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Nov 22nd
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California Outdoors: Sturgeon and drought, deer tag validation, returning tags, motorized turkey decoy

How are sturgeon weathering the drought?

Question: I have a question about sturgeon. Are they being negatively affected by the drought? Since sturgeon have been around millions of years, they must have endured many droughts and so hopefully this drought will not hit them as hard as maybe some other species that are less hardy and more sensitive to changes. Is this true? (Anonymous)

Answer: That's an excellent question, but the answer is complicated. According to California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Environmental Program Manager Marty Gingras, plenty of sturgeon in California will likely outlive this drought because of the state’s adaptive management of white sturgeon harvest (green sturgeon is a threatened species so harvest is illegal) and protection from poaching.

Sturgeon and salmon are anadromous species, but salmon mature and then die in just two to three years.

By comparison, female sturgeon typically mature after 15-plus years, can spawn more than once (though not annually) and can live many decades.

These characteristics mean that sturgeon are resilient, but it also means they can easily be overfished.

California’s sturgeon fisheries were (with minor exceptions) closed from 1901 through 1953 due to overfishing.

Commercial harvest of white sturgeon is illegal and recreational harvest is now managed through area closures, bag limits, size limits and gear restrictions.

Most sturgeon spawn in the Sacramento River and young-of-the-year fish migrate downstream to rear in the San Francisco Estuary.

Large numbers of young sturgeon survive the migration only in years with nearly flooding Sacramento River flows during both winter and spring.

For sturgeon it is as though 2014 is the eighth straight year of drought. Although a relatively-good “cohort” of white sturgeon spawned in 2006 will soon be harvestable, we expect the fishery to decline substantially.

Adaptive management of California's white sturgeon through predictable ebbs in abundance is key to conservation of the species and its fishery.

Deer tag validation required from private property?

Question: If I take a legal buck on my own property, then tag and process it on site, do I need to get the tag validated since it will require me to transport the carcass off my property? (Ruth W.)

Answer: Yes. All deer must be validated even when taken on private property.

Remember, wildlife belong to the people of the state of California, not to the owners of land where animals live.

The law states the animal’s tag must be validated regardless of where taken and may not be transported initially except for the purpose of taking it to be validated (Fish and Game Code, section 4341).

Dorado limits higher in California?

Question: I went fishing out of San Diego twice this fall. The first time we fished in California waters off San Clemente Island and the second time we fished in Mexican waters.

I understand the daily bag limit for Dorado in Mexico is two fish, but can't find it in the regulations booklet for California. What is it? (Chuck K.)

Answer: Dorado do not have a specific bag limit in California and so they fall under the general bag limit of 10 fish of any one species with no more than 20 finfish in combination of all species (California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 27.60(a)).

When cancer treatment threatens premium draw deer hunt?

Question: I was diagnosed with a rare blood cancer in April and have had chemo for four months.

I am doing great and am in good shape to go hunting, but I just found out I must have a bone morrow transplant and it looks like it will be around the time of the special draw tag hunt.

Can I return this tag and still get my points back?

Doctors at Stanford are trying to let me go hunting but it may not happen. (Anonymous)

Answer: So sorry to hear about your cancer and the treatments you’re going through!

In order to return the tag without penalty, I suggest you contact our License and Revenue Branch at 916-419-7573 immediately.

You must return the tag before the season begins along with a letter explaining why you can’t complete the hunt.

With some tag drawings there will be an alternate list available with hunters standing by in case of a cancellation.

No alternate lists are established for premium deer tags though, so your tag will not be reissued to anyone else.

There is a preference point appeal process available. Please go to CCR, Title 14, section 708.14 for the details. And best wishes that your upcoming cancer treatments go well.

Motorized turkey decoys?

Question: Are there any restrictions on using motorized or string motion decoys while turkey hunting in California? (Scott C.)

Answer: No.

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. Please contact her at [email protected] .


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