Yesterday I was cited for wasted game. My son and I were hunting Eurasian dove at a local feed lot in Southern California. I was approached by the wardens who did all of the normal checks, told us they were watching us from afar, then asked us if we had dropped any birds we didn’t retrieve. I said yes, one in a stagnant pond and one in amongst a herd of cows, which I tried to retrieve but the bird was wounded and flopped away into another pen. He asked why I didn’t retrieve it and I told him I’m broke (bad knees) and couldn’t get through the nasty stuff in the pens. I then sent my son in to push his way through the cows and he retrieved the bird for me in front of the warden. The warden checked to see that it was a Euro, which it was, I put it in my game bag and he still cited me for it. What if any recourse do I have when I go to court? (Jim R., Lake Elsinore)

Answer: Just tell the judge your story. However, since you shot these birds without making sure you were doing so in a location where you could retrieve them, and because your intention had been to let them lay where they landed because they were too difficult to go after, you did intend to leave them where they ended up … that’s “wanton waste” or “wasted game.”


Using a pressure washer to dig up clams?
Question: Can I use a pressure washer to dig geoduck and/or gaper clams? (Vuong M.)

Answer: No. Clams may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands. The only special provisions allowed are for the use of spades, shovels, hoes, rakes or other appliances operated by hand, except spears or gaff hooks (CCR Title 14, sections 29.10(a) and 29.20(c)). Pressure washers are not a legal method of take for mollusks.


Capture and keep rattlesnakes as pets?
Question: Is it legal to capture and keep rattlesnakes as a pet? I know it’s not smart, but is it legal? (Phil C.)

Answer: Yes, except for the red diamond rattlesnake where no take is allowed – so be sure you can identify your snakes! Before collecting anything, you should first check with your local animal control agency and police or sheriff regarding whether any local ordinances apply in your area. Under state law, all pit vipers (except for the five other California native rattlesnakes listed in California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671(c)(7)(E)) are restricted species that may not be possessed without a permit. Keeping live, native rattlesnakes (except for the red diamond) is not prohibited by Fish and Game laws. No license is required to take or kill other rattlesnakes in California, but the daily bag and possession limit is two. The take of other species of reptiles and amphibians for pets requires possession of a sport fishing license. The daily bag and possession limits are provided in CCR Title 14, sections 5.05 and 5.60. And if you live with the city limits, you might want to check your city ordinances to determine whether possession of a venomous reptile is allowed.

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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.