Question: Is there some kind of regulation that makes it unlawful for someone to interfere with or harass a hunter or angler who is hunting or fishing lawfully? (Nate S.)
Answer: Yes, according to Game Warden Lorraine Doyle, the Fish and Game Code has a section which protects hunters and anglers rights to lawfully fish and hunt for game in California. The following code section applies to “hunter harassment:”
Fish and Game Code Section 2009. (a) A person shall not willfully interfere with the participation of any individual in the lawful activity of shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, or trapping at the location where that activity is taking place.
(b) A violation of this section is an infraction punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than five hundred dollars ($500).
(c) If any person is convicted of a violation of this section and the offense occurred within two years of another separate violation of this section which resulted in a conviction, the violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) nor more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
(d) This section does not apply to the actions of any peace officer or personnel of the department in the performance of their official duties. This section does not obstruct the rights and normal activities of landowners or tenants, including, but not limited to, farming, ranching, and limiting unlawful trespass.
(e) In order to be liable for a violation of this section, the person is required to have had the specific intent to interfere with the participation of an individual who was engaged in shooting, hunting, fishing, falconry, or trapping.
(f) For purposes of this section, “interfere with” means any action which physically impedes, hinders, or obstructs the lawful pursuit of any of the above-mentioned activities, including, but not limited to, actions taken for the purpose of frightening away animals from the location where the lawful activity is taking place.
What is the Deer Tag Refund Policy?
Question:Can you please clarify the Department of Fish and Game’s (DFG) deer tag refund policy as related to fire closures? (Joe T.)
Answer: Refunds can be provided for any reason if requested prior to the opening of the earliest season in the zone in which the closure is located. If closures happen after the start of that season, it is DFG’s policy to not provide refunds, and that refunds are not available under any circumstances for X zone, additional hunt, and area specific archery hunt tags. Section 306 of the Fish and Game Code does give the Fish and Game Commission authority to hold special seasons following these types of closures.
Check out our Web site at www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/deer/fire.html for more information on fire closures and restricted areas.
Possession of a Loaded Sidearm While Fishing
Question:Am I allowed to possess a loaded sidearm while fishing in the back country? Sometimes I encounter some pretty shady people, rattlesnakes and am usually by myself. And what about if I’m bow hunting? Do I have a right to protect myself by carrying a loaded sidearm? (Adam N.)
Answer: According to game warden Todd Tognazzini, you may carry a loaded sidearm while hunting or fishing if the possession/discharge of a firearm is legal in that area. It’s best to check before your trip with the local sheriff’s and police departments to see if there may be additional city, county, state and/or federal laws and ordinances prohibiting the possession of a loaded firearm in certain locations in their areas of jurisdiction. If you are fishing in a National Park, for example, then possession of a firearm is a violation of the law on those lands.
The one exception to this rule is when archery hunting during archery season or when hunting with an archery-only tag. The law says, “Archers may not possess a firearm while hunting in the field during any archery season, or while hunting during a general season under the provisions of an archery only tag. (Archery section. 354 (h) Except as provided in subsection 353(g), (which covers muzzleloader rifle/archery tags.)
Can You Still Use a Lead Shot When Hunting for Dove and Quail?
Question: I’ve heard that we are no longer able to use lead shot for dove and quail season in California. Is this true? (Melissa L.)
Answer: No. You may still use lead shot for dove, quail and turkey hunting in California, even in the condor lead-free zone (map available at Web site listed below). One exception – some of the federal refuges and military lands with public hunting programs, such as Camp Roberts and Fort Hunter Liggett, are requiring non-lead ammunition for all hunting (including birds) effective immediately. For more on the non-lead requirements and the specific areas and hunting opportunities affected, go to www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/hunting/condor/.
Do Seniors Get a Discount on Fishing Licenses?
Question:Why can’t California’s seniors get a break on the cost of fishing licenses? Other states offer their seniors free licenses. For those of us living on Social Security, there’s not always much money left at the end of the month. Please let me know if you offer something for seniors. Thank you. (Joe M.)
Answer: DFG does offer free and reduced fee sport fishing licenses to qualified seniors and those with certain disabilities. See www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/fishing/sportfishingfreereduced.html or call DFG’s License and Revenue Branch at (916) 928-5805 for more information.
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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.