Carrie Wilson | CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov
Hunters Should Use Caution with Wild Rabbits
Question: I’d like to try some rabbit hunting but hear they may carry some kind of disease. Is this true? If so, is this anything to be concerned about and what precautions should I take? (Jeff J., Stockton)
Answer: You may be referring to “tularemia,” a bacterial disease that wild rabbits occasionally carry. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “tularemia is a disease of animals and humans caused by the bacterium Francisella tularensis. Rabbits, hares and rodents are especially susceptible and often die in large numbers during outbreaks. Humans can become infected through several routes, including tick and deer fly bites, skin contact with infected animals and ingestion of contaminated water. Symptoms vary depending on the route of infection. Although tularemia can be life-threatening, most infections can be treated successfully with antibiotics.”
To be safe, hunters should take precautions by wearing latex gloves when field dressing their rabbits to minimize exposure to the disease. Be sure to properly cool the animal after field dressing it, and to always cook it thoroughly. Tularemia is named after the place where it was discovered – Tulare.
Booyah Boo Rig
Question: I would like to use a Booyah Boo Rig in coastal ocean waters and possibly for stripers in the Sacramento River. It has five places for flashers or grubs but only one will have a hook. The others are just attractants. Would this be ok? Here is a photo of it. (Dave K.)
Answer: As long as the rig does not exceed the allowable number of hooks (which generally is three hooks or three lures with up to three hooks each for inland waters), it is legal.
Ocean regulations are less restrictive. Generally, any number of lines and hooks may be used but bear in mind that there are hook/line restrictions for some fish species in both inland and ocean waters, so you’d need to read the regulation for each specific species to know for sure.
Can boat owners be cited for their passengers’ fishing violations?
Question: I’m a small recreational boat owner (ocean fishing). If somebody on my boat violates any Fish and Wildlife laws (e.g. hook barb not completely removed for salmon fishing), am I liable in any way for this infraction? What are my legal “game law” responsibilities for my boat guests? (John S.)
Answer: In ocean waters, boat limits apply to all persons on board. “All persons aboard a vessel may be cited where violations involving boat limits are found, including, but not limited to the following violations: A-Overlimits: B-Possession of prohibited species: C-Violation of size limits: D-Fish taken out of season or in closed areas” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 27.60). If the issue is illegal gear, the officer will try to determine which person was using it.
Hunting for small game with pellet guns
Question: I am 21 years old and am wondering if I need a license or any type of permit to carry an air rifle? Do I need a permit or license to hunt small game or for target shooting? To be honest, I don’t like real guns. I just want to go target shooting with my dad and maybe some hunting for small game with my friends. I plan to go camping this summer with some friends to celebrate my 22nd birthday. It would be great to know what the laws are regarding carrying and hunting with pellet guns. Can you please let me know? (Adeh M.)
Answer: You may use a pellet gun for target practice in areas where shooting is allowed. This includes gun ranges, some public lands (e.g. Forest Service or BLM), and private lands where you have permission to be. Many cities and counties do not prohibit the use of pellet guns but you should check in with the local sheriff’s department to be sure.
Resident small game mammals and birds may be taken with air rifles if you first obtain a California hunting license. In order to get a hunting license, you must first pass a Hunter Education course. Some species like upland game birds require an upland game bird validation on your license.
After obtaining a hunting license, you will need to become familiar with the laws and regulations pertaining to small game hunting. These regulations are contained in the current Waterfowl and Upland Game Hunting Regulation booklet. The regulations pertaining to the take of small game regulations begin on page 26. A summary of these regulations can also be found on our website.
Are trail cameras legal to use on National Forest lands?
Question: Are there any regulations that prohibit the use of trail cameras on National Forest lands? I ask because a friend was on National Forest land and was told by U.S. Forest Service (USFS) personnel that trail cameras constitute harassment and are illegal. He was then told he must remove them. I’m trying to find out which National Forest it was. If this is true, wouldn’t ALL wildlife photography be illegal, including photographing birds? (Brian K.)
Answer: This is not a California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) regulation. I suggest you find out which specific area of National Forest your friend was in when this happened. Afterward, contact the USFS office in that area for more details.
Salmon and groundfish fishing
Question: Is it legal to fish for both salmon and ground fish by boat on the same day? If so, are there any restrictions on gear that may be used? I’m interested in the Bodega Bay area. (Dan P.)
Answer: No more than two single point, single shank barbless hooks shall be used in the ocean north of Point Conception (34o27’00” N. lat.) when salmon fishing or fishing from any boat or floating device with salmon on board (CCR, Title 14 section 27.80(a)(2)).
It is legal to fish for both salmon and rockfish on the same day and have them on your boat. If you fish for salmon first or have any salmon on your boat, you would be restricted to fishing for groundfish with barbless hooks thereafter. If you fish groundfish first, you may use barbed hooks (no more than two) for groundfish and then switch to barbless gear once you target salmon. And once you have rockfish onboard, you are also held to the groundfish depth constraints.
— 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.