Saturday, November 28 , 2015, 4:50 pm | Mostly Cloudy 61º

Outdoors Q&A: Hunting Coyotes at Night with Lights?

Night hunting is banned in areas where general deer season is open

Before setting out to hunt coyote, you’ll want to do some research to ensure you’re staying within the scope of the law.
Before setting out to hunt coyote, you’ll want to do some research to ensure you’re staying within the scope of the law.  (Carrie Wilson photo / Department of Fish & Game)

By Carrie Wilson |

Q: Can you clarify the regulation on hunting coyotes with a light? I interpret it to be that it’s OK to hunt at night with a light except during a designated deer season, and that it must be a hand-held light. Can you use a scope-mounted light? (Tom B.)

Carrie Wilson
Carrie Wilson

A: Coyotes may be taken at any time of the year, in any number (unless prohibited by local ordinance or otherwise) and in any manner except poison (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 472 and 475). You are correct that lights can’t be used for night hunting in any area where the general deer season is open.

According to Lt. Todd Tognazzini, before you set out to hunt coyotes, you will need to research two main areas of the law. The first deals with the use of lights while night hunting. The state is divided into three distinct zones and under the CCR, Title 14, section 264, there are some counties defined in Zone 1 and Zone 2 that allow spotlight use from a vehicle as long as the engine is off and spotlighting doesn’t occur from a public roadway. In the Balance of the State Zone (all other counties), hunters may only use lights to take furbearing and nongame mammals if the hunter is on foot and away from a vehicle. Lights must be a maximum 9-volt light source with self-contained batteries, and must be either hand-held or worn on the head (CCR, Title 14, section 264.5).

According to the Fish & Game Code, section 2005, “It is unlawful to use or possess at any time any infrared or similar light used in connection with an electronic viewing device or any night vision equipment, optical devices, including, but not limited to, binoculars or scopes that use light-amplifying circuits that are electrical or battery powered, to assist in the taking of birds, mammals, amphibians or fish.”

In Zones 1 and 2, a weapon-mounted light of any size could be used as long as it wasn’t a prohibited device (as described under the FGC, section 2005[c]).A weapon-mounted light would be lawful in the Balance of the State Zone as long as it complies with the 9-volt maximum and self-contained battery requirements as required for this zone (CCR, Title14, section 264.5).

There are also quite a few areas in the state where night hunting is prohibited completely, such as parts of San Benito and Monterey counties (CCR, Title14, section 263). There are also areas with complete closure zones, so be sure to check for those as well (CCR, Title14, section 474).

Harvesting Mussels with Tools

Q: We would like to harvest mussels from the rocks and pier pilings around Monterey, and are wondering if we can use an abalone iron or small shovel to get the mussels. (Ronald V.)

A: No. Most saltwater mollusks, including mussels, may be taken only on hook and line or with the hands (CCR, Title 14, section 29.10). Since there are no additional provisions for taking mussels with any other sort of tool, taking them by hand is your only viable option.

Is It Legal to Capture and Hold Wild Pigs?

Q: Is it legal to capture and keep wild boars (feral pigs) in California? Is it legal to keep them in a pit to train dogs for hunting boars? (Barb S.)

A: No. It is unlawful to capture and keep live wildlife in California, with rare exceptions for rehabilitation and educational purposes. According to Tognazzini, it’s unlawful to capture any game mammal, game bird, nongame bird, nongame mammal or furbearer, or to possess or confine any live game mammal, game bird, nongame bird, nongame mammal or furbearer taken from the wild (FGC, section 3005.5). The law also directs the Department of Fish & Game to seize any bird or mammal possessed or confined in violation of this section.

License Displays and Bay-Delta Stamps No Longer Required

Q: I know that the law requiring anglers to display their licenses when fishing was recently repealed, and the law requiring the purchase of a Bay-Delta Enhancement Stamp to fish in inland waters also was recently changed. Can you tell me when these will officially go into effect? I assumed Jan. 1, but then I saw something saying the “no display” law would not begin until March. What are the exact dates? (Bill K.)

A: The regulation repealing the need to display your license while fishing will not go into effect before March 1, the first day the general inland regulations start. The Bay Delta stamp is no longer required as of Jan. 1.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

comments powered by Disqus

» on 01.05.10 @ 01:27 AM

Hunting coyotes is for johnny milk toast sissy types who need to get a life.  Try bashing your head against your keyboard till you pass out for starters!

» on 01.05.10 @ 05:45 AM

The coyotes made quite a fuss up the canyon where I live. What is this “hunting coyotes” thing? I’ve lived here and in Santa Ynez and never heard of such a thing…

» on 01.05.10 @ 12:01 PM

If you love rats and other vermin you are the right person to hunt coyotes.

» on 01.05.10 @ 12:05 PM

Since you live in SB county, it may be illegal. Everything else seems to be.

» on 01.05.10 @ 12:09 PM

I have never understood the hunting coyotes thing…Although I have heard that they enjoy grapes very much so that could be a reason in wine country, but I still don’t really get it.

» on 01.05.10 @ 01:15 PM

@ Richard Cabeza, S.B. Native, if that is the case then you propably would love to hunt them.  Of course, out here past the city lights that you find so enlightening, we only consider a few animals to be of the varmit/rat catagory.  One walks on two legs and is confused by fresh air, and has small pets that are considered Scooby Snacks, and the other are Coyotes….who love Scooby Snacks.  Daniel Petry

» on 01.05.10 @ 01:17 PM

Coyote is good eat’n. Tastes like chicken.

» on 01.05.10 @ 03:07 PM

Johnny Milk is right!  Coyote is good eatin, but it tastes more like dog than chicken.

» on 01.05.10 @ 03:13 PM

We live on the Upper Riviera and from time to time hear gun shots in the hours after dark.  Are people shooting deer and/or coyotes?  What is legal in the city limits?  What are the reasons behind the various laws?  I’m not clear.

» on 01.05.10 @ 05:01 PM

Coyotes are an important part of our egosystem. There are many ways to solve coyote problems without resorting to shooting them.(I recently lost my 13 year old cat because he jumped out of an open window during the night.. so I know the heartbreak of losing a pet to a wild animal) But I am upset just thinking about people shooting any animal that is not to be used for food. Shooting animals indiscriminately upsets the pack order and can leave pups to starve to death. Read up on pack animals and you will discover that you may be doing more harm (causing an increase in population)in the end by eliminating the wrong coyote in the pack.
I also did not see anything noted about regulations regarding to city limits or distance to structures.

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