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 an important question regarding the use of "passive" night-vision equipment when legally night-hunting nongame mammals and nongame birds in the state of California. My research indicates that it is perfectly legal to hunt nongame mammals (e.g. coyote and bobcat) using passive (which means it does not project an infrared beam of light or other artificial light) night-vision equipment (e.g. rifle scopes, binoculars, etc.) that do not conflict with the California Penal Code for legal possession.
If you believe that my conclusions are in error, please state the applicable regulation and specific verbiage in the law. For the record, is it illegal to use any type of night-vision equipment in the state of California while legally hunting big game or nongame animals? Yes or no? (Rick B.)
Answer: Yes, it is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night-vision equipment or optical devices. According to Department of Fish and Game Ret. Capt. Phil Nelms, this includes but is not limited to binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical- or battery-powered to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish (Fish and Game Code section 2005(c).