Using trail cams for scouting
Question: Over the years I’ve spoken to many people who are certain that the use of trail cameras during hunting season is a violation of California Fish and Wildlife regulations. Is this true? (Josh)
Answer: It is not a violation to use trail cameras during hunting season in California. The use of cameras can be described as “digital scouting,” meaning hunters might post a camera in an area to identify what type of game may be present, or a non-hunter may simply want to determine the level of wildlife activity. The cameras are motion-activated and are generally used to help hunters plan their trips. Some of the newer models allow hunters to check images remotely. Older cameras required the hunter to physically travel to the camera and check the chip inside for images.
Please be aware though, that if you’re on land managed by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), visitors are required to remove all personal equipment and belongings on a daily basis. Gear left behind will be considered litter and disposed of accordingly, per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 550(v). Other agencies could have similar restrictions, if you’re on their land.
Question: Am I allowed to collect starfish from tidepools in California? (Amy)
Answer: The take of sea stars (commonly known as “starfish”) is prohibited in tidepools, per California Code of Regulations, Title 14, section 29.05. Sea stars are an important predatory species in the marine ecosystem and historically have been an iconic resident of many tidepools. They help control populations of species such as urchins and mussels, which in turn allows other species to thrive.
Unfortunately, in 2013 and 2014, sea star populations experienced massive die-offs due to a wasting disease which is still affecting them today. Some species of sea stars on the West Coast have seen drastic declines in abundance. Given the health of sea star populations and their importance to the marine ecosystem, CDFW encourages coastal visitors to not disturb sea stars if they are encountered.
Reduced-fee sport fishing licenses
Question: I’m 94 years old and still enjoy fishing, but the license cost is a very big chunk out of my fixed income. Why doesn’t CDFW issue free licenses for us old geezers? I only am able to fish once or twice a year and the one-day fee limits me severely. (Don)
Answer: CDFW does indeed offer a Reduced Fee Sport Fishing License (currently $7.73) for low-income California residents, 65 years of age and older, who meet the specified annual income requirements. Normally applicants are required to present their proof of eligibility in person in order to apply. Because offices are currently closed, you may submit an application by mail to any CDFW License Sales Office. Your application must be accompanied by verification of your currently monthly Social Security benefit and verification of your currently monthly income from all other sources.
Reduced-fee sport fishing licenses are also available to those who meet any of the following requirements:
Any person, with central vision acuity of 20/200 or less in the better eye with the aid of the best possible correcting glasses, or central vision acuity better than 20/200 if the widest diameter of the remaining visual field is no greater than 20 degrees. Certification of blindness by an optometrist or an ophthalmologist is required.
Any California resident who is so severely physically disabled as to be permanently unable to move from place to place without the aid of a wheelchair, walker, forearm crutches or a comparable mobility-related device. Verification by a licensed physician or a copy of the previous year’s free fishing license is required.
Any developmentally disabled person. Certification by a licensed physician or the director of a State regional center is required.
Any Native American who is a resident of the state and is financially unable to pay the fee required for a resident sport fishing license. The Free Sport Fishing License Application for low-income Native Americans can be found on CDFW’s website.
More information about these licenses, including the documentation required to establish eligibility for each, can be found on CDFW’s website.
If you have a question for the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, please feel free to ask us via email at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.