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Fish and Game Q&A: Are there restrictions for using live and/or dead birds in training my dog to retrieve?

August 19, 2010 |  1:34 pm

German shorthair pointer in the field.

In support of the California Department of Fish and Game and its effort to keep hunters and anglers informed, Outposts, on Thursday or Friday, posts marine biologist Carrie Wilson's weekly Q&A column:

Question: I am currently training my dog to retrieve, which requires exposure to both live and dead birds. Are there any restrictions for using live and/or dead birds for the training? Are there certain types of birds that may be used? Pigeons are usually the bird of choice. (William, Lakewood)

Answer: Using live pigeons and most other domestically raised avian species for dog training is all right, as long as no wild birds are captured, injured or killed. Only domestic birds can be used to train dogs to retrieve, point or flush, or to prepare for or participate in field trails or similar events related to these activities, at any time of year from sunrise to sunset.

Generally, there are only minimal restrictions if no wild birds are killed, but a few restrictions apply if any birds are killed, and these include pigeons, bobwhite, domestic pheasants, etc. Use of dead birds (wing or other part) is acceptable as long as the birds were legally taken (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 677 (a) and (b)).

Q: I need to know if it’s legal to collect a pair of octopuses for a private aquarium. I would like to use scuba to collect them in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area. (Jason K., Santa Cruz)

A: Octopuses may be collected for a home aquarium and transported live under the authority of a sport fishing license as long as they are exclusively for that person’s personal aquarium display. Maintaining live sport-taken octopus in a home aquarium is not considered public "display" and thus does not fall under the provisions of the marine aquaria pet trade (Fish and Game Code, Sections 8596-8597). Transporting live "finfish" (as opposed to mollusks and crustaceans) is prohibited (CCR Title 14, Section 1.62).

Invertebrates collected under the authority of a sport fishing license may not be used to establish breeding colonies for sale or trade with other people. Any trading, selling or possession for sale or trade of these animals constitutes commercial marine aquaria pet trade activity and requires all parties to hold “marine aquaria collectors permits” authorizing this practice. A marine collector’s permit also is required for any animals on display for the public.

Octopuses may not be taken from places where it is prohibited (for example, in a marine protected area) or via scuba north of Yankee Point (Monterey County), which would rule out the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay area. For a map showing where Yankee Point is located, please see www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/pdfs/central_reference_points.pdf.

Q: The local municipal water district operates a nearby lake that is open to the public for fishing and day use. My question is regarding the regulations set for this lake. The maximum daily catch limit is lower than the limits the Department of Fish and Game authorize. Do they have the authority to do this? Who has the ultimate jurisdiction in this matter? (Roger S., Ojai)

A: Yes, this is perfectly legal for them to do. Private lake managers can be more restrictive than DFG regulations but not less restrictive. It is their prerogative to impose more stringent regulations in the interest of better managing their individual waters than what the state requires for managing California’s fisheries statewide.

I’m sure this isn’t what you’d hoped to hear. For further clarification, please contact your local game warden.

Q: I have a question pertaining to Eurasian doves. I have heard they are an invasive species and compete for food and shelter with the native mourning doves. I believe they are open game during dove season and do not count toward a personal limit. Can the Eurasians be hunted year-round? In the last couple of years, their population has grown extensively near where I live. If they are open year-round, I was thinking of thinning the herd a bit and enjoying some bacon-wrapped roasted dove breast. (Mike G.)

A: Although that's a generous offer to thin the herd, Eurasian doves can only be taken during the regular season. Otherwise, year-round hunting for this one species would create an enforcement nightmare for the game wardens. Eurasian doves are invasive and are living with, and competing with, native species. However, at this point they do not seem to be gaining the advantage over the native species. Keep in mind that there is no limit on Eurasian collared doves when the season is open (Sept. 1 to 15 and Nov. 14 to Dec. 28), so you can take as many as you like for your bacon-wrapped roasted-dove dinners during that time!

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.

Photo: German shorthaired pointer in the field. Credit: Carrie Wilson / DFG

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