Question: We are planning a clamming trip to Bodega Bay this weekend. To what extent can I help my 6-year-old son dig for his clam without it counting toward my individual bag limit? Can I use the shovel and dig the hole for him while he uses his hands to dig around further and retrieve the clam? I am helping him access the clam, but he will be retrieving it himself. – Tom H., Yerba Buena
I would generally suggest that if you feel you are “doing it for him” that you are helping him too much. He must essentially dig for the clams himself. You can teach him how but cannot dig his limit of clams for him. It would be up to any warden on the scene to determine whether, in his or her estimation, the clams count toward your bag limit. Part of taking the clam is digging for it, so your son would need to do the digging. According to California Department Fish and Wildlife Captain Steve Riske, people have been cited for taking an over-limit of clams by doing exactly what you describe. It may be that if he is too young to dig for clams himself, he will need to wait until he is old enough to do so. Otherwise, you two can dig for clams together but they will all become part of your limit.
Q: I noticed CDFW put out a news release this week announcing an upcoming wildlife checkpoint. Why would you give poachers a heads-up so they can take another route? I’ve always wondered the same thing about DUI checkpoints. What’s the reason? – Anonymous
A: Law enforcement agencies advertise checkpoints as a way of giving fair notice to the general public. This has been the case since a 1990 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a case out of Michigan, in which the court ruled such checkpoints were constitutional. In doing so, they implicitly acknowledged that certain guidelines (such as publicizing the checkpoints ahead of time) were necessary. One thing to note is that while advertising these checkpoints may seem counter-productive to catching poachers, the goal of these checkpoints is actually not to trap violators but to educate people as they pass through.
Q: I couldn’t find any fishing regulations regarding the use of felt-sole wading boots. Someone said they are illegal to wear in certain places. I fish mainly in Mono County. Can you please let me know? – Chris
There is no regulation in California I am aware of that would prohibit anglers from wearing felt soles. With that said, we do encourage anglers to disinfect and sanitize their waders and boots in between trips to other non-connected watersheds. Although techniques vary in efficacy, I often tell anglers that freezing, if possible, and complete desiccations are better than nothing.
If your interest extends beyond California borders, this site has useful information: http://www.stopans.org/Felt_Bans.htm.
Q: Is it permissible to relocate pesky squirrels that are destroying or damaging private property? – Fred, Redding
A: No. Small nuisance mammals that are damaging property may be taken by the owner but may not be released alive except in the immediate area. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter into an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source and could potentially spread disease. A depredation permit may be issued for tree (gray) squirrels, unless it is the gray squirrel season, when hunters are allowed a four-squirrel bag and possession limit.
Q: I have a hunting license and was wondering if I can legally hunt with a bow under this license or does this license only cover firearm hunting? The reason I am asking is because I have had my hunting license for about three years and have recently purchased a compound bow. – Tomas C.
A: Yes! Your California hunting license covers hunting with firearms, muzzle loaders, archery equipment and crossbows. In some states, a crossbow is considered archery equipment, but in California it is not. A crossbow may only be used during general seasons.
Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.