Question: Is it possible (and legal) to buy live wild turkeys to turn loose on my property to see how they do? Is there any law against buying live wild turkeys inside California or outside the state and having them shipped here?
— Jarrod D., Sanger
Answer: There is nothing illegal about selling or purchasing domestic poultry sold as wild turkeys. However, it is not legal to release wild turkeys that have been domestically reared for propagation or hunting purposes. Only wild turkeys trapped from the wild by the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) can be released into the wild.
In addition, no person having possession of any wild animal legally imported can intentionally free, or knowingly permit the escape of these animals except in accordance with the regulations of the commission.
DFG upland game bird expert Scott Gardner says that aside from the fact that you cannot legally release domestically reared turkeys onto your property, no matter what the turkeys look like, if the turkeys were domestically hatched then they are domestic birds. Upland game birds imprint immediately on their hen, and without her they will not learn the skills to be wild. Domestically reared birds will not survive and don't even know to take cover.
Bottom line: Domestically reared birds released on a landowner's property will not result in the wild turkeys that they are trying to establish.
Q: What is the correct and legal way to transport a rifle on a motorcycle? Can you clarify?
— Frank L.
A: A motorcycle is a vehicle and the laws governing possession of loaded shotguns or rifles in a vehicle apply the same as if you are in a car or truck. Lt. Todd Tognazzini says that if you are in a legal hunting area on a way open to the public, Fish and Game codes prohibit an unexpended (live) round in the firing chamber. If you are on a public highway (paved or not), then the state penal code applies, also stipulating that no ammunition can be attached to the firearm. For more complete information on transporting firearms, go to page 47 of the Mammal Hunting Regulations booklet or the California Firearms Laws Summary booklet from the Office of the Attorney General at http://ag.ca.gov.
Q: If I am fishing and am continually harassed by seals and sea lions, is it lawful to shoot them with a non-lethal paint ball?
— T. Jay D.
A: DFG does not manage or regulate interactions with marine mammals. California sea lions and Pacific harbor seals have been federally protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act since 1972, and thus harassing, capturing, killing or attempting to do so is prohibited and carries a hefty fine. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) says that in recent years the populations of these animals have increased dramatically and are now considered healthy and robust.
Unfortunately, with the good often comes the bad — including more negative interactions with humans and incidents of property damage. People seeking legal methods for deterring marine mammals in order to protect their property, fishing gear and catch from damage by sea lions and seals can find recommendations and approved methods on NOAAs Web site (www.nwr.noaa.gov).
And yes, paint balls are an approved method that might be used under certain conditions. But please read the NOAA information before doing so.
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Send questions to: CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.