Question: Our neighbor feeds wildlife three-day-old bread on a regular basis. The wildlife consists of deer, turkey, birds and other mammals. Although this neighbor has been told this is not good for the animals, she continues. What can be done to stop this person from feeding people food to wildlife? (Steve S.)
Answer: While feeding human food to wildlife makes those people doing so feel good, in the long run it is often to the detriment of the animal recipients. Although many animals will eat stale bread when offered, temporarily satisfying their hunger, in reality, many human foods – especially bread – lack the protein and nutritional components animals need for good health.
Although your neighbor may be well-intentioned, she is actually being very selfish. She’s hurting the wildlife and her neighbors by encouraging wild animals to get too comfortable around humans. When animals concentrate around food they are more likely to spread diseases to each other and to domestic pets. When wild animals lose their natural fear of humans they can become very aggressive. Coyotes, in particular, are well-known for eating small pets because they do not differentiate between the food you leave for them and other prey items, like dogs and cats.
People often think they are just feeding cute, furry critters, like squirrels and raccoons. If they were to put a surveillance camera out, they would likely be surprised to find out what’s actually eating the food at night. They would probably be appalled to discover animals fighting over the food, and that they’re actually keeping the neighborhood rats fat and happy.
In addition, there may be a local ordinance that bans feeding of some wild animals. Los Angeles County, for example, has an ordinance that prohibits feeding non-domesticated mammalian predators, including but not limited to, coyotes, raccoons, foxes and opossums.
Regarding deer, there is a statewide ban on feeding big game, which includes deer, bear, elk, antelope and bighorn sheep (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 251.3). You may want to contact a local game warden to report your well-meaning but stubborn and misguided neighbor. Her actions may cause her to be guilty of a misdemeanor, which may carry fines or even jail time.
For more tips on preventing wildlife-human conflicts, please visit http://www.dfg.ca.gov/keepmewild/.
Fishing from my apartment without a license?
Question: I live in an apartment complex that sits on a slough in the San Francisco Bay area. Do I need a fishing license to fish off of the shore while standing on the apartment property with my child, who is under 16? (Dan S.)
Answer: Yes, you will need a license but your child will not. Anyone 16 years or older must possess a valid California fishing license in order to legally fish the public waters of the state. The only exceptions are the two free fishing days offered each year by the state, and fishing from a public pier in ocean waters.
Catching lobsters on a baited hook?
Question: While fishing off the jetty the other day, I caught a large lobster on a baited hook but released it because I think I remember reading that spiny lobsters could not be taken on hook and line. Where can I find this in the regulations? (Gary K.)
Answer: You did the right thing in releasing the lobster, as the only legal methods of take for lobsters are by baited hoop net or by hand. Baited hoop nets are the only appliance that may be used for people fishing from a boat, pier, jetty or shore. Skin and SCUBA divers may only take crustaceans by hand and may not possess any hooked device while diving or attempting to dive for lobsters (CCR Title 14, section 29.05.) In addition, spiny lobster report cards are required by everyone fishing for and/or taking lobsters.
Gifting wild game to family members
Question: Is the practice of “gifting” still legal? With larger possession limits for waterfowl this year, does the “gifting” limit increase as well? Does gifting apply to mammals and upland game as well as waterfowl? Do you know the specific regulation number? (James S., Oakley)
Answer: Yes, gifting fish and game is legal. There is no “gifting limit.” Instead, the amount of game that can be gifted is determined by the possession limit for that species. There are two primary fish and wildlife laws that relate to this practice: Fish and Game Code, section 2001, which applies to all wildlife, and FGC, section 3080, which only applies to game birds and game mammals. Waterfowl possession limits can be found in the CCR Title 14, section 502. Details of these regulation sections can be found online at http://www.dfg.ca.gov/enforcement/.
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Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.