Tag Archives: Native Americans

Bowfishing for Bullfrogs?

Bullfrogs can be taken by bow and arrow (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Bullfrogs can be taken by bow and arrow (CDFW photo by Dave Feliz)

Question: In the regulations it says it’s legal to use bow and arrow to take bullfrogs. Does this mean we are also allowed to take them using compound bows? (J. Riggs)

Answer: Yes, compound bows are legal for taking bullfrogs as long as the arrow shaft or the point, or both, are attached by a line to the bow or to a fishing reel (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.23). Bow fishing for bullfrogs will also require you to have a California sport fishing license. Amphibians may be taken only by hand, hand-held dip net, or hook and line, except bullfrogs may also be taken by lights, spears, gigs, grabs, paddles, bow and arrow or fishing tackle (CCR Title 14, section 5.05(e)). Since there are some protected frog species that may coexist with bullfrogs, please be sure you are correctly identifying your frog as a bullfrog, Rana (Lithobates) cataesbeiana, before releasing your arrow!

Lead ammo on Native American reservations?
Question: I have a relative with land that borders a Native American reservation. For the past 40 years I have hunted doves and quail on his ranch. I talked to a tribal member next to the ranch and he said they still use lead shot and bullets when they hunt, and if they lease the part of the ranch where I hunt, I could still use lead shot there because they are a sovereign nation. He also said I did not need a California hunting license, stamps or tags except from the tribal government. I always love to read your column. Please advise me if this information is correct. (Jay S.)

Answer: Non -tribal members (you), even if given permission by a tribe to hunt within the tribe’s reservation or on its lands, may still be required to have a valid California hunting license, stamps and tags and comply with California hunting laws. Check with a California Wildlife Officer to confirm whether you will need. A non-tribal member may also be required to comply with tribal hunting and fishing regulations within a tribe’s reservation. Also, federal law prohibits entering tribal lands without permission for the purpose of hunting and transporting wildlife taken in violation of tribal law, so hunters are encouraged to contact the tribe before hunting within a tribe’s reservation or on tribal lands.

Tribal members within their own reservation, with very limited exceptions, are subject to federal and tribal fish and wildlife laws, rather than state laws. The lead ammo ban would not apply to them within their own reservation (Fish and Game Code, section 12300, 16 US Code sections 3372 and 18 US Code section 1165).

Rotten cotton?
Question: I am trying to make my crab traps compliant with the new “rotten cotton” regulations that require escape features must be threaded with single strand untreated cotton of no greater than size 120. My traps are tied with multi strand cotton. I cannot find single strand cotton cord. All the places that sell replacement cord seem to carry only multi strand. I was thinking of untwisting the multi strand cord and using the single strands. Any suggestions? (Walter)d-crab-trap-1

Answer: Twine size is based on the diameter of the line, which is based on established size reference tables. You must use a single strand of untreated cotton twine size 120 or less. “Single strand” in the regulations refers to one strand of whatever cotton twine (legal size) that a person may choose to use. It does not refer to the number of strands that make up the single strand of cotton twine. Commercial crab fishermen have been required to include escape openings using this “rotten cotton” for many years without problems. If you’re having trouble finding it, check fisherman supply warehouses or businesses that sell commercial fishing supplies.d-crab-trap-5

“Starting Aug. 1, 2016, crab traps shall contain at least one destruct device of a single strand of untreated cotton twine size No. 120 or less that creates an unobstructed escape opening in the top or upper half of the trap of at least five inches in diameter when the destruct attachment material corrodes or fails” (CCR Title 14, section 29.80(c)(2)).

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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.

Some organic fishing methods not legal

Native American fishing along the Trinity River, CA (Original photogravure produced in Cambridge, Mass. by Suffolk Engraving Co., c1923.)

Question: There is an old legend that local Native Americans used to grind up the roots of Yucca Plants and spread them in the water to “stun” fish so they could collect them. Can I use this as a fishing method? (Jeff, Riverside County)

Answer: No. Although that may have been how Native Americans historically fished and a seemingly natural method, today the use of chemicals of any type is not a legal method of take. According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Game Warden Patrick Foy, fish must be taken by angling, which is defined under the California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 1.05 as “to take fish by hook and line with the line held in the hand, or with the line attached to a pole or rod held in the hand or closely attended in such manner that the fish voluntarily takes the bait or lure in its mouth” (exceptions are listed in Section 2 of the fishing regulations, under Fishing Methods and Gear Restrictions).

Adding these ground-up root chemicals to the water would also be unlawful because it is generally illegal to deposit in, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of this state any substance or material deleterious to fish, plant life or bird life (Fish and Game Code, section 5650[a][6]). In addition, FGC, section 5650(a)(5) specifically prohibits the use of Cocculus indicus, the plant from which these legends are derived.

Can I use cast nets in lakes or the Delta?
Question: I would like a clarification on the use of cast nets in inland waters. I see people using them both at Clear Lake and in the Delta. As far as I know, it is illegal to use anything larger than a dip net or a trap not more than three feet in greatest dimension. Cast nets are not mentioned in the regulation booklet. (Dave, Clearlake)

Answer: You are correct. It is not legal to use cast nets in inland waters. Cast nets (referred to as “Hawaiian type throw nets” in the CCR Title 14, section 28.80) are allowed only in ocean waters north of Point Conception and only for certain saltwater species. The only nets that may be used in freshwater are dip nets, which are defined as “webbing supported by a frame, and hand held, not more than six feet in greatest dimension, excluding handle” (CCR Title 14, section 1.42). The specific baitfish capture methods for inland waters are outlined in CCR Title 14, section 4.05.

Defending fallen hikers from rattlesnakes?
Question: You mentioned in a recent column that the regulations state you can’t injure or kill a rattlesnake. But what about if someone is hiking in the back country, hears and sees a coiled rattlesnake and then falls while attempting to retreat? Can another member of the hiking team protect the fallen hiker from the snake by throwing a rock at it? It seems to me to be common sense to be able to protect someone from becoming seriously ill, or worse, especially since it could take several hours to obtain medical assistance. I have been hiking for years and close encounters with rattlers is rare, but it does occur. Also, is it lawful to possess the rattles? (William T., West Sacramento)

Answer: The regulation referenced in the March 4, 2010 column (https://californiaoutdoors.wordpress.com) was specific to killing rattlesnakes for commercial sales. This question is regarding a different situation.

According to DFG Game Warden Kyle Chang, regulations allow for the take of up to two native California rattlesnakes per species (genus Crotalus and Sistrurus) by any resident without a fishing license and by any method of take (CCR Title 14, section 5.60[e][2] and FGC, 7149.3). The law was written like this specifically to allow for people to kill rattlesnakes for safety purposes. The rattles may be possessed because rattlesnakes may be legally taken for non-commercial purposes.

Handling rattlesnakes in public areas or crowded campgrounds?
Question: Can rattlesnakes be killed when they are near public areas or crowded campgrounds? If so, what is the correct way to handle a rattlesnake when there are large groups of people and pets nearby? (David H.)

Answer: Rattlesnakes occur naturally in the ecosystem and are important predators that help to effectively contain or reduce excess rodent populations. If a rattlesnake is encountered in a public area or crowded campground, the snake should not be killed unless it poses a direct threat to people and pets. The best course of action is to just warn people to be aware of their surroundings and to restrain their pets. While rattlesnakes may be lawfully taken under Fish and Game laws, killing rattlesnakes in state parks is prohibited under CCR Title 14, section 5.60(a). This section states that no reptiles shall be taken in ecological reserves or state parks or national parks or monuments. Different parks may also have their own additional regulations.

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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.