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Fish and Game Q&A: Can trespassing wildlife be trapped and relocated?

Raccoon in a tree. 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: Is it illegal to trap and relocate raccoons? I live at the base of Tauquitz Canyon Mountain in Palm Springs and we have a population of raccoons. One of the residents is determined to trap any and all animals that venture onto his property. The problem is he is not trained to trap and he often keeps the animal for three to five days with no food or water until he feels like getting rid of them. I’ve even released a cat from one of his traps in 110 degree heat! Most of the other residents have been educated on how to keep raccoons from doing any damage and how to keep them out of the trash. They are wild and beautiful and I don’t want anything more to happen to them. Can something be done? (Laurie S., Palm Springs)

Answer: The situation described is illegal, cruel and inhumane. When trapping wildlife, traps must be checked every 24 hours and the animals either dispatched or released in the immediate area.

According to Nicole Carion, the Department of Fish and Game’s statewide coordinator for wildlife rehabilitation and restricted species, raccoons that have caused property damage can be trapped by legal means (Fish and Game Code, section 4180). The raccoon can either be humanely euthanized or released in the immediate area. "Immediate" is not defined in regulations but the immediate area means "near" and most importantly within the normal home range of the animal. The home range of a raccoon varies depending on habitat and other factors, but an example would be as follows: A person wishes to remove a raccoon from their attic and traps the offending raccoon. The person could then release the raccoon outside of the house or structure, and repair the area or hole where the raccoon enters so it cannot reenter.

Raccoons should not be "relocated" long distances from where they were trapped because of many reasons, the most important being to prevent the spread of disease.

People should be very cautious about trapping in the springtime because this is when wild animals have offspring. Trapped nuisance wildlife cannot be taken to wildlife rehabilitators. Although rehabilitation facilities can take in orphaned wildlife, the orphaned animals will have a much higher chance of survival if they are raised by their wild mothers. Often wild animals seeking shelter during the springtime are only there temporarily. There are many humane options available for keeping out animals seeking shelter in homes and structures on private property. For more information on preventing wildlife access to human food sources, please visit our website at www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/products.html.

Q: What are the rules and regulations for shooting firearms at sea? I have seen TV footage of people shooting clay pigeons at sea and so would like to know where along the California coast we can shoot, and what forms of firearms and ammunition can be used? (Steve N.)

A: Target shooting in the ocean is not addressed in the Fish and Game Code, but littering in waters of the state is and may be an issue. According to FGC, section 5652, "It is unlawful to deposit, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of the state, or to abandon, dispose of, or throw away, within 150 feet of the high water mark of the waters of the state, any cans, bottles, garbage, motor vehicle or parts thereof, rubbish, litter, refuse, waste, debris, or the viscera or carcass of any dead mammal, or the carcass of any dead bird." Depending on the location, there may also be local, state and federal laws prohibiting the discharge of firearms.

Q: Is it legal to use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for a hoop net? For instance, I would connect an 18-inch hoop net to the line of my rod and reel (without hooks) and this would allow me to cast the net in order to better fish for lobsters from a jetty. Is this OK? (Jeff C.)

A: Yes, you may use a rod and reel as a retrieval device for your hoop net. You are not required to pull your net by hand, nor are you prohibited from pulling it using a rod and reel.

Q: My dogs keep running into skunks. I always hear about using tomato juice to cut the smell. Do you have any suggestions for a natural method of de-stinking my dogs should this happen again?

A: There are many recipes that people use, but here’s one from Assistant Chief Doug Huckins:

Take one quart of 3% hydrogen peroxide (from a pharmacy), a quarter cup of baking soda and one teaspoon of liquid soap (I use Dawn).

Mix together and wash sprayed animal for five minutes, keeping mixture out of eyes, nose and mouth. Rinse with tap water.

Based on feedback from users, this recipe as listed is a suitable quantity for a small dog. Double it for medium-size dog, and triple it for large dogs.

If you have a question you would like to see answered in this column, e-mail it to [email protected].

Photo: Raccoon in a tree. Credit: Dave Menke / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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