Tag Archives: feeding wildlife

Bird Feeders May Lure Other Unwanted Wildlife Visitors

than you’d

Wild bird feeders often lure in more than just the intended birds (Creative Commons photo)

Wild bird feeders may be a lure for a lot more unintended wildlife visitors than you’d expect (Photo courtesy of Creative Commons)

Question: Is it okay in California to put bird feeders out to feed wild birds? Assuming it is, if we observe deer eating the seeds intended for birds, are we obligated to remove the bird seed and stop feeding the birds or can we continue to put out seeds for the birds even if the deer are also coming in to consume it? (Mark M.)

Answer: Wild bird feeders are legal to use, but keep in mind that you don’t want the birds to become completely dependent on this artificial food source. If they do become dependent, then if/when this artificial food source becomes unavailable, the birds may have trouble going back to find a natural food source to sustain them.

Which leads into your second question … if you find that the deer are changing their behavior and coming onto your property in pursuit of any spilled bird seed, you should stop feeding the birds until the deer stop coming in. Pretty soon there won’t be any birds, just deer standing around waiting for their handout. It’s either that or move the feeder to a spot the deer can’t get to. It’s never a good idea to start feeding deer.

Another potential problem is that bird feeders can also be a big attractant for black bears who are trying to consume enough calories to support hibernation during winter months when natural food is scarce. The suet (animal fat) used to hold bird seed together in many products is also a dense calorie source which bears can become dependent upon. Knowingly attracting bears with this food source, which can be considered bait, is a citable offense.

Keep in mind, it’s illegal to feed big game (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.3) and unlawful to harass wildlife (causing them to alter their normal behavior). Harassment can include feeding (CCR Title 14, section 251), even if it’s via bird feeders.


Spiny lobster hoop net buoy regs
Question: I read where crab traps need the owner’s GO ID number on the buoys this year. Is this required for lobster hoop nets as well? I did not see it but the locker room lawyers I hang with say the requirement applies to both. (Joe H.)

Answer: For this season, that is not the case. Beginning with the 2017 season, however, this will be required unless the hoop net is deployed from shore. You can get a preview of the adopted regulation changes for sport lobster fishing on the California Fish and Game Commission website.

“Beginning on April 1, 2017, hoop nets used south of Point Arguello shall be marked with a surface buoy. The surface buoy shall be legibly marked to identify the operator’s GO ID number as stated on the operator’s sport fishing license or lobster report card. Hoop nets deployed from persons on shore and manmade structures connected to the shore are not required to be marked with a surface buoy.”


Bear tag on my body?
Question: I have a question about bear hunting. This past season while in camp and talking to wildlife officers , a big bear walked by about 100 yards away. I was about to shoot it when I remembered my tag was in my trailer and not on my body. I got the tag first, then contained my dog, but by then the bear was gone. I could have shot him but didn’t have the tag on me. Did I just save myself a ticket for shooting without my tag in possession or did I just miss the bear? It says on the tag that it must be in immediate possession while hunting. (Rick W.)

Answer: Because you were at your camp and not hunting at the time, you are not expected to have your tag/license on you. However, according to Fish and Game Code, section 4753, “The person to whom a bear tag has been issued shall carry the tag while hunting bear.” So, you did the right thing. Once you would have picked up your firearm, you would have been actively hunting, so therefore required to carry your tag. Also keep in mind that if you were in a designated campground area, many campgrounds have safety zones around them where shooting is not allowed.


Trout fishing at night
Question: Can you clarify the exact rules for trout fishing at night? The regulations aren’t very clear to me when I read them. (Brandon C.)

Answer: In most cases, trout and salmon may not be taken at night. However, some exceptions can be found in the 2016-2017 Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations handbook on page 16 under CCR Title 14, section 3.00. Night is defined as one hour after sunset to one hour before sunrise.


Mouth calls for deer
Question: My question goes back to deer season. I am wondering if it is ok to use mouth calls for deer hunting here in California. I have found this legal to do in other states. (Richard T.)

Answer: Yes, you can use mouth calls for deer as long as the sounds are not electronically generated or electronically amplified (FGC, section 3012).

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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.

Taking extra game to give away?

DFG photo by Derek Stein

 

Question: If I go diving with a friend in Sea Ranch (Sonoma County) and my wife stays home in San Francisco, can I dive one day and gift those abalone to my wife even though she is not with me at the moment? Then the following day, can I dive again, take an additional limit for myself, and then drive home alone with six abalone in my car? I would make sure the abalone remained in their shells and I would carry a letter stating three of the abalone are gifts for my wife. Does she have to be with me in order for me to gift the abalone to her? (Chuck V.)

Answer: This scenario would not be legal. Regardless of your intent, if you have six abalone in your possession, you will be in violation of an overlimit and could be cited and have all of your abalone confiscated. Only three abalone may be possessed at any time by an individual, period (California Code of Regulations, section 29.15[c]).

In order for you to legally gift abalone to someone else, that person must be with you to receive and personally take possession of the abalone. Just carrying a note stating that you intend to gift three of the six abalone in your possession to your wife will not suffice because you are still in possession of an overlimit, and are thus in violation of the law.

Even though regulations allow for gifting abalone to other people, remember that bag and possession limits are set up as fishery management tools to help control excessive take of abalone. Even with the current limits and regulations, there is concern that some heavily used fishing sites are showing signs of reduced abalone populations. Careful management of this fishery is required to help assure California’s abalone stocks remain healthy and sustainable for continued future harvest through the coming years. Each diver and shore picker should be aware and mindful of this and help whenever they can.


Are Native Americans exempt from California fishing laws?
Question: On the Klamath River, is it legal for an Indian guide with paying clients on his boat to use more than one rod per passenger and barbed hooks when this is illegal on this river? (Kathleen C.)

Answer: Generally, there are no exceptions for Native Americans in the fishing regulations; however, on some rivers where Tribal Rights have been granted to the native people while on the tribal lands, they may be exempt from California fishing laws. When such exemptions are in place it only applies to Native Americans on the Tribal Roll of the Tribe with the rights. In your example, the paying clients are not exempt unless they are Native Americans on the Tribal Roll of the Tribe with the exemption.


Wild bird feeding
Question: We feed birds in our yard year round, but this year we are delighted to have a family of wild quail who have taken up residence in our yard in San Ramon. Our problem is there are also two pairs of raucous big birds that look like and act like blue jays, and they have taken over our yard.

Their call is so unpleasant and they are aggressive and chase away other smaller birds. They are eating the food we’re trying to preserve for the quail and other smaller birds, such as finches. Can those large blue-jay-like birds be trapped or contained some how? They are so bold they attack neighborhood dogs and cats by pecking at their heads. Help, please! (Dione Z.)

Answer: Sorry to hear about the problem you’re having. Unfortunately, the jays are protected under the Migratory Bird Act and so cannot be trapped, contained or hurt. Your best bet is to try to change your feeding methods somehow to exclude the Jays. This may be difficult but it’s really your only alternative.


Deer hunting from my porch?
Question: I have a house on five acres near Winters in northern California and have some really nice bucks on my land. Everyday they come within a few feet of my house and graze on my garden and plants. If I purchase an A Zone tag this year, can I legally shoot a deer on my land from my house or porch? My house is situated more than 200 yards from any other property or house and it is outside of the city limits. Thanks. (Brian T.)

Answer: Yes. The safety zone law prohibits shooting within 150 yards of any occupied dwelling without the permission of the occupant. As long as it is otherwise legal to discharge a firearm in this area (e.g. not in the city limits), then go for it!

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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.