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

May 19, 2011 |  3:29 pm

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)

A: No, that is not legal. According to Department of Fish and Game Lt. Scott Melvin, all fishing licenses, tags, permits and report cards are issued to a specific user and the Fish and Game Code expressly prohibits their transfer to another person. To emphasize this, "non-transferable" precedes the words "report card" in both the general report card requirements and the white sturgeon regulations in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

Although the tags are removed from the card to tag a fish, sturgeon tags are uniquely correlated to one specific report card and may not be transferred to another user.

Q: My wife and I are heading to Dillon Beach for some camping and clamming for horse neck clams. I was told the limit is 10 clams per day per person. I was also told it would not be legal to dig clams for another person who is back at the campsite. I want to confirm that I can indeed do the digging for both my wife and myself as long as she is right there with me. Digging 4 feet or deeper into the wet sand would be difficult for her. This will be the first time we’ve done this. Please let me know if there are any other "gotchas" we should be aware of before we go. We don’t want to break any rules. (Bob D.)

A: No gotchas here. Horse neck clams are more correctly referred to as gaper clams. Gaper clams are often harvested with Washington clams so the limits are 10 of each species. Due to the fact that their shells are often broken during harvest, the first 10 of either species taken must be retained.

As with any other fish or shellfish you pursue and harvest in California, you may only take one bag/possession limit per day for yourself. Taking an additional limit for someone else is not permitted. One thing you can do is if you plan to be there for more than one day, you may take a bag limit the first day and give it to your wife. Then on the following day you can harvest another bag limit for yourself. By doing it this way, you and your wife can still have your maximum possession limits.

Q: What do I need to do to legally bring into the state a cougar hide and meat that was legally taken in Nevada during the current 2011 season? (Peter Meyer)

A: You can’t. It is illegal to import any part of a mountain lion since the passage of Proposition 117 in 1990, which created section 4800 of the Fish and Game Code.

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

Photo: Injured veteran retired U.S. Army Capt. Leslie Smith with her seeing-eye dog Isaac. Credit: Carrie Wilson / Department of Fish and Game

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