Tag Archives: pigs

Can Lizards be Legally Captured and Kept as Pets?

Many lizards and other herps, including this Western Fence Lizard, are legal to take under freshwater fishing regulations, even by 8-year-olds! (Photo by Jeff Cann)

Question:My 8-year-old caught a pair of western fence lizards in the park near our house. He brought them home and they’re doing very well in a terrarium in his room. We did some online research to find out how to care for them, and came across several lively debates on the herp forums as to whether it’s even

(Alex Macintyre with his pet lizard)

legal to keep them as pets. Some believe it’s against the law unless you have a collection permit, while others say it’s only illegal to collect and keep threatened or endangered species. My son would like to keep them, but doesn’t want to break any Fish and Game laws! (Kirsten M., Sacramento)

Answer: Lizards are considered herps, and herps fall under the fishing regulations. Herps may be taken in accordance with section 5.60 in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations. A fishing license is required for those 16 and older. Western fence lizards are legal to take but they cannot be traded, bartered or sold, and the bag limit is 25.

Department of Fish and Game (DFG) fishing regulations authorize capture of certain species of amphibians and reptiles for “sport” (i.e. personal use).  There are over 200 species of amphibians and reptiles in California; 86 species are specifically authorized for take in the fishing regulations (plus all species of rattlesnakes). The link to the sport take regulations can be found at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations/

Definition of “Vessel” to transit through MPAs?
Question: With the MPAs now in effect here in Southern California, I would like a better definition of the word “vessel” specifically related to: “Vessels shall be allowed to transit through marine protected areas and marine managed areas with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in subsection 632(b), shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.”

Does a “vessel” always have to have a motor or can it be a non-motorized kayak, canoe, row boat, float tube, etc.? (Chad C., Poway)

Answer: Yes to all of the examples you present. A vessel under the circumstances you’re asking will be defined as any floating platform that a person can fish from. We even see people here in my local area actively fishing from their surfboards. So by doing so, that surfboard is then considered a “vessel” when it is used in this manner as a fishing platform.

Hunting ducks affected by standing corn?
Question: This past duck season, I hunted at a private club with a guide. We did OK but the birds all seemed to want to go to the club next door. The guide told me that was because the neighbor had corn on his property and the ducks went in there to feed. I asked him if that was baiting, which I thought was illegal. The guide said that the corn they had next door was “standing corn” which was not harvested and left to fall on its own. He said as long as the owner didn’t harvest or “manipulate” the corn, that it was not considered baiting. Is this correct? What are the rules on planting corn and leaving it alone for the ducks? (Luke B.)

Answer: Yes, the guide was correct. Baiting of waterfowl fall under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50, section 20.21(i), available online at http://www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html.

What to do with a pig that’s rooting through our neighborhood?
Question: We live in a residential subdivision in Gualala in Sonoma County and there is a wild male pig rooting around the homes. This pig is making himself at home and rooting up the unfenced ground around our home. Most everyone who lives around here has had this guy at their home. This is a 2- to 5-acre residential zoning so we cannot shoot him, not that we want to. He follows the same evening route just before sunset. I have no objection to Fish and Game setting a trap box here. We don’t venture around our place after sunset. This pig has been sighted in the past two weeks by about six people. We have weekly garbage service which no doubt is an attraction and our homeowners association has notified its membership. (Jeff W., Gualala)

Answer: First of all I suggest you make sure no garbage or artificial food attractants are being left out to draw the animal into your neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors about this and make sure your homeowners association spreads the word, too.

Homeowners associations differ from place to place, but most are within a designated city limit and most cities impose firearm discharge restrictions for the general populous. Thus, this would make shooting the pig unlawful in most situations. As such, hunting and immediate take are not options. Landowners or your housing association can apply to the Department of Fish and Game for a depredation permit and then contact a local pig removal company or a federal trapper through USDA Wildlife Services (who operate in select California Counties) http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/ to trap and remove the pig.

# # #

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.

Filleting Halibut at Sea


Associate Marine Biologist Ken Oda with a California halibut. (DFG photo by Travis Tanaka)

Associate Marine Biologist Ken Oda with a California halibut. (DFG photo by Travis Tanaka)

Question: Is it true that halibut can only be cleaned once the boat is tied to the dock? If not, can the fillets either just be attached to the skeleton upon coming back to the slip or can fishermen produce the fillets without the skeleton attached? Cleaning and disposing of the halibut innards and skeletons into the water at the harbor creates a major bird problem, and the neighboring sailing and pleasure boaters are quite upset with the bird droppings on their vessels. We just want to be sure we’re doing the right thing. Can you please clarify? (George J., Newport Beach)

Answer: Fish for which there is a size or weight limit may not be possessed on a vessel or brought onshore in such a condition that the size, weight, or species cannot be determined. The Fish and Game Commission has provided exceptions for some species, including California halibut.

California halibut taken from or possessed aboard a vessel in waters north of Point Arena (Mendocino County) may not be filleted at sea, but halibut taken south of Point Arena may, under certain conditions. The fillets must be a minimum of 16 3/4 inches in length, retain the entire skin intact, and the fillet may not be cut cross-wise in half fillets. Fillets may, however, be cut lengthwise in a straight line along the midline of the fillet where the fillet was attached to the vertebra (backbone) of the fish. The two fillet pieces must remain joined along their midline for a length of at least two inches at one end of the fillet (FGC Section 27.65).

Keep in mind that it is difficult to produce a legal fillet (16 3/4 inches) from a barely-legal halibut (22 inches total length). Anglers who retain fish that measure between 22 and 23 inches may want to keep them whole and fillet them when they get home. Someone who may not have a lot of skill with a fillet knife or who is trying to fillet a barely legal fish at sea while rolling back and forth might not be able to get a legal-sized fillet.

Rights of a Non-Hunter in a Hunting Party?
Question: What are the rules regarding having a non-hunter in my hunting party? Can that person possess a firearm for self defense? Can it be a rifle? In what ways can he participate in the hunt? If he has a hunting license but no tag, does this change anything? If he wants to hunt coyote, for which he does not need a tag, can he also sit in a stand with a deer hunter just to watch before moving to his hunting area? (David V.)

Answer: The basic answers to your questions are that California has no general law regarding who can accompany you while you are “taking” fish or game (hunting). However, there are some restrictions relating to special circumstances and/or areas (special hunts, wildlife areas, game refuges, etc.).

According to retired Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Capt. Phil Nelms, what California Fish and Game laws regulate is who is required to have a valid license in their possession while taking game. For the purposes of Fish and Game laws, the definition of “take” is “to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill or attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill (fish and wildlife).”

This means that while DFG laws would not expressly prohibit a non-hunter from carrying a firearm for self-defense, a non-licensed person who is  carrying a firearm (especially a rifle) while in the company of an active hunter could be cited for taking wildlife without a license.

Any person who accompanies you while you are taking game must have a license if their actions in any way assist you in your efforts. And if a tag is required for the wildlife being pursued, they must also carry their own tag. If the non-hunter does not have a valid license and tag in possession and behaves in any manner that is consistent with a person who is taking wildlife, he will likely be cited.

If your guest wants to hunt coyote (which does not require a tag) and wants to sit in a deer stand with you just to watch before moving to his hunting area, he could be cited for being in possession of a firearm.

Keeping Fish on Stringers While Trolling
I know I can’t transport trout alive in my livewell while trolling, but can we keep live fish on a stringer over the side of the boat? I also fish with my grandsons and am wondering if it is permissible for two people to use the same stringer or must each person have his own stringer? Thank you for your time and consideration. (Dennis J., Loyalton)

Answer: You may keep your fish on stringers to keep them fresh but those fish all must be rendered to your bag (e.g. you cannot throw them back.) It is recommended but not required by law that you keep your fish on separate stringers so that it is clear which fish belongs to which angler. In saltwater, the members of a fishing party may only fish until the collective “boat limit” has been reached. Boat limits do not apply in freshwater and so each person is individually responsible for their own fish.

#  #  #

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. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.