Question: I was looking into buying some land in California to use for hunting, but someone told me that even if you own the land, you still have to be drawn to hunt on it. Were they correct or full of it? In Texas and in most other states, you can hunt on your own land.
Answer: Yes, it's true. The wildlife belongs to the State of California and not to the landowner who owns the land on which they might be residing on or passing through. Under the provisions of a Private Lands Management program, however, landowners can improve their property to benefit wildlife, and in return receive additional tags that they can sell or use themselves. These tags also allow them additional hunting rights that begin before or run after the regular hunting seasons and allow additional cows, spikes or bucks to be taken. To learn more about the PLM program, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/plm.html.
Q: If someone gifts abalone that are tagged, but the tags are filled out improperly (or not at all), who gets the ticket — the person who was given the abalone or the original pickers?
A: Both can be cited. The individual who took the abalone can get a citation for failing to tag abalone or improperly tagging abalone. The individual who receives the abalone can be cited for unlawful possession of abalone that are not tagged or improperly tagged.
Q: Shasta Lake is so full this year, I wonder if there are any laws against or regulating fishing from the dam.
— Charlie K.
A: It's unlikely, but check with the folks who manage and operate Shasta Lake and dam to determine their policies. The DFG does not make these laws or regulate these areas, so such restrictions would come from the lake and dam managers. Boaters and anglers used to be able to boat right up to the ends of the dam wall, but because of security concerns since Sept. 11, this is no longer allowed.
Q: While fishing yesterday, we boated very few "keeper" king salmon, but we caught and threw back several good sized silvers. The skipper said they are not endangered, just protected. The explanation I got was that the state does not want to pay hatcheries to raise them so that's why we can't keep them. The problem is, by the time you bring them up from 75 to 100 feet, de-net and unhook them, they are tired and almost dead ... but we still have to throw them back. What a waste of resources.
Do you have any information on that? The DFG requires the same thing for certain species of rockcod — we have to throw them back even if they are dead.
— Bob C.
A: Melodie Palmer-Zwahlen, a senior marine biologist with the Department of Fish and Game's Ocean Salmon Project, both California coastal coho (endangered) and Northern California coho (threatened) are listed under the Endangered Species Act. The retention of coho (marked or unmarked) in any California ocean fishery is specifically prohibited under the National Marine Fisheries Service's recovery plans. Although some of the coho currently being contacted in California waters might be from hatcheries in Oregon and Washington, our own stocks are so depressed that it's not possible to allow a direct take. We do have several hatcheries spawning coho as part of a captive broodstock program, whose goal is to enhance California coho populations.
Sport anglers can help by fishing nearshore and using larger lures to reduce coho encounters. In addition, since coho can be identified by their white gums, coho should be shaken off the hooks while still over the water and not netted or brought onboard. If the fish is hooked deeply, the angler should simply cut the line.
Q: I know that cow decoys may not be used for hunting birds. Does this also apply to hunting deer or other big game?
— Brent N.
A: No, it is not prohibited when taking mammals. There are no Fish and Game laws or regulations on the books regarding using any type of "blind" when taking mammals.
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Send questions to: CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov