Question: I am training my dog to retrieve, which requires exposure to both live and dead birds. Are there any restrictions for using live and/or dead birds for the training? Are there certain types of birds that can be used? Pigeons are usually the bird of choice.
— William, Lakewood
Answer: Using live pigeons and most other domestically raised avian species for dog training is all right, as long as no wild birds are captured, injured or killed. Only domestic birds can be used to train dogs to retrieve, point or flush, or to prepare for or participate in field trials or similar events related to these activities, at any time of year.
Generally, there are only minimal restrictions if no wild birds are killed, but a few restrictions apply if any birds are killed — and these include pigeons, bobwhite, domestic pheasants, etc. Use of dead birds (wing or other part) is acceptable as long as the birds were legally taken under state game codes.
Q: I need to know if it's legal to collect a pair of octopus for a private aquarium. I would like to use scuba to collect them in the Monterey/Santa Cruz area.
— Jason K., Santa Cruz
A: Octopus can be collected for a home aquarium and transported live under the authority of a sport fishing license as long as they are exclusively for that person's personal aquarium display. Maintaining live sport-taken octopus in a home aquarium is not considered public "display," so it does not fall under the provisions of the marine aquaria pet trade. Transporting live "finfish" (as opposed to mollusks and crustaceans) is prohibited, however.
Invertebrates collected under the authority of a sport fishing license cannot be used to establish breeding colonies for sale or trade with other people. Any trading, selling or possession for sale of these animals constitutes commercial pet trade activity and requires all parties to have "marine aquaria collectors permits." A marine collector's permit is also required for any animals on display for the public.
Octopus cannot be taken from places where it is prohibited (for example, in a marine protected area) or via scuba north of Yankee Point (Monterey County), which would rule out the Santa Cruz/Monterey Bay area.
Q: The local municipal water district operates a nearby lake that is open to the public for fishing and day use. My question is regarding the regulations set for this lake. The maximum daily catch limit is lower than the limits set by the Department of Fish and Game. Does the water district have the authority to do this? Who has the ultimate jurisdiction in this matter?
— Roger S., Ojai
A: Yes, it is perfectly legal for the district to set its own rules. Private lake managers can be more restrictive than DFG regulations, but not less restrictive. It is their prerogative to impose more stringent regulations in the interest of better managing their individual waters than what the state requires for managing California's fisheries statewide.
I'm sure this isn't the answer you'd hoped to hear. For clarification, contact your local game warden.
Q: I have a question pertaining to Eurasian doves. I have heard they are an invasive species and compete for food and shelter with native mourning doves. I believe they are open game during dove season and do not count toward a personal limit. Can the Eurasians be hunted year-round? In the last couple of years their population has grown extensively near where I live. If the season is open year-round, I was thinking of thinning the herd a bit and enjoying some bacon-wrapped roasted dove breast.
— Mike G.
A: While it's nice of you to offer to help in "thinning the herd," Eurasian doves can only be taken during the regular season. Otherwise, year-round hunting for this one species would create an enforcement nightmare for game wardens. Eurasian doves are invasive and are living with, and competing with, native species. However, at this point they do not seem to be gaining any advantage over native species. Keep in mind that there is no limit on Eurasian collared doves when the season is open (Sept. 1-15 and Nov. 14-Dec. 28), so you can take as many as you like for your bacon-wrapped roasted dove dinners!
Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Go to CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov to submit a question.