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California Outdoors for the week of 8/22/2014

Carrie Wilson
California Department of Fish and Wildlife
 
Moving wildlife

Question: I live in San Luis Obispo and have a quick question regarding relocating three baby turtles. My wife and I have visited this small pond for quite some time, and due to the drought we are afraid that the turtles will die due to the pond getting smaller and smaller. We know that the California turtle is in danger to become extinct due to the red-eared turtle influx here in California. I need to know if I need a permit to move them off of state land.

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Tate Run yields tough competition

James Wilson
Sports Editor
8/15/2014

For the first time in eight years, a new winner was named in the 10-kilometer race at the annual Willie Tate Run/Walk on Sunday, Aug. 10, in Portola. Geoff Leonhardt inched ahead of seven-time winner Ramona Sanchez to place first.

Leonhardt finished the 10K in 36 minutes, 25 seconds. Sanchez was close behind Leonhardt with a time of 37:42. The two were far ahead of the rest who entered the 10K. Matt Brubaker placed third in the category, coming in at 55:55.

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California Outdoors for the week of 8/15/2014

Carrie Wilson
California Department of Fish and Wildlife

Shedding antlers

Question: I recently heard about a few Southern California bucks that seem to carry their antlers year-round. One person I heard from insisted they were mountain biking and repeatedly saw the same deer in January and in May with a 4-by-3 rack. While I disagreed with the person telling me this, I admitted I am no biologist and didn’t know what they were seeing. Do some deer out here not shed their antlers? I was under the impression that even though nutrition, water and climate might affect when they shed, that deer always shed their antlers. Can you share some info or point us in the right direction to learn more about the antler shedding process here in So Cal?

—Al Q.

Answer: Deer that don’t shed their antlers are commonly called “stags.” This is usually the result of some kind of injury (or maybe deformity) of the testicles.Testosterone plays a role in both antler development and shedding, so injuries can really affect the types of antlers they have.Weird-looking antlers can also result from injury to the antlers while in velvet … but those kind usually fall off normally and are replaced the next year with “normal” antlers.

So, this proves there are indeed exceptions to every rule — even biological ones!


Incidental take

Question: What happens if a spearfishing diver spots a large fish and shoots and spears it without realizing until too late that it’s a giant (black) sea bass or another prohibited species? Then after the fish is speared and brought to the surface, the spearfisher identifies he or she has a fish he or she can’t take or possess and promptly returns it to the ocean. Has the spearfisher violated any laws?

A fisherman (angler) who catches a prohibited species while fishing for other species can argue that the take was unintentional/incidental. Could the spearfisher successfully make a similar argument?

—Steve H.

Answer: Spear fishermen are responsible for identifying their targets before they pull the trigger and can be held accountable for shooting a prohibited species. They are also responsible for ensuring that any fish they shoot meets the minimum size limit requirements for that species, again, before they pull the trigger.

A short lingcod or illegal giant sea bass, for example, is unlikely to survive after being shot by a spear fisherman who has the ability to select his target carefully; a short or illegal fish is much more likely to survive being hooked and released by an angler fishing from a boat, who cannot selectively target which individual fish he wishes to catch.

If a diver is unsure about the size or identity of the fish he/she’s aiming at, he/she should choose a different target. Shooting a fish that you’re unsure of could be illegal, and we believe that many spear fishermen would consider it unethical, as well.

All of these same principles also apply to hunters. No one with a rifle, shotgun, spear gun or even bow should pull the trigger unless absolutely 100 percent sure that their intended target is of legal size, species, gender, etc. An accurate (or even lucky) shot made, but with an error in judgment, isn’t worth the repercussions of breaking the very laws enacted to protect the state’s fish and game.


Trout warnings

Question: In the fishing regulations there are safe eating guidelines for Donner Lake. I am trying to figure out why there are different recommendations for brown trout compared to rainbow trout. The guidelines suggest people eat only one serving of browns vs. seven servings of rainbows. Why?

—Tim W.

Answer: The recommendations in our regulation booklet are from the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment.The recommendations are probably from actual studies done by OEHHA of mercury levels in edible flesh from these two species from Donner Lake.

According to Dr. William Cox, California Department of Fish and Wildlife program manager of fish production and distribution, we do not plant brown trout in Donner and so those fish are essentially wild and older in the system.Therefore, they have been on natural diets and accumulating mercury from the naturally occurring insects and aquatic life that comprises their food chain.

CDFW does plant rainbow trout in Donner as part of what we call a “put-and-take” fishery. For most of their lives those fish are not eating natural feeds, and are generally not piscivorous like the brown trout, so they accumulate much less mercury. Humans, especially children and women of child-bearing ages, need to limit their intake of mercury because it can have serious health effects, including death.


Carrie Wilsonis a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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Native plant group plans two North State outings

Feather Publishing
8/8/2014

The Mount Lassen Chapter of the California Native Plant Society has two more North State outings planned for August. Participants meet at the Chico park and ride west lot, but residents from other areas are welcome to arrange alternate meeting locations and times. To do so, contact the outing leader.

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