Kaleb Alexander after a successful opening day of dove season with family and friends, in September. (Courtesy of the Alexander family.)

Question: Is the Harvest Information Program (HIP) validation needed to hunt dove? I’ve heard you don’t need it if you’re only buying a license to hunt ducks. (Paul)

Answer: Yes, you do need a HIP validation to hunt dove. It’s required for any person hunting ducks, dove, gallinules, geese, band-tailed pigeon, black brant, coots or snipe. This validation is free to hunters who complete the HIP survey. The HIP validation is imprinted directly on your hunting license document after you answer the HIP survey questions.

The HIP survey provides wildlife biologists with data needed to make wildlife management decisions and formulate hunting seasons. You can learn more about it on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

Fish Plants on North Fork of Feather River?

Q: I have been a diehard freshwater fisherman in California for over 40 years and am frustrated over the lack of planting on my home water. Why is there a lack of trout planting on the North Fork Feather River at Belden? I just don’t understand. (Mike E.)

A: The North Fork Feather River at Belden is a plant that CDFW conducts for PG&E as a requirement of their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) license. CDFW grows and plants the fish and is reimbursed by PG&E.

The allotment of fish for the North Fork Feather River at Belden is based on that FERC license requirement, and it has been the same — 5,000 lbs. of catchable rainbow trout — for the last 25 years. We are not always able to meet that allotment, but that is the goal we are shooting to reach for that water every year.

Last year, CDFW’s North Central Region was short on fish, due in part to an unexpected disease outbreak, and the fact that Moccasin Creek Hatchery was damaged by flooding (other hatcheries picked up their planting allotments, which spread the resource more thin than usual).

So far in 2019, we are well on our way to meeting the 5,000-lb. goal. In April we planted 1,520 fish, in June we planted 1,610 fish, and most recently on Aug. 14 we planted 1,360 fish. That’s a total of 4,490 catchable trout so far in 2019. There are more plants on the way this fall.

What’s The Difference Between CDFW and the Commission?

Q: Can you explain the purpose of the California Fish and Game Commission? (Anonymous)

A: The California Fish and Game Commission was established by California’s Constitution and is composed of five commissioners appointed by the governor and confirmed by the state senate.

Many Californians are not fully aware of the identity, function or responsibilities of the commission, and believe it to be the same as, or part of, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW). Actually, the commission is a separate entity from CDFW and does not oversee CDFW’s day to day operations.

The commission has been involved in the management and wise use of California’s fish and wildlife resources since 1870. Generally speaking, the commission’s primary function is to promulgate regulations, in which it makes decisions involving topics such as seasons, bag limits, and methods of take for game animals and sport fish. CDFW then implements and enforces such regulations.

With the passage of the Marine Life Management Act in 1998, management authority for many commercial fisheries has been transferred from the state Legislature, and now resides with the commission.

Some have criticized the commission’s regulatory actions as being nothing more than a rubber stamp for CDFW’s recommendations. A review of the commission’s actions on various CDFW recommendations indicates that this is not the case.

In many instances, the commission rejects or substantially modifies actions recommended by CDFW, but only where it is convinced such action is in the best interest of the resource and truly reflects the wishes and needs of the people. The commission often relies on CDFW’s biological data and recommendations, since CDFW has the largest staff of experts for compiling data on California’s wildlife.

You can learn more about the commission on its website. Their meetings are held monthly and video coverage is both live-streamed and archived.

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish & Wildlife. She can be reached at cwilson@dfg.ca.gov.