Wilson: It's illegal to send trout (even legally caught) through mail

Question: I was wondering about the laws on mailing fish. A friend of mine took me to Eagle Lake a few years ago, and to return the favor I always bring him some fish on the way home. He is going to be moving to Kansas and I want to send him some of the prized fish. Is it legal to ship them through the mail? I know I can get live lobsters from Maine, but they are a commercial product. My friend also wants to try to send me some venison, but we're not sure of the laws. Thank you for your help. — Steve

Answer: Unfortunately, it is not legal to ship trout outside of California. Also, you cannot personally carry them to another state, unless you have a nonresident angling license or are on active military duty (in which case you can take no more than one limit across state lines).

As for venison mailed across state lines, as long as the animal was taken legally in the state of origin, it can be shipped to California for personal use provided the shipper complies with both federal and California laws requiring that packages containing wildlife "shall bear the name and address of the shipper and of the consignee and an accurate description of the numbers and kinds of birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians contained therein clearly and conspicuously marked on the outside thereof."

In addition, a declaration form must be filed when importing fish, game, etc. This form is available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/docs/declaration--form.pdf.

Though it's not a requirement, it's a good idea for your friend to include with his venison shipment a copy of his hunting license and tags for the deer, along with all information regarding where and when the animal was taken.

Q: I am going to be hunting 300 acres of private land for wild hogs in a few weeks with only my archery tackle gear. Can I carry a side arm in case of a charge by a large hog? I will be hunting with someone else but we will be in different areas and would like some protection. Is this legal? — Albert Q.

A: Yes, you can carry a side arm when archery hunting for wild pigs. According to game warden Todd Tognazzini, you can carry any legal method of take and combine the methods when you are hunting pigs. It is illegal, on the other hand, to carry a firearm while hunting other big-game species under the authority of an archery-only tag or during an archery-only season. And if you will be hunting in the condor range, your handgun must be loaded with non-lead ammo.

Q: I'd like to try some rabbit hunting but hear they may carry some kind of disease. Is this true? If so, what precautions should I take? — Jeff J., Stockton

A: You might be referring to "tularemia," a bacterial disease that wild rabbits occasionally carry. To be safe, hunters should wear latex gloves when field dressing rabbits to minimize exposure to the disease. Be sure to properly cool the animal after field dressing it, and to always cook it thoroughly. Tularemia is named after the place where it was discovered — Tulare.

Q: If I'm spearfishing with scuba gear, can I leave the scuba gear in the boat to also free dive for abalone?

-- Jim J.

A: No. Sport divers are prohibited from using scuba or other surface-supplied air equipment to take abalone, and they cannot possess abalone onboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing scuba or surface-supplied air. Abalone and scuba gear can be carried together on land. Divers working from boats, kayaks, float tubes or other floating devices who wish to use scuba gear to spear fish or harvest sea urchins, rock scallops or some crabs will need to make a separate trip for abalone.

Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Send questions to: CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.