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

May 12, 2011 |  2:45 pm

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.

By the way, not only are your friends in violation for possessing overlimits, but so is the butcher if he accepts more than a possession limit from either of them. No matter what condition the ducks are in (whole, quartered, ground-up, smoked, processed, etc.) a duck is a duck and all ducks count toward the limit. Ducks, like all other fish and game, are in someone’s possession until consumed, regardless of the condition in which they are stored.

If the hunter has other family members living in the same home, the hunter can gift his or her daily limits to other members of the household during the season and hold them for processing. However, none of the family members can ever have more than the possession limit.

Q: For years I have used an abalone iron for removing mussels from the rocks but was just told that I can’t use any tools. Is this true? How can mussels be removed from the rocks without an ab iron or something similar? Please clarify what tools, if any, can be used to take mussels from ocean rocks. (Bill T., Lafayette)

A: You may take mussels only by hand without the aid of any tools (CCR, Title 14, section 29.10). Taking mussels by hand one at a time is far less harmful to a mussel bed than prying them off with ab irons, crowbars, screwdrivers, hoes or hammers. When people use tools they have a tendency to pry off large chunks of the mussel clusters and then pick out the desirable ones to eat, wasting the rest. Many people use a tough pair of garden gloves to pry them off. Give those a try.

Q: While living back east, we used to use "dough balls" for trout. We made them out of cornmeal, flour and water or fish meal, flour and water. Is this a legal bait for trout in California? (Mike)

A: Processed foods may be used in California’s inland waters where bait is legal. Where bait is legal, dough balls would be legal.

More on bloodsucking leeches ...

Regarding last week’s question about leeches in Northern California lakes, we got some additional interesting feedback. DFG environmental scientist Mary Meyer, who has extensively studied the Eagle Lake area in particular, confirms that Eagle Lake supports a variety of unique invertebrates, including freshwater hydra, freshwater sponges ... and abundant leech populations. "If you wade or stand around in the water, they may attach. If you swim around and don’t stay still long, they tend to leave you alone," she said. Eagle Lake also has the parasite that causes swimmers itch and can infest humans, particularly if you are standing or wading in the water.

Meyer also guesses that the wormlike creatures in Clear Creek were likely black fly larvae of the family Simuliidae. Some folks call these black flies "no-see-ums." The adult females are rather slow-moving and smaller than a house fly. They may bite humans and other mammals and those bites can be itchy for a day or two. The aquatic larvae are black and attach in masses to the surface of rocks in swift water, anchored by a silk thread. They are benign at this stage and are often confused with leeches simply because they are small, black and wiggly.

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

Photo: Northern Pintail drake. Credit: Dave Menke / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

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