Tag Archives: nongame mammals

When to Use a Crossbow?

Crossbows are normally not considered legal "archery" equipment for taking game birds and game mammals during archery-only season. However, there is an exception for those who hold a Disabled Archer Permit. (Photo courtesy of Parker Bows)

Crossbows are not considered legal “archery” equipment and cannot be used during the archery-only seasons for game birds and mammals unless the hunter possesses a valid disabled archer permit. Crossbows can be used during the open seasons for wild turkey hunting (Photo courtesy of Parker Bows)

Question: With turkey season coming up soon and deer season right around the corner, can you please clarify when crossbows may be used for hunting big game and turkeys in California? As I understand it, you can use a crossbow instead of a rifle during rifle season. Is this correct? Can we use crossbows for taking wild turkeys? (Jesse J.)

Answer: It is important to understand that a crossbow is not considered archery equipment. Crossbows cannot be used during the archery seasons for game mammals or game birds unless the hunter possesses a valid disabled archer permit.

Crossbows may be used during the general seasons for deer, pig and game birds. For big game, hunters must use a broad head which will not pass through a hole seven-eighths of an inch in diameter (California Code of Regulation Title 14, section 354)). For wild turkeys, any arrow or crossbow bolt may be used except as prohibited by CCR Title 14, section 354(d) – which addresses explosive or tranquilizing arrowheads.

For additional information regarding archery equipment and crossbow regulations, please check the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 354. Good luck!


Revamping crab traps with five inch minimum openings?
Question: I have a question on the Dungeness crab regulations. There’s a new requirement this season that crab traps must have a destruct device with an unobstructed opening that is at least five inches in diameter. The regulations also describe ways to meet the requirement using cotton twine with rubber straps. I don’t keep my crab traps more than a few hours in the water. My existing crab traps already have two circular openings that are 4.5 inches in diameter.

Can I simply add one more circular metal/plastic ring, with inside diameter more than five inches, on the top of the crab trap and NOT use the cotton twine method? Basically, I will have a five-inch opening at all times, regardless of whether I lose my gear (crab trap) or not. (Chin D.)

Answer: “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)).

An opening over five inches would satisfy this requirement as long as the permanent opening in the trap is in the upper half of the trap and it provides the same or greater escape dimensions that would be created when or if a self-destruct cotton failed. A trap set with the destruct material in the failed state (i.e. with no destruct material), would satisfy this requirement.


Shooting gophers and ground squirrels on private land?
Question: Do I need a hunting license to shoot gophers and ground squirrels on private land? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, if you are taking them for recreational purposes. Gophers and ground squirrels are nongame mammals and may be taken by licensed hunters. However, gophers and ground squirrels that are damaging growing crops or other property may be taken without a hunting license “by the owner or tenant of the premises or employees and agents in immediate possession of written permission from the owner or tenant thereof” (Fish and Game Code, section 4152).


Collecting natural sea water for aquarium?
Question: I have a big saltwater reef aquarium in my home and would like to collect natural sea water for it. What is allowed with regard to collecting natural sea water to use in home aquariums? I live just outside the Sacramento area and am willing to drive north or south but before setting out, I want to know what the rules are or what laws must be followed. Are there any limits on where or how much I can collect? I scuba dive around Monterey a lot and know that most areas are protected and/or are designated reserves, so figured I should ask.

I apologize for the odd question. I’m just hoping to conserve freshwater by using natural saltwater, if it’s possible and makes sense. Initially, I’d like to collect around 300 gallons. Are there are any laws or restrictions that I should be aware of? (Scott F.)

Answer: No, only that collection of seawater is not prohibited as long as you do so outside of marine protected areas. For information and maps of all of the marine protected areas in the state, please check out the CDFW website.

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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.

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 CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

Bow Hunting for Spring Turkeys?

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Spring tom turkeys in Northern California (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: I am interested in bow hunting for turkeys this year but have some questions. Last week I saw a flock of hens and jakes on the side of a highway and I got to wondering if it’s legal to hunt off the side of a highway. I know we can’t shoot across a highway, but exactly how many yards or feet away does a bow hunter have to be? (Rafael O.)

Answer: It is unlawful to discharge a firearm or release an arrow or crossbow bolt over or across any public road or other established way open to the public in an unsafe and reckless manner (Fish and Game Code, section 3004(b)). Definitions for road and roadway can be found in the California Vehicle Code, sections 527 and 530. In addition, most counties have ordinances setting the distance from a public roadway that one must be to lawfully discharge a firearm. Many counties require 150 feet, but this distance varies and you will have to check with the appropriate county’s sheriff’s department to determine the legal distance. It is always unlawful to negligently discharge a firearm, and the discharge of a firearm from or upon a public road or highway is prohibited (California Penal Code, section 374c).


Bringing a speargun into California
Question: I am coming to California from Australia for a diving holiday and wish to bring my own gear, including a spear gun. Do you know what the rules are about bringing one through U.S. customs? (Edward C.)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does not regulate the importation of dive gear, including spear guns. You should check with the Transportation Security Administration (www.tsa.gov) and U.S. Customs (www.cpb.gov) to see if they have any special provisions you must follow.


Live rodents as fishing bait?
Question: I have seen several videos about using live “feeder” mice and rats for bass and trout fishing and was wondering whether they are legal to fish with here in California. I wasn’t able to find any regulations talking about using live mice or rats. If not acceptable to use as a live bait, can they be used if dead/frozen? (Anonymous, Sacramento)

Answer: No. The freshwater fishing regulations do not list mammals as acceptable bait options, so rodents may not be used (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 4.00.)


Hunting Sandhill cranes?
Question: Does California have any type of hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes? I have seen a couple of videos in which the hunters state that the meat is great and some say it tastes like steak. I tried to research any regulations for them but wasn’t able to come up with anything. Can you please let me know if they can be hunted here? (Jose G.)

Answer: While some states do authorize the take of Sandhill cranes during waterfowl season, there are currently no hunting opportunities for Sandhill cranes in California.


Kangaroo product ban?
Question: I am the owner of a store that sells kangaroo hide boots and other products made of kangaroo leather. I read in the news that California recently re-instated a ban on the import and sale of kangaroo products. Is this true and if so, what should retailers like me know about the ban? (Anonymous)

Answer: You are correct. The ban on kangaroo products went back into effect Jan. 1, 2016. California Penal Code section 653o prohibits the importation, possession with intent to sell, and sale of any parts of specified animals, including kangaroos. Some common retail products made from kangaroo leather are boots, belts, wallets and soccer cleats.

As you know, California retailers are responsible for knowing the laws and regulations of the state of California and must take the necessary efforts to ensure they do not possess kangaroo products with the intent to sell.

Penal Code section 653o may be enforced by any peace officer in the state, including police officers, sheriff deputies, and wildlife officers. A person who violates section 653o is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a fine between $1,000 and $5,000 and up to six months in jail for each violation.

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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.

Harvesting Sea Urchins before Abalone Start Time

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same locations (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Purple sea urchins and red abalone often occur in the same or similar locations but only urchins can be harvested before 8 a.m. (CDFW photo by Athena Maguire)

Question: My question is about the requirement that abalone may not be taken before 8 a.m. This year there are a few good minus tides that bottom out before 8 a.m. Is it legal to be on the abalone grounds to harvest sea urchins prior to 8 a.m., and then go abalone picking after 8 a.m.? (Paul N., San Francisco)

Answer: You can go out before 8 a.m. to harvest urchins, but you cannot take any action that will assist in your later take of abalone. For example, you may not search for abalone or mark the location of any abalone that you encounter while taking urchins. If you choose to dive before 8 a.m., don’t be surprised if you are questioned by a warden. If your activities appear to a warden to be taking or searching for abalone before 8 a.m., then you can be cited.


What to do with inedible harvested non-game animals?
Question: I know that it is illegal to waste harvested game animals, but what about non-edible, non-game animals (such as jackrabbits, rock doves, coyotes, etc.)? What are the legal/ethical guidelines on what to do with these harvested animals? Should they be buried, left in the field, trashed or something else? (Bill S., Rancho Cucamonga)

Answer: Jackrabbits are small game, and if someone is going to kill them recreationally, then they should be used. They certainly are edible and many people hunt them for consumption. There is no standard way to dispose of legally taken non-game mammals. Some non-game animals like crows require retrieval while others don’t. If they are a species that does not require retrieval, ethically, it is up to the individual. Hunters are encouraged to fully utilize all harvested wildlife. However, even if it is a non-game species where retrieval is not required by law, hunters should still make every effort to properly dispose of it. To just let animals lay where they’ve fallen without retrieval or attempts to properly dispose of them reflects badly on the image of those of us who are conscientious and ethical hunters.


Combination of sabiki rig and drop shot rig
Question: I often go sport fishing around Santa Cruz with my kayak. I would like to catch live fish with a sabiki rig with multiple hooks, then use them with a drop shot rig with two hooks to catch rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod and halibut. Is this allowed? (Kota T.)

Answer: Yes, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don’t take or possess a species which has a more restrictive method of take than the general gear restrictions (e.g. rockfish, cabezon, greenling, lingcod or salmon). If you happen to catch one of these species while using more than two hooks on your line, you must release the fish.

You are limited to no more than one line and two hooks when fishing for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or if these species are in possession. Once you begin fishing for the species that have hook restrictions, you will want to stow the sabiki rig so that it clearly is not in use.


How many turkeys per year?
Question: Can you legally harvest five birds a year by taking three bearded birds during the spring season and two birds during the fall season, or does the three bird limit apply to a full calendar year? (Pete R.)

Answer: You can legally harvest five turkeys in a year but can never possess more than three at one time. So long as you are eating your game regularly, you should not have an issue so be sure to consume or gift your spring birds before the fall season.


Hunter update email from CDFW?
Question: My friend recently received an interesting “hunter update” email directly from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) encouraging her to buy a license and go turkey hunting. Although I already have my hunting and fishing licenses, I am interested in receiving updates from CDFW. How do I get on this mailing list? (Monica B.)

Answer: The email your friend received is part of a larger effort by CDFW to increase outreach and education to California hunters and anglers. In order to receive these updates, reminders and other useful information from the department, you need to update your CDFW license profile on our website and provide us with your email address and communication preferences.

To sign-up, visit our online licenses sales page, click ‘Customer Login/Register’ then ‘Edit Customer Profile.’ If you are a new CDFW customer making your first license purchase online or from a license agent, you will be asked for your email address and communication preferences while creating your profile. Any personal information collected will never be disclosed, made available or used for any purpose other than as specified at the time it was collected, except with the written consent of the subject of the information or as otherwise permitted by law or regulation. Fish and Game Code, section 1050.6 and California Government Code, section 11015.5 prohibit CDFW from selling or sharing your information with any third party.

Purchasing your licenses, tags and report cards online is easier than ever and now comes with the added benefit of timely updates and information from CDFW.

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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.

Are Abalone Report Cards Used to Set New Quotas?

North Coast free diver measuring a red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) to be sure it's of legal size before taking (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

North Coast freediver measuring a legal-sized red abalone (Haliotis rufescens) before detaching and taking it to the surface (CDFW photo by Patrick Foy)

Question: I was just filing my abalone harvest report, which rather than being due the end of January like before, is now not due until April 1. While I appreciate the extra time and opportunity to still fill out my report when I go to buy new tags for the season opener, I am wondering if this means my harvest data from last year is not being used to set quotas and limits for the following season. Specifically, is the impact of the Fort Ross closure and potential rebound or the north/south split of the last few years not being accounted for? (Darren M., Folsom)

Answer: I’m afraid you are mistaken about the deadline changing. Abalone report cards are still due Jan. 31. Beginning this year our online reporting system will accept late reports because they still contain valuable information even after the Jan. 31 deadline. In the future, late reporting may result in a mandatory late fee or temporary suspension of the privilege to harvest abalone.

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Marine Environmental Scientist Jerry Kashiwada, data from all cards returned to the Fort Bragg office are now being entered and it takes additional time beyond the deadline for that to be completed. These data are very valuable in helping us determine the effects of the current set of regulations but it will take several years to sort out the regulation effects from year to year variations. We had already been noting shifts in fishing effort to Mendocino County before the Fort Ross closure and catch reduction in Sonoma and Marin counties.

Our current management of abalone does not change from year to year in response to report card data. Instead, it is based on the density of abalone monitored by dive surveys at eight index sites. But the card data does provide valuable indications of abalone status at the many sites not covered by index site surveys. The card data helps us determine the effects of the latest regulations, while the surveys show the effects on abalone populations and will largely determine future regulatory changes.

We are currently working on a new abalone management plan and will have public meetings in the near future to discuss details of the plan. For more information, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/conservation/marine/red-abalone-fmp.


Hunting chipmunks
Question: I was recently in a conversation about hunting chipmunks and we are curious if it’s legal to do? I do not plan on hunting them, just want to know. (Michael C.)

Answer: Chipmunks are classified as nongame mammals, which generally would mean they may not be taken. However, chipmunks may be taken because California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 472(a) authorizes take of nongame rodents except for tree and flying squirrels, rodents that are designated as furbearers, and endangered or threatened species.


Shark fin prohibition
Question: According to the shark fin regulations, skate wings cannot be possessed as they are the expanded pectoral fins of an elasmobranch. I don’t understand this because the skates are still legal to catch and the only part of a skate that is eatable as far as I know is the wing. How do I prepare the skate if it’s illegal to possess the wing? (Joel)

Answer: “Shark fins” are defined to mean the raw, dried or otherwise processed detached fin or tail of an elasmobranch (FGC, section 2021). Since skates are elasmobranchs, the law applies to detached skate wings. The shark fin law was adopted in part to conserve state resources, prevent animal cruelty by prohibiting shark fin removal of live fish and to protect wildlife and public health due to high levels of mercury in shark fins. Many people do eat the body and tail of the skate. The harvest of skates for personal consumption is permissible under current law as long as the entire animal is harvested and not just the wings. You should transport the whole skate to where you are going to prepare it for immediate consumption.


Hunting on rental property
Question: I am renting some land and would like to hunt on it. Do I need hunting permission written into the lease agreement? Do I need to carry written permission from the landowner on my person? Do I need verbal permission? Or does my renting the land give me permission to hunt? (Jennifer)

Answer: It is unlawful to enter certain lands for hunting purposes “without having first obtained written permission from the owner, the owner’s agent, or the person in lawful possession of that land” (FGC, section 2016). But as the renter of the land, you are the person in lawful possession of the land, so you are not required to carry written permission from the landowner. However, prior to hunting on the land, you should make sure there are no restrictions in your lease or rental agreement that prohibits you from hunting on the property.

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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.

Keeping Homes Inhospitable to Nuisance Raccoons

Raccoons are illegal to keep as house pets (USFWS photo)

To prevent raccoons and other nuisance wildlife from taking up residence in and around your house and yard, your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable (USFWS photo)

Question: Raccoons come up through the culverts in our neighborhood and are causing a lot of trouble. Last year, there was one that tore a vent off our house and got in the subfloor and tore up our ducts under there. This year one of them attacked my dog in our back yard. The vet bill was very expensive. Can I trap them in live traps and have animal control euthanize them for me? (Kathy C.)

Answer: You can trap them but Animal Control may not want to euthanize them for you. Your best course of action is to concentrate on making your house and yard inhospitable. Bolster up your exterior vents and doors to prevent raccoons and other unwanted wildlife from moving in to use for cover. This also means remove all attractants (dog food, fallen fruit, koi ponds, water fountains, etc.). Even water can be an attractant, especially this year. If you do all of this but continue to have a problem, the law allows that it is legal to kill raccoons at any time when they are causing damage.

Some excellent additional information is available online from the UC Integrated Pest Management Program at http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/menu.house.html#VERT.


Measuring short lobsters without bringing them onboard
Question: When hoop netting for lobsters from a boat, how are we supposed to bring the nets to the surface and accurately measure the lobsters without pulling the hoop nets onboard? The law states that it is illegal to bring any undersized lobster onboard any vessel, but it is virtually impossible to measure them while hanging over the side of the boat, especially when it’s dark, there’s a swell in the ocean and the boat is bobbing up and down. I’m asking because recently a friend of mine was cited for bringing up his net and placing it on the deck of his boat so he could measure his catch. Can you please clarify this? (Miguel Z.)

Answer: Lobsters cannot be brought onboard boats or kayaks for measuring and must instead be measured at the waterline. Pull up the hoop net, step on the line and lean over and measure it … though I know, easier said than done in the dark and in rough seas.

California spiny lobsters must measure a minimum of three and one-fourth inches along a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell. Lobsters may be brought to the surface for the purpose of measuring, but no undersize lobster may be brought aboard any boat and retained. All must be measured immediately upon being brought to the surface. Any undersize lobster must be released immediately into the water. In addition, spiny lobsters shall be kept in a whole, measurable condition, until being prepared for immediate consumption (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.90).


Transporting migratory game birds
Question: I know the rules state that while bird hunting you must leave a fully feathered wing intact until you get home. When I get back to my trailer at camp (which is considered my second home), can I remove the wings, vacuum seal the bird and freeze it, or do I have to wait until I actually get to my primary home? (Rob D.)

Answer: All birds, including migratory game birds, possessed or transported within California must have a fully feathered wing or head attached until placed into a personal abode or commercial preservation facility or until prepared for immediate consumption. Doves must have a fully feathered wing attached (CCR Title 14, section 251.7(b)).

Waterfowl and other migratory birds that are going to be transported anywhere must have a fully feathered wing or head attached (except for doves, which must have a wing attached). A trailer in camp is not your “abode.”


Selling mounted trophies
Question: I received a collection of museum-quality African game trophies in a divorce settlement and would like to sell them. I recently moved to California but the mounts are still in Alaska. They are not animals that exist in California. Can I sell them on eBay? I want to unload these animals legally. I have read the statutes. I need to know if I can work with someone in Fish and Game, show them the collection, and get their advice. Alaska Fish and Game already gave me an email saying they could be moved to California and sold. (Mary Jane S., Sacramento)

Answer: You should contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about any mounts that you would like to import to California and sell. The sale of birds or mammals found in the wild in California is prohibited by Fish and Game Code, section 3039. In addition, California Penal Code, section 653o prohibits the importation for commercial purposes, sale and possession with intent to sell a number of African wildlife species that may be in your collection.

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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.

Fishing Ocean Pinnacles?

(NOAA photo)

Offshore pinnacle (NOAA photo)

Question: I have a question regarding fishing offshore banks and pinnacles for rockfish. The regulations state fishing in the Southern Management Area is allowed on the shoreward side of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour. Does this mean any water shallower than the specified depth contour? For example, there are offshore banks where the pinnacle of the bank is in water less than 360 ft. deep, but there is technically no “shoreward side” of this depth contour. Is fishing for groundfish on offshore banks allowed as long as the depth restrictions are met? (Logan M.)

Answer: No. You can only fish shoreward of the 60 fathom (360 ft.) depth contour line, even if there are banks or pinnacles beyond that are shallower than the depth limit on the ocean side of the depth contour line. You are required to stay on the shoreward side of depth limit lines when fishing for groundfish.

Depth constraints are defined one of two ways. During the open season, groundfish species may only be taken or possessed in water depths shallower than the specified depth (per California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.20(a)):

In waters shallower than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by general depth contour lines. In waters equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, “depth” is defined by approximating a particular depth contour by connecting the appropriate set of waypoints adopted in federal regulations (50 Code of Federal Regulations Part 660, Subpart C).

When fishing in waters shoreward of lines approximating the 60-fathom depth contour, since the depth is equal to or deeper than 30 fathoms, the waypoints provided in federal regulations will need to be used to determine the depth contour line (CCR Title 14, section 27.45(b).


Land ownership tags?
Question: After 15 years of active military service my family and I are moving to Lassen County. How many acres of land do I need to own in order to apply for land ownership deer tags? (Shawn M.)

Answer: Cooperative Deer Hunting Area landowner tags are available for owners of land encompassing not less than a total of 5,000 acres, of which each individual landowner within that 5,000 acres must own a minimum of 640 acres to qualify. These are areas of private land located within critical deer habitat as determined by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) in deer quota zones that require public drawings (CCR Title 14, section 360).

Cooperative Deer Hunting Areas are designed to encourage the protection and enhancement of critical deer habitat, to provide added protection to landowners from depredations of trespassers and to provide greater access for the public to hunt on privately owned or controlled lands. CDFW may establish cooperative hunting areas and issue permits for the take of deer as specified subject to the conditions listed above (CCR Title 14, section 554).

Another option is the Private Lands Management (PLM) program where tags are issued to landholders. Under this program, CDFW offers landowners incentives to manage their lands for the benefit of wildlife. Landowners who enroll in this “ranching for wildlife” program consult with wildlife biologists to make biologically sound habitat improvements that benefit wildlife (by providing water sources, planting native plants for food, making brush piles for cover, etc). This partnership between wildlife managers and private landowners helps conserve and maintain wildlife habitat in our state.

For application forms and to learn more about these programs, please go to http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/deer and http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/hunting/plm.


Freshwater boat limits?
Question: If two of us are fishing for black bass from my boat in the Delta, do I have to stop fishing for black bass if I have reached my limit even though my partner has not? I couldn’t find anything about boat limits in the freshwater fishing regulations booklet. (Kin N.)

Answer: At this point, you must stop fishing for black bass but you can change your gear to target other species. Boat limits apply only in the ocean waters, not in the Delta or freshwater systems. Ocean waters are defined as the ocean and San Francisco and San Pablo bays, plus all their tidal bays, tidal portions of their rivers and streams, sloughs and estuaries between the Golden Gate Bridge and Carquinez Bridge (Fish and Game Code, section 195(e) and CCR Title 14, section 27.00).


Shotgun capacity for coyotes
Question: What is the shotgun magazine capacity while hunting coyotes? (Matt A.)

Answer: Only shotguns capable of holding no more than six rounds may be possessed or used for the take of any mammal or bird (FGC, section 2010). Therefore, the maximum shotgun magazine capacity for hunting nongame species, such as coyote, is six. When hunting game species, the limit is three rounds. Remember that in the Condor Zone and on state wildlife areas, the ammunition in the shotgun must be certified as nonlead.

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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.