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Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to shoot downed game after shooting time ends?

March 17, 2011 |  1:39 pm

A hunter and his dog, surrounded by decoys.

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: Five minutes before the end of shooting time I knocked down a snow goose that fell out of range and started swimming. I waded after it in the flooded rice field but couldn’t catch it or get within range until after shooting time ended. In a case like that, do I shoot late or let it go and risk a waste of game citation? Do wardens consider "spirit of the law" as opposed to "letter of the law?" (Jim S.)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game assistant chief Mike Carion, if you are "in hot pursuit" of the goose, you should be able to reach it before the end of shoot time, or at least within a minute or two. Bottom line answer is this: It is illegal to take the bird after legal shoot time. If a warden was watching you pursue the game and shoot late, they would use their judgment as to whether a crime was committed. On the other hand, waste of game only applies when a person does not make a reasonable effort to retrieve. If the hunter tries to catch it and it swims off, it is a reasonable effort. Breaking the law is not a reasonable effort. So, if the hunter doesn’t shoot late, no laws are broken!

Q: I just saw some new trout lures containing little glow sticks to attract fish. Someone told me that using light to attract fish is illegal and hence these lures are illegal to use. What do you think? (Shawn A.)

A: These lures sound as if they are legal. There are no fish and game laws prohibiting using light to attract fish. Lights may be used at night when and where such fishing is allowed, and lights may be used on or as part of any fishing tackle (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 2.15).

Q: Several years ago, I lost my fishing license and could not locate the duplicate, so I was forced to purchase a new license. About a month later, I found the lost license, and at that point technically had two licenses for the same year (with ocean stamps, etc). I found that having an extra license gave me peace of mind because as I transitioned from my car to a friend’s, to a boat, to a sport fishing charter, I could keep one in my dry box (that goes from car to boat) and another with my fishing gear. Is there any regulation prohibiting me from doing this intentionally? From an economic point of view, it would be worth the extra cost to me to have the extra peace of mind, and I don’t mind that the funds go to an important state program. Can I purchase more than one license so that I can always be sure to have one in my possession, no matter how forgetful I become? (Brent C., Santa Barbara)

A: Unfortunately, you cannot purchase more than one license intentionally. However, if your license is lost, you may purchase a duplicate license.

According to DFG Sport Fishing Program analyst Glenn Underwood, a person is prohibited from obtaining more than one license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement of the same type, except for certain short-term licenses (Fish and Game Code, section 1053(b)). This section does allow a person to obtain a duplicate license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement upon the loss or destruction of the original, payment of the duplicate fee and completion of an affidavit certifying the loss or destruction of the license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement.

The DFG’s new Automated License Data System keeps track of the licenses a person has purchased and makes obtaining a duplicate sport fishing or hunting license easy from any license agent. The automated system enforces license rules regarding the number of licenses a person may possess and will not allow a person to purchase a second annual sport fishing or hunting license.

Q: Is it legal to take a starfish off the rocks in the ocean? If it is, do you need a license? (Mike H.)

A: Sea stars (starfish) may not be taken off the nearshore rocks in California if they are between the mean high tide line and 1,000 feet seaward of the mean low tide line. Outside of this zone you may take 35 sea stars, and yes, you’ll need a valid fishing license. And if you do still choose to venture out past the 1,000-foot zone for them, and you’re north of Yankee Point, you can only take them while free diving (CCR Title 14, section 29.05(d)).

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

Photo: A hunter and his dog, surrounded by decoys. Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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