Wilson: Annual licenses required to keep reptiles?

Cal.Outdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.July 9, 2013 

Carrie Wilson, outdoor writer who works for the California Department of Fish & Game.

Question: I know a California fishing license allows a person to "take" a certain number of each reptile and amphibian species, which are defined in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations. I also understand "take" is defined as "hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill fish, amphibians, reptiles …" or attempting to do so. If I legally take a chuckwalla with a fishing license this year, do I need to have a fishing license for each year after 2013 in order to continue to keep it?

— Anonymous

Answer: No. In order to legally take a non-restricted native reptile from the wild, you will need a valid 2013 Sport Fishing License. In the 2013-2014 California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations, go to page 20 for the list of reptiles and bag limits. As long as the chuckwalla is legally taken with a sport fishing license, you are not required to purchase additional licenses just to keep the reptile.

Regarding the possession of other native reptiles, there are some species that are listed as "restricted," which means they cannot be taken or kept as pets. For the list of restricted species laws and regulations, visit www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement and go to the California Code of Regulations Title 14 link and search for Section 671(c)(11).

Q: My friends and I are planning our annual, multi-day fishing trip off the coast. I have a question related to the regulations that might apply to our trip, so we don't run into a problem with a game warden.

Under Section 27.15 on page 28 of the 2013/14 Ocean Fishing Booklet, multi-day fishing trips are described as being "continuous and extend(ing) for a period of 12 hours or more on the first and last days of the trip, and no berthing or docking is permitted within five miles of the mainland shore."

Our trip will be for four days, we'll fish for 12 hours every day and we will anchor the boat in a protected cove off shore. It is not clear if we are required to be physically fishing or to actually remain aboard the vessel the whole time. It seems we would meet the definition of a multi-day trip; however, we may wish to camp and sleep ashore overnight. If we fish from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. on Day 1, then anchor the boat offshore, sleep on land, and resume our fishing from 6 a.m.-6 p.m. the next day, is this still considered "continuous?"

Similarly, if we remain aboard, but stop fishing between 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., is this still considered "continuous?" Could you please describe any definition provided in the regulations for "continuous" that could clarify this question?

— Neil P.

A: A declaration for multi-day fishing trips does not permit berthing or docking within five miles of the mainland shore (CCR Title 14, section 27.15).The multi-day fishing permit is intended to allow persons fishing offshore, on a trip that lasts multiple days, to catch and keep up to three daily limits of finfish, lobster and rock scallops, and up to two limits of abalone. The situation you described could be viewed as a land-based camping trip, using a vessel to get to your destination and fish from. The warden that observed your activities would have to use discretion to determine if your activities met the conditions of a multi-day fishing trip. While there is no definition of "continuous" provided, if you choose to camp or fish on the mainland coast, it would be a stretch to say that you were still on a fishing trip on your boat.

Q: I know it's not legal to sell deer antlers, but what about elk antlers, either sheds or those that include a skull plate? I read your column about selling any animal native to California and wonder if that includes elk antlers, which many use for decorative purposes, knives, etc., as there is a market for such items.

— Scott W.

A: It is unlawful to sell or purchase any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild in California. Since elk are found in the wild in California, this applies to elk antlers. However, shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically-reared animals that have been manufactured into products or handcraft items, or that have been cut into blocks or units which are to be handcrafted, may be purchased or sold (see Fish and Game Code, section 3039).

Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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