Tag Archives: coyotes

Abalone Pearls – Can They Be Legally Bought and Sold?

An unusually large red abalone pearl taken by Peter Truong of Elk Grove, CA from Mendocino County in 2010. This pearl was certified by the Guinness Book of World Records earlier this year as the largest natural abalone pearl ever recorded! (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I saw an abalone pearl for sale on Craig’s List. Is this legal? I always thought no part of the abalone may be bought, sold, traded or bartered when taken under a California sportfishing license. What does the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) and California law say regarding abalone pearls? My understanding is the pearl is not part of the mollusk but instead a foreign object that got stuck in the gonad or between the shell and the meat. Any help would be much appreciated. (Matt M.)

Answer: You are correct. Unless the abalone was taken by licensed California commercial divers prior to the 1997 commercial abalone fishing ban, or purchased from a commercial abalone aquaculture operation, then it is a violation to sell the shell or any other part of the abalone. It is legal to import the pearls for sale if they comply with the commercial fish laws regarding importation. Therefore, it would be incumbent for the jeweler/individual offering the pearl for sale to have documentation that they obtained the pearl legally.

Bowfishing winding reels required?
Question: I would like to try bowfishing but don’t have any equipment yet. My father heard bowfishing equipment has to have a winding reel on the bow. Is this true or can any reel work on the bow? (Sean)

Answer: Any reel will work for bowfishers. According to DFG Lt. Scott Melvin, to help ensure speared fish are retrieved, the arrow shaft or the point, or both, must be attached by a line to the bow, but the line can be attached either directly to the bow or to a fishing reel mounted on the bow (including crossbow) (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.23). While the bow is not required to have a winding reel, these two options for attaching the line may have led to your father’s confusion.

Before engaging in bowfishing, be sure you know what species you can legally bowfish for. In inland waters, only nongame fish may be taken. In saltwater, most sharks and rays and other finfish may be taken. However, no take is allowed for the following: giant (black) sea bass, garibaldi, gulf grouper, broomtail grouper, trout, salmon, striped bass, broadbill swordfish and white sharks (CCR Title 14, section 28.95). In addition, some areas do not allow for bowfishing at all because some city jurisdictions view the equipment as a deadly weapon.

Getting a resident fishing license?
Question: I have homes in both California and Arizona. My primary residence is in Arizona but I have a boat and slip in California. Can I get a resident fishing license since I have a mailing address in California and I pay utilities and property taxes in California? I only fish a couple of days a year, but those days wouldn’t be consecutive so a temporary license doesn’t make sense. (Dwain L.)

Answer: California law is clear on the definition of a “resident.” A resident is defined as any person who has resided continuously in California for six months or more immediately before the date of application for a license, or persons on active military duty with the armed forces of the United States or an auxiliary branch or Job Corps enrollees.

If you cannot count yourself a California resident by this definition, you cannot purchase a California resident license. However, holders of a resident Arizona fishing license that has a California Colorado River Use Stamp affixed to it may take fish from a boat or other floating device on the Colorado River or adjacent waters that form the California-Arizona border.

Are there three shell shotgun limits when nongame hunting?
Question: While hunting coyotes in California with a shotgun, am I limited to only three shells in my shotgun like when hunting waterfowl? (Mick M.)

Answer: No, you may take coyotes and other nongame species with a shotgun capable of holding no more than six shells total – five in the magazine and one in the chamber.

No person may possess a shotgun capable of holding more than six shells total while hunting (Fish and Game Code, section 2010). In the case of coyotes, you would be restricted to non-lead shot or slugs within the condor range. When taking any game animals, you are restricted to a three shot capacity. But for nongame species, like coyote, the three shot capacity does not apply.

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

Why not dive for abalone year-round?


The abalone season is one tool for managing the overall harvest of abalone (DFG photo by Derek Stein)

Question: I’m an avid abalone diver who has been diving for more than 28 years and I am curious why we have a set season for abalone diving. Since we have abalone report cards and are limited to three per day and 24 abalone per year, why does it matter what time of year we take those abalone? I can understand the reason for a season when the only limit was four abs per day and all you wanted during season. But currently we are only allowed 24, so what difference does it make what time of year I take my 24 abs? I feel we should be able to go all year round. From my understanding, abalone do not have a set breeding season since they are broadcast spawners and breed all year long depending on the tides and currents. (Matt M.)

Answer: The abalone season is one tool for reducing the take of abalone and it works in conjunction with other regulations to limit the overall number of abalone taken. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Associate Marine Biologist Jerry Kashiwada, the abalone fishery is not regulated with a fixed quota like some fisheries. The report card limit is only designed to reduce excessive take and is not based on the number of abalone each person should be allowed to take.

The abalone report card was established because game wardens were seeing people driving up to the abalone grounds every day of the season to get a limit of abalone. The current limit of 24 was thought by the Fish and Game Commission to be a reasonable number of abalone for a person to take for the season, but it was never intended that everyone take 24 abalone. The average number of abalone taken per card has been between eight and 10. Although this may sound like a low number, the large number of report cards sold each year results in an annual legal harvest of more than 260,000 abalone. Wardens suspect the actual impact on abalone populations is much larger because abalone divers and pickers are commonly cited for failing to tag abalone, not marking their abalone cards and for high-grading (the illegal practice of continuing to detach abalone after a bag limit of legal sized abalone has been taken). High-grading also increases the number of abalone that die due to fishery activities.

Even with the current limits and regulations, there is concern that some heavily used fishing sites are showing signs of reduced abalone populations. The Fish and Game Commission is not likely to make any regulation changes which would increase the number of abalone being taken.

Electronic calls or bait legal for coyote and predator hunting?
Question: I have been told it is illegal to use electronic calls for ducks and turkeys, but I was wondering if electronic calls or bait can be used for hunting coyotes or other predators. Also, I know there are restrictions on mechanical (electrical) decoys being used during the first portion of the duck season, but can a mechanical (moving/shaking) rabbit decoy be used for coyotes? (Mark, San Bruno)

Answer: Electronic calls (specifically authorized) and mechanically-moving rabbit decoys (not prohibited) may be used to take coyotes (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 475).

Any documents necessary to possess and transport deer mounts?
Question: I have questions regarding deer trophies taken legally during regular deer season and their possession and transportation months or years afterward. What paperwork, if any, must be kept? How long must this be kept? Are people in possession of deer heads in violation if they don’t keep their old deer tags? (Geoff V.)

Answer: There is no paperwork required by California Fish and Game laws to possess old taxidermied deer mounts. There are also no restrictions on possession or transport, however, it is illegal to sell, barter or trade them regardless of their age. It’s always best if the tags are attached, but it’s not required.

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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.

Hunting coyotes at night with lights?

Question: Can you clarify the regulation on hunting coyote with a light? I interpret it to be that it’s OK to hunt at night with a light except during a designated deer season, and that it must be a handheld light. Can you use a scope-mounted light? Thanks. (Tom B.)

Answer: Coyotes may be taken at any time of the year, in any number (unless prohibited by local ordinance or otherwise) and in any manner except poison (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 472 and 475). You are correct that lights cannot be used for night hunting in any area where the general deer season is open.

According to Lt. Todd Tognazzini, before you set out to hunt coyotes, you will need to research two main areas of the law. The first deals with the use of lights while night hunting. The state is divided into three distinct zones and under the CCR, Title 14, section 264, there are some counties defined in Zone 1 and Zone 2 that allow spotlight use from a vehicle as long as the engine is off and spotlighting does not occur from a public roadway. In the Balance of the State Zone (all other counties), hunters may only use lights to take furbearing and nongame mammals if the hunter is on foot and away from a vehicle. Lights must be a maximum 9-volt light source with self-contained batteries, and must be either hand-held or worn on your head (CCR, Title 14, section 264.5).

According to the Fish and Game Code, section 2005, “It is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night vision equipment, optical devices, including, but not limited to, binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical or battery powered, to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish.”

In Zones 1 and 2, a weapon-mounted light of any size could be used so long as it was not a prohibited device (as described under the FGC, section 2005[c]). A weapon-mounted light would not be lawful in the Balance of the State Zone.  In the Balance of the State, lights must be a maximum of 9-volts with self-contained batteries, and must be either hand-held or worn on your head (CCR, Title 14, section 264.5).

There are also quite a few areas in the state where night hunting is prohibited completely, such as parts of San Benito and Monterey counties (CCR, Title14, section 263). There are also different areas with complete closure zones, so be sure to check for those as well (CCR, Title14, section 474).

Harvesting mussels with tools
Question: We would like to harvest some mussels from the rocks and pier pilings around Monterey and are wondering if we can use an abalone iron or small shovel to get the mussels. Thanks. (Ronald V.)

Answer: No, most saltwater mollusks, including mussels, may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands (CCR, Title 14, section 29.10). Since there are no additional provisions for taking mussels with any other sort of tool, taking them by hand is your only viable option.

Is it legal to capture and hold wild pigs?
Question: Is it legal to capture and keep wild boars (feral pigs) in California? Is it legal to keep them in a pit to train dogs for hunting boars? Thanks. (Barb S.)

Answer: No, it is unlawful to capture and keep live wildlife in California, with rare exceptions for rehabilitation and educational purposes. According to Lt. Todd Tognazzini, it is unlawful to capture any game mammal, game bird, nongame bird, nongame mammal or furbearer, or to possess or confine any live game mammal, game bird, nongame bird, nongame mammal or furbearer taken from the wild (FGC, section 3005.5). The law also directs DFG to seize any bird or mammal possessed or confined in violation of this section.

License displays and Bay-Delta stamps no longer required
Question: I know that the law requiring anglers to display their licenses when fishing was recently repealed and the law requiring the purchase of a Bay-Delta Enhancement Stamp to fish in inland waters was also recently changed. Can you tell me when these will officially go into effect? I assumed Jan. 1, 2010, but then I saw something saying the “no display” law would not begin until March. What are the exact dates? Thanks much. (Bill K.)

Answer: The regulation repealing the need to display your license while fishing will not go into effect before March 1, 2010, the first day the general inland regulations start. The Bay Delta stamp is no longer required as of Jan. 1, 2010.

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Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She cannot personally answer everyone’s questions but will select a few to answer in this column each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.