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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I have a 'spare air' device with me when abalone diving?

March 31, 2011 |  4:26 pm

Abalone may be taken only by freediving without the assistance of scuba or surface-supplied air.

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: While abalone diving, I would like to keep a very small, emergency supply of air on my person as a safety precaution. The device would be shrink-wrapped to indicate evidence of use. The idea being that if the seal is intact, there would be no evidence of "use" and I would be in compliance with the law. The product I’m asking about can be seen at www.spareairxtreme.com/.

Would I be in violation of any of the regulations if I were to wear such a device while taking abalone, assuming I did not use the device and had sufficient evidence to prove such a claim? (Aaron L.)

Answer: The law prohibits the "use of scuba gear or surface-supplied air to take abalone" (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.15(e)). According to DFG Lt. Dennis McKiver, this includes having it in your possession, even if you are not actually breathing off of it. The law also states that abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. Since you are not allowed to have scuba gear in your possession on a boat while taking abalone (even if the scuba gear is not being used), to be consistent with the law, this "spare air" product would also not be allowed as the same principles apply.

Q: Spring turkey season is one of my favorite times of the year and I’m heading out for a gobbler next weekend. I do a lot of my hunting in prime hog country and like to combine my options when I’m there. I usually hunt with a bow but am considering carrying my .44 revolver for hogs, and a shotgun for turkeys. Could this cause a conflict if I’m stopped because the .44 is not legal for turkey hunting? If all lead restrictions are observed, would it be legal to carry the handgun while turkey hunting with a shotgun? What about carrying the handgun and the bow at the same time? (Phillip L.)

A: There are no restrictions against carrying a shotgun for turkeys and a handgun for pigs at the same time. And since you’re not hunting during the deer archery-only season, should you decide to bow hunt for turkeys, there are also no restrictions against carrying both a bow and a firearm on the same trip.

Q: Do I need a hunting license to shoot gophers on private land? (Anonymous)

A:Yes. Gophers are nongame mammals and may be taken by licensed hunters. In addition, gophers that are damaging growing crops or other property may be taken without a hunting license by the owner or the owner’s agent.

Q: We live near a reservoir where people do a lot of duck hunting. Our houses sit right above the reservoir and they sometimes get hit with buckshot. Does the 150-yard distance apply on reservoirs the same as it does on land? And can we post signs along the reservoir to warn people about no shooting? (Curtis B., Redding)

A: Yes, the same prohibition against shooting within 150 yards from an occupied dwelling exists for people shooting from the water the same as when on land (Fish and Game Code, section 3004). And yes, you can post your property to warn unaware hunters/shooters.

Q: I am a lifetime hunting license holder with the additional big-game package. Last time I hiked in the Cleveland National Forest, I saw a wild ox (my son said it was a buffalo, but it had smooth skin without fur and thin, long pointed horns). Could you tell me if I can take it? It is not listed anywhere on your website for a tag requirement. (Allen H.)

A: It is not uncommon for domestic livestock to be found on Forest Service lands. In fact, many ranchers have long-term contracts with the Forest Service allowing that use. In addition, National Forest property is commonly adjacent to private ranches and the livestock frequently stray onto the public land.

According to retired DFG Capt. Phil Nelms, though, a truly feral cow or similar domestic stock (except a burro) is considered to be a nongame mammal in the Fish and Game regulations and can be taken. A hunting license is required but there are no prescribed seasons or bag limits.

Beware, though … if you kill one of these animals and it is not feral, you could be prosecuted for a felony. Stick to deer!

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

Photo: Abalone may be taken only by free diving without the assistance of scuba or surface-supplied air. Credit: Ken Bailey

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