Question: Why is there no season limit on the number of geese or ducks a hunter can legally take and possess? I hunted ducks with my retired uncle last year. He had bought into a private hunting blind and has access from his home to three nearby state or national refuges. Last year he took in excess of 190 ducks and 54 geese. He hunted on refuges nine times in addition to his private hunting blind.
On refuges, he stood in the "sweat line" to be admitted later in the day. It seems to me that hunters who can afford the $2,000 price tag to hunt private property and who live close enough to the refuges to register in the "sweat lines" are taking an inordinate number of ducks and geese.
I'm sure any consideration to impose a take limit would have a severe effect on farmers leasing out their properties, but the opportunities to hunt ducks and geese are being limited to the fortunate few who have the big money to pay for hunting access.
Also, why not impose a limit on the number of times a hunter can gain access on a seasonal basis to all refuges? I submitted 38 lottery reservation cards last year but was not picked once. I would have tried the sweat lines, but to drive 228 miles to take a chance on being admitted in front of locals who live nearby is too great a risk.
Answer: Waterfowl are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, which is administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The Department of Fish and Game waterfowl biologist Shaun Oldenburger said restrictions on waterfowl hunting are established by the feds, not the DFG. Laws have been established for the possession of migratory birds during the season. Though there are no season-long limits, there are possession limits. For both ducks and geese, the legal possession limit for an individual is twice the daily bag limit. For example, in California's "Balance of the State Zone," a daily bag limit consists of seven ducks and eight geese, and a maximum of 14 ducks and 16 geese (twice the daily bag limits) are allowed in possession at one time.
Regulations allow hunters to give away birds. However, at no time during the hunting season can any individual possess more than the maximum number of birds. This regulation limits the number of birds a person can legally harvest during the waterfowl hunting season.
The odds of drawing a reservation for any of the Type A wildlife areas are highly variable throughout the state depending on demand, location, time of season, the particular day (Saturday vs. Wednesday), and other factors. While reservations are the best way to ensure access for a morning hunt, it is not the only means. Many wildlife areas throughout the state do not completely fill (unless it's opening weekend or when storm fronts are moving in), so depending on the area, walk-on access might be available. While reservations are highly sought, if a hunter is willing to modify his or her approach and try some afternoons, some great opportunities might be available.
For more information, contact a DFG regional office (www.dfg.ca.gov/regions/), State Wildlife Area (www.dfg.ca.gov/lands/wa/index.html) or National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/refuges/).
Question: What are the rules on shed antler collection in wildlife areas, refuges, parks, BLM and Forest Service properties? What are DFG's policies on these different properties?
Kevin T., Shasta
Answer: Generally, the Fish and Game codes do not prohibit the collection of shed antlers. However, there are restrictions as to where you can collect them. While it's OK to collect them on private property or BLM and Forest Service lands, in many cases it is against the law to collect them from other public lands, such as wildlife areas, wildlife refuges, state and national parks, etc. Most of these areas do not allow any collecting of anything by the public without scientific collection permits.