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Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to cherry pick the best crabs?

January 21, 2011 |  4:41 pm

Dungeness crab 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: Recreational Dungeness crab fishermen often seem to hold onto crab in excess of their limit while they are still crabbing, then they cherry pick the best ones and throw back the extras after pulling all their pots. Is this legal? Say for example I’m fishing alone and drop three pots. When I retrieve the pots, the first one contains 10 crab, and I put them all in my fish box. The second pot also has 10 crab and I also put them all in the box. I pull the last pot, then sort through all the crab and throw back all but the biggest 10 before heading into the harbor. This is how I would prefer to fish, but I think it would be illegal since I should never have more than my limit (10 crab per person) aboard. (Jesse)

Answer: What you describe is high-grading and is absolutely illegal. Every
 crab over the limit that is in the fisherman’s possession, even if just for a short time, could get them cited for possession of an overlimit. Once a limit is in possession, all other crabs must be immediately returned to the water. If the fisherman keeps 10 legal-sized crabs from his first pot, all other crabs in any subsequent pots must be released.

Q: Is it legal to sell unused ammo at a garage sale or flea market? I have ammo that was given to me and I don’t own the guns that fire them. They are still in the box and some still have the price tags. I know there is value to somebody who owns these guns. (David S.)

A: There are no Fish and Game laws regarding selling ammo. However, there are some restrictions in the California Penal Code on who can purchase ammo, and some local governments have restrictions on what items can/can’t be sold at garage sales.

Our best advice is to contact the Department of Justice, Bureau of Firearms or your local police or sheriff’s offices before offering it for sale. The policies may differ from city to city and/or county to county.

Q: Some friends and I are all predator hunters and are confused by the regulations regarding hunting with electronic callers when it pertains to gray fox. Is it legal to shoot a gray fox that responds while I am using an electronic caller? Many hunters believe the code section dealing with electronic callers and nongame animals also pertains to gray fox. I’ve tried to convince them it only applies to nongame animals, not furbearers. (Jim R.)

A: It is not legal to take gray fox that respond to electronic callers because gray fox are considered "furbearing mammals" (e.g., pine marten, fisher, mink, river otter, gray fox, red fox, kit fox, raccoon, beaver, badger and muskrat as per Fish and Game Code, section 4000), not nongame species.

FGC, section 3012 states, "It is unlawful to use any recorded or electrically amplified bird or mammal calls or sounds, or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird or mammal calls or sounds, to assist in taking any bird or mammal, except nongame birds and nongame mammals as permitted by regulations of the commission."

Similar to the section above, the California Code of Regulations restricting the use of electronically amplified equipment are stated as follows: "Recorded or electrically amplified bird or mammal calls or sounds or recorded or electrically amplified imitations of bird or mammal calls or sounds may not be used to take any nongame bird or nongame mammal except coyotes, bobcats, American crows and starlings" (CCR Title 14, section 475(b)).

This CCR regulation does not apply to your situation, though, because its prohibitions are specific to nongame birds and mammals. Since gray fox are considered furbearing animals, FGC Code, section 3012 applies and prohibits the taking of gray fox with electronic callers.

Q: Is it true that the new fishing license gift vouchers require the recipient to return to the exact store where the voucher was purchased and present all of their personal information in order to trade the voucher for a legal license?

A: Gift vouchers can be redeemed for an annual resident sport fishing license at any license agent location. While gift vouchers are nonrefundable, they are transferable since they have no customer attached to them until redeemed.

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

Photo: Dungeness crab. Credit: Department of Fish and Game

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