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

April 21, 2011 |  3:55 pm

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)

A: DFG may issue, free of charge, a disabled archery permit that allows physically disabled persons to use a crossbow during archery-only season in accordance with California Hunting Regulations (CCR Title 14, section 354). However, and unfortunately for you, the regulation subsection (354(k)) specifically states that the disabled archer permit may be issued to any person with a physical disability that impairs one or both upper extremities (arms) which prevents him/her from being able to draw and hold a bow in a firing position. Since your disability is to your eye and does not prevent you from drawing and holding your bow, you do not qualify for a disabled archer permit.

Q: Is it legal to dip net for shad in the Sacramento River?

A: Threadfin shad be taken by dip net but American shad may only be taken by angling, except that a dip net may be used in the Valley District.

Q: The new automated licensing system requires that a driver’s license or ID card be presented in order to issue a fishing license and sturgeon report card. Children are required to have their own report card. However, children do not have ID cards. How does a child get a report card or a fishing license if they do not have a driver’s license at the age of 17 or 18, as many city residents do not? (Jared K.)

A: You are correct in that children are required to have their own report card if they are fishing in waters that require a report card. Children 15 years and younger are entered into the new automated licensing system under their parent’s or guardian’s ID number. When they obtain a California ID or California driver’s license, then that number will be entered into their personal information in the system.

Individuals 16 and older are required to have a sport fishing license. They will need to provide identification for their fishing license, tag, permit, reservation or other entitlement issued through the  automated licensing system via one of the following (per CCR Title 14, section 700 4(b)):

• Valid driver’s license or state-issued identification card
• U.S. birth certificate
• U.S. certificate or report of birth abroad
• INS American Indian card
• Birth certificate or passport issued from a U.S. territory
• U.S. passport
• U.S. military identification cards (active or reserve duty, dependent, retired member, discharged from service or medical/religious personnel)
• Certificate of naturalization or citizenship
• Previously issued automated licensing system license

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

Photo: White shark. Credit: Callaghan Fritz-Cope / Pelagic Shark Research Foundation

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