Hunting wild pigs over bait on a licensed game ranch?

Photo: ©Carrie Wilson

Question: Can you hunt feral pigs (a.k.a. wild hogs) from a stand over bait, if it is on a completely enclosed, high fence, licensed game ranch? I was offered such a hunt and the landowner said I wouldn’t even need pig tags. Although it’s allowed in other states, I didn’t think it was legal to do in California and so I didn’t pursue it. Would it be legal if the rancher had released his own domestically bred pigs to run wild, as he is doing legally with other exotic game animals? (Anonymous)

Answer: No, it is not legal to hunt feral hogs over bait. However, if domestic swine are released into an area enclosed by escape-proof fencing, the pigs retain their status as domestic livestock and are neither feral nor game mammals protected by Fish and Game laws. Based upon your description, this would not be hunting but instead killing domestic animals owned by the rancher. If this is being advertised as “wild hog hunting” and sold as a hunt, there may be issues regarding violations of California Business and Professions Code. (182 words)

Fishing in the aqueduct?
Question: Is it legal to fish in the California Aqueduct system? (Thomas T.)

Answer: Yes, it is legal to fish in certain areas but not legal to trespass. Some of these areas are fenced or posted to keep folks out. Many people fish for stripers in the aqueduct. Check the regulations for where you may fish.

What’s the fine for fishing in an MPA?
Question: I was recently cited for fishing in a Marine Protected Area (MPA). I wasn’t familiar with the area and went into the MPA unintentionally and fished. I am not denying that I did but am wondering what the penalty can be for that? (Mike G.)

Answer: You can look up the bail and penalty schedule for the code section you were cited for at to see the penalties listed, but it is entirely up to the court what fines are imposed. Keep in mind too that with the additional court fees and other processing costs that come with each ticket, your total may be double what the bail schedule calls for.

Retrieving confiscated property after a violation
Question: When a person is caught in the act of a violation, given a citation to appear in court, and then has his equipment (firearms, rods, reels, camping gear, vehicles, etc.) confiscated, can the property taken by the game wardens ever be retrieved? What if charges are then dismissed by the Superior Court judge? If the citation lists the model number and brand name as evidence, can the equipment taken by the officers then be retrieved?

Do the DFG officers have the ability to take equipment home for themselves if the person that committed crime never tries or gets the chance to get their property released back to them?

Otherwise, after a certain amount of time, is all confiscated property sold in public auction? If so, when and where does this take place and is there a website? Is there an itemized list of what’s available and/or the prices if not sold by auction? (DMB, West Sacramento)

Answer: Once the case is adjudicated, the judge decides to have the gear either returned to the defendants or forfeited to DFG. If the judge forfeits the gear to DFG, then there are two options: If the gear is in poor condition and not safe to use, it is destroyed; if it is in good condition, it may be distributed to our scientists or game wardens in need of equipment for use in the field, and for work-related use only.

For all other gear confiscated and not returned to defendants as ordered by judges, DFG basically has three options: 1) put the gear into work-related use, 2) destroy it, or 3) sell it at a public auction.

Confiscated fishing gear is usually donated to DFG’s “Fishing in the City” or “California Fishing Passport” programs for use by the public during promotional fishing events. All confiscated firearms not returned by the courts are ordered by law to be destroyed unless they have collector value, in which case they may be donated to a museum or educational facility for display. Public auctions for confiscated gear are not frequently held, but when they are, DFG is required to provide public notice through local newspapers.

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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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