Q: I live in Alameda County where wild pigs sometimes get onto my property and tear up my yard. If I see a pig actively destroying my property, do I need permission from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to shoot it?
A: Wild pigs can be a common challenge for residents who live near open land in the Bay Area and elsewhere throughout the state. During the dry season, pigs may work their way into residential areas to take advantage of food resources that have dried out where they usually feed. California Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 4181.1 allows for immediate take of any wild pig encountered damaging, destroying, or threatening to immediately damage or destroy land or other property, by the owner of the land, the property owner’s agent or employee, or by an agent or employee of any federal, state, county or city entity when acting in an official capacity. Known as the “encounter provision,” it most commonly applies to chance circumstances or unexpected issues. A person who takes a pig by encounter must report the take to CDFW no later than the next working day and must make the carcass available to department staff for inspection. For individuals such as yourself who are aware of an ongoing issue, the most appropriate mechanism is the depredation permit process. Depredation permits can be obtained through CDFW’s Wildlife Incident Reporting System. With either depredation provision — encounter or permit — safe discharge of firearms and use of non-lead ammunition apply. Additionally, these authorizations do not supersede local ordinances that may prohibit discharge of a firearm where you live, so be sure you do not run afoul of local law.
Q: Are airguns included in the “archery only” spring turkey special seasons beginning in May? (Bill)
A: No. Airguns are not considered archery equipment and may not be used to hunt wild turkeys during the archery-only season. Section 354 of the California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, describes what constitutes archery equipment, starting with the definition of a bow. CCR, Title 14, section 354(a), defines a bow as any device consisting of a flexible material having a string connecting its two ends and used to propel an arrow held in a firing position by hand only. Bows include long bows, recurve or compound bows (but not crossbows).
Q: I read about the elusive wolverine that scientists documented in the Truckee region of the Tahoe National Forest from 2008 to 2018. I’m not interested in hunting wolverines but I can’t find the law which says you can’t. Aren’t they non-game weasels, which would mean you can legally hunt them?
A: No. Wolverines are fully protected mammals as defined by section 4700 of the FGC. It is not legal to hunt them. Your confusion may stem from the taxonomy (scientific name) of a weasel family and genus, and CCR, Title 14, section 472(a). That section states, in part: “The following nongame birds and mammals may be taken at any time of the year and in any number except as prohibited in Chapter 6: English sparrow, starling, domestic pigeon (Columba livia), coyote, weasels, skunks, opossum, moles and rodents (excluding tree and flying squirrels, and those listed as furbearers, endangered or threatened species).”
Weasels and wolverines are in the same family Mustelidae, but wolverines are not in the weasel genus Mustela, so they do not meet the definition of “weasel” by this regulation.
Wolverines have a well-deserved ferocious reputation. But other than the lone wolverine recorded living north of Truckee, there have been no verified detections in California since the 1930s. Legal protection of the species is provided in FGC section 4700, which states “fully protected mammals or parts thereof may not be taken or possessed at any time.” That FGC section also states, “No provision of the code or any other law shall be construed to authorize the issuance of permits or licenses to take any fully protected mammal, and no permits or licenses heretofore issued shall have any force or effect for that purpose…”
In addition to being listed as threatened pursuant to the California Endangered Species Act, the wolverine is number nine of nine mammals on the fully protected mammal list in California: (1) Morro Bay kangaroo rat (Dipodomys heermanni morroensis). (2) Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), except Nelson bighorn sheep (subspecies Ovis canadensis nelsoni) as provided by subdivision (b) of Section 4902. (3) Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris). (4) Guadalupe fur seal (Arctocephalus townsendi). (5) Ring-tailed cat (genus Bassariscus). (6) Pacific right whale (Eubalaena sieboldi). (7) Salt-marsh harvest mouse (Reithrodontomys raviventris). (8) Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) and (9) Wolverine (Gulo luscus).