Can I Keep a Red-eared Slider?

Red eared slider turtle on log
A red-eared slider. (Stock photo.)

Question: I was fishing for stripers in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta near Courtland and inadvertently caught a red-eared slider via hook and line. Could I have kept the turtle? (Anonymous)

Answer: Yes, you could have kept it. As per the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 5.60, there are three non-native subspecies of turtles that are legal to fish for and keep: red-eared sliders, painted turtles and spiny softshell turtles. You will need a sportfishing license to take any of these, but there is a year-round season and no limit for them. Turtles may be taken by hook and line, as per CCR Title 14, sections 2.00 and 5.60(e)(3).

The presence of red-eared sliders in waterways is typically due to careless pet owners who release the turtles into the wild when they don’t want them anymore. Now they compete against native turtle species, such as the western pond turtle, which is protected. So be sure you know your turtles! If you were to inadvertently catch a western pond turtle or any turtle other than red-eared sliders, painted turtles and spiny softshell turtles, you would have to return it to the water immediately.

Hunting on private property

Question: I have recently been granted access to a 21-acre parcel of private property in Corralitos in Santa Cruz County. Can I legally go in there with whatever tags I have for the game I’m after and dispatch legally via archery? Is it allowed per county regulations? (Joshua)

Answer:  Sounds like a great opportunity! There are a few legal considerations to keep in mind. First, please note that some local jurisdictions prohibit discharge of a firearm in certain areas. Check local ordinances to be sure you’re in compliance with those. In Corralitos, we’d suggest that you start with the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Department, assuming your hunt site is in the undeveloped area of the city. If the property is within the incorporated area, check with the City of Corralitos Police Department.

Second, assuming it’s ok to hunt on this particular piece of private property, you must still abide by all state, federal and local laws. California Fish and Game Code (FGC), section 3004, prohibits hunters from discharging a firearm or bow and arrow or other deadly weapon within 150 yards of a neighbor’s dwelling, residence or other building or barn. As you noted in your question, you’ll also need all appropriate tags and validations for the game you plan on taking, in addition to a valid hunting license.

Third, FGC, section 2016, requires hunters to obtain written permission from the landowner prior to hunting on private land. You can use this form to obtain written permission. Be sure to have the signed permission with you while hunting.

Fourth, be mindful when hunting near property boundaries. Animals taken via archery often travel farther after being wounded than those shot with a rifle. The law does not permit hunters to enter another person’s property to retrieve game. If you shoot an animal that dies on property you don’t have access to, call 1-888-334-CalTIP.

Finally, remember that being granted access to private land is a privilege. Being courteous and respectful of the property and its owners can go a long way in ensuring future hunting opportunities for yourself and, indirectly, for the larger hunting community. Happy hunting!

Steelhead report cards

Question: Where do I buy a steelhead report card? (Jim)

Answer: You can get a steelhead report card online through ALDS, or from any license agent or California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) license sales office. Basically anywhere you can buy a fishing license, you can get the report card! Report cards purchased online will be shipped by mail and are not available for immediate use (allow 15 days for delivery). The period to report is Jan. 1-31 of the following year. Please remember that you are required to report all of your fishing activity and effort of the previous year (Jan. 1 through Dec. 31) – even if you didn’t go fishing, didn’t keep any steelhead you caught or were not successful in your fishing efforts. This data is still valuable to our fisheries biologists! The information submitted by anglers helps guide the development of fisheries management and regulatory decisions, and enables biologists to track angling trends over time. More information about steelhead report cards can be found on the CDFW website.

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