Turkeys need more privacy in spring

Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.May 7, 2013 

Question: I have been turkey hunting in California for several years and always wondered why the shooting times are limited until only 4 p.m. I have heard it protects them so they can return to roost in the evenings, but this makes no sense since there is an abundance of turkeys in California — more than a lot of other states.Many other states allow turkey hunting until sundown, similar to big game. What's the reason for this early shooting stop time?

Dave Johannes, Modesto

Answer: Shooting hours for the spring wild turkey season are from a half hour before sunrise to 4 p.m. The reason for the stop time in the spring (versus the later stop time of sunset during the fall) is spring is when the turkeys breed.

Only the toms (and bearded hens) can be taken in the spring to allow the hens to nest successfully. The goal is to maximize opportunities for hunters while protecting nesting hens. Cutting off shooting at 4 p.m. gives the birds a break from hunting pressure, allows the toms to return to the roost and the hens to get back to their nests.

Historically, the stop time was 1 p.m., but as wild turkey numbers have flourished, the stop hunting time was moved to 4 p.m.

Turkeys typically roost communally and might have only one or no more than a few trees where they stay at night. They become more vulnerable toward the end of the day as they return to their preferred roost. If the turkeys are disturbed along the way by gun shots, they might choose unfamiliar roosting areas, thus making themselves more vulnerable to predation.

Q: Is there a size limit on the sale of turtles that are sold as pets?

Robert Bruce, Antioch

A: Yes, federal and state laws require that turtles must have a carapace (shell) length of at least 4 inches to be imported, sold or distributed. This restriction came from the Public Health Services Act in 1975 as administered by the Food and Drug Administration to address the problem of salmonella infections in children. I have heard this size was determined to help prevent children from putting these small reptiles into their mouths.

Prior to the ban there were an estimated 250,000 cases of turtle salmonellosis in children and infants that were associated with pet turtles in the U.S.

Q: I frequently fish at the Point Arena pier but am not clear on a specific rule. I know you may only have two hooks on one fishing line, but is it legal to use a Sabiki rig with multiple small hooks to catch bait fish?

— Steve Lum

A: When fishing from Point Arena pier, you can use a fishing rod with multiple hooks as long as you don't have rockfish, cabezon, greenling or lingcod in your possession. If you happen to catch one of these species while using more than two hooks on your line, you must release the fish.

You are limited to no more than one line and two hooks when fishing for rockfish, cabezon, greenling and lingcod, or if these species are in possession. On a public pier, you can use up to two fishing appliances (rod and reel, hoop net, crab trap, etc.) with no restrictions on the number of hooks (unless you are targeting the species mentioned above or have them in your possession).

Q: Are there any regulations prohibiting someone from giving me a bear skull or claws if legally taken either in California or out of state? No money or goods would be exchanged. Would I need to have proof to show where the parts came from or who gave them to me?

Tom H.

A: No. If the skull or claws were taken from a bear in California, and as long as no money or goods were exchanged for the acquisition, you may legally receive and possess these bear parts. If the bear parts are from a bear taken in another state, then you will need to follow the regulations for sale or gifting of bear parts from that state and submit a "Declaration for Entry" form, available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement" target="_blank">http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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