Hunting dogs can 'take' game, too

Question: Is it legal for a dog to grab a wounded duck on the way to the blind before shooting time? Last duck season a buddy and I were at Wister and we started for the blind at 4 a.m. The dog was ahead of us going in and out of the water canals. When my buddy called him back, he showed up with a wounded duck that was still alive. Was it OK to keep that duck?

— Bill S.

Answer: A dog is considered a legal method of take by DFG regulations. Dogs can be used to locate, retrieve and may actually "take" game by catching live game. According to DFG Chief Mike Carion, though it is legal for the dog to take game, you have to remember that any game it takes becomes part of the bag. In the scenario you have described, the dog's take was done before legal hours and would be a technical violation of the law. In addition, if the hunter were to discard the bird it would be a violation of waste of game laws. In order to avoid issues of illegal take (for instance take before or after season, or before or after legal hours of take), your dog should be on a leash and under control so this scenario does not happen to you!

Q: Occasionally, I see a few knuckleheads who after a great day of fishing will decide to clean their fish and toss the remains into the lake, thus bringing the sea gulls in. You can probably imagine what the fishing is like for the rest of us who want to continue fishing. Is there a regulation regarding fish cleaning in lakes and streams?

— George L.

A: No. While under some circumstances it can attract birds looking for an easy snack and end up spoiling the fishing experiences of anglers close by, this practice does not violate Fish and Game Code. According to Game Warden Nick Buckler, the Fish and Game Code only prohibits the disposal of mammal viscera or carcasses and dead bird carcasses into the state's waters. Depending on the waters, there may be special county park ordinances though requiring all fish cleaning to be done at cleaning stations or away from the fishing waters, but there is no state law requiring this. These answers are based on the Fish and Game Code and California Code of Regulations, Title 14 only.

Q: I invited a fishing buddy to go fishing with me this week. He had not yet obtained a license so we came up with the idea to remove the hooks from one of his swimbaits so that he could toss it out just as a teaser. It didn't seem to be considered angling since the regulations say: pursue, hunt, capture or attempt to do so (roughly), and that the fish has to voluntarily take hook in mouth and no snagging is allowed. Since we would have no hooks on the lure, is this considered fishing as described in the regulations?

— Brian S.

A: Tell your fishing buddy to do his practice casting onshore or get a license. They are available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing.

According to DFG retired Capt. Phil Nelms, based solely on your description, it would not be surprising if a game warden issued him a citation. It appears from the description that he is helping you "take" (e.g. pursue, hunt, capture, or attempt to do so ...) fish, and if so, then he needs a fishing license.

Q: Can marmots be hunted in California?

A: Yes, marmots are nongame mammals (rodents) and may be taken by hunters with a current hunting license. Marmots have no seasons or bag limits but some regulations on hunting hours and methods of take for nongame mammals apply. Check the current Mammal Hunting regulations book beginning on Page 43 available online at www.dfg.ca.gov/regulations.

Other nongame birds and mammals (not classified as threatened or endangered) that may be legally taken at any time of the year and in any number (except as prohibited in Chapter 6) include: English sparrow, starling, coyote, weasels, skunks, opossum, moles and rodents (excluding tree and flying squirrels, and those listed as furbearers, endangered or threatened species.

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