Q: I read in the paper about a recent fatal mountain lion attack in Washington state. The article said that the two mountain bikers “did everything they were supposed to do” when they saw the lion, but it still attacked. That worries me, because I hike and camp in mountain lion country frequently. What is the best course of action to take in a situation like that?
A: The mountain lion attack that occurred in Washington was a very unfortunate – and very unusual – incident. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families.
Human/wildlife encounters can be unpredictable and very much situational. There is no single strategy guaranteed to be successful one hundred percent of the time. However, based on research, wildlife managers and scientists have developed general guidelines and best practices that help keep humans safe in lion country and reduce potential injurious or fatal encounters with mountain lions. These best practices include hiking/biking/jogging with others (rather than alone) and avoiding recreational activities in remote areas at dawn and dusk, when lions are most active. If you do encounter an aggressive lion, do not run. Make yourself look larger by opening your jacket or swinging a stick. Make noise. Research on mountain lion attacks suggests that many potential victims have fought back successfully with rocks, sticks, garden tools, even an ink pen or bare hands. Try to stay on your feet. If you are knocked down, try to protect your head and neck.
We emphasize that lion attacks are extremely rare. Please visit our Keep Me Wild webpage, www.wildlife.ca.gov/keepmewild/lion , for detailed safety information.
Q: What is the rule on a fish that swallowed the hook, and therefore is bleeding badly, on catch and release waters, such as the Upper Owens? Should the fish be released back into the water, even though it probably won’t make it?
A: First, regarding gear, waterways that have either a minimum or maximum size limit, or a zero take limit, usually have gear restrictions. Most of the Upper Owens River requires the use of barbless artificial lures. Scented baits such as power bait mouse tails are not legal to use in this area. Baits or scented products are typically swallowed by the fish (gut hooked) and have a higher mortality rate if released. Typically barbless artificial lures or flies hook the fish in the jaw or lip area. Barbless hooks allow for quick and easy release of the fish back into the water. Some areas have size restrictions or zero take of fish. Please always refer to area specific regulations found in the California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 7.50.
To answer your question, all fish caught that do not meet the size restrictions, or where no take is allowed, must be immediately released back into the water in which they were caught. Anglers can further reduce the stress on the fish while the hook is removed by keeping the fish in the water and handling the fish as little as possible. If the fish swallows the hook it is best to cut the line close to the mouth and then release the fish to give it the greatest chance of survival. (Fortunately, hooks that are not gold plated will eventually dissolve.)
Q: I have some questions about the lifetime hunting and fishing licenses. I see on the website it says from age zero. So, does this mean I can purchase a lifetime hunting license for my newborn baby? Even though he will not take the hunters education course until around age 8-10? Also how do these lifetime licenses work if I was to move out of state? Would I have to pay non-resident tag fees?
A: Congratulations on your new addition, Shawn! Yes, you can purchase a lifetime license for your baby. Age 0-9 is the age bracket for purchasing, but the customer or parent will receive a receipt, not an actual license, at the time of purchase. Once your child is older and completes a Hunter Education course, his profile will be updated with his Hunter Education Certificate number and he can then redeem his license.
You should also know that if your son holds a California lifetime license and he someday moves out of state, his license will still be valid. However, if the Lifetime Hunting privilege packet is not purchased, he will need to purchase tags at the non-resident cost. Packages may be added on anytime.