Category Archives: Recreation

Are Green Lobsters Safe to Eat?

(CDFW photo by Derek Stein)


Question: A buddy of mine got two lobsters in San Diego Bay right before the season closed. While he was cleaning them, he noticed green algae on their shells and then found the meat to be white, looking like it was already cooked. Both lobsters were still alive when detailing them. Have you heard any other stories like this? Would they have still been okay to cook and eat? (Ray C., San Diego)

Answer: When you find a lobster with algae on its shell (exoskeleton) it usually means it hasn’t molted in quite a while. This should be nothing to worry about, though. An animal getting ready to molt pulls salts out of its existing shell and creates a soft exoskeleton underneath that will expand with water and salts once the animal molts. Our best guess is that the old exoskeleton may have been overgrown and what your friend encountered (white, cooked-looking meat) could have been the new exoskeleton just under the old. As long as the animal was acting normally and was still alive before it was cooked, there was likely no problem with the meat.

One test seafood businesses use when cooking whole lobsters is whether they curl. The shell should turn to a darker red color and the tail tends to curl (not tightly, but it’s difficult to lay the animal flat). If there’s no curl, discard the animal.


Trapping opossums?
Question: My city neighbor is now renting a home and has taken it upon himself to trap local opossums and release them elsewhere. He says he is taking them to a county road (Dry Creek) but there is no way to verify this. We have lived in our home for 15 years and so we, along with our neighbors, are concerned. We have lived with the possums and raccoons for a lot of years without issues. This tenant intends to exterminate them. Is there anything we can do? (Tyler)

Answer: “All furbearing and nongame mammals that are legal to trap must be immediately euthanized or released” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5(g)(1)). So it is not legal to transport opossums elsewhere for release. Possums should not be “relocated” from where they were trapped for many reasons, the most important being to prevent the spread of disease, and immediately releasing the opossums would not take care of the “pest” problem that your neighbor probably wants to solve. There are other options that you could inform your neighbor about though. “Keep me Wild” is a campaign that strives to limit conflicts between wild animals and humans. More information about how your neighbor can avoid problems with opossums may be found at the Keep Me Wild website.


Python skins to make leather goods?
Question: I’m a fashion designer located in New Jersey and I am looking to move my business to California. I’ve heard and read things about Python skin being illegal in California. I was looking for more information on this and whether this is 100 percent true? I currently make leather goods, but with exotic skins. (Michael S.)

Answer: Pythons are on the list of animals, or parts or products thereof, that are illegal to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state (see California Penal Code, section 653o.) Prohibited species include: polar bears, leopards, ocelots, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, sable antelope, wolves (Canis lupus), zebras, whales, cobras, pythons, sea turtles, colobus monkeys, kangaroos, vicunas, sea otters, free-roaming feral horses, dolphins or porpoises (Delphinidae), Spanish lynxes or elephants.


Fishing with kids and friends
Question: I am taking my daughter and a couple of friends and their dads on our boat this weekend. The girls are all under 16. I have a license but do all of the dads need them, too? Or, can I be the only adult angler? (Eric N.)

Answer: As long as the non-licensed adults on the boat do not assist in any way with fishing, they do not need to have a sport fishing license to ride along with you on your fishing trip. “Every person 16 years of age or older who takes any fish, reptile or amphibian for any purpose other than profit shall first obtain a valid license for that purpose and shall have that license on his or her person or in his or her immediate possession or where otherwise specifically required by law or regulation to be kept when engaged in carrying out any activity authorized by the license” (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.

Can Minors Legally Hunt Alone?

(Photo: National Shooting Sports Foundation)

(Photo: National Shooting Sports Foundation)

Question: I am 16 years old and have my hunter education certification. I was wondering if it is legal for me to hunt by myself with a firearm. I have not found anything saying one way or another whether I can legally do this. If it is legal, do I need to carry written consent from my parents with me? (Jonah A.)

Answer: If you have a valid junior license, you may hunt by yourself with a firearm. However, if you are using a HANDGUN, then you either need to be accompanied by a parent or a responsible adult, or have the written permission of a parent.

Firearms laws are contained in the California Penal Code. A good reference guide to California firearms laws can be obtained by visiting the California Department of Justice, Firearms Bureau website (click on “Firearms Summary” on the right-hand side).

Here’s an excerpt from the publication relating to minors in possession of firearms:

Possession of a Handgun or Live Ammunition by Minors
It is unlawful for a minor to possess a handgun unless one of the following
circumstances exists:

• The minor is accompanied by his or her parent or legal guardian and the
minor is actively engaged in a lawful recreational sporting, ranching or
hunting activity, or a motion picture, television or other entertainment
event;

• The minor is accompanied by a responsible adult and has prior written
consent of his or her parent or legal guardian and is involved in one of
the activities cited above; or

• The minor is at least 16 years of age, has prior written consent of his or
her parent or legal guardian, and the minor is involved in one of the
activities cited above (Pen. Code, §§ 29610, 29615.)

It is unlawful for a minor to possess live ammunition unless one of the following circumstances exists:

• The minor has the written consent of a parent or legal guardian to possess
live ammunition;

• The minor is accompanied by a parent or legal guardian; or

• The minor is actively engaged in, or is going to or from, a lawful, recreational sport, including, competitive shooting, or agricultural, ranching, or hunting activity (Pen. Code, §§ 29650, 29655.)

On state wildlife areas, any visitor 16 or 17 years of age presenting a valid resident or non-resident hunting license issued in his or her own name will be issued an entry permit and may hunt independently (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 550.5(c)(9)).


Are trail cameras legal to use on National Forest lands?
Question: Are there any regulations that prohibit the use of trail cameras on National Forest lands? I ask because a friend was on National Forest land and was told by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel that trail cameras constitute harassment and are illegal. He was then told he must remove them. I’m trying to find out which National Forest it was. If this is true, wouldn’t ALL wildlife photography be illegal, including photographing birds? (Brian K.)

Answer: This is not a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regulation. I suggest you find out which specific area of National Forest your friend was in when this happened. Afterward, contact the USFS office in that area for more details.


Salmon and groundfish fishing
Question: Is it legal to fish for both salmon and ground fish by boat on the same day? If so, are there any restrictions on gear that may be used? I’m interested in the Bodega Bay area. (Dan P.)

Answer: No more than two single point, single shank barbless hooks shall be used in the ocean north of Point Conception (34o27’00” N. lat.) when salmon fishing or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board (CCR, Title 14 section 27.80(a)(2)).

It is legal to fish for both salmon and rockfish on the same day and have them on your boat. If you fish for salmon first or have any salmon on your boat, you would be restricted to fishing for groundfish with barbless hooks thereafter. If you fish groundfish first, you may use barbed hooks (no more than two) for groundfish and then switch to barbless gear once you target salmon. And once you have rockfish onboard, you are also held to the groundfish depth constraints.

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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.

 

How to Find Legal Target Shooting Areas?

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Target shooting improves one’s shooting skills and accuracy. It is also a great way to introduce someone new to safe gun handling practices and the shooting sports. In this photo, Harry Morse practices his skills at the “Birds Landing Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays Course” near Fairfield. (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: A friend used to own property just outside the city limits and we were able to legally shoot our rifles on his property. Times have changed though and we now need a new place where we can we still legally shoot our rifles and shotguns for sport. We’re not hunters; we just practice target shooting. How do we go about finding places where we can legally shoot? (Gracie R., Carlsbad)

Answer: Your best bet is to contact the closest Sheriff’s Office that patrols the area where you want to target shoot. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate target shooting nor keep track of all the potential target shooting areas available to the public. This issue basically comes down to county shooting ordinances and landowner permission. I think you will find most cities do not allow discharge of firearms within their city limits, so contact the local Sheriff’s Office to see what county areas may be open.

For public areas like U.S. Forest Service (USFS) or Bureau of Land Management (BLM) property, contact the applicable regional station or headquarters that oversees the area. Some USFS or BLM lands may have designated target shooting or plinking areas. They may also have other areas on their properties where target shooting is allowed, but it’s always a good idea to check ahead of time to be sure it is legal with the applicable county as well.

Otherwise, for public and private gun clubs or shooting ranges in your area, you might try http://www.wheretoshoot.org from the National Shooting Sports Foundation website. I’ve used this site often and they make it easy to find a safe and licensed range in your local area to target shoot or to introduce someone new to the shooting sports.


How to prove the sex of a turkey?
Question: Since only tom turkeys are legal to take during the spring season, how do I prove the sex to an inquiring game warden? Must a wing be left on? A beard left on? Both left on? One or the other left on? (G.B.G.)

Answer: The regulations are intended to require that only tom turkeys may be taken during the spring season, but the law specifically states that the turkey must be “bearded” (a bearded turkey is one having a beard visible through the breast feathers). In most cases a beard will distinguish the animal as male, but in some rare incidents hens may also have them.

Keep the beard attached to the carcass until you return to your residence. You may pluck the bird in the field, but remember to keep the beard connected to the body.

Toms and hens can be easily determined by their significant head and wing color differences. If by chance you run across a rare bearded hen, even though the provisions of the law may allow you to take it, we strongly discourage it. Spring is the turkeys’ primary mating and nesting period so hens may not be harvested in order to protect their production


Catching fish with baited fish traps?
Question: Is it legal to use baited fish traps in Southern California? I see in the regulations where it refers to the use of baited traps to catch a variety of fish species in the San Francisco area (California Code of Regulations, section 28.75). Is this the only place where this method of take is allowed? (Corey)

Answer: Baited traps may not be used to take fish in ocean waters off Southern California. This is legal only in San Francisco and San Pablo bays, their tributaries, etc., and in the ocean and bays off of Marin, Sonoma and Mendocino counties for a few specified species of ocean fish. Only hook-and-line or hand may be used to take finfish (per Section 28.65) unless other, specific permissions are provided in regulations listed in the Gear Restrictions section (which begins on pg. 45 of the current California Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet).


Spearfishing without a license?
Question: I know it’s legal to fish without a license off public piers, but is there anywhere to go spearfishing without a license? (Keith H., Santa Barbara)

Answer: No, there is usually no place you can spearfish without a license, but there are two free fishing days per year, usually around the Independence Day and Labor Day holidays. On those two days, spearfishing without a license is allowed (bag limits and other regulations still apply).

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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.

Target Shooting Directly Next to a Wetland

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area (Photo by Robert Sahara)

Question: I was walking the Yolo Bypass Levee north of I-80 this weekend and saw a group shooting from the levee at some targets that were placed right next to the slough and adjacent wetlands to the east. If waterfowl hunters are required to use nonlead shot to prevent incidental lead poisoning, shouldn’t target shooters firing where their shot will enter the wetland also have to use nonlead shot?

It was also disappointing to see a lot of spent shells, clay target debris and glass left all over the ground. Is there any particular regulation prohibiting this? Thanks, (Beckye S.)

Answer: California Fish and Wildlife laws don’t prohibit the use of lead ammunition for target shooting, but they do prohibit people from depositing garbage, shells, glass, etc. within 150 feet of state waters (Fish and Game Code, section 5652.) If you see this again, please call CalTip at 888-334-2258 and report it.


Legal to drop Dungeness crab traps the day/night before opener?
Question: Is it legal to drop Dungeness crab gear prior to opening day? I’ve heard it’s legal to drop gear the day or night before opening day to let it soak overnight. I looked in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet but couldn’t find anything indicating whether this is legal or not. If it is legal, how long before opening day can it be dropped? And how early can it be retrieved? (Fred S.)

Answer: Dungeness crab gear may not be set prior to the recreational fishing season opening date, which this year is Saturday, Nov. 2 at 12:01 a.m. (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.85(a) and the definition of take in Fish and Game Code section 86.)  Anyone setting gear prior to this date and time may be cited for attempting to take crab out of season.


Looking for a fishing guide
Question: We are planning a trip to Oakland in December. Since I will be in meetings every day, my husband would love to go fishing. How can I find an honest and reputable fishing guide? (Christy L.)

Answer: A list of licensed fishing guides can be found online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/ (click on “Lists” and then “Fishing Guides (PDF).” Other than this, your best bet is to do a Google search for the different guides around San Francisco Bay, and investigate feedback from customers, which is also likely available online.


Donating game for fundraising dinners?
Question: Can pigs taken by hunters as well as pigs taken under depredation permits be donated for use at a fund-raising dinner? (Mike H.)

Answer: Yes, as long as those donating the animals receive no compensation for their donations and as long as the patrons are not paying for the dinner itself. It is illegal for animals taken under the authority of a hunting license or depredation permit to be bought, sold, traded or bartered.


Chumming
Question: Can you help settle a debate please? Is intentionally chumming or blood baiting from shore or the pier permissible in California ocean waters? What specific regulations or laws apply? (Heather H.)

Answer: Yes, chumming in ocean waters is permitted statewide (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.05).


Fish trapping from a pier
Question: I don’t have a fishing license because I know I am allowed to fish and catch some crab from a public pier. I am wondering though if I am allowed to use a trap to catch fish. The trap would be a mesh cage made of nylon (or another type of durable material). It would have an opening, be attached to a float to keep it about five feet beneath the surface of the water, and have a main line going back up to the pier where I will have the rope tied down to the railing. I am targeting fish, like mackerel. Does this plan all sound alright? (Dave L.)

Answer: No. Taking mackerel or most other finfish in a trap under a sport fishing license is not permitted. Only a handful of baitfishes (shiner surfperch, longjaw mudsuckers, Pacific staghorn sculpin) may be taken by traps that meet certain dimensions in certain areas of the coast. For details, please see Section 28.75 on pg. 46 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, which is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations, at local California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) offices or wherever sport fishing licenses are sold.

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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.

Are Wild Pigs a Threat to Me or My Dogs?

Pigs are basically timid creatures but can become aggressive when threatened.

Question: I learned recently that some Indians on a reservation in my area released some pigs for hunting purposes and now they are breeding and beginning to populate the area where I walk my dogs in Descanso, California. Are these pigs a threat to me or my dogs? (Sheri M., San Diego)

Answer: We do know that wild pigs inhabit some of the areas around Julian and Descanso. However, we are unable to positively identify the mechanism for their recent introduction.

According to Marc Kenyon, Statewide Coordinator for the Bear, Mountain Lion and Wild Pig Programs at the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), wild pigs are timid creatures that simply want to be left alone for the most part. However, they can be very aggressive if approached and they perceive the person as a threat (particularly if they have piglets nearby). If you see a wild pig while recreating in the outdoors, please try to avoid approaching it. You can stand still and maintain your dog close to you on the leash. Pigs are nearsighted and will tend to ignore objects that stand completely still.

Furthermore, pigs have a great sense of smell. They will smell you before they see you. If you walk with the wind at your back, your scent is more likely to be detected at great distances by wild pigs, and they will likely avoid you.

However, there have been some instances where wild pigs have come into contact with people. Usually only one pig will approach while the rest of the group of pigs (known as a sounder) evacuate the area. If this does happen to you, try to stay away from the head of the pig. They have sharp teeth that can cut through clothing. Back out of the area as quickly as possible.


Sand dollars
Question: Is it legal to pick up sand dollars on the beaches of San Francisco, with or without a fishing license, even though some are still alive — purple in color with hair (fuzz)? (Peter R.)

Answer: If you are in an area where tidal invertebrates may be taken, you may take and/or possess up to 35 live sand dollars. A current sport fishing license is required for anyone 16 years of age or older. A license is not required to pick up empty shells. See section 29.05 in the Ocean Fishing Regulations for a list of areas where it is legal to take fish from the beach/tidepool areas.


Hunting coyote and skunks
Question: I live in Imperial County and would like to go coyote and skunk hunting but need to know the biggest caliber of gun that can be used. I do see that for raccoon you may not use a caliber larger that a .22 rimfire. What can I use for coyote and skunk? (Robert A.)

Answer: There is no maximum rifle caliber specified in Fish and Game regulations for taking coyotes and skunks (nongame mammals). Fish and Game regulations authorize nongame mammals to be taken in any manner (see section 475 in the Mammal Hunting Regulation booklet). This authorization includes firearms with no further description or restriction, except when hunting within the California condor range where lead ammunition is prohibited (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 475(f)).


Fishing license for someone working here on a visa?
Question: What kind of a fishing license is required for a person working in California on a visa from a foreign country? (Jackie S.)

Answer: A nonresident license, which may cover one, two or 10 days, or a calendar year of state fishing privileges, would be required to fish in state waters for anyone who is not a California resident. For more information, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/fishdescrip.html.


Can felons hunt with a crossbow during rifle season?
Question: Can a felon with a California hunting license and appropriate tags for deer hunting or for any other game legally hunt with a crossbow during rifle season? (Carl R.)

Answer: Felons may not possess firearms at any time (firearms are defined in California Penal Code, section 12001(b)). Crossbows are not considered archery equipment or a firearm, but they are considered to be a deadly weapon and can be used during rifle seasons. Department of Fish and Game regulations do not prohibit a felon from using a crossbow to hunt with, however, the person should first check with their parole officer to see if a crossbow violates their conditions of parole.

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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.

Noise Suppressors for Target Shooting or Hunting?

Whether hunting or target shooting, noise suppressors are not legal to use or even possess (Photo: National Shooting Sports Foundation)

Question:Is it legal to use noise suppressors (mistakenly called silencers) on rifles and handguns? I know that porting, venting, flash collars and muzzle brakes are OK to use at target ranges and while legally hunting in California. Can a noise suppressor that is attached to the front end of the barrel, or that slides over the front end of the barrel, be lawfully used at a target range or while legally hunting anywhere in California? (Tony N., Sr.)

Answer: No, stay completely away from silencers. It is a felony for any person, firm or corporation within the state to possess a silencer (California Penal Code, section 12520). Upon conviction, punishment includes imprisonment in the state prison or a fine not to exceed $10,000, or both. A silencer is defined as “… any device or attachment of any kind designed, used or intended for use in silencing, diminishing or muffling the report of a firearm.” This definition and law also applies to any combination of parts, designed or redesigned, and intended for use in assembling or fabricating a silencer (California Penal Code, section 12500).


Beer on a boat?
Question: Why do most, if not all, boats for hire ban taking beer or liquor aboard? I have worked as a deckhand and fully understand the safety concerns, as well as what large amounts of space coolers full of beer for up to 70 people on a half-day trip might take up. What I am wondering though is whether there are any U.S. Coast Guard or Department of Fish and Game (DFG) laws against it that I can quote for people who ask. Many of the anglers I’ve spoken with over the years get angry because they think the boat is just trying to make a buck. (Rob M.)

Answer: There is no Fish and Game law prohibiting alcohol aboard a boat. However, there is a Harbors and Navigation Code law (section 655) that prohibits a person from operating a vessel while intoxicated, similar to the prohibitions for operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated.


Lead in possession on a duck hunting refuge?
Question: Some say if you are duck hunting on a refuge and you have some lead quail loads in the truck (because you’re going quail hunting on the way home in the afternoon), a game warden could ticket you for having lead shot in possession. Other friends say that as long as the lead shot is secured in the truck and not in your actual possession while hunting, then you’re not in violation. It seems to me this situation would be like the 25 shell limit in the field. As far as I know you can have additional shells in your truck as long as you only have 25 or less in your possession while hunting. If you run out then you can return to the truck for more. Who’s right? (Eric M.)

Answer: You are. As long as the lead stays in your truck, you should have no problem.


What to do when an abalone’s shell breaks?
Question: Earlier this season I was diving a low tide looking for big abs. I happened to find a nine-incher. He was really clamped down and a lot stronger than the clickers I’m used to. In the process of popping him off, the shell broke into pieces. Since I did not know the legality of keeping an ab with a broken shell, I had to leave it there. It haunts me every day. Did I do the right thing? (Jesse L.)

Answer: First of all (as you probably now know), before trying to pop any abalone off their substrate, be sure to first insert the abalone iron correctly under the animal to be sure you have the appropriate leverage to pop the animal off without injuring it. If the animal is clamped down too tightly to where you can’t get the ab iron under the animal correctly without harming the animal, then you should leave it alone and come back later once the animal has relaxed and you can remove it properly. A better idea would be to pursue another abalone that is not locked down to the rocks.

Regarding your situation, you did the right thing as the law requires that abalone are in a whole condition and attached to the shell.  It is impossible to measure an abalone with a fractured shell and often the abalone is no longer attached to the shell once you fracture it.  Next time try to leave a clamped down abalone alone and choose another that may be more easily harvested.

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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.