Q: I live in Chico, across the street from Bidwell Park. Lately, I have been plagued with raccoons and skunks on my property. They have been wreaking havoc on my garden, leaving feces all over my deck and carport, and I think they have been using the pool (WITHOUT a lifeguard on duty, which is COMPLETELY UNSAFE!).
I contacted a gentleman who is employed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and he told me he has been contracted by Butte County to trap and euthanize or relocate problem varmints. He explained I can either perform these tasks myself or, for a fee, he will remove and eliminate any problem varmint I trap on my property.
I am writing to you to make sure I am in compliance with all laws. The last thing I want is to get cited and fined because of a raccoon or skunk. If the information I received from this person is incorrect, then it would seem the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and USDA employee contracted by Butte County need to have a chat and come up with a final call so everyone is reading the same book and getting on the same page. I didn’t know who to go to with this before I acted, but you have never steered me wrong in the past. Dave
A: While the USDA trapper did provide some good information, you are correct to worry about following all the rules because there are several. If you decide to do your own trapping, be aware you are not allowed to relocate any wildlife you catch. If an animal is trapped, it must be quickly killed or released in the immediate area of where it was trapped. Driving the animal to a faraway meadow or park and “relocating” it is not a legal option. Relocating nuisance wildlife not only relocates the problem but also places the critter in an area where it has no established shelter or food and water source, and could potentially spread disease. Also, keep in mind it’s close to spring and many adult animals may have babies soon, so causing orphans through trapping should be avoided.
Trapping rules are for public safety and animal welfare reasons. Before venturing into nuisance wildlife trapping, you should read and understand California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 465.5 entitled “Use of traps,” available online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Regulations.
Q: I was wondering if it would be possible (i.e. legal) to put a freezer at boat landings to collect fish donations from anglers on sport and private boats? Donations would be given to local food banks and shelters. Will E.
A: Although this sounds like a nice idea, existing law doesn’t allow for over-limits of fish, and it would be difficult for wildlife officers to separate an angler with an over-limit from a person transporting the freezer contents to a food bank. Potential criminal liability would also arise if people deposited fish that were undersized or out of season. A better option might be to post information at the landing encouraging anglers to donate fish directly to food banks and shelters.
Q: We’d like to do some casting and blasting and are interested in shooting target skeet while fishing for sturgeon. Is it legal to possess a firearm, or rather, to have a firearm on my boat while sturgeon fishing? I am not a hunter or gun guy, and I know it is illegal to use a firearm to land a sturgeon. What about having just a pellet gun in the cuddy cabin for non-hunting target practice? Is this legal? Scott E.
A: There are no CDFW regulations prohibiting you from simply having a firearm on the boat while sturgeon fishing. Your only firearms concerns will be to make sure you won’t be violating any county or city ordinances by possessing firearms and shooting skeet in whatever area you intend to do this. However, there may be an issue with throwing clay birds, which are coated in paint for visibility, into the water. “It is unlawful to deposit, permit to pass into, or place where it can pass into the waters of the state … within 150 feet of the high water mark of the waters of the state, any cans, bottles, garbage … rubbish, litter, refuse, waste, debris …” (Fish and Game Code, section 5652).
Q: A friend (not me; really!) asked me if he caught two striped bass while beach fishing, could he continue to fish for striped bass and release any future fish he caught? Mike B.
A: You (I mean he!) could not continue to target striped bass but could continue fishing for other species. If you incidentally catch another striper while trying to catch other species and already have your limit, you must immediately release the striper.
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.