Tuesday, 31 January 2023

California Outdoors: Coyotes, a legal buck, spearfishing

A coyote is categorized in California as a nongame mammal. Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Can I shoot a coyote with a compound bow?

Q: I live in a condominium complex in Orange County, and coyotes sometimes run around the building — which worries those of us who have small dogs. Can I legally shoot a coyote with a compound bow if I obtain a California hunting license?

A: Assuming you are asking specific to the condominium complex where you describe seeing the coyote, the quick answer is no. Here’s why:

Per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 472(a), a coyote is categorized as a nongame mammal. This means you can hunt them if you have a hunting license and a legal place to hunt.

Coyotes may be taken at any time of the year and in any number, and archery equipment is a legal method of take. However, most cities restrict the discharge of a firearm in urban areas like those with condominium complexes.

Many municipalities further restrict the discharge of archery equipment, and pellet rifles as well. You would have to check your local ordinances to see what is prohibited.

After those possible restrictions, here's the primary law that would prohibit you from hunting a coyote in or very near your condominium complex: California Fish and Game Code section 3004(a) makes it unlawful for a person, other than the owner, person in possession of the premises, or a person having the express permission of the owner or person in possession of the premises, while within 150 yards of an occupied dwelling house, residence or other building, or within 150 yards of a barn or other outbuilding used in connection with an occupied dwelling house, residence or other building, to either hunt or discharge a firearm or other deadly weapon while hunting. The 150-yard area is a “safety zone.”

We encourage you to visit CDFW’s Keep Me Wild page where you’ll find information on how to best coexist with coyotes and prevent attracting them in the first place. You can also reach out to CDFW’s regional offices or submit a Wildlife Incident Report online if you’re experiencing conflicts with coyotes in your community.

A reader had a question about whether this was a legal buck. Courtesy photo.

Legal buck?

Q: This past deer season, my hunting friends and I got into a heated debate about whether the buck in the photo would be legal to harvest. What would CDFW say? The photo is from a trail camera on a ranch where we have permission to shoot.

A: Great question! Thanks for the photo. Yes, the buck – or male deer – in your photo is legal to take during deer season with a proper deer tag for the zone and a valid hunting license.

A California deer tag that allows the harvest of a buck has a minimum requirement of a buck that is forked horn or better. California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 351 defines a forked-horn buck as a “male deer having a branched antler on either side with the branch in the upper two-thirds of the antler. Eyeguards or other bony projections on the lower one-third of the antler shall not be considered as points or branches.”

While the deer in your photo is missing an antler on one side, it clearly has a branched antler on the other side with the branch in the upper two-thirds of the antler, which makes it legal. If the buck is still out on the landscape, he will likely look much different next season.

Male deer shed their antlers annually and regrow them through the spring and summer. Deer antlers get bigger each year so this should be a fine-looking animal if you’re lucky enough to encounter it next deer season.

Spearfishing

Q: Can I spearfish in freshwater inland lakes, streams and rivers?

A: There are only a few inland waters where spearfishing is allowed, and the species that can be taken by spearfishing is limited. Information on location and species can be found in CDFW’s California Freshwater Sport Fishing Regulations booklet.

The definition of “spearfishing” comes from California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 1.76:

The taking of fish by spear or hand by persons who are in the water and may be using underwater goggles, face plates, breathing tubes, scuba or other artificial underwater.

Locations for spearfishing can be found in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 2.30. Spearfishing is permitted only in:

(a) The Colorado River District for carp, tilapia, goldfish and mullet, all year.

(b) The Valley District and Black Butte Lake (Tehama County) for carp, tilapia, goldfish, striped bass, western sucker, Sacramento blackfish, hardhead, Sacramento pikeminnow and lamprey, from May 1 through Sept. 15, except that no spearfishing is permitted in:

(1) Shasta County (see Section 2.12).

(2) Tehama County except Black Butte Lake.

(3) Butte Creek (Butte Co.).

(4) Feather River below Oroville Dam (Butte Co.).

(5) Designated salmon spawning areas (See California Fish and Game Code section 1505).

(c) The Kern River from the Kern-Tulare county line upstream to the Johnsondale Bridge for carp, goldfish, western sucker, hardhead and Sacramento pikeminnow, from May 1 through Sept.15.

(d) See bullfrogs (Section 5.05).

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