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Legally, wildlife rehabilitation must be left to the professionals

Carrie Wilson
California Department of Fish and Wildlife



Rescued rattlesnake

Question: I found and took home a dying Northern Pacific rattlesnake (Crotalus oreganus oreganus) after it became a victim of a wildfire. It’s now eating great and able to move fluently which is great and a job well done in my eyes. I’ve had it in captivity close to three weeks now. Is it OK to place it back into the wild (away from humans, of course)?

Daniel G.


Answer: While we appreciate your desire to help injured wildlife, it is illegal for members of the public to rehabilitate wildlife without possessing a wildlife rehabilitation permit.

If you kept the injured rattlesnake near or with other captive reptiles at your house, the snake should not be re-released back into the wild due to the inherent danger of spreading disease into wild populations of rattlesnakes after release.

Wildlife rehabilitation is regulated in California to ensure animals are cared for and housed properly and that their reintroduction into the wild is done very carefully. Wildlife rehabilitators often give pre-release medical exams or observe wildlife patients for an extended period of time to evaluate the health of an animal prior to release. All rehabilitation facilities have a veterinarian of record who helps them with medical issues and can help them assess whether an animal is healthy enough for release. Wildlife rehabilitators must return wildlife within 3 miles of where the animal originated and often work with the department to find suitable release sites.

We encourage you to find a wildlife rehabilitation facility that is willing to take the rattlesnake and go through the proper channels for its release. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, go to http://bit.ly/1f9EyTF.

Imported cowcod

Question: If we’re fishing in Mexican waters and catch a cowcod, can we legally bring it back into a California port as long as we have all of the proper licenses and the declaration for entry form properly filled out? I’d just like to know for sure as we fish Mexican waters frequently targeting rockfish and I’d like to avoid a citation.

Jeff M.

San Diego

Answer: No. Cowcod may not be imported or even possessed in California regardless of where caught (Fish and Game Code, section 2353(a)(2)). Broomtail groupers and canary, yelloweye and bronzespotted rockfishes are also illegal to be possessed or imported into California under this regulation and under California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 28.55(b)(1), even if they were taken legally in Mexico.

Hunting deer over water

Question: I was having a conversation with my uncle the other day and we were discussing whether it would be legal to hunt over a horse or cattle trough. With the recent drought, I’m worried that the deer in our area aren’t getting sufficient watering holes. I have read the section on baiting in the Big Game Digest, but am under the impression that water is not considered bait. So our main question is, is it legal to hunt over a horse/cattle trough or any other type of man-made pool of water if there are no horses or cattle?

Tony S.

Davis

Answer: Although there are some specific exceptions, it is generally legal to hunt near cattle troughs or other sources of water. Keep in mind that many wild animals like deer will water before or after legal hunting hours.

In addition, it is not legal to hunt, camp or otherwise occupy space for more than 30 minutes within 200 yards of wildlife watering places on public land within the California Desert Conservation Area, within 200 yards of guzzlers or horizontal wells for wildlife on public land, and within one-quarter mile of five wells in Lassen County and one well in Modoc County (CCR Title 14, section 730). “Wildlife watering places” are defined as waterholes, springs, seeps and man-made watering devices for wildlife such as guzzlers (self-filling, in-the-ground water storage tanks), horizontal wells and small impoundments of less than one surface acre in size.




Abalone dinner donations

Question: If a nonprofit organization puts on a dinner and only requests donations to attend, can a group of divers legally donate abalone to the organization to be used for the dinner?

Anonymous

Answer: Yes, but only as long as the dinner is not advertised as being an abalone dinner and as long as paying for the dinner is optional. You may charge for the rental of the facilities, tables, chairs, etc. and charge for the plates, napkins, cups, etc. Abalone (like all sport-caught fish and game) cannot be bought, sold, bartered or traded.




Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.


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