Tag Archives: nuisance wildlife

Are Green Lobsters Safe to Eat?

(CDFW photo by Derek Stein)


Question: A buddy of mine got two lobsters in San Diego Bay right before the season closed. While he was cleaning them, he noticed green algae on their shells and then found the meat to be white, looking like it was already cooked. Both lobsters were still alive when detailing them. Have you heard any other stories like this? Would they have still been okay to cook and eat? (Ray C., San Diego)

Answer: When you find a lobster with algae on its shell (exoskeleton) it usually means it hasn’t molted in quite a while. This should be nothing to worry about, though. An animal getting ready to molt pulls salts out of its existing shell and creates a soft exoskeleton underneath that will expand with water and salts once the animal molts. Our best guess is that the old exoskeleton may have been overgrown and what your friend encountered (white, cooked-looking meat) could have been the new exoskeleton just under the old. As long as the animal was acting normally and was still alive before it was cooked, there was likely no problem with the meat.

One test seafood businesses use when cooking whole lobsters is whether they curl. The shell should turn to a darker red color and the tail tends to curl (not tightly, but it’s difficult to lay the animal flat). If there’s no curl, discard the animal.


Trapping opossums?
Question: My city neighbor is now renting a home and has taken it upon himself to trap local opossums and release them elsewhere. He says he is taking them to a county road (Dry Creek) but there is no way to verify this. We have lived in our home for 15 years and so we, along with our neighbors, are concerned. We have lived with the possums and raccoons for a lot of years without issues. This tenant intends to exterminate them. Is there anything we can do? (Tyler)

Answer: “All furbearing and nongame mammals that are legal to trap must be immediately euthanized or released” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5(g)(1)). So it is not legal to transport opossums elsewhere for release. Possums should not be “relocated” from where they were trapped for many reasons, the most important being to prevent the spread of disease, and immediately releasing the opossums would not take care of the “pest” problem that your neighbor probably wants to solve. There are other options that you could inform your neighbor about though. “Keep me Wild” is a campaign that strives to limit conflicts between wild animals and humans. More information about how your neighbor can avoid problems with opossums may be found at the Keep Me Wild website.


Python skins to make leather goods?
Question: I’m a fashion designer located in New Jersey and I am looking to move my business to California. I’ve heard and read things about Python skin being illegal in California. I was looking for more information on this and whether this is 100 percent true? I currently make leather goods, but with exotic skins. (Michael S.)

Answer: Pythons are on the list of animals, or parts or products thereof, that are illegal to import into this state for commercial purposes, to possess with intent to sell, or to sell within the state (see California Penal Code, section 653o.) Prohibited species include: polar bears, leopards, ocelots, tigers, cheetahs, jaguars, sable antelope, wolves (Canis lupus), zebras, whales, cobras, pythons, sea turtles, colobus monkeys, kangaroos, vicunas, sea otters, free-roaming feral horses, dolphins or porpoises (Delphinidae), Spanish lynxes or elephants.


Fishing with kids and friends
Question: I am taking my daughter and a couple of friends and their dads on our boat this weekend. The girls are all under 16. I have a license but do all of the dads need them, too? Or, can I be the only adult angler? (Eric N.)

Answer: As long as the non-licensed adults on the boat do not assist in any way with fishing, they do not need to have a sport fishing license to ride along with you on your fishing trip. “Every person 16 years of age or older who takes any fish, reptile or amphibian for any purpose other than profit shall first obtain a valid license for that purpose and shall have that license on his or her person or in his or her immediate possession or where otherwise specifically required by law or regulation to be kept when engaged in carrying out any activity authorized by the license” (Fish and Game Code, section 7145).

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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.

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.

Importing native snakes to control ground squirrels?

California Ground Squirrel (USFWS photo)

California Ground Squirrel (USFWS photo)

Question: We have a small orange grove in Ventura County that has been overrun by ground squirrels in the past few years. Is there any legal method of “importing” king snakes or gopher snakes onto our property to help control the squirrel population? (Darrell J., Ventura County)

Answer: Unfortunately, we don’t allow the release or relocation of snakes into the wild without specific authorization, and at this time we do not allow it for bio-control such as you are requesting. According to CDFW Amphibian and Reptile Conservation Policy Coordinator Laura Patterson, “We’d have to evaluate what else they may eat that could be sensitive, make sure they’re disease-free and that they are genetically similar to the local snakes.”

If the property where you live is hospitable, we’d assume you have gopher and king snakes there already. However, if they’re not currently there, perhaps the site is just not suitable for them. These snakes naturally occur in most places where the habitat and prey sources can support their survival.

The only circumstances in which we might allow snakes to be relocated would be if there was a development nearby, and the snakes would otherwise be killed by construction. In a case like this, we might allow them to be relocated to another property nearby.


Hunting on property not posted with “No Hunting” signs?
Question: Can I hunt on property that is fenced but not posted with “No Hunting” signs without specific permission from the landowner? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, it is unlawful to trespass onto fenced property for the purpose of discharging any firearm or taking birds or mammals without the written permission of the landowner or other authorized person.

Fish and Game Code regulations specifically state that if property is owned by another person and is either under cultivation or enclosed by a fence, you need written permission (Fish and Game Code, section 2016). This law also applies to land that is not fenced or under cultivation but is posted with no trespassing or no hunting signs. A simple guideline is to respect crops, fences and signs, and in any other circumstance that makes you wonder about hunter access, seek out the landowner and ask for permission. In cases involving publicly owned property (game refuges, state wildlife areas, etc.), specific written permission may or may not be required.


Sea urchin sport harvesting?
Question: I’m looking for confirmation regarding the recreational take of sea urchins. Is it correct that they can be taken with a California sport fishing license as long as they are not taken in marine protected areas? Also, that the daily limit is 35 urchins and size does not matter so I will not be required to carry a measuring gauge like with abalone diving? Is all of this correct? (Dan L.)

Answer: Yes to all above. Sea urchins are legal to take in California with a sport fishing license. The season is open year-round for all species of urchin. The limit is 35 urchins per day/in possession and there is no size limit (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.05). Sea urchins can be taken only on hook and line or with the hands (CCR Title 14, section 29.10). These regulations can be found in the Ocean Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, along with the marine protected areas in California that are closed to the take of sea urchins.


Why can’t hunters buy extra preference points?
Question: I’ve noticed in other states that hunters are allowed to buy preference points. Why can’t hunters in California buy extra preference points like elsewhere? (Noel)

Answer: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) does allow hunters who do not wish to apply for a premium hunt in a specific year to essentially “buy” a preference point by applying in the drawings for a preference point. These are only for deer, elk, antelope or bighorn sheep. Hunters can only obtain one point per year and cannot obtain points for previous years in which they did not apply.

According to Tony Straw from CDFW’s Automated License Data System Unit, CDFW’s Modified Preference Point System was established to reward persistent, unsuccessful applicants and provide a predictability of when a hunter will be drawn for their premium hunt choice, while still providing some opportunity for new hunters.

If a system of “buying extra preference points” was implemented, it would remove the predictability of winning a premium hunt because the number of hunters at the various point values would be inconsistent each year (it would depend upon the number of hunters purchasing additional points). Additionally, the advantage gained by a hunter who consistently applied without success over the years would be significantly reduced in a single year as other hunters at lesser point values purchased additional points.

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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.

Spearfishing for White Seabass

Kirby Morejohn and Garo Hachigian_photo by Kirby Morejohn)

Large white seabass taken by spear fishermen Kirby Morejohn and Garo Hachigian (Photo by Kirby Morejohn)

Question: It’s been an ongoing debate among our small spearfishing group and it’s time to ask the authorities. When spearfishing from a boat, if a diver reaches his maximum limit of three white seabass (WSB) for the day and then gifts one of his fish to somebody who does not have a fish, can the person who caught the fish hunt for one more WSB since he now only has two in his possession? (Chester L.)

Answer: No, each spear fisherman (or angler) is allowed to catch and keep up to three white seabass per day, period. If a fisherman chooses to give one away, that’s fine, but they cannot then continue to try to catch another to refill their personal bag limit for the day. That spear fisherman would have to wait until the next day, and if they still had their two WSB in possession, they would only be able to catch one more the next day because three WSB is both the daily bag limit and the possession limit.

There are a couple of exceptions here, though. Anglers/divers who will be out to sea for multiple days can get a multi-day fishing permit that will allow them to keep up to three limits of WSB over three days if they have secured this permit prior to their trip and followed all of the associated regulations under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.15. There is also a one-fish limit between March 15 and June 15 for the take of white seabass south of Point Conception.


Finishing hunt after legal hunting hours?
Question: I hunt with a bow and on some occasions will shoot my game right at sundown and then have to chase my animal sometimes for an hour or more. And then when I find it, I may have to shoot it again. Is it legal to finish off an animal after dark if it was shot during the legal hunting hours? (Geoff M., Camarillo)

Answer: No. Authorized hunting and shooting hours are clearly stated in the regulations as running from one-half hour before sunrise to one-half hour after sunset (CCR Title 14, sections 310, 310.5 and 352). To shoot an animal outside of those authorized hours is illegal.

Whenever possible, try to plan your hunt so that you will not be pushing the envelope right at the end of hunt hours and can leave ample time to track and retrieve the animal during legal hours.


Shooting aggressive ravens?
Question: What are the restrictions on shooting ravens in California? I have personally witnessed ravens killing baby chukar and baby red-tailed hawks. At my home they raid my chickens and steal the eggs. They like to sit on a pole where the remnants of their kill ends up on the ground, including a variety of egg shell bits and baby desert tortoise shells. I have also seen a group of ravens attempting to kill a cat. I know that they became protected at one time, but what is the status now? Can I shoot the ones on and around my property? (David C.)

Answer: No. Ravens, Corvus corax, are protected by both California (Fish and Game Code, section 3513) and federal laws (Title 50-CFR). Ravens may not be taken in California except under the authority of a permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). For more information regarding the availability of permits, please check the USFWS Permits website.


Transporting overlimits?
Question: Can I transport an overlimit of fish carcasses to the dump? For example, three peoples’ fish limits are cleaned at a home location. Then, one person pulls the short straw and gets stuck having to take the combined carcasses by vehicle to the dump. I can see how if they were stopped by law enforcement and they had an overlimit of three peoples’ carcasses carried by one person, an explanation stating that person was dumping three legal limits of carcasses may or may not fly with a warden. Can you please provide some clarity? (Trevor L.)

Answer: The department recommends that the person transporting the carcasses have copies of each person’s fishing licenses, or at least their names and contact information in case the transport and disposal of more than one person’s limit comes into question.

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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.

Can Crab Hawk Traps Be Fished in California?

Dungeness crab (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Dungeness crab (Photo by Carrie Wilson)

Question: Is the Crab Hawk legal for use in California during crabbing season? The ads say it is not a trap, and because it opens, crabs would not be damaged should they need to be released. Can you please clarify this for me? (Dennis J.)

Answer: The Crab Hawk traps are indeed traps and are not legal as sold because California state law requires traps to possess escape rings.

Crab traps are required to have at least two rigid circular openings of not less than four and one-quarter inches inside diameter so constructed that the lowest portion of each opening is no lower than five inches from the top of the trap (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(c)).

Traps that are not specifically provided for in this section may not be used for crabs or other invertebrates. The Crab Hawk trap is not specifically provided for, nor does it meet standards for crab traps in California, so it is not legal to use in the state.


Neighbor feeding seagulls
Question: I have concerns about a neighbor who, for several years, continues to feed seagulls despite many requests to stop. Every day, and sometimes twice a day, this elderly woman feeds seagulls bread. I have recorded this by video and photographs. It has been going on for several years now. She has been asked numerous times by property management where she lives not to feed the gulls. She has received letters and notices explaining the harm she is doing, but she ignores all. The only time the community doesn’t have trouble is when the birds migrate inland in the spring. But then once winter rolls around, the gulls return and the problem starts all over again, year after year.

Motorists are distracted by birds swooping down across traffic when she feeds them. The seagull droppings are damaging the recently replaced rooftop of the school district building where a large flock gathers and roosts, waiting to see her leave the building where she lives. Bird feces damage paint on the cars, and on and on. Business owners have complained because of the mess the birds leave. Police have been called with complaints, but they say there is no law against feeding the birds.

However, the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.1prohibits the harassment of wildlife and defines harassment as an intentional act that “disrupts an animal’s normal behavior patterns, which includes, but is not limited to, breeding, feeding or sheltering.” They are also protected under one of America’s oldest environmental laws: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. That’s because gulls live on the Pacific Coast in the winter and migrate inland every spring to lay eggs. The California “Seagull Law” does not necessarily pertain to seagulls in California, but to seagulls on the entire West Coast of the United States.

Another concern is seagull feces and the health hazards that can potentially make humans sick. This activity has gone on for years. We have tried to convince her many times and in many different ways to stop feeding the seagulls, but she has ignored our requests and refuses to listen. Please, if there is any advice you may have that will help, I would greatly appreciate it. (Gina B.)

Answer: I’m sorry to hear about your neighbor’s unfortunate and selfish behavior. You are correct that CCR Title 14, section 251.1 prohibits the harassment of wildlife. Feeding the birds bread offers them very little nutrition. Bread just fills them up but offers virtually none of the important vitamins and minerals that they need as part of a healthy diet.

Since this woman refuses to listen to your complaints, you might consider reporting to your local public health department regarding your concerns that the excess fecal matter is creating a health hazard. Depending on where you live, you could also try to contact your local CDFW office and ask to speak to the regional wildlife biologist. Hopefully, they will have some suggestions for you as far as how to handle this situation and/or may be able to put you in touch with a local wildlife officer. To find your local regional office, please go to: http://www.wildlife.ca.gov/regions.

I have written about this issue many times. Here’s a similar one from a couple of years ago that you might find helpful: https://californiaoutdoorsqas.com/2014/01/16/feeding-wildlife-can-do-more-harm-than-good/. Good luck!


Dead farm-raised trout for bait in lakes and streams?
Question: Is it legal to use dead farm-raised trout for bait in inland waters? I’ve found only “live trout” is called out. Costco has farm-raised rainbow trout for sale at a great price and I was thinking it might make great catfish bait for my kids. (Marcus)

Answer: No. Trout may not be used for bait (CCR Title 14, sections 4.00-4.30).

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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.

Interfering with Fishing/Hunting vs. Hazing from Private Property

(Photo by Richard Gilliam)

Ken Oda fishing the surf for surf perch in Monterey Bay (Photo by Richard Gilliam)

Question: My girlfriend and I were recently surf fishing on a local beach when some other “fishermen” showed up demanding we leave as it was their fishing spot. Things escalated quickly when one of the anglers cast his line over mine and intentionally cut it. From there the situation degraded with the other party making threats of death and bodily harm. All this over a barred perch fishing spot! The police got involved and the instigator ended up going to jail charged with a felony (for the threats).

I understand there are state laws that forbid individuals or groups from intentionally interfering with the legal hunting efforts of others. I believe these regulations were primarily created in response to anti-hunting groups trying to both intimidate legitimate hunters and scare away game from being accessible. Do these same laws apply to legal fishing?

Are the above-mentioned laws Fish and Game codes or some other California state statute, and are violations of these laws misdemeanors or felonies? I’d like to know if my legal fishing efforts were interfered with and whether I should ask the City Attorney to add any additional charges. (Dan F., Venice, CA)

Answer: You are correct in your understanding of laws regarding interfering with hunting, and these same laws protect any individual engaged in shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, hunting dog field trials, hunting dog training or trapping where the activity is taking place … even for surf perch!

According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Lt. Todd Tognazzini, Fish and Game Code, section 2009, is the law you are referring to and it is punishable as an infraction, but escalates to a misdemeanor for a second conviction in a two year period.

The law is a little different than most Fish and Game Code sections in that the wildlife officer has to establish that the offender has specific intent to interfere with the activities listed. In addition, “interfere with” is defined in the law as any action which physically impedes, hinders or obstructs the lawful pursuit of these activities, including but not limited to:

  1. Actions taken for the purpose of frightening away animals from the location where the lawful activity is taking place,
  2. Placing or maintaining signs, gates, locks or barricades that prohibit or deny access to lands without authorization from the landowner or lessee or an authorized designee of the landowner or lessee,
  3. Placing food on lands not belonging to the person for purposes of eliminating the lawful ability to hunt due to the presence of bait.

Wildlife came with the property, so leave them alone
Question: My neighbor has lake front property and regularly chases away (or throws sticks and pine cones at) Canada geese during the nesting season. His intent is to keep them off his dock, but he extends his harassment about one-tenth of a mile up the beach on several others’ private ground and PG&E property. Is this legal? I figure the wildlife came with the property location and should be left alone. Love my neighbor but hate his treatment of our local geese. (Anonymous)

Answer: Your neighbor is within his rights to haze geese from his property. Canada geese are state and federally protected under laws and regulations within the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and California Fish and Game Code. However, within those regulations, non-lethal hazing methods, such as harassment as done by this individual, are allowed to deter Canada geese from privately-owned property where property damage or a nuisance may occur to the landowner.

Resident Canada goose populations have increased considerably since the 1990s in California. In this time, Canada geese have expanded outside their historical nesting range. Due to this increase, conflicts between landowners and resident Canada geese have expanded in many counties in California.

Your neighbor is allowed to scare resident geese away from his property with non-lethal means at any time. CDFW advocates that landowners take proactive non-lethal measures to reduce Canada goose use on impacted private property. Possible suggestions for hazing geese away from properties during the breeding season include landscape modification to make the area less attractive to resident geese (e.g. keep grass short to discourage feeding), use of dogs, visual deterrents, such as scarecrows, predator decoys, mylar flagging and balloons, and fencing. Additionally, waterfowl hunting can be an effective deterrent in problem areas outside the breeding season when state and local regulations allow this activity.

For additional questions regarding how private landowners can best control problem Canada geese, please contact CDFW’s Waterfowl Program staff at (916) 445-0411.

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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.