Tag Archives: habitat improvement

Baiting or Habitat Enhancement?

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Mule deer on scenic hillside (USFWS photo)

Question: I am an avid outdoorsman here in Southern California. I noticed on a recent scouting trip that someone left a bucket in one of my upland game hunting locations. It had some water in it and it looked like it was placed there to act as a person’s DIY waterhole. I’m not sure if they left it by accident or if they placed it there in the hopes of attracting deer and game birds. Does this count as feeding? I’m fully aware there are prohibitions on feeding and baiting big game, and I am aware there are restrictions on baiting small game like quail, but does leaving your own water count as feeding or baiting? I looked at the regs and I didn’t find a definition of what feeding is, at least in regard to this situation. NGOs build these types of devices all the time as habitat enhancement in areas where big game need access to water. I’d imagine it is done with proper permission and permits, yet I did not want to leave a CalTIP report about a poacher if this was not illegal. (Robert T.)

Answer: As long as the person placing the watering device has permission from the land owner or controlling agency to place it on the property, there should be no issue. However, regulations may prohibit hunting near the watering device if it is on public land (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 730). This code section prohibits hunting for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the boundary of the California Desert Conservation Area, or within ¼ mile of six specified wildlife watering places in Lassen and Modoc Counties. The definition of “watering place” includes man-made watering devices for wildlife.


Fishing outside restricted depths?
Question: A while back I read some fishing reports from some partyboats out of Sonoma County who were reporting they had picked up limits of rockfish and lings and were then running out to 220 feet of water to fish trolling gear for salmon. Isn’t this illegal? How do these commercial sportfishing boats get away with it? (Dan F.)

Answer: Yes, that practice would be illegal. Partyboats must abide by the depth restrictions for the groundfish management area where they are fishing. For the area you describe it would be 180 feet, and if groundfish are on the boat, no fishing may occur in deeper water. A partyboat could have gone salmon fishing in 220 feet and then moved to legal depths to catch rockfish inside 180 feet, but not in the manner you describe. If groundfish were caught while fishing the deeper water for salmon, they would have had to be released.


Fishing by Delta farmer’s pumps
Question: I was fishing in a boat on the California Delta yesterday. A farmer’s pump was pumping and the farmer stopped his truck on the levee to tell me that it’s against the law to fish within 100 yards of a running pump. I’ve never heard of that, and I was wondering if the farmer was just blowing smoke. What do you think? (Ken A.)

Answer: The farmer was mistaken, but CCR Title 14, section 2.35 does prohibit taking fish within 250 feet of any fishway; egg-taking station; dam, weir or rack that has a fishway or an egg-taking station; and the upstream side of any fish screen.


Sport fishing on a commercial crab boat?
Question: Can commercial boats sport fish for Dungeness crab during the sport season when the commercial season is closed?

Answer: Yes, if the commercial vessel is not engaged in any commercial activity (Fish and Game Code, section 7856(f)), the commercial vessel does not hold a Dungeness crab vessel permit (CCR Title 14, section 132.1(a)), and everyone taking crab or fishing onboard has a sport fishing license and is following sport fishing regulations.


Bear spray for personal protection?
Question: Is bear spray legal for personal protection while deer or pig hunting in California? (Tony B.)

Answer: Yes. And not only is it legal, many people also recommend it!

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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.

Why Are Tags and Licenses Needed for Hunting Feral Pigs?

Wild pig (DFG file photo)

Question: Please explain why the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) requires a hunting license and tags to hunt and kill feral pigs. Feral pigs, as the name implies, are domestic pigs that have gone wild. They are an invasive species that destroys the environment and spreads disease. Proper and responsible environmental management would mandate the eradication of this invasive species; yet DFG has a policy that discourages killing feral pigs by charging fees. Why is this? (Curtis A.)

Answer: DFG requires a valid license and tag to legally take a wild pig. According to DFG Wild Pig Program Coordinator Marc Kenyon, Fish and Game Code, section 4650 says that any free-ranging, non-domesticated pig is classified as a wild pig, and therefore is considered big game. DFG instituted the tagging requirement as a means to continuously monitor California’s wild pig population. This information is used by DFG biologists, in concert with private and public landowners, to develop pig management plans that are intended to protect cultural and natural resources from the damage wild pigs are known to cause. Without the wild pig harvest report information, private and public land managers would lack the information necessary to develop these plans of action. Furthermore, the revenues generated by the sale of wild pig tags are used by DFG to monitor disease transmission, evaluate environmental impacts of wild pigs and provide the public with additional hunting opportunities. Your participation in this process is greatly appreciated.

Wild pigs have no seasons or size restrictions or daily bag limit. The sale of pig tags helps generate much-needed funding for DFG biologists to use for managing pigs and the habitat where they live. By managing and improving the habitat for pigs, a wide variety of other species that occupy the same land/habitat also benefit from these efforts.


Can I make jewelry from empty abalone shells I find?
Question:I have picked up a number of empty abalone shells and pieces of shells from various beaches to use for making jewelry. It’s obvious that they have been sitting in water empty for a while because the inside shows weathering from the saltwater. I know it is not legal for abalone divers to sell the meat or the shells of the abalone, but are there any laws prohibiting me from making jewelry to sell from these empty shells I find? (Jan M., Novato)

Answer: You can generally pick up abalone shells and shell parts for your personal use but these shells may not be sold or made into products to sell. Marine Reserves, State Underwater Parks and other prohibited areas do not allow for any shell collecting. For example, there are some public lands off of Point Arena that are owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM allows you to take live abalone, but you are not allowed to collect empty shells. Wherever you go, you should contact the controlling agency to find out what collecting activities are legal for that area.


Bear hunting with tree switch collars and GPS collars on hounds?
Question:I heard the law prohibiting tree switches and GPS collars is being repealed in California. Can I hunt bear this year with tree switch collars and GPS collars on my hounds? (Marcy Jensen)

Answer: No, the law has not changed and it is illegal to use treeing switches and/or GPS collars on your hounds when taking any mammals in California.


Measuring lobsters
Question:A few years ago we were told we can only keep lobsters that don’t fit inside the 3¼ inch gauge at all, or those that stick so firmly inside the gauge between the head and the end of its back that even if you hold the lobster upside down, it won’t fall off. Is this correct? Does the lobster have to be 100 percent wedged into the gauge and not fall off of it without assistance to be legal? (Jeff D., Carlsbad)

Answer: The legal-size lobster is one with a carapace that is larger than or equal to the gauge’s cutout with no wiggle room. Be sure to measure the length of the carapace along the midline from the rear edge of the eye socket (between the horns) to the rear edge of the carapace. This straight-line measurement must be a minimum of 3 ¼ inches. If the lobster is too small, it should immediately be released back into the water. Undersized lobster should never be brought aboard a vessel, or ashore if diving from the beach.

A measurement diagram is located in the brochure located on our website at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pdfs/lobsterbrochure.pdf or on page 80 of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet. You might also be interested in the California spiny lobster information available on the Invertebrate Management Project webpage at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/invertebrate.

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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.

When is a duck not a duck anymore?

Mallard drake (Photo ODFW)

Question: During waterfowl season, I would like to hold onto as many birds as I can so that I can mount those birds that are in the best shape. But at what point does a duck go from being a duck in my possession to a carcass for mounting? Does a skinned-out bird count as one duck toward that season’s bag limit? Do birds in the freezer from last year count toward this season’s bag limit? Do mounted birds count toward my possession limit? I would like to know what the regulations are and abide by them. (Brian Porter)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Assistant Chief Mike Carion, generally, Fish and Game laws and regulations prohibit a person from having more than the bag or possession limit prescribed for each species. You may not keep game for longer than 10 days following the season, unless you have a valid hunting license (or a copy) for that species that was issued to you or to the person who donated the birds to you. The license must have been issued for the current or immediate past license year. Possession limits apply to each person in the household whether they were the taker of the game or not. As long as you do not possess more than the legal possession limit for each person living at the residence, you will still be in compliance with the laws.

If you plan on mounting birds for another person, you will be required to obtain a Federal Taxidermy Permit (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50, section 21.24) and will be required to tag all birds belonging to someone else (specific requirements can be found in CFR Title 50, section 20.36). In addition, you must keep accurate records of who you obtained the birds from, date taken, species and who you deliver the bird to. (Fish and Game Code, section 3087 and California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 695).

As far as at what point a duck is no longer a duck and instead a carcass for mounting, under DFG laws, “bird” means any wild bird or part thereof. A feather, bone, webfoot, etc. from a wild duck is always a bird. Once you remove, consume or otherwise use the edible portions of the bird, the bird would no longer count toward your possession limit for the season. As long as you have the edible portions of the bird, it would still count toward your possession limit.

Once you skin out a duck and remove all of the edible portions, the edible portion remains part of your possession limit while the remainder of the carcass can be kept for taxidermy without counting toward your possession limit.

Keep in mind that birds still in the freezer from last year DO count toward this season’s possession limit, but mounted birds that were legally taken and preserved by taxidermy are not counted in either the bag or possession limits.

For more information, please see Fish and Game Code, sections 22, 2001 and 3080, available online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.


Legal method to take rock scallops?
Question:What is the legal method of take for rock scallops and are there any size limitations? Am I allowed to SCUBA dive for rock scallops? (Lee C.)

Answer: You may use SCUBA to take rock scallops. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 rock scallops per person and there are no size limits. They may be taken by hand or by using dive knives or abalone irons. The regulations that discuss legal methods for taking rock scallops are located in your current 2010-2011 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet in section 29.05(d) (page 52) and section 29.60(b) (page 55).


Can filling guzzlers be considered baiting?
Question:I have a question concerning water for guzzlers. I’ve always assumed it was okay to add water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers, but an incident occurred to a friend of mine in early summer that has me wondering. He was adding 50 gallons to a dry guzzler when a hiker came up to him and told him what he was doing was illegal, mentioning that he could be cited for baiting wildlife. I find that hard to believe, but figured we better check it out with DFG. Are there any laws against adding water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers? (Gerald O.)

Answer: There are no fish and game laws specifically prohibiting adding water to a guzzler or other area where wildlife may gather to drink. In fact, there is a very active volunteer effort addressing this in Southern California. There are some restrictions, though, so please check CCR Title 14, section 730 to ensure that your activities are legal.

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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.