Outposts

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Category: Fish and Game Q&A

Fish and Game Q&A: Is it legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession?

Two fawns nurse as a doe takes advantage of a late night snack.

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 legal to use lights to monitor wildlife if you do not have any guns in your possession? Watching wildlife at night is a very interesting way to educate kids to be on the lookout for and gain an interest in wildlife. I’ve always wondered if using lights to do this would be considered harassment somehow and not be allowed? (Bill T.)

Answer: It is not illegal to shine lights since you won’t have a "method of take" with you, but your activities could alert a game warden who might think you are using the spotlights to poach game at night. Be aware that there are vehicle code laws that prohibit shining a hand-held spotlight from a motor vehicle and another provision that requires "off road" lights to be covered while traveling on a public roadway or highway.

Instead, you might consider using a trail cam like those sold through most outdoor-gear stores. These will allow you to capture (with night-vision equipment) images or video of wildlife that might be visiting a watering hole or passing through an area. There are some cameras that take photos when a light sensor is tripped and some that take photos at certain time intervals. The trail cams would not bother or harass the wildlife, and you’d be able to take photos of them while they are acting normally, doing whatever they naturally do at night. You might also be surprised by the different species that will appear that you probably would not expect!

Q: I helped my boss, who is legally blind, get a disabled license for fishing. However, due to her disability, she will need help baiting her hook. Can I legally help her without needing a two-pole stamp? (Sandy B.)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can a disabled war veteran hunt with a canine companion?

Injured veteran retired U.S. Army Capt. Leslie Smith with her seeing eye dog Isaac. 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: I’m a 100% disabled war veteran and have a canine companion dog (yellow lab) that goes with me everywhere as my hearing dog. I lost most of my hearing in the war from enemy fire. Is it legal to take a companion dog turkey or deer hunting? Can my dog go turkey hunting on a leash, not as a hunting dog but as a hearing dog? My dog has never been trained to hunt and he won’t be part of that life. He wouldn’t be chasing game but because he is my second set of ears, can he be used for hearing? (Larry L.)

Answer: Yes, you can use your dog in the situations described. Generally, there’s no prohibition against using dogs (having them with you) while bird hunting, but there is a one dog per hunter limit during general deer season. No dogs are allowed during archery deer season or while hunting with an archery-only tag (California Code of Regulations, section 265).

Q: While bank fishing in the Delta recently, I watched some people nearby land a legal-sized sturgeon. They took some pictures and were about to release the 63-incher when a family came running up and asked if they could keep it for dinner. It appeared to me that the catch-and-release fisherman felt compelled to give it to them, and he did. I could not tell if the sturgeon was properly tagged prior to the transfer of ownership because the family left pretty quickly. I thought I might offer one of my tags as I am also a catch-and-release fisherman who has never landed a sturgeon and would never need three tags, but I am wondering if this would be legal. Not knowing, I decided not to give up my tag. My question is, can someone donate a sturgeon tag to another fisherman? (Rob Grasso)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Is a duck still a duck once it becomes sausage?

Northern Pintail drake.

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: My question is about possession of waterfowl when processed. A friend shot more than 250 ducks in the just-completed waterfowl season, so I asked him if he was breaking the law by having more than 14 ducks in possession. He said no because he had them regularly processed into duck sausage, and once processed they’re considered out of your possession. Is this correct? Another friend saves all his ducks throughout the 100-day duck season and then gives them all to a butcher to process into sausage. He contends if you process the meat through a meat grinder, then it’s not considered part of the possession limit anymore because it’s now processed.

If you smoke your ducks or process them through a meat grinder and put them in your freezer, are they then out of your possession? A clarification of the "in possession" rule would be greatly appreciated. (Mike)

Answer: Your friends are mistaken and could be cited for possessions of overlimits. Generally, the daily bag limit is seven ducks, and the possession limit is two daily bag limits. Possession is defined as "fresh, frozen or otherwise preserved ..." (California Code of Regulations Title 14, Section 1.17). Making sausage only preserves the birds; they are still in possession until eaten or given away.

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Fish and Game Q&A: What are the creepy leech-like things in lakes and rivers?

Leech-like organisms often found in lakes and ponds are part of the aquatic food chain, providing food for fish, ducks, turtles and some birds. 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: My daughter and I love to swim and play in waters wherever we find them. While in French Gulch (Shasta County) last year, we decided to play around in Clear Creek. The creek was running pretty high, but when my daughter and I got out we had these black, worm-like things hanging off us. Our first thought was leeches, which got us out of the water quite quickly! Someone told me they were rock worms and wouldn’t hurt us. We haven’t returned there though because we’re still too scared they were leeches.

We also stopped at Eagle Lake (Lassen County) to go swimming and ended up with these tiny little round slime balls on us. When picking up these slimy things in question, they flattened out on our hands and started slithering like a leech across our hands. This was another trip where my daughter and I ran screaming out of the water to rinse off under the faucet! There were lots of people swimming in the lake who either didn’t seem to notice or else knew something we didn’t.

Clear Creek was a very cold creek, but Eagle Lake was very warm, so I could understand Eagle Lake possibly having leeches. Do these leeches suck human blood? Are they harmful to humans in any way? I love the outdoors and swimming, but too many encounters with creepy leech-like things are making me leery about the safety of it. (Kim B.)

Answer: Without pictures, it’s tough to say, but it sounds like you encountered two different invertebrates. According to Department of Fish and Game associate fish pathologist Garry Kelley, the organism at Clear Creek was likely a free-living caddisfly larvae (Genus Rhyacophila), commonly known as a rock worm. This type of caddisfly crawls around rock bottoms in search of food and is commonly eaten by trout. Caddisflies are not at all harmful to humans.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Can I use a camera on my bow to film my hunts?

Archery pro Keli Van Cleave. 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: I have heard it is illegal in California to use a camera (such as the Roscoby Riser camera) that mounts onto your bow to film your hunts. Is this true? If so, why? (Shane S.)

Answer: Mounting a camera (with no spotlight) onto your bow is legal. It would only be a problem if it was an electronic device with lights to assist in the taking of game (California Fish and Game Code, section 2005).

Q: We want to go abalone diving and scuba diving on the same day. I know we have to free dive for abalone, but we also want to scuba dive on the same trip. We live away from the coast but can only do a one-day trip, so which one should we do first? How can we do this without getting in trouble with a game warden who might think that we used the scuba for the abalone? (Matthew P.)

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Fish and Game Q&A: Are bang sticks legal to use in self-defense against sharks?

White shark 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: We are spearfish divers and are wondering if bang sticks or powerheads are legal to use in self-defense against sharks approaching us. They are like a fold-out stick with a bullet at the end. You press the stick against a shark if it comes in too short, and it fires. There are many companies that will ship them to California but I heard they are a firearm and must be registered. I’ve also heard that because of what they are used for, they are legal and don’t need to be registered. I’ve called a few local police departments to ask but they have no idea. (Christopher)

Answer: California Fish and Game law does not prohibit possession of these devices. However, according to retired Department of Fish and Game Capt. Phil Nelms, bang sticks and/or powerheads that use an explosive cartridge are firearms. Firearms are not a legal method of take for sharks and can’t be used to take or land sharks, or any other species of fish.

Q: I have a disability in my right eye which prevents me from being able to view through the peep sights on my bow. However, I’ve learned to use my left eye for shooting my rifle, and have practiced with a crossbow. I would like to be able to hunt during the archery season with my crossbow. How can I legally do this? (Erik, Laytonville)

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Fish and Game Q&A: May I plant wild turkeys on private land?

Turkey_strut 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: I have a few questions about putting Eastern wild turkey poults out on private land. I just love to hunt them. There are turkeys out there already but I would like for there to be a lot more. How or what can be done to get more turkeys planted on the property? (Joe D.)

Answer: Permission will not be granted to any person to release turkeys into the wild that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) may be released into the wild (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 671.6 (b)).

According to DFG turkey program manager Scott Gardner, besides being illegal, releasing captive-reared turkey poults will not ultimately produce more turkeys in the wild, and could actually harm the wild population. Beginning in the 1920s, DFG raised turkeys and other game birds and released them into the wild. By 1951, DFG and other wildlife agencies stopped the practice because it wasn’t resulting in self-sustaining wild populations of turkeys. In 1959, DFG started importing and releasing the Rio Grande subspecies of wild turkeys that were trapped in the wild in Texas. Wild trapped birds were highly successful and virtually all of California’s current wild turkey population came from these releases.

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Fish and Game Q&A: Might it be time to consider a mountain lion hunting season?

Mountain lion 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: I am looking for some information on the seriousness of the apparent increase in mountain lion attacks in the news lately. There have been several incidents of bears attacking humans, and we have a bear season. I’m wondering if it might not be time to reconsider having a mountain lion season? I understand that more mountain lions are killed each year now with depredation permits than were ever killed with a mountain lion season.

What can you tell me about the population increase in mountain lions in California in the past 10 years or so? Would it require legislation to overturn the existing law? Would Department of Fish and Game  data support the need for such a reversal? (Bill T.)

Answer: It’s important to note that mountain lion (puma) attacks on humans are very rare. In the last decade, there have been only four confirmed attacks in California, three of which were nonfatal. Though you may be seeing more media coverage of mountain lion attacks on domestic animals, there’s no evidence that the number of these incidents is increasing. While DFG does not formally track the number of domestic animals killed by pumas, we do keep track of the number of depredation permits issued for problem mountain lions. The numbers of depredation permits issued and resulting pumas killed have actually been fewer in recent years, though.

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

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.)

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Fish and Game Q&A: What's the limit when fishing catch and release?

An angler with a wild Klamath River steelhead that was soon released. 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: If I fish for trout using a barbless lure and catch five during the day but release them all, is that still considered my limit for the day?

Answer: Fish caught and immediately released do not count toward your daily bag limit unless the fish dies or is not released in a viable condition. If fish are not released, they are counted toward your limit whether you keep them or give them to someone else. Fish that are maintained and later released may also count toward the daily bag limit if they show signs of stress or other indicators they can not swim off in a viable condition. Keep in mind that any fish with a zero bag limit may not be retained or possessed at any time, so these fish must be released immediately no matter what condition they are in upon landing.

Q: I legally shot a black bear last year in California and then took it to a taxidermist in Nevada who was  going to create a bearskin rug for me. Somehow the taxidermist mistakenly gave my bear away to another customer and so then gave me a different bear rug to replace it. This wasn’t a good solution for me though because I don’t want this bearskin from an animal I didn’t take. Can I legally sell it since it was taken in another state? (Anonymous)

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

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.)

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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.

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Outposts' primary contributor is Kelly Burgess.



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