Question: I have heard the pintail limit for this upcoming season (2020-21) will be one per day. Is this true? Is it possible we could have a two pintail limit? (Rob)
Answer: The 2020-21 waterfowl hunting season regulations were adopted at the April Fish and Game Commission meeting. States must set their waterfowl hunting regulations within the federal frameworks. These frameworks describe the earliest dates that waterfowl hunting seasons may open, the maximum number of days hunting can occur, the latest dates that hunting seasons must close and the maximum daily bag limit. The frameworks for the 2020-21 season only allow for a pintail daily bag limit of one.
Pintail bag limits are determined by the pintail harvest strategy – mathematical models that predict the most appropriate bag limit to ensure the pintail population is sustainable into the future while providing hunting opportunity. The current strategy does allow for a two-bird daily bag limit, but current data, including the 2019 population estimate, mandate that the bag limit remain at one per day for the 2020-21 season. The pintail population has declined every year since 2011.
Question: Is shed hunting allowed in California? If I am hiking, scouting or hunting during an open season, am I allowed to pick up and take antlers or skulls found on state or federal lands? If I’m on a friend’s private property, can I take antlers or skulls? (Jeremiah)
Answer: Shed hunting is a great way to get out and observe wildlife in the off season. It can also provide insight into the number and size of bucks/bulls that survived winter and may be around for next hunting season. Unfortunately, your options for shed hunting in California are somewhat limited.
The collection of sheds on California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands is prohibited. This includes state wildlife areas, ecological reserves and other types of land managed by CDFW. California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 550(g) states that “except for the take of fish or wildlife in compliance with general and site-specific hunting and fishing regulations … no visitor shall take any entire or parts of plants, animals or minerals from department lands.”
However, you can pick up deer and elk sheds from some public lands not managed by CDFW (please check with the managing agency for the property you are planning to visit). You can collect sheds on private property if you have written permission to be there. Shed hunting is generally allowed on National Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management land. For regulations on selling sheds, please see Fish and Game Code, section 3039(c).
Question: Do lingcod count toward the 10-fish limit for rockfish? (Anonymous)
Answer: No. The lingcod bag limit is two fish of at least 22 inches total length. The rockfish bag limit falls within an aggregate bag limit called the RGC Complex that includes rockfish, greenling and cabezon. Generally speaking, when fishing in the ocean you may take no more than 20 finfish, with no more than 10 of a single species, per CCR Title 14, section 27.60. There are a number of laws that aggregate several species into a limit such as the RGC Complex limit of 10. Within the RGC Complex, there are smaller limits sometimes referred to as sublimits, and there are three protected rockfish species that cannot be taken: cowcod, yelloweye rockfish and bronzespotted rockfish. Sublimits include only three canary rockfish and only four black rockfish within the 10 total RGC Complex allowed daily. Although no rockfish have a size limit, the cabezon has a three fish sublimit and must be 15 inches long and greenling must be 12 inches long.
What to do with a gopher snake?
Question: Is it legal to kill a gopher snake in California? Is it legal to take a gopher snake from the wild and keep it as a pet? I have a neighbor who has one on his property and does not want it there. If he can capture it, he’s either going to kill it or give it away. (Sharla)
Answer: A valid sport fishing license is required to capture or kill gopher snakes in California, per CCR Title 14, section 5.60. The bag limit is four and the possession limit is four. Gopher snakes can be taken by hand, lizard noose, tongs or a snake stick, year-round.
A gopher snake caught in the wild can be kept as a pet, but once it’s been in captivity, you can’t release it back into the wild without authorization from CDFW (CCR Title 14, section 40). Wild gopher snakes also can’t be sold, although they can be bred with a Native Reptile Captive Propagation Permit, and any offspring born in captivity can be sold to people and pet stores to be kept as pets (CCR Title 14, section 43).
Carrie Wilson is 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. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.