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Fish and Game Q&A: When is a duck not a duck anymore?

November 11, 2010 | 12:12 pm

Ducks take flight.

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: During waterfowl season, I would like to hold onto as many birds as I can so that I can mount those birds that are in the best shape. But at what point does a duck go from being a duck in my possession to a carcass for mounting? Does a skinned-out bird count as one duck toward that season’s bag limit? Do birds in the freezer from last year count toward this season’s bag limit? Do mounted birds count toward my possession limit? I would like to know what the regulations are and abide by them. (Brian Porter)

Answer:According to Department of Fish and Game Assistant Chief Mike Carion, generally, Fish and Game laws and regulations prohibit a person from having more than the bag or possession limit prescribed for each species. You may not keep game for longer than 10 days after the season, unless you have a valid hunting license (or a copy) for that species that was issued to you or to the person who donated the birds to you. The license must have been issued for the current or immediate past license year. Possession limits apply to each person in the household whether they were the taker of the game or not. As long as you do not possess more than the legal possession limit for each person living at the residence, you will still be in compliance with the laws.

If you plan on mounting birds for another person, you will be required to obtain a Federal Taxidermy Permit (Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50, section 21.24) and will be required to tag all birds belonging to someone else (specific requirements can be found in CFR Title 50, section 20.36). In addition, you must keep accurate records of whom you obtained the birds from, date taken, species and whom you deliver the bird to. (Fish and Game Code, section 3087 and California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 695).

As far as at what point a duck is no longer a duck and instead a carcass for mounting, under DFG laws, "bird" means any wild bird or part thereof. A feather, bone, webfoot, etc., from a wild duck is always a bird. Once you remove, consume or otherwise use the edible portions of the bird, the bird would no longer count toward your possession limit for the season. As long as you have the edible portions of the bird, it would still count toward your possession limit.

Once you skin out a duck and remove all of the edible portions, the edible portion remains part of your possession limit while the remainder of the carcass can be kept for taxidermy without counting toward your possession limit.

Keep in mind that birds still in the freezer from last year DO count toward this season’s possession limit, but mounted birds that were legally taken and preserved by taxidermy are not counted in either the bag or possession limits.

For more information, please see Fish and Game Code, sections 22, 2001 and 3080, available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.

Q: What is the legal method of take for rock scallops and are there any size limitations? Am I allowed to scuba-dive for rock scallops? (Lee C.)

A: You may use SCUBA to take rock scallops. The daily bag and possession limit is 10 rock scallops per person and there are no size limits. They may be taken by hand or by using dive knives or abalone irons. The regulations that discuss legal methods for taking rock scallops are in your current 2010-2011 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet in section 29.05(d) (page 52) and section 29.60(b) (page 55).

Q: I have a question concerning water for guzzlers. I’ve always assumed it was OKto add water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers, but an incident occurred to a friend of mine in early summer that has me wondering. He was adding 50 gallons to a dry guzzler when a hiker came up to him and told him what he was doing was illegal, mentioning that he could be cited for baiting wildlife. I find that hard to believe, but figured we better check it out with DFG. Are there any laws against adding water to dry or nearly dry guzzlers? (Gerald O.)

A:There no fish and game laws specifically prohibiting adding water to a guzzler or other area where wildlife may gather to drink. In fact, there is a very active volunteer effort addressing this in Southern California. There are some restrictions, though, so please check CCR Title 14, section 730 to ensure that your activities are legal.

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

Photo: Ducks take flight. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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