California Outdoors for the week of 4/18/2012

Raccoons as pets

Question: Is it legal to have a raccoon living in the house? I have seen a raccoon in my friend’s tree during the daytime (which is unusual) and they told me it belongs to their neighbor. My friend has a lot of grandchildren running around outside and so I worry this is a health issue. I am not sure if they have a special permit for this little creature. Should a game warden come out to check on the situation?

—Debra M.

Answer: It is not only illegal to keep raccoons (or any wildlife) as pets or in captivity, but it also may be dangerous. Wild animals such as raccoons can become very aggressive and dangerous to both humans and pets as they mature. In addition, they can carry diseases and parasites that can present health risks to humans. Wildlife needs to be kept wild for its safety and well-being, as well as ours. Only people who are permitted by Department of Fish and Game (for example, licensed wildlife rehabilitators or exhibitors) may keep wildlife in captivity. To report this situation, please contact our CalTIP line at (888) 334-2258.


Alabama rigs in ocean

Question: Can full Alabama rigs be legally fished in ocean waters?

—Zack P.

Santa Barbara

Answer: Alabama rigs have been all the rage, as well as very controversial, in the bass fishing circuits this year. While in freshwater lakes and Delta waters the Alabama rig must be modified (only three hooks total allowed rather than the standard five), in ocean waters no modifications are required. However, if fishing for salmon or rockfish or if salmon or rockfish are in possession, the angler would be limited to only two hooks.


Side-by-side cart shooting

Question: What are the rules for shooting from or off side-by-side carts on private property? Legal or not legal?


Answer: California Fish and Game laws prohibit shooting from a vehicle when you are shooting at wildlife and you cannot shoot from any vehicle that is on a way open to the public. In addition, there are restrictions in the Penal Code against discharging firearms in certain incorporated or unincorporated areas, even if you are on private property. Information regarding these Penal Code provisions are available online in the “Firearms Laws” (booklet by California Department of Justice). A PDF is available on the DFG Enforcement home page at


Antler bottle openers

Question: I have a very small hobby/business of making (and at some point hopefully selling) bottle openers. I currently make them out of wood but I would like to make some of them out of deer or elk antlers or bone. There are companies on the Internet who sell antlers, but they say they cannot ship to California. What are the regulations concerning using antlers for hobby items such as this? What antlers are permissible for importing for use in a hobby/business of making bottle openers? Why are elk antlers not allowed to be imported into California? Can elk antlers be legally gathered or purchased from within California?

—Jeff M.

South Lake Tahoe

Answer: In general, it is not legal to buy or sell the parts of any game bird or mammal found in the wild in the state of California (Fish and Game Code, section 3039(a)). However, FGC section 3039(c) allows the purchase and sale of shed antlers or antlers taken from domestically reared animals that have been manufactured into products as long as the antlers are not complete, attached to a head, mounted for display or in velvet. As far as your question, if the antlers are from sheds and are made into bottle openers, they would be allowed to be sold in California. Another option would be to purchase antlers from animals such as caribou or moose, since they are not found in the wild in California.


Turkey call

Question: I want to make a turkey call from a box turtle shell. Would these be legal to possess in California?

—Jeff H.

Answer: Yes.


Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game. She will select a few questions to answer each week. Contact her at CalOutdoors@

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