Tag Archives: regulations

Map-based Sport Fishing Regulations Offers Ease of Use for Anglers

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has launched a beta release of an online location-based Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations tool to help anglers identify those regulations that relate to the area they plan to fish. The new tool provides an easy way for anglers to find the sections of the regulations that are relevant to them.

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The new fishing regulations tool can be found at https://map.dfg.ca.gov/sportfishingregs/. It is designed to work on a smart phone, tablet or desktop computer.

When accessed from a smart phone or a tablet with GPS, the map-based tool will automatically present the angler with the sport fishing regulations that apply to their current location based on the GPS in the device. When accessed from a tablet without GPS or from a desktop computer, the user can click anywhere on the map to discover the regulations for that area.

The new tool includes the Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet, found on our Regulations webpage at www.wildlife.ca.gov/regulations.

The regulations are also now available in the existing Fishing Guide, available at www.wildlife.ca.gov/fishing/guide.

“This is a big step forward in making the complex fishing regulations more accessible to the angling community,” said CDFW Acting Fisheries Branch Chief Roger Bloom. “As we continue to simplify our fishing regulations, they will be kept up-to-date within this new tool.”

This is a beta release that CDFW staff will be actively working to improve. CDFW welcomes comments or suggestions for improvement. Please send feedback to fishingguide@wildlife.ca.gov.

Media Contacts:
Roger Bloom, CDFW Fisheries Branch, (916) 445-3777
Andrew Hughan, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8944

There’s a Place for Wildlife on Your Tax Return

The deadline to file income tax returns is approaching. If you’re still working on yours, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) reminds you that you can help save endangered plants and animals on your state return. Near the end of form 540, look for the section called Voluntary Contributions. There, you can donate any dollar amount to the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410 or the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403.

The Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is listed as threatened under the federal Endangered Species Act, depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act and “fully protected” by the State of California. It is illegal to harass, pursue, hunt, catch, capture or kill, or attempt any of those actions on such listed species.

Donations to the California Sea Otter Fund are split between CDFW and the State Coastal Conservancy. CDFW’s half supports scientific research on the causes of mortality in sea otters, including a large analysis of 15 years of sea otter mortality data with critical support from the California Sea Otter Fund. CDFW scientists and their partners have also initiated a multi-agency outreach program called “Sea Otter Savvy” to educate coastal boaters, kayakers and the public about the impact of repeated human disturbance on sea otter health and survival. More information can be found at www.facebook.com/seaottersavvy.

The annual sea otter survey conducted in 2015 indicated that the population in California may be slowly increasing, to just over 3,000 animals. That is a small fraction of their historic numbers and this population is still vulnerable to oil spills, environmental pollution, predation by white sharks and other threats. You can help spread the word by liking and sharing the Sea Otter Fund Facebook page.

Since 1983, California taxpayers have voluntarily supported the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program by donating more than $21 million. That money has provided critical support for many state-listed species, including Butte County meadowfoam (Limnanthes floccose ssp. californica), Pacific fisher (Pekania pennanti), Shoshone pupfish (Cyprinodon nevadensis Shoshone), Scripps’s murrelet (Synthliboramphus scrippsi), Sierra Nevada yellow-legged frog (Rana sierrae), and many-flowered navarretia (Navarretia leucocephala ssp. plieantha).

“From Death Valley National Park to North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve, many parts of California are exploding with amazing wildflower displays right now, but California’s native plants don’t usually get as much attention as animals,” said Jeb Bjerke, an environmental scientist with CDFW’s Native Plant Program. “Although many people think of California’s endangered species as animals, there are about twice as many listed plants. In addition, more than 1,000 plant species in California are rare but not listed. Our botanical diversity is astounding, and we are trying to protect that heritage from extinction.”

Voluntary contributions also help CDFW acquire federal matching funds, increasing the positive actions that can be done for rare, threatened and endangered species and the ecosystems that support them. Support from California taxpayers has enabled wildlife biologists to achieve important recovery milestones to conserve vulnerable species. Past contributors can take credit for helping the Peregrine falcon and California brown pelican enough to be removed from endangered species lists.

If someone else prepares your state tax return, please let him or her know you want to donate to the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Program on line 403 or the California Sea Otter Fund on line 410. If you use Turbo Tax, when you’re near the end of your tax return it should ask if you want to make a voluntary contribution to a special fund. Click “Yes” and go to lines 403 and 410.

What you donate this year is tax deductible on next year’s return. More information on both the California Sea Otter Fund and the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation tax donation program is available on our Tax Donation webpage.

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Media Contacts:
Laird Henkel, Sea Otter Program, (831) 469-1726
Jeb Bjerke, Habitat Conservation Planning Branch (plants), (916) 651-6594
Esther Burkett, Nongame Wildlife Program, (916) 531-1594
Dana Michaels, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-2420

October Brings More Openers for Upland Game Birds Throughout the State

While some upland game bird hunting opportunities started in September, the fall hunting season gains momentum in the coming weeks, with the early pheasant archery season opening on Oct. 10 and quail, chukar and snipe opening statewide on Oct. 17.

“The hot summers of California’s mediterranean climate finally give way to fall temperatures in October, which is a welcome relief for hunters,” said Levi Souza, an environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “It’s shaping up to be a pretty good season for most species.”

The early archery-only pheasant season will be open from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1 (the late season will run from Dec. 28 to Jan. 24). The daily bag limit is two pheasants for the first two days of the season and three pheasants per day afterward. A hunter’s daily archery bag limit may not include more than one female pheasant. The possession limit is triple the daily bag limit.

Oct. 17 marks the much-anticipated opening of the general quail statewide. All zones will remain open until Jan. 31, 2016. The daily bag limit for quail is 10 and the possession limit is triple the daily bag.

Souza noted that quail hunters in particular may find the fall hunting season to be a good one. “While the ongoing drought has likely impacted some quail populations, our regional quail surveys showed decent reproduction this year. Anecdotally, spring and summer rains were particularly good for mountain quail reproduction at higher elevations. So despite the dry conditions, the quail hunting season should be a good one in most places this year,” he said.

Also opening on Oct. 17 are the general statewide seasons for chukar and snipe. For chukar, the daily bag limit is six and for snipe the daily bag limit is eight. The possession limit is triple the daily bag for both species.

More information on hunting quail, chukar and snipe can be found on CDFW’s website.

Upland game bird hunters must carry a current California hunting license and, if the hunter is 18 years or older, an upland game bird validation.

Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition webpage.

Snipe Season Opener Approaches: It’s Not Just a Practical Joke

If you always thought snipe hunting was just a rite-of-passage prank for adolescents around the campfire, you may be surprised to learn that there is a real hunting season coming up for this tasty game bird. The general hunting season for snipe will be open statewide from Oct. 17, 2015 to Jan. 31, 2016. The daily bag limit is eight and the possession limit is triple the bag limit.

“Snipe hunting is a great pastime for hunters who are up for a challenge,” said Karen Fothergill, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Upland Game Program. “They are easily the state’s most overlooked game bird, in part because they’re extremely difficult to hunt. Being successful requires knowledge of their habitat and quick identification followed up with a fast and accurate shot.”

In fact, the word “sniper” originally meant a hunter that was skilled at shooting the notoriously wily bird.

Wilson’s snipe is a plump brown-and-buff migratory shorebird with short, stocky legs and a long bill. They can be found throughout the state, but are elusive and hard to spot when on the ground (thus the likely origin of the campfire game). Snipe are ground-foraging birds, frequently found probing muddy grounds for earthworms and invertebrates. They fly in a fast zig-zag pattern and in the spring they make a distinctive whistling sound (called “winnowing”) with their tails.

Snipe are most frequently found along the muddy edges of ponds, damp fields and other wet, open habitats. Areas with low vegetation provide adequate camouflage and cover for snipe, but they can often be spotted by glassing the water’s edge with binoculars.

Because of their habitat, waterfowl hunters are most likely to encounter snipe in the field and may find the bird to be a nice addition to their daily take.

In marshy bogs or wet meadows, hunters can use a pointing dog to stalk snipe, or can use the walk-up or pass shooting methods. A light upland gun with an open choke is recommended, with #7 shot. Snipe tend to flush into the wind, so hunters may have more luck if they walk with the wind at their back. Though they are flocking birds, snipe tend to flush as singles or pairs. They almost never fly in a straight line, making excellent hand-eye coordination a must for a successful hunt.

“One thing that’s especially important to realize is that snipe keep company with many other shorebird species that are not legal game,” Fothergill noted. “Be able to quickly identify your target to ensure you’re not firing on a plover or other non-game species.”

While snipe have a wide wingspan, they are smaller than quail and it may take several to make a single meal. They are often roasted whole or breasted out and cooked with butter or bacon. Hunters who enjoy eating dove or duck will likely love the taste of snipe.

Although finding a snipe hunting guide at summer camp is easy, it might be tough for a new hunter to find one during the season without getting served a side dish of puns and jokes.

Please note that as of July 1, 2015, nonlead ammunition is required when hunting upland game birds on all state wildlife areas and ecological reserves. Please plan accordingly. For more information please see the CDFW nonlead ammunition page.

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Media Contacts:
Karen Fothergill, CDFW Upland Game Program, (916) 716-1461
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988

Recreational Spiny Lobster Season to Open Oct. 3

Thousands of lobster fishermen are eagerly awaiting the start of the sport season for California’s spiny lobster, which opens Saturday, Oct. 3 and continues through March 16, 2016.

There is currently a strong El Niño event occurring in the eastern Pacific, with above-average water temperatures expected to continue into the months ahead in Southern California.

“Lobster catches have historically been considerable during El Niño events, so it’s looking to be a plentiful season,” said Travis Buck, a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

The California spiny lobster is common from Point Conception, California to Magdalena Bay on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico. A typical legal-size lobster will average over one pound in weight. Recreational divers and hoop netters will occasionally find lobsters over five pounds (considered trophy size) in California waters.

Regulations governing the sport take of spiny lobster have helped to preserve the tradition of lobster diving and hoop netting in Southern California. The 2015-16 spiny lobster season regulations include:

  • All persons age 16 or older who are taking or attempting to take lobster must possess a valid sport fishing license, ocean enhancement stamp and a lobster report card in order to take lobster south of Point Arguello. Children who are under 16 and fishing for lobster do not need a license, but must possess a lobster report card.
  • The daily bag and possession limit is seven lobsters.
  • Spiny lobster taken must measure at least 3 1/4 inches in length, and are measured in a straight line on the mid-line of the back from the rear edge of the eye socket to the rear edge of the body shell (carapace).
  • Any lobster may be brought to the surface for the purpose of measuring, but undersized lobsters may not be held in a game bag or brought aboard a boat and must be immediately released.
  • Harvesters may use hoop nets or bare (gloved) hands when skin or scuba diving for lobster. No appliance (such as fish spears or poles) may be used to assist.
  • No more than five hoop nets may be possessed by a person when taking spiny lobster or crab (or two hoop nets on piers, jetties and other shore-based structures). No more than 10 hoop nets may be possessed aboard a vessel, regardless of how many fishermen or persons are onboard.

Spiny lobster are nocturnal scavengers that feed on fishes, sea urchins and a variety of other marine life. During the day, they shelter in caves and crevices. Rocky reefs and other hard-bottom substrates are their preferred habitat, but they may also favor manmade habitats such as jetties, piers, breakwaters and artificial reefs. Surfgrass and eelgrass beds can also be productive lobster hunting grounds. At night, when they are out foraging, lobsters can sometimes be found on exposed sand or mud bottoms.

For hoopnetters, CDFW marine biologists suggest using an oily or aromatic bait to dispense a scent trail that nearby lobsters will follow back to the net. Squid, Pacific mackerel, bonito, anchovies and sardines may serve as good bait. A wire mesh bait container will help prevent the loss of bait to fish or other large predators such as seals and sea lions.

Because lobsters are strong and have hair-trigger responses when they sense predators, the best strategy for divers is usually to pin the lobster to the bottom instead of grabbing legs or antennae which could be ripped off, particularly since the lobster will have to be released if it undersized. Although lobsters can regenerate lost limbs, research has found that these lobsters ultimately produce fewer offspring because of the energy requirements for limb regeneration.

Prior to beginning fishing activity, the date, location and gear code must be recorded on the lobster report card. When finished fishing or changing locations or gear types, persons taking or attempting to take lobster must immediately record the number of lobster taken from that location, even if no lobster were retained. Lobster report cards must be returned to CDFW by April 30 following the end of the fishing season, regardless of whether the card was used or any lobster were caught. Persons who fill up a report card can turn in their card and purchase another.

Lobster report card data is very important for CDFW’s marine biologists to manage California’s lobster fishery. More than 19,000 report cards were received by the April 30 deadline last year. Pursuant to the California Code of Regulations, a $20 non-return fee will be levied for unreturned report cards or those that are returned after the deadline. Anglers may sit out one lobster season in lieu of paying the fee. CDFW reminds lobster report card holders to report every card — including cards that were lost — to avoid the fee, and also recommends reporting online and saving your confirmation number.

The complete set of spiny lobster regulations are contained in the 2015-16 Ocean Sport Fishing regulations booklet, found on CDFW’s website and wherever fishing licenses are sold. More information specific to California’s spiny lobster can also be found on the website.

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Media Contacts:
Travis Buck, CDFW Marine Region, (858) 467-4214
Tom Mason, CDFW Marine Region, (562) 342-7107
Kirsten Macintyre, CDFW Communications, (916) 322-8988