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Wednesday, December 12 , 2018, 4:16 am | Fair 43º


Outdoors Q&A: Can I Use an Electric Bike to Hunt on Wildlife Area?

Illegal shooting is illegal shooting — period

Waterfowl in flight at Los Banos Wildlife Area. Click to view larger
Waterfowl in flight at Los Banos Wildlife Area. (Courtesy photo)

Question: I am a senior citizen. I find it harder every duck season to lug my decoys and gear out to the hunting zones on our state wildlife areas and federal refuges. I know many of these areas allow hunters to take bicycles to and from the parking lots out to the field.

Would I be able to use an electric bicycle? What if I put a motor on my decoy cart? Could I drive that out to the hunting area? I just think as the hunting population gets older, there needs to be more accommodations for older hunters. (Ed)

Answer: Unfortunately, the simple answer is no. These types of motorized vehicles are not allowed on state and federal wildlife areas open to waterfowl hunting.

The California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 14, section 551, governs the use of state wildlife areas by visitors and addresses both bicycles and off-highway vehicles such as ATVs, golf carts, dirt bikes and other forms of mechanized transportation.

Off-highway vehicles are prohibited with very few exceptions. This would apply to electric bicycles – or “e-bikes” – as well.

Bicycles – the traditional, human-powered kind – are also generally prohibited on state wildlife areas with the exception, as you noted, “for their use on roads or levees for transportation between parking lots and hunting areas during the waterfowl season on Type A or B wildlife areas” (CCR Title 14, section 551(j)).

There are nine state wildlife areas that make some additional provisions for bicycles. These areas and regulations are specified in the code section and are typically listed in the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) annual waterfowl and upland game hunting regulations booklet.

With regard to federal wildlife refuges in California that allow waterfowl hunting, CCR Title 14, section 552 details the public use regulations. Traditional bicycles are permitted on some federal refuges but not others. “Other conveyances” — beyond bicycles and foot travel — are prohibited though some refuge managers will make accommodations for mobility-impaired hunters.

It’s always a good idea to check the individual webpages for each federal refuge to find additional, specific regulations for each one. You can also call the state and federal areas you plan to hunt directly with questions. We wish you a safe and successful waterfowl season ahead.

Is it legal to sell that fish?

Q: I was in a grocery store last week that had live well fish tanks holding abalone and sturgeon. They had some live snails that didn’t look like they were native to California.

Does CDFW do surprise inspections of such stores to monitor what’s for sale and to ensure that live species were legally caught or obtained? (Ralph)

A: California has a thriving legal aquaculture industry that includes abalone, sturgeon and other species, and it can be difficult to determine the origins of an animal just by sight. Therefore, wildlife officers conduct Fish Business Inspections, which are inspections of the species on the premises.

Officers review the paperwork that documents the origin of the species in question, to ensure they are legal to sell commercially. If you are ever concerned something is amiss at a public fish market or some other business, we urge you to make a report through CalTIP at 888-334-2258.

Is an illegal shot illegal, if it’s a miss?

Q: I saw a guy shoot at a cormorant while hunting waterfowl. He missed it. I think he may have figured out it was an illegal bird to shoot because later I saw more cormorants fly over him and he didn’t shoot at them.

I’m curious, could a game warden have cited the man for shooting at the cormorant, even though he didn’t hit it? (Chris)

A: Yes, he could have been cited for “take” of the cormorant, even though he missed. “Take” is defined in the California Fish and Game Code, section 86, as the act of hunting, pursuing, catching, capturing or killing, or the attempt to hunt, pursue, catch, capture or kill.

— Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at [email protected].

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