Valuable Information About Pismo Clams And Tree Squirrels
Q: What is the correct way to rebury undersized Pismo clams?
A: This is an important question because although it is currently legal to recreationally harvest Pismo clams, finding legal-sized Pismo clams can be uncommon. Recently, California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) wildlife officers have been seeing some legal sized clams at Pismo Beach. Overall, however, a vast majority of the population is still undersized. All unburied and undersized Pismo clams must immediately be reburied where they were found.
The correct way to rebury a Pismo clam is to place it with its hinge ligament (the dark bump where the two shells connect) upward and pointing toward the ocean in a hole at least two inches deep. The clam can then be covered with sand. Because it takes time for clams to rebury themselves, it can be harmful or even fatal to leave clams exposed to the elements. Reburying undersized clams helps increase survival and promotes population growth.
Size regulations for Pismo clams can be found in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.40. Pismo clams must be five inches in greatest shell diameter if found north of the boundary between San Luis Obispo and Monterey counties. If found south of that boundary they must be four and one-half inches in greatest shell diameter.
A valid sport fishing license is required to take Pismo clams for anyone 16 years old or older. You must also have with you a measuring device to measure clam size. The legal limit is 10 Pismo clams, and they cannot be taken at night. Each person taking clams must have a separate container and cannot commingle or combine clams. Pismo clam poaching can be reported via CalTIP.
Q: What can I do about tree squirrels eating fruit on my backyard trees? Can I kill them?
A: Tree squirrels can certainly be a challenge this time of year as fruit starts to ripen. CDFW’s Human-Wildlife Conflict Toolkit is a great resource for information on proactive techniques and tools to prevent conflict and/or property damage. Note that regulations for taking tree squirrels are different than those for taking ground squirrels. The information below applies to tree squirrels.
Tree squirrels are classified as a game species and a depredation permit may be required before lethal take can occur, per California Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 4181. You can request a depredation permit by contacting a CDFW regional office or submitting a report through CDFW’s Wildlife Incident Reporting (WIR) system. Be prepared to show photographic evidence of the property damage.
Residents should identify the species of squirrel causing property damage. California is home to both native gray squirrels and nonnative red fox squirrels. A depredation permit is not required to take red fox squirrels that have caused property damage. Red fox squirrels causing property damage may be taken at any time, per California Fish and Game Code (FGC) section 4152. However, local restrictions on methods of take may apply. For example, many communities prohibit the discharge of firearms in certain areas. It is a resident’s responsibility to abide by any local restrictions that apply. Pellet guns and air rifles may also be a potential method of take depending on local regulations.
Because the regulations for taking squirrels are somewhat complex, you may consider hiring a licensed trapper or humane pest control company to help.
For information on hunting squirrels visit CDFW’s small game mammal hunting web page.
Q: How do trout camouflage themselves from predators?
A: When trout first hatch, their bodies have a transparent appearance which reduces visibility to predators. As trout continue to develop, pigmented skin cells called chromatophores help form spotted patterns which allow the fish to camouflage themselves in their natural habitat. Some of these cells have reflective qualities which lighten or darken to help them blend in with their surroundings.
Countershading is another camouflage adaptation that helps reduce predation. Trout have darker, spotted backs to blend in with the substrate and avoid predators from above. Lighter undersides help them avoid predators from beneath by blending in with the light from above.
For more fun fish facts, visit CDFW’s Classroom Aquarium Education Program webpage.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in the California Outdoors Q and A column, email it to CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.