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Outdoors Q&A: Possessing Steel and Lead While Hunting Chukar and Quail?

Chukar cannot be hunted with lead ammo. Click to view larger
Chukar cannot be hunted with lead ammo. (CDFW)

Question: The ban on hunting with lead ammunition is being phased in. It now includes chukar, while the use of lead will continue to be allowed for quail until the 2019 season.

My question is, can hunters carry both types of shells (lead and steel) in the field if they are hunting areas where they might reasonably expect to find both species, switching between one and the other depending on what birds they bump?

Or, must they only possess steel (or bismuth or tungsten or other certified nonlead ammunition) while hunting chukar, and then have to use that ammunition if they run into quail? (Jim M.)

Answer: No. When hunting and targeting two different species, and the possession of lead ammunition is prohibited for one of those regulated species but not the other, you are held to the confines of the most restrictive regulation.

In this case, chukar fall under the regulation that says, it is “unlawful to use, or possess with any shotgun capable of firing, any projectile(s) not certified as nonlead ...” (California Code of Regulations, section 250.1(d)(2)).

Thus, if you are using your trusty shotgun to hunt both quail and chukar at the same time, steel/nonlead ammo is required.

Shrimp fishing legal?

Q: I have been trying to research whether it is permissible for a recreational license holder to trap for shrimp in the ocean. Can you help me understand if this is allowed and if there are any restrictions on type of traps, limits, etc., or any other restrictions I should be aware of? (Kevin B., Santa Barbara)

A: Yes, it is legal to take any type of ocean shrimp in California waters, but spot prawns are the most desirable and sought after for eating purposes.

However, because California’s spot prawns are found so deep — usually 100 fathoms (600 feet) or more — and the bag limit is only 35, most people are not interested in trapping these shrimp recreationally.

Another option is the lesser known coonstripe shrimp, also referred to as dock shrimp for their habit of sometimes living around pilings.

Unlike spot prawns, coonstripe shrimp inhabit relatively shallow water and can be fished close to shore with lightweight traps. They may occur out to depths of 600 feet, but fishermen often set their traps between 70-150 feet.

The sport limit is 20 pounds per day (the first 20 pounds taken, regardless of size or condition), and there is no closed season or size limit for the sport fishery.

While they range from Sitka, Alaska, to (at least) Point Loma in San Diego County, the highest concentrations of coonstripe are found in far northern California, near Crescent City.

Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. South of Point Conception, trap openings may not exceed one half-inch in any dimension, effectively prohibiting shrimp and prawn trapping in the region.

This requirement is intended to protect juvenile lobster. For traps fished north of Point Conception, trap openings may not exceed 5 inches in any dimension.

To learn more about fishing for these interesting shellfish, check out the crustaceans section of the current Ocean Sport Fishing regulations for the regulations, legal gear, limits and other information you will need to know (CCR Title 14, sections 29.80 through 29.88).

Is lead shot legal or illegal for doves this season?

Q: I keep hearing from folks who are saying lead shot is illegal for doves this season. I can’t find anything in the regs that say that, except for when hunting on California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) lands or in the condor zone.

The way I read it, lead shot is OK for doves until July 2, 2019. Am I correct? (Bill K.)

A: You are correct. Effective July 1, 2016, nonlead shot is required when taking upland game birds with a shotgun. Exceptions include when hunting dove, quail, snipe; or any game birds taken on licensed game bird clubs.

In addition, nonlead shot is now required when using a shotgun to take resident small game mammals, nongame birds, and any wildlife for depredation purposes. For more on the nonlead ammunition implementation, please check our Nonlead Ammunition in California website.

Do smoked fish stored in a freezer count as in possession?

Q: For the regulation of five fish bag limit and 10 in possession, do fish that are smoked and retained in freezer count for the latter? (Bob M., Anderson)

A: “No more than one daily bag limit of each kind of fish, amphibian, reptile, mollusk or crustacean named in these regulations may be taken or possessed by any one person unless otherwise authorized; regardless of whether they are fresh, frozen, or otherwise preserved.” (CCR Title 14, section 1.17).

Trout regulations generally allow possession of double the daily bag limit and is covered in the “unless otherwise authorized” exemption described above. To specifically answer your question, smoked or retained fish in a freezer are part of your possession limit.

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

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