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 cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.