Outdoors

'No trespassing' signs generally mean it

Question: I have a question regarding access rights to California waterways. I've noticed "No Trespassing" signs posted on many of the Delta sloughs south of Sacramento that say the area between the public road and the slough itself cannot be accessed or fished. These look like government signs.

While investigating, I found that state and federal law, as well as the California Constitution, appear to guarantee the public's access to these waterways. Shouldn't the public have the right to access and fish from this land?

— Abe M.

Answer: While California law allows for public access to public waters, it does not grant the public the right to cross private property to reach those waters. That means that while the waters are open to public use and passage, in order to reach those waters you might need to do so from a public launch ramp. If you want to fish from a bank, you will need to do so from areas that are public property or not marked with "No Trespassing" signs.

While California law allows for public access to public waters, it does not grant the public the right to cross private property to reach those public waters. So, while the waters are open to public use and passage, you might need to reach those waters from a public launch ramp. If you want to fish from a bank, you will need to do it from public property or areas not forbidding trespass.

The signs you are referring to are different. Capt. Mark Lucero of the Department of Fish and Game says the posting at Delta levees has been an issue since early 2000 when the reclamation districts first erected signs to keep anglers from parking their vehicles on the levees or embankments. DFG has gotten constant complaining from anglers upset with the posting and lack of accessibility to the river. We inform anglers that the trespass issue is a law and not a Fish and Game code. We also inform them that to remain in the area is a violation of the Penal Code and can be cited by a sheriff's deputy. There's been a real effort lately, through CalTIP and letters sent to DFG, to get our officers to address this issue. However, the trespass issue is not jurisdictionally a Fish and Game priority. In addition, anglers can fish from the bank of the levees if they get there via navigable means and stay within the mean high tide.

Q: A friend recently hit a deer, causing about $1,200 damage to his vehicle. He picked up the deer and put it in his truck to take home for food. He was stopped by a sheriff's deputy who told him to take the deer out of his vehicle or he would be cited. I heard that it is legal to pick up "roadkill." Can you clarify?

— Sandy B.

A: The officer was correct. It is illegal to pick up roadkill wildlife in California. No one can possess wildlife in any form unless the animal was legally taken by a licensed hunter during the hunting season for that species and while using approved harvest methods. Given this, even if the first criteria were true (your friend was a licensed hunter), motor vehicles are not a legal method of take. The next time your friend sees an animal killed on the roadway, he should not attempt to retrieve it for any purpose.

Q: Can sport-caught fish be prepared and consumed at sea when fishing/diving from a private vessel?

— Ben W.

A: Yes, legally taken fish can be prepared and consumed at sea, but there are some restrictions. Abalone must remain attached to their shells and lobster tails must remain attached to the carapace until they are being prepared for immediate consumption. For finfish that can be filleted at sea, the skin (or prescribed portion) must remain attached for species identification until they are being prepared for immediate consumption.

Q: I am having problems with crows damaging my crops. Based on size, I think we also have ravens at work here. I know there is a crow hunting season, but what about ravens? Since "corvids" (crows and ravens) are problematic predators for song birds and marbled murrelets on the coast, can landowners get a depredation permit for either species? If so, where?

— Patrick

A: There is no hunting season for ravens. They are protected by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). Check with the Permit Office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) at www.fws.gov/permits/. Crows are also protected by the MBTA, but there is an open hunting season between December and April each year. In addition, both Federal and state regulations permit the take of crows that are found committing or about to commit depredations on ornamental or shade trees or agricultural crops. Several specific conditions apply to the use of these regulations to address depredation by crows so be sure to read the regulations in advance.

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

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