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)