Why No Doe Hunts?

Question: I know that many states incorporate a managed doe hunt as a method of controlling numbers and the health of deer populations. I have read some literature regarding the benefits of removing older (past fawn bearing years) female deer from populations. Why does California only manage deer through buck harvests? (David M.)

Answer: The Busch Bill was passed in 1958 giving the authority to have antlerless deer hunts to the County Boards of Supervisors in 37 of California’s 58 counties – and many of those 37 counties identified contain some of the state’s best deer hunting. The Department of Fish and Game (DFG) is required to notify the Boards of Supervisors of any planned antlerless hunts by Dec. 15 of each year. Once doing so, the Board of Supervisors of each county are then required to hold a public hearing to receive the information from DFG to justify the hunt, and to receive testimony from the public regarding the proposal. The process often ends at this point due to negative public perceptions and expressed opinions requesting that no antlerless hunts be allowed.

While good science supports the use of doe or antlerless hunts as a valid deer population management tool, and although these hunts provide for additional hunting opportunities, they can also be highly controversial. In many counties, emotions on the subject run high and popular public opinion will often not support the hunts. Thus, since the County Boards of Supervisors are elected public officials who must answer to their constituents, when the public sentiment is negative and in the majority, the Supervisors will often reject any proposed antlerless hunts.

According to Senior Wildlife Biologist and Deer Management Supervisor Craig Stowers, “Sound data and scientific justifications support holding such hunts. California’s deer population is now heavily skewed toward the female portion of the population, and amongst that group it is skewed toward older females. Until the time comes when DFG receives authority to offer these doe or antlerless hunts again, we will continue to see the pattern that has developed over the last 50 years.”

Can You Transport SCUBA Gear and Abalone in the Same Car?
Question: We will be taking a weekend camping trip up to Mendocino where we are planning to spend the first day free diving for abalone and the second diving with SCUBA gear and spearfishing. I am worried about our trip back where we will (hopefully) have abalone and spearfishing diving gear in the car. Will this be a problem? I’ve been told that having SCUBA gear and abalone in a car together is not prohibited, but I don’t want this to be misinterpreted should we be stopped. Just to be sure, should we drive two cars with abalone in one and the dive gear in the other to avoid any possible misunderstandings? This would, however, create another possible problem situation because we would have six abalones in one car and it’s a four hour drive. What should we do to be sure we aren’t unfairly cited? (Jack T.)

Answer: The regulations only prohibit having abalone and SCUBA gear together aboard a boat or vessel (Section 29.15[e] states “…abalone may not be taken or possessed aboard any boat, vessel, or floating device in the water containing SCUBA or surface-supplied air…”). The regulations do not mention anything about abalone and SCUBA gear in a car together – there is no violation committed by transporting your dive gear along with your abalone in one car. You should be aware that you will most likely be scrutinized if contacted by a warden who will be trying to ascertain if the abalone were taken legally.

As for the six abalone in one car, remember that each person may only have three in their possession. If you drive two cars, each person should have their own abalone with the required license, tags and paperwork with them in their car.

Is it Legal to Relocate Wild Ducks and Ducklings?
Question:Is it legal to relocate wild ducks and ducklings that have taken up residence on your property? (Nancy and Keith C.)

Answer: Wild ducks fall under the jurisdiction of the Migratory Bird Treat Act and you are not supposed to move them without the proper permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

If you can be patient, the best thing to do would be to just leave them alone for now and don’t feed them as this may cause them to want to continue hanging around. Instead, if you can give them a little time until the ducklings get large enough to fly, then the hen and her brood will all likely just pack up and leave on their own for more open water.

Can I Keep a Shed Antler if Found in the Woods?
Question:Can I pick up and keep a shed antler if I find one in the woods?

Answer: There’s no crime here, although it is frowned upon by many biologists. Rodents consume the antlers a tiny bite at a time to gain valuable calcium. Everything in nature is recycled!

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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.

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