Question: What are the requirements if you accidentally hit an animal while driving? Must you stop? Must you report it? Which animals (squirrels, bears, deer, etc.)? (Carol S., Sacramento)

Article Image

Carrie Wilson

Answer: According to Department of Fish & Game warden Patrick Foy, if a person hits a wild animal with a vehicle, the recommended response varies with the situation. If an injured animal, such as a deer or bear, can’t make its way from the roadway, or if it threatens public safety in any way, call 9-1-1. Never approach such an injured animal as it may fight its attacker to the death, even though you are trying to help. A solid blow from a deer hoof could kill a person.

If the animal sustains a collision but appears to be making its way on its own, it is best left to try to recover by itself. The animal stands a much greater chance of survival if left to recover without human interaction.

Animals that certainly will die if left alone can possibly be treated by a qualified person at any of the wildlife rehabilitation centers permitted by Fish & Game. Click here for a list of facilities separated by county.

Question: Why do we continue to have a two-deer limit in the B zones? The hunting pressure is extreme and there are not enough deer. One deer tag should be the limit per hunter. Also, I think we should have archery only in all zones. (Randy R.)

Answer: According to deer program coordinator Craig Stowers, California has two basic strategies for deer hunting. The B zones (and A and D zones) have traditionally been managed to provide maximum opportunity for hunters. Those zones have high quotas, and tags can essentially be purchased over the counter, giving hunters large areas that they can pretty much access whenever they want (as long as the season is open). X zones (with C zones soon to follow) are managed for a more quality experience for the hunter. Quotas are limited, and hunters must compete through the drawing to get them.

The surveys we have conducted indicate that most of our hunters just want to have a place to go each year. That’s the purpose of the A, B and D zones. Deer populations are not affected by California’s “bucks-only” hunting program. Under this type of system, deer populations are limited by habitat factors such as forage availability, water availability, competition with other herbivores, predators, etc. It is true that there’s a lot of pressure in the B zone, but that’s what it’s there for.

State law entitles deer hunters to kill two deer per year in this state. The X zone quotas include the archery hunters and are limited based on population estimates and hunter success — opening them up to basically unlimited access to archers doesn’t correspond to the current management strategy and would defeat the purpose of having the quota system at all.

Question: Awhile back, you stated that it was illegal to use a bang stick to assist in the taking or landing of a shark since it’s considered a firearm. As you probably know, to obtain a firearm one has to go through a background check and a 15- or 30-day waiting period. There are no such requirements for a bang stick, so how can it be considered a firearm? Also, how is one supposed to bring a live several hundred-pound six- or seven-gill shark aboard one’s vessel to dispatch it? (Mike M.)

Answer: Firearms are defined under Penal Code Section 12001. The definition of a firearm under 12001(b) states that “firearm” means “any device, designed to be used as a weapon, from which is expelled through a barrel a projectile by the force of any explosion or other form of combustion.” Some things such as bang sticks and flare guns are not restricted to waiting periods, but depending on their use, they can be classified as firearms.

As far as dispatching a large shark, the most important thing is that once the animal is within your control and possession, only then can you kill or dispatch the shark in whatever manner you choose. The most important thing to take away from my earlier answer was that guns are not an authorized method of take, but once the animal is under your control, you can dispatch it however you like.

Question: What are the “normal” months of the year that mussels are quarantined from harvest on the California coast? I understand it is variable from year to year and is monitored by testing, but is there a typical time frame that one can generally expect the quarantine to be implemented, such as late spring through summer months? (Alan A.)

Answer: The annual quarantine in California typically goes into effect from May 1 through Oct. 31 every year. For the most current information on this, call the Department of Public Health’s biotoxin information hot line at 800.553.4133. A recording is available 24/7 with the most current updates on quarantines and health warnings regarding any California shellfish which may be of concern.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Game. Her DFG-related question-and-answer column appears weekly at She can be reached at