California Outdoors for the week of 2/8/2012
Question: I have been searching for any regulations specifically regarding slingshots but have found no clear reference to them within the Department of Fish and Game (DFG) hunting regulations. As written, slingshots are not a legal method of take for any game. Yet there are inferences that under certain sections, such as Fish and Game Code section 4186, a slingshot would be considered a legal method of take. Further, varmints such as jackrabbit and ground squirrel do not fall under the regulations for fur-bearing mammals. I have not been able to find any source of reference on the DFG website or credible interpretation of the regulations by any warden or lawyer. Can you please provide clear references relating to the use of a slingshot for taking any game or nongame animals?
—Ron Rios Jr.
Answer: Slingshots may only be used to take nongame birds and mammals (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 475). However, the only nongame birds that may be taken by any method are English house sparrows and starlings (FGC, sections 3800(a) and 3801). There is also a crow hunting season, but crows may only be taken by shotgun, falconry or archery (CCR Title 14, section 485). Common nongame mammals (“varmint” is not a term used in Fish and Game law) that may be taken include coyotes, bobcats, opossums, ground squirrels and orange-belly marmots. Take of bobcat requires possession of a bobcat tag (CCR Title 14, section 478.1).
Rabbits and tree squirrels are game mammals, and their take with a slingshot is illegal. Nongame mammals are those species not otherwise categorized in the law as resident small game (CCR Title 14, section 257), big game (CCR Title 14, section 350) or fur-bearing mammals (FGC, section 4000). The complete Fish and Game Code is available online at dfg.ca.gov/enforcement.
Keeping whole lobsters
Question: Is it true that spiny lobsters must be kept whole (and not tailed) until brought into our home and ready for immediate consumption? That’s what I just heard but I thought they just needed to stay whole until they could be brought ashore so that size can be determined. That’s what we’ve always done. Is it OK to tail them once ashore?
Answer: No. Lobster must remain in a whole, measurable condition, until being prepared for immediate consumption (CCR Title 14, section
Animals causing damage
Question: In one of your recent columns, you stated that property owners or their tenants or agents do not need a hunting license to shoot nongame mammals that are doing crop damage on private property. What is the definition of an agent? We can get a license from a large local alfalfa ranch to shoot Belding ground squirrels. They will even give us .22 shells. Do we also need a California hunting license? My grandson is coming next month and he has no license.
Answer: Nongame animals causing crop or property damage do not require a depredation permit to be taken by the landowners and/or the specific people they have designated to work on their behalf to eliminate the offending animals. On public land, or in situations where the take is not for depredation by a landowner or agent, a hunting license is required.
Special precautions should be taken to ensure that any animals causing property/crop damage are not endangered species. If someone shoots/kills an endangered species, they will have to have evidence of the property damage or face significant fines and penalties.
In order to be considered an “agent” of the landowner, you will need written documentation from the landowner stating you are taking the nongame mammals on his or her behalf for depredation purposes. This will serve as proof that you have permission to be on private land and will eliminate the need for a hunting license. If you are in condor country, be sure to use non-lead ammunition. For more information on requirements for non-lead ammunition, go to dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor.
Checking fishing licenses
Question: While buying my license recently, I was told by the vendor that we no longer need to carry our fishing licenses with us. He said game wardens can now scan people’s California driver licenses (CDL) to verify the purchase. Is this true?
Answer: No, you are required to have your actual sport fishing license in possession while fishing (CCR Title 14, section 700) and to present your actual license upon request to any game warden who asks (FGC, section 2012). DFG game wardens do not carry CDL scanners.
Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. Contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.