Reburying Pismo Clams
Question: What is the correct method for reburying Pismo clams that are not of legal size?
Answer: Pismo clams are an iconic species that have recently become more prevalent on beaches from Santa Cruz to San Diego due to several years of good recruitment. Because they bury in shallow sand, usually 2 to 8 inches, they are frequently encountered by people walking along beaches or digging in the sand. Although it is currently legal to harvest Pismo clams recreationally, legal-sized clams are not common. Pismo clams must be 4.5 inches wide south of the Monterey/San Luis Obispo county line and five inches wide north of this line, per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.4. Any clams which have a size limit and are not retained must be immediately reburied where they were found. It may take some time for clams to rebury themselves, leaving them vulnerable to the elements and predators such as birds. The proper way to rebury a Pismo clam is to place the clam with the hinge ligament (the dark bump where the two shells connect) upward and towards the ocean in a hole that is at least two inches deep, and then cover the clam with sand. Reburying undersized clams will increase survival and help the population expand.
Catching Waterfowl With Baited Hook
Question: I was fishing in Turlock Lake and watched two ducks paddle by my line. Before I could do anything, one of the ducks dipped underwater, found my baited hook and tried to take the bait. It hooked itself on accident. I reeled it in, and it took three of us to carefully remove the hook from its bill. I let it go, and it looked fine, but I wondered: I have a hunting license, my federal and state stamps, and we’re in duck season—could I have kept the duck? (Jeremy)
Answer: We’re glad you released the duck. Even though it was an accident, taking a duck by hooking it is not an authorized method of take (see California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 507) and keeping it would have been illegal. Accidentally catching waterfowl by hook and line happens on occasion, although usually in parks with waterfowl that have developed more domesticated behavior characteristics. If that happens, the person should remove the hook and release the duck immediately. However, sometimes the duck may take the hook in a manner that makes it too risky for an untrained person to remove without potentially causing further injury. In that case, you may want to notify the nearest Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility. They are more likely to have the proper tools and training to help.
Question: I’m interested in hunting coyote but can’t find the regulations on coyote hunting. Can you point me in the right direction? (Brandon)
Answer: Coyote are listed among the nongame animals that may be taken year-round and in any number, per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 472. Coyote may be taken at any time with a few restrictions. They may only be taken between one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset in certain geographic locations as listed in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 474(a). Coyote may be taken in any manner except by poison, use of bait and with certain trap restrictions. Information about hunting nongame animals with traps can be found in California Code of Regulations, Title 14, sections 461-480 and sections 4000-4012, 4152 and 4180 of the California Fish and Game Code. Coyote may be taken with the use and aid of electronic calls and with directional lights in accordance with Title 14, section 264 and 264.5. A valid hunting license and non-lead ammunition is required to take coyote.
Question: I own 80 acres in Mendocino County. My wife and I love to watch wildlife, especially the turkeys and deer, and occasional wild pigs. We don’t hunt, and I’ve posted No Hunting and No Trespassing signs in a dozen locations around my property. Last month I noticed one of the signs was gone. I replaced the sign, and now it’s gone again, which makes me think someone may have taken it intentionally. It’s only a sign, but this would be theft right?
Answer: There’s a law in the California Fish and Game Code (FGC) that applies more to this situation than petty theft. FGC 2018 states, among other things, that it is unlawful for any person to maliciously tear down, mutilate or destroy any sign, signboard or other notice forbidding hunting or trespass on land. Hopefully your situation doesn’t involve a malicious act. However, whether or not you are confident it’s malicious, you may want to think about hiding a trail camera that is pointed at the sign to see if you can catch the perpetrator. If you find suspicious activity, contact your local law enforcement agency.
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.