Q: A group of friends and I are planning to take a trip on their yacht, basically sailing up and down the coast and visiting some of the small islands along the way. A couple of us like to fish but arent sure of what regulations will apply to us if were fishing outside of state waters. Do we have to have a fishing license if we are fishing more than three miles from shore? Ive heard something about the coastal three nautical mile limit but want to be sure we have our ducks lined up before we launch. (Randi L.)A: Yes. California sport fishing licenses are required even when fishing outside of California waters if the vessel you're fishing from is registered in California, or if your trip either begins or ends in California waters. The only time you will not need a California license is if your boat is not registered in California and your trip originates in another state or country, and you never come into California waters to fish or to conduct commerce (e.g. purchase fuel, food or other goods.) This includes the offshore islands that are considered a part of California (e.g. Farallon Islands, Channel Islands, etc.) In addition, species that are illegal to possess in California are also generally prohibited from being imported into California. Fish and wildlife cannot be imported into California unless legally taken and possessed outside of the state (Fish and Game Code, section 2353). Q: What is the most responsible way to manage cat litter? Because of wildlife disease impacts from cat feces, biodegradable forms of cat litter disposal may be a bad idea if they are composted on site. Yet, loads of litter in plastic bags in our overburdened landfills is not a good thing either. We know that keeping cats indoors is the best thing to do for wildlife (the number of birds and lizards killed by house cats each year is staggering AND outdoor cats defecate where feces can enter the ecosystem), but it's hard to know how best to deal with litter. Any advice? (Becky S.) A: The following information is provided by Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Veterinarian Melissa Miller from the Marine Wildlife Veterinary Care and Research Center in Santa Cruz: First of all, thank you for being such a responsible pet owner. I do agree that cats make wonderful pets, but their natural predatory behavior can significantly impact native wildlife. Animal feces, including cat feces, can also spread parasites, bacteria and other pathogens to sea otters, wildlife and humans. So what can you do to prevent this? First, like you, I keep my cats indoors all of the time and provide sunny spots for them to hang out and watch the birds outside-they really enjoy that! It's good to know that indoor cats commonly live longer and are healthier overall, so this is a win-win! Second, cats have very unique nutritional requirements, so I feed them a high quality commercial cat food and make sure that any special treats I give them are fully cooked, because raw meat can cause bacterial and parasite infection for your cats, and indirectly, you. Third, I prevent access to rodents, wild birds and their fleas, which could also be a source of infection. As for the cat box issue: I agree that there is no "perfect" solution. However, based on what we know at present, our recommendation is to clean the cat box(es) every day, place the soiled litter in a plastic bag, seal it and place it in your regular trash where it will be disposed of in an approved landfill. We do not recommend composting of feline waste because of the potential human and wildlife health risks. Some of the pathogens that can be present in feline feces are extremely hardy and can survive for months to years in contaminated soil, and the infectious dose is very low. For more information on this topic and to learn more about how improper disposal of kitty litter can be dangerous for sea otters , please see: http://seaotterresearch.org/resources.shtml Q: Is a second rod stamp required to fish with two rods on the two free fishing days when no license is required? (Melana H., Sacramento) A: Yes! Free Fishing Day allows fishing without a California sport fishing license, but other requirements for additional stamps and report cards still apply. Those items must be purchased and in anglers possession if they are required, even on Free Fishing Day. The next free fishing day will be on Sept. 8. Q: My wife and I both hunt deer during open season along with small game, preferably squirrels. We carry two rifles each (one for deer and the other for squirrel). After hours of hiking though, it gets tiring. So my question is if I was to carry a small caliber rifle to hunt squirrel and my wife carries a big caliber rifle to hunt deer, would it be legal for us to switch guns during the same trip? (John) A: There is no problem with you and your wife sharing your rifles as long as the appropriate rifle is used for the appropriate species. Remember that rimfire rifles, such as the .22, are legal for squirrel but not for deer. If you are deer hunting, you must carry a centerfire rifle. If you are hunting in the Condor Zone, the large caliber rifle must carry non-lead ammunition. This restriction would not apply to the take of small game including tree squirrel, jackrabbit and cottontail. Q: We love to camp at the Gerstle Cove Woodside Campground and eat abalone for dinner. Can we legally clean the abalone at the fish cleaning facility and then drive a mile back up to the campsite to cook them? I am sure the rangers would prefer the abalone guts to be at the cleaning station rather than to be put into the trash cans at the campsite to rot. However, it means driving a mile to the campsite in possession of abalone that are out of the shell. I am afraid the campground workers will not enjoy your answer. (Anonymous) A: Abalone cannot be transported out of the shell. According to DFG Game Warden Tiffany Stinson, abalone should be cleaned at the campsite where they will be consumed. Place the trimmings and guts in a bag to throw away later. If you are stopped in transit with abalone removed from the shell, it will be a violation. The regulations state: "Abalone Possession and Transportation: Abalones shall not be removed from their shell, except when being prepared for immediate consumption" (CCR Title 14, section 29.15(g). Q: I understand that doves can be taken with airguns/spring guns with use of pellets. Does this mean I can take them while perched but not in flight? If yes, when I go dove hunting can I take both my shotgun and my airgun? And if this is alright, can I use my shotgun when the doves are in flight and my air gun when they land? Do the same regulations apply to quail? (Blong Y.) A: It is legal to take perched doves and other resident small game (including quail) with air rifles powered by compressed air or gas, as prescribed in the regulations. However, only the following dove species are classified as Resident Small Game and may be taken with pellet guns: Chinese spotted doves, Eurasian collared-doves and ringed turtle-doves of the family Columbidae. Western mourning dove and all other migratory game birds may not be taken by pellet gun (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 300(b)). You may carry both the pellet gun and shotgun while hunting. Q: Can you please define bait for me? Some rivers have a no bait restriction. Can I use rubber egg imitations? And if so, can I also add some scent to the rubber eggs? (Ken H., Santa Rosa) A: Bait is not specifically defined in California Fish and Game fishing regulations, but rubber eggs or any similar item is covered by the definition for "Artificial Lure" in section 1.11 in the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet. An artificial lure is a manmade lure or fly designed to attract fish. This definition does not include scented or flavored artificial baits. Often these regulations also state barbless hooks. Bait that is authorized for use is defined in section 4.00 of the fishing regulations as: "Legally acquired and possessed invertebrates, mollusks, crustaceans, amphibians (except salamanders), fish eggs and treated and processed foods..." Rubber egg imitations without scent would qualify as an "artificial lure" and may be used in waters where artificial lure restrictions are in effect. Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. While she cannot personally answer everyone's questions, she will select a few to answer each week. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@dfg.ca.gov.
********** Published: August 30, 2012 - Volume 11 - Issue 20