Question: We have two mallard ducks that seem to have taken up residency in our backyard pool and laid eggs in the surrounding plants. I am afraid that if they hatch they will end up dead because of all the meat-eating birds in the area. Why are they doing this? If I can get them to leave, where will they fly off to? I can’t seem to find any help in the town that I live in. I read your piece in The Modesto Bee and wondered if you had any suggestions of what I could do? Richard, Modesto
Answer: Unless ducks are marked with a transmitter, we can only speculate where they are headed. Most likely, the ducks in your backyard are a drake and hen pair that need a safe place to build a nest. Backyard pools generally don’t have many predators so ducks often nest nearby. Once the eggs hatch, they won’t want to hang out in the pool for long because there is no food in the water. At that point, you may want to open your backyard gate so the hen can walk her brood to a nearby river or other water source.
You have another option, too. Since waterfowl are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, you cannot catch and move them yourself. Instead, you might want to contact a permitted local wildlife rehabilitation center if there is a need to move them after hatching to a more appropriate non-residential setting. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, please go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html.
Q: I was told a barbed hook (circle or otherwise) that has had the barb “pinched down” with pliers is by law considered legal for salmon fishing. True or false?
A: True. As long as it is pinched all the way down so there is no barb. It’s safer to buy barbless hooks or grind off the barbs. Barbless hooks are defined as “a fish hook from which the barb or barbs have been removed or completely bent closed, or which is manufactured without barbs” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.19).
Q: My friend and I disagree about a point of law. If a game warden sees that you are fishing, or have been fishing, or sees your rods and ice chests in the car, can he demand you open the car and ice chests? Can he demand you open the trunk also? I think this is fair because we have definitely been fishing and always have less than our limits, but my friend thinks it is an abuse of power to demand we open our trunk or car, which is our private property. If the game warden does have this right, what would happen if we refuse to comply? Thanks.
S. Love, Los Angeles
A: Yes, any wildlife officer can ask for your consent to inspect a vehicle. Whether an officer has the authority to conduct an inspection when consent is not given depends upon the specific circumstances of the contact. Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities that are unique to their jobs.
For example, it is a crime to refuse to show a wildlife officer “... all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken or otherwise dealt with under this code, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians” (Fish and Game Code, section 2012).
Also, wildlife officers are authorized to inspect all receptacles, except the clothing actually worn by a person at the time of inspection, where birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians may be stored or placed (FGC, section 1006).
Q: I know you can use as many rods and hooks as you want outside the Golden Gate, but can I use multiple rods to catch striped bass and halibut from the shore? I already know only one rod can be used for salmon, rockfish and lingcod. I have heard if you have a striped bass or halibut in possession, then only one rod can be used. Is this true?
A: No, that’s not correct. Outside of the Golden Gate, if you are fishing from shore for halibut and striped bass, you can use as many rods and hooks as you want. If you were to catch another species like salmon or rockfish, however, you would have to release it, as only one line may be used for these species.
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.