The first of three mountain lions photographed by a Mendocino trail cam. (Courtesy of Kip and Sarah Mace)

Question: My dad has game cameras to photograph wildlife that travel through his property in Mendocino, and they regularly capture photos of mountain lions. Recently, he looked out his window and saw three lions traveling together. A game camera caught separate images of each cat as they passed by.

I’m wondering why three mountain lions might travel together, when generally I thought of them as more independent. Also, do you think the first one looks pregnant? (Sarah)

Answer: This might seem unusual, but what you’re probably seeing is an adult female lion and her two nearly-grown cubs that are getting ready to disperse. Youngsters stick with their parents until they’re a year and a half to two years old. By that time, they can weigh more than 100 lbs. (and are often larger than the mother).

We couldn’t definitively determine whether the lion in the photo is pregnant without a hands-on examination. A cat can eat a lot in one feeding, and its stomach will protrude. She may have just been very full.

Spot prawns in SoCal

Q: Can a lobster hoop net be used for spot prawns south of Point Conception? Traps are not feasible for sport spot prawn fishing with the half-inch opening requirement south of Point Conception. Even with the depths in excess of 600 feet, I would like to try it. (David)

A: Unfortunately, the trap openings cannot exceed a half-inch as you’ve noted, and the regulation has not changed.

“Shrimp and prawn traps may be used to take shrimp and prawns only. Trap openings may not exceed one half-inch in any dimension on traps used south of Point Conception nor five inches in any dimension on traps used north of Point Conception” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 29.80(f)).

The reason for the difference in opening dimensions is to protect juvenile lobsters (found south of Point Conception) from being incidentally taken in these traps.

Definition of white seabass in possession

Q: A friend of mine was recently given a ticket for possession of an undersized white seabass. His boat was still in the water with the fish very much alive and swimming in the live well.

A wildlife officer checked his catch, noticed the fish, then directed him to pull his boat out of the water without any explanation or without giving him the opportunity to measure and simply release the fish.

My question is: What does the California Department of Fish and Wildlife define as “possession”? (Chris)

A: The fact that your friend did not immediately measure and then release the fish upon realizing it was undersized is the problem. When he brought that fish onboard his boat and put it into the live well, that fish was definitely “in possession” at that point.

For fish like white seabass that have a minimum size limit, the angler is required to immediately measure the fish and then if undersized, immediately return it to the water.

It’s not clear why the warden directed him to pull the boat out of the water, but it doesn’t matter regarding the undersized fish in possession issue. He was in violation the minute he put an undersized fish into his live well.

How many bullets in a rifle?

Q: What is the maximum number of bullets I can have in my rifle when hunting wild pigs? Is it the same as deer? (Jake)

A: For now, there is no limit on the number of cartridges you can have in your rifle while hunting pigs, deer or other big game.

California voters passed a resolution to ban the possession of large-capacity magazines holding more than 10 cartridges in 2017. However, the amendments to California Penal Code section 32310 have been challenged in federal court and are now effectively on hold, subject to ongoing litigation.

The maximum number of cartridges you can have in your firearm while hunting big game is generally not regulated by the Fish and Game Code.

Kids fishing with two rods from a float tube?

Q: Can a child 14 years old use two rods while fishing from a float tube? (Rose)

A: Yes. Anglers younger than 16 years old do not need a fishing license, or a second rod validation to use two rods. This goes for when fishing from shore, a boat or even a float tube.

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