Help, I Can’t Read the Tags!

Question: Please help!!! I need reading glasses to fill out my abalone tags and so do my friends. We used to be able to fill out the cards back at the car, which was fine. But now with the new tags and regs we are required to fill out the tags as soon as we leave the water, but we can’t see the fine print on the tags to fill them out! Our glasses are expensive and we have no way of bringing them with us when we dive. What can we do? Thank you. (David Gaon)

Answer: I can understand the challenges presented by small print and the difficulty you describe in trying to bring that very small print into focus without assistance. Unfortunately, there are no alternatives in the new regulations for either the diver or the game wardens – the report cards must be filled out immediately once coming ashore or boarding a boat.

The good news is that the tags and report cards are being redesigned for use next year in an effort to make them more “user friendly.” Hopefully, that will include larger print!

In the meantime, you might want to consider including non-prescription reading glasses in your dive bag and/or a small magnifying glass. Either can be purchased at many convenience stores for under $15. At least with these you would not have to risk losing or breaking your prescription glasses and you will be able to comply with the regulations to legally continue taking abalone.

Is a Hunting License Required When Simply Observing the Hunt?
Question:I have been invited to accompany my grandson (and a guide) on a wild boar or deer hunting trip in California. I would like to go on this hunt with him, and if I were to go simply as an observer (not as a hunter myself) do I need a California hunting license? And what if I carry my .45 revolver, strictly as a backup weapon; do I need such a license? (H. Janin V., France)

Answer: According to Department of Fish and Game (DFG) Capt. Phil Nelms (ret.), a hunting license is not required to accompany a person into the field as an observer. However, if you are carrying a weapon capable of taking game (e.g, a .45 revolver) and you are with someone who is hunting, it can be assumed you are hunting and a license is required. Leaving the weapon behind while your grandson is hunting is the best way to reduce the risk of being prosecuted for hunting without a license.

What to do If You Find a Dead, Banded Animal
Question: I live in Alameda and recently found a small hawk in my front yard that had been attacked by another bird (it ripped its head off). The dead hawk has bands on each leg. I have the bird frozen and would like know who to turn the bands in to and to receive some information on the species and where it was banded. Do I send the whole bird or just the bands? Thanks for your help. (Dennis P., Alameda)

Answer:You will not need to send the bird or the bands anywhere. Banding information for migratory birds is compiled by the United States Geological Survey through its Patuxent Wildlife Research Center. You should be able to report this banded bird directly to its National Bird Band Laboratory at 1-800-327-BAND (2263) or send all information in through its Web site at Once you report the band information and fill in the questionnaires, they will be able to provide you with basic banding information on the bird you are reporting, including the state or province where the bird was banded, the date it was banded and the species.

Once you recover and record the banding information, you must then relinquish the carcass to a DFG game warden as it is illegal to possess birds-of-prey or “parts there of” (Fish & Game Code 3503.5 Taking, possessing or destroying birds-of prey or their eggs). You may find a warden by contacting the nearest DFG Regional or Field Office.

Why Do Lobster Report Cards Require a Fee?
Question: Why are we being charged $7.90 for the lobster report cards to gather information for the government? And why is the report card not good for a full year like the fishing license? (Ray C.)

Answer:The report card is good for a calendar year just like the fishing license. However, since there was late implementation on this first card, the 2008 card is only good through Dec. 31, 2008. Next year’s card is good for the entire 2009 year.

We’re not making money on the report card. We’re paying for printing, distribution and administration costs (including entering the return card data). We’re trying to determine how many recreational lobster fishermen there really are and how successful they are. If we can’t answer basic questions like this, California anglers may be forced to purchase the federal fishing license in the future.

Can You Hunt with an Arrow Rifle?
I have an arrow rifle that’s powered by CO2 high pressured gas that I’ve had for the last 15 years. It’s not a crossbow. I thought it would be cool to hunt with it but didn’t see anything in your regulations about it. Can I hunt with it? It was made for SWAT teams or something, I don’t know. Thanks. (Wes H.)

Answer: No. The weapon you describe would not be legal for taking fish or wildlife in California.

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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

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