Category Archives: Transporting Taken Animals

Ultra-lights and Fixed Wing Aircraft Harassing Wildlife

Ultra-light aircraft cannot be flown lower than 500 ft. from the surface (Creative Commons photo)

Ultra-light aircraft may not be operated at an altitude lower that 500 feet or closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel or structure (Creative Commons photo)

Question: We live around the Imperial Wildlife Area (Wister Unit) and over the past two years we’ve seen an influx of ultra-light air craft flying over the Imperial Wildlife Area, sometimes very low. For example, on June 15 we saw three ultra-light crafts fly from a local airport and circle all of the wildlife area where there’s water, sometimes getting as low as 25 feet. This spooked all of the waterfowl and shore birds, and most of the shore birds were nesting and harassed by this.

I know there are harassment laws in place for this (Fish and Game Code, section 3003.5) as I contacted California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife officers, but all of us were uncertain how or if there are any height restrictions for aircraft flying over state wildlife areas. This has also happened during waterfowl season where the ultra-lights were flying within feet of hunters’ spreads of 2,000 or more snow goose decoys.

Can you please help us determine whether there are any height restriction codes prohibiting such activities over state wildlife areas? I have Googled this and have only found Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) results for federal lands and know now that the FAA doesn’t have state wildlife areas listed. (Richard F.)

Answer: While there is no specific section in the Fish and Game Code regarding these low-flying aircraft, section 2009 may apply. This section

makes it a misdemeanor to willfully interfere with someone who is engaged in the sport of hunting. Given the circumstances you described, this section could be used to prevent these low-flying

aircraft from interfering with hunters on state wildlife areas during the open season.

There are also two regulations that may apply to the actions you describe. “No person shall pursue, drive, herd or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat or snowmobile” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1). Also, “No person shall harass, herd or drive any game or nongame bird or mammal or furbearing mammal. For the purposes of this section, harass is defined as an intentional act which disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to breeding, feeding or sheltering” (CCR Title 14, section 251). These regulations are punishable as misdemeanors.

Low-flying aircraft are regulated by FAA Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) and the US Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Generally, when flying over other than congested areas (i.e. cities, towns or settlements), they may be operated at an altitude not lower than 500 feet above the surface, except when over open water or sparsely populated areas where they may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure (FARs, CFR Title 14, section 91.119(c)). (442)

Shipping sport-caught fish home
Question: We have chartered a sportfishing party boat for 25 of our out-of-town clients. If they get their daily bag limits and want their fish shipped home via overnight carrier, would each person have to be present at the shipping office with their fish? If so, would each person need to show their fishing license to the clerk at the shipping office? Would each person’s fishing license need to be packed inside the box with the fish being shipped out? Or could someone from our business have each person’s fishing license/ID and just ship everyone’s fish home for them? (Annette T.)

Answer: Each person would need to be present to check their fish into the shipping office because it is unlawful for someone to transport more than one limit of fish (FGC, section 2347). It’s also illegal for someone to ship more than one limit of fish (FGC, section 2346). While each angler will need to be at the shipping office with their fish, they are not legally required to show their fishing license to the shipper, nor do they need to include a copy of their fishing license inside the box containing their fish (but it’s not a bad idea to do so). The carrier may have their own policy on this, but CDFW does not regulate it. The outside of the package containing the fish must clearly and conspicuously indicate the name and address of the shipper, name and address of the consignee and the number and kind of fish inside the package (FGC, section 2348).

Making your own abalone irons
Question: I would like to make my own abalone irons. What are the specifications to do so legally? (Jim B., Oakdale)]

Answer: Abalone irons must be less than 36 inches long, straight or with a curve having a radius of not less than 18 inches, and must not be less than 3/4 inch wide nor less than 1/16 inch thick. All edges must be rounded and free of sharp edges (CCR Title 14, section 29.15[e]).

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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

What’s Required When Packing out Game?

Mule deer around Clear Lake (USFWS photo)

Mule deer around Clear Lake (USFWS photo)

Question: What are the laws on deboning a bear or deer to pack out the meat? I don’t know of any laws saying I cannot debone a deer or bear as long as I am able to prove that the quarters and heads are all part of the same animal. I’m just looking for clarity as I am heading into X9A for my first time and I plan on hiking into deep country on foot. (Brad P.)

Answer: This is a legal practice as long as you can verify what animal the meat belongs to. The only problem that may arise is when people are packing out multiple animals at the same time. If that’s the case, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) asks that hunters keep each animal separate to avoid any misunderstandings.

For deer, you must pack the antlers out with the meat to verify the sex, and the antlers must be tagged. With bears, you must pack the skin and the portion of the head bearing the ears along with the meat so that we can extract a tooth for aging purposes (FGC 4757). You are not required to prove the sex of bears.

In addition, all hunters must comply with Fish and Game Code, section 4304, which prohibits needless waste of any portion of the meat that is usually eaten by humans.

Nontraditional measurement devices?
Question: I am aware that a person must be able to judge the size of their take, but are there any regulations saying what types of devices the person must carry? For example, I recently observed a group that were crabbing and their only means of measurement was a cut zip tie, but it was indeed the correct minimum length. (Katlyn G., Sausalito)

Answer: It varies, but for crab, the only requirement is that the device be capable of accurately measuring the minimum size of the species (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05(c)). But, sometimes the regulations are very specific about the type of measuring device that is required. Persons taking abalone, for example, “shall carry a fixed-caliper measuring gauge capable of accurately measuring seven inches. The measuring device shall have fixed opposing arms of sufficient length to measure the abalone by placing the gauge over the shell” (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(f)).

An object such as a ruler is capable of accurately measuring rock crab because size limits are “measured by the shortest distance through the body, from edge of shell to edge of shell at the widest part.” For Dungeness crab though, the measurement is “five and three-quarter inches measured by the shortest distance through the body from edge of shell to edge of shell directly in front of and excluding the points (lateral spines).” Because of the curvature of the Dungeness carapace, and the need to measure the straight line distance across a curved surface between the points, a measuring device such as a ruler or zip tie is not accurate. CDFW recommends using a fixed or adjustable caliper for Dungeness crab. It does not have to be commercially purchased and we have seen devices cut out of wood or plastic that work fine.

Sale of valley quail during the offseason?
Question: Is it legal to sell pen-raised valley quail during the offseason to be used to train dogs? The pen-raised valley quail will have CDFW tags that I think only cost a few cents each. (Matthew W., Santa Rosa)

Answer: Interesting question since very few people raise California quail and instead raise bob white. However, the answer is yes, they can be sold if they were bred and raised under the authority of a CDFW Domesticated Game Breeder License (see Fish and Game Code, section 3201). The birds will need to be marked with game bird tags to differentiate them from wild birds. These tags are sold to game bird breeders through our License and Revenue Branch for less than four cents each.

Spearfishing with scuba before free diving for abalone?
Question: If I’m out spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone? (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone on board any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. There is no problem transporting abalone and scuba gear together while on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba equipment to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or crabs of the genus Cancer, will need to make a separate trip for abalone.

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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

Slingshot Hunting for Grouse and Quail?

Greater Sage Grouse (ODFW photo)

Greater Sage Grouse (ODFW photo)

Question: Is it legal to use a slingshot to hunt grouse and quail during the archery season? I have never seen slingshot listed as legal “archery” equipment nor have I seen anything indicating it is illegal. (David W.)

Answer: No. Slingshots do not fall under the definition of archery equipment as defined in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354 and so would not be legal to use during the archery season.

Shipping trout and venison out of state?
Question: What are the laws on mailing fish to family or friends? A friend of mine took me to Lake Shasta a few years ago, and to return the favor I always bring him some fish on the way home. He is going to be moving to Kansas and I want to send him some of the prized fish. Is it legal to ship them through the mail? I know I can get live lobsters from Maine, but they are a commercial product. My friend also wants to try to send me some venison but we’re not sure of the laws there either. Thank you for your help. (Steve)

Answer: Unfortunately, it is not legal to ship trout outside of California (Fish and Game Code, section 2356.) You also cannot personally transport them to another state, unless you have a nonresident angling license or are on active military duty (in which case you may personally transport no more than one limit of trout across state lines).

Regarding venison mailed across state lines, as long as the animal was taken legally in the state of origin, it can be shipped to a recipient in California for their personal use provided the shipper complies with the following procedures:

Both California (FGC, section 2348) and United States (Lacey Act) laws require that packages containing wildlife and being shipped by common carrier “…shall clearly and conspicuously indicate the following:

(1) The name and address of the shipper.
(2) The name and address of the consignee.
(3) The number and kind of bird, mammal, fish, reptile, and amphibian contained in the package.”

In addition, a Declaration for Entry Form must be filed when importing fish, game, etc. (FGC, section 2353.)

Though it’s not a requirement, it would be a good idea for your friend to include with his venison shipment a copy of his valid hunting license and tags for the deer, along with all information regarding where and when the animal was taken.

Spear fishing options when close to stream outlets?
Question: I know there is a law prohibiting spear fishing in the ocean within 100 yards of a stream outlet. But would it be ok to enter the water from the beach and swim out past 100 yards with our equipment before we start fishing or would we have to find a beach with no outlet at all? (MJH)

Answer: The requirement for divers and spear fishermen to stay away from stream mouths was designed to protect salmon and steelhead that may be entering or exiting a stream. “No person may possess or use a spear within 100 yards of the mouth of any stream in any ocean waters north of Ventura County,” (FGC, section 28.90).

Because the regulation says “no person may possess … within 100 yards,” it would be unlawful to even stand on the beach with a spear in hand if you are within 100 yards of the mouth of a stream. This means that you will need to find an entry point more than 100 yards away from the mouth of the stream to enter the water to go spear fishing.

How many rods on piers and from shore with two-rod stamp?
Question: I’ve gotten conflicting information about the number of rods that can be used on public piers and from shore. I thought only one rod could be used from a public pier and two rods with a license and stamp from shore. However, some friends say two rods from public piers and any number of rods from shore. What’s the correct answer? I’m new to fishing in the ocean in California and I don’t want to get a ticket for something I may have misunderstood. If you could clarify this for me I would deeply appreciate it. Thank you for your time. (Jeanine Q.)

Answer: This is a common point of confusion. To clarify, the two-rod stamp (or second rod validation) applies only to freshwater fishing gear. In saltwater, only two rods (or any two fishing “appliances”, for example one rod and one crab trap, or one rod and one hoop net, etc.) may be used from public piers, and any number of rods may be used when fishing from shore. However, when fishing for groundfish or salmon in the ocean, only one rod with two hooks may be used.

Keep in mind that the law also says that “… lines must be closely attended” (CCR Title 14, section 1.05), so you can use as many lines as they can closely attend. Thus, if you have ten lines spread out over a couple hundred yards, you’d have a tough time convincing a game warden that they are all being closely attended. Make sure all lines can be quickly attended to if you catch 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

Shooting Deer Across a Lake?

Photo credit: USFWS

Photo credit: USFWS

Question: Is it legal to shoot my rifle across open water to the other side? Say I am on one side of a lake and see a legal deer on the other side (let’s assume it’s 200 yards, not a good long range shot). Can I shoot across the lake or pond or river? (Larry E.)

Answer: It is never advisable to shoot over water due to the potential for a ricochet. However, it is not illegal under the Fish and Game Code and its implementing regulations as long as both you and the deer are on property where it is legal to hunt and you have permission to hunt the area. Keep in mind though that while shooting deer across a lake may not violate state regulations, there may still be other federal laws or local ordinances that could make this illegal. Be sure to check with local authorities first to ensure no other regulations legally prohibit this practice.

Sport fishing from a commercial boat?
Question: I have a friend with a commercial urchin boat who invited me to come out with him. Would it be legal for me to fish off the boat and to maybe even dive and do some spearfishing from the boat? I would stick to fish and not take any urchin while down diving. (Anonymous)

Answer: No. Under Fish and Game Code, section 7856(f): “A person shall not take or possess a fish on a commercial fishing vessel under a sport fishing license while that vessel is engaged in a commercial fishing activity, including going to or from an area where fish are taken for commercial purposes.”

Commercial boat captains may take friends and family out to fish from their boats when they are NOT engaged in commercial fishing. All commercially caught fish or invertebrates must be off the boat before the boat leaves the harbor for a trip where the captain and passengers will be engaged in sport angling, diving, hoop netting or setting traps for crabs. They must commit to one or the other type of trip ahead of time.

Oh deer, oh road kill
Question: I hit a deer while driving a few nights ago. The dang thing jumped right out in front of my car at the last minute while I was only going 35 mph. It lived but it got me wondering whether I could have legally taken it home. If I field dress a freshly killed deer that’s been accidentally hit by a car, and even if I don’t have a deer tag, I don’t see why I could not take it. Otherwise, it would just rot on the side of the road and go to waste. I’m not a road-kill eater, but if I killed a deer by accident, I wouldn’t mind taking it home and eating it and keeping the skin. (Anonymous)

Answer: Unfortunately, this would not be legal. Road-killed wildlife may not be retained. Only authorized personnel of state and/or local agencies are permitted to dispatch and remove injured or dead animals.

Even if you were a licensed California hunter with the appropriate tags to take the deer, you cannot legally tag that deer and take it home. Deer may only be taken with rifles, shotguns, pistols and revolvers, muzzleloaders and archery equipment. Motor vehicles are not included in this list of legal methods of take.

Although FGC, section 2000.5(a), states the accidental taking of game by a motor vehicle is not a violation of the law, it does not authorize the possession of animals taken by a collision with a vehicle. You may wonder why this is the case since it seems like it would be a waste of a deer to not be able to place a tag on it and perhaps save another from being taken. The reason is that some poachers would use the “collision” excuse to take deer at night with their vehicle and just attach their tag to justify the action.

Using two rods to reach bag limit?
Question: If I am using a two-rod stamp and I have four fish in my bag (daily bag limit is five fish), can I still use two rods or do I have to only fish with one rod as I only need one more fish to reach my limit? (Kyle M.)

Answer: You may continue using two rods in the scenario you describe but once you catch the last fish in your limit, you must immediately pull in the other rod.

Stocking my home aquarium?
Question: Is it legal to take any marine life or rocks from the California coastline for use in an in-home aquarium? (James H.)

Answer: Finfish may not be transported alive from the water where taken except under the authority of a scientific collecting permit or a marine aquaria collector’s permit. The removal of live rocks (rocks with living marine organisms attached) is also prohibited in some areas, including marine sanctuaries and state parks.

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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

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

Bass Fishing Beyond Limits?

Bass anglers competing in a CDFW-permitted fishing tournament may keep fishing once five fish are in possession but must cull one of these immediately upon catching a sixth (Photo courtesy of RBFF Take Me Fishing)

Bass anglers competing in a CDFW-permitted bass fishing tournament may keep fishing once five fish are in possession but must cull one of these immediately upon catching a sixth (Photo courtesy of RBFF Take Me Fishing)

Question: I was reading one of your responses to a trout fisherman’s question regarding continuing to fish and practice catch and release after he had five trout on his stringer. The short answer was no, because “…catch-and-release fishing is not legal unless you’re still under your maximum bag limit.” I’m a bass fisherman and if that’s the case, it would seem to conflict with me culling fish once a limit is reached in a tournament. Are we violating the law? (Jim V.)

Answer: You are correct that is most cases once an angler reaches their bag limit they cannot continue fishing. However, a special provision has been made for California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW)-permitted and approved bass fishing tournaments to allow black bass anglers only during the tournament to keep fishing once five fish are in possession (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 230). They must cull one of these fish immediately upon catching a sixth in order to never be in possession of more than five bass at one time.

Harvesting barnacles attached to floating driftwood?
Question: I read your answer recently about how barnacles cannot be harvested in the intertidal zone. Is there a way of legally obtaining Gooseneck barnacles to eat? When I’m way out in the ocean on a boat, I often see floating logs, driftwood and other debris. If it has been floating for a long time, more often than not I will find there are a large number of Gooseneck barnacles attached to the submerged side. Since they are not being taken from the intertidal zone (1,000 feet of shore), would they be legal to take? (Joe K.)

Answer: Yes, if the barnacles are attached to floating logs or driftwood, it would be legal and the limit would be 35 (CCR Title 15, section 29.05(a)). The only problem now is that for much of the debris off our coast that has been in the water long enough to have large numbers of Gooseneck barnacles, there could be health concerns if the wood originated in Fukashima, Japan, due to the possibility of contact with radioactive materials. You’d want to carefully consider how badly you want to harvest those barnacles!

Hunting with a depredation permit
Question: I have several related questions regarding hunting. If I have a pig depredation permit, can I legally carry a firearm and a bow while hunting deer during the archery season? Does the person who helps me with my pig problem need a hunting license? Lastly, is there an expiration date on a depredation permit? (Bill)

Answer: When deer hunting during an archery season, you may not possess a firearm of any kind.

Regarding the pig depredation permit, if you are listed as one of three allowed designated shooters on the permit, you may remove property-damaging wild pigs under conditions listed on the permit. All depredation permits have an expiration date listed on them. Someone “assisting you” with the depredation permit should also be listed as a designated shooter. No hunting license is required for a person authorized under a depredation permit. The person assisting you has to be at least 21 years old and may not have a conviction of wildlife law in the past 12 months.

Bringing a stuffed polar bear mount into California?
Question: A relative of mine owns a stuffed polar bear which is currently located in Idaho at my uncle’s house. I have another elder relative who would like to take it but is not able to drive that far to pick it up so he asked me to do it. However, I am concerned because I’m not sure about the laws and regulations for this kind of thing for simply picking it up in Idaho and bringing it to California. What are the laws and am I able to do this? (Andrew M.)

Answer: So long as you comply with the declaration requirement in Fish and Game Code, section 2353 and have no intent to import or possess the polar bear for commercial purposes, you are not prohibited from transporting it into California. Importations for commercial purposes, possession with intent to sell, and the sale within California of any part of a polar bear is prohibited (Penal Code, section 653o). In addition, the sale, purchase or possession for sale of any bear or bear part in California is prohibited (Fish and Game Code, section 4758).

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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

Residential Varmint Trapping

Striped skunks (USFWS photo)

Striped skunks (USFWS photo)

Question: I live in Chico across the street from Bidwell Park. Lately I have been plagued with raccoons and skunks on my property. They have been wreaking havoc on my garden, crapping all over my deck and carport, and I think they have been using the pool (WITHOUT a lifeguard on duty which is COMPLETELY UNSAFE!).

I contacted a gentleman who is employed by the USDA and he told me he has been contracted by the County of Butte to trap and euthanize or relocate problem varmints. He explained to me that I can either perform these tasks myself or, for a fee, he will remove and eliminate any problem varmint that I trap on my property. I am located within the City limits of Chico in the County of Butte.

I am writing to you to make sure that I am in compliance with all laws. The last thing I want is to get cited and fined because of a raccoon or a skunk. If the information I received from this person is incorrect, then it would seem that the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) and the USDA employee contracted by Butte County need to have a chat and come up with a final call on a situation like this so everyone is reading the same book and getting on the same page. I didn’t know who to go to with this before I acted on it, but you have never steered me wrong in the past. (Dave)

Answer: While the USDA trapper did provide some good information, you are correct to worry about following all the rules because there are lots of them. If you decide to do your own trapping, be aware you are not allowed to relocate any wildlife you catch. If an animal is trapped, it must be quickly killed or released in the immediate area of where the animal was trapped. Driving the animal to a faraway meadow or park away from your house and “relocating” it is not a legal option. 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. Also, keep in mind that it is spring time and many adult animals may have babies soon, so causing orphans through trapping should be avoided.

Trapping rules are for public safety and animal welfare reasons. Before venturing into nuisance wildlife trapping, you should read and understand California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5 entitled “Use of traps” available online at

Collecting fish donations to donate to local food banks?
Question: I was wondering if it would be possible (i.e. legal) to put a freezer at boat landings to collect fish donations from anglers on sport and private boats? Donations would be given to local food banks and shelters. (Will E.)

Answer: Although this sounds like a nice idea, existing law doesn’t allow for overlimits of fish, and it would be very difficult for wildlife officers to separate an angler with an overlimit from a person transporting the freezer contents to a food bank. Potential criminal liability would also arise if people deposited fish that were undersized or out of season. A better option might be to post information at the landing encouraging anglers to donate fish directly to the food banks and shelters.

OK to have a firearm onboard while fishing for sturgeon?
Question: We’d like to do some casting and blasting and are interested in shooting target skeet while fishing for sturgeon. Is it legal to possess a firearm, or rather, to have a firearm on my boat while sturgeon fishing? I am not a hunter or a gun guy and I know it is illegal to use a firearm to land a sturgeon. What about having just a pellet gun in the cuddy cabin for non-hunting target practice? Is this legal? (Scott E.)

Answer: There are no CDFW regulations prohibiting you from simply having a firearm on the boat while sturgeon fishing. Your only firearms concerns will be to make sure you won’t be violating any county or city ordinances by possessing firearms and shooting skeet in whatever area you intend to do this. There may be any issue with throwing clay birds, which are coated in paint for visibility, into the water though. “It is unlawful to deposit, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of the state … within 150 feet of the high water mark of the waters of the state, any cans, bottles, garbage … rubbish, litter, refuse, waste, debris …” (Fish and Game Code, section 5652).

Catch and release after reaching limit
Question: A friend (not me, really!) asked me if he caught two striped bass while beach fishing, could he continue to fish for striped bass and release any future fish he caught? (Mike B.)

Answer: You (I mean he!) could not continue to target striped bass, but could continue fishing for other species of fish. If you incidentally catch another striper while trying to catch some other species and already have your limit, you must immediately release the striper.

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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