Question: Is it legal for a dog to grab a wounded duck on the way to the blind before shooting time? Last duck season a buddy and I were at Wister and at 4 a.m. we started for the blind and the dog was ahead of us going in and out of the water canals. When my buddy called him back, he showed up with a wounded duck that was still alive. Was it okay to keep that duck?

Answer: A dog is considered a legal method of take by Department of Fish and Game regulations. Dogs may be used to locate, retrieve and may actually take game by catching live game. According to DFG Northern California Chief Mike Carion, although it is legal for the dog to take game, you have to remember that any game it takes becomes part of the bag. In the scenario you have described, the dog’s take was done before legal hours and would be a technical violation of the law. In addition, if the hunter were to discard the bird it would be a violation of waste of game laws. In order to avoid issues of illegal take, for instance take before or after the season, or before or after legal hours of take, your dog should be on a leash and under control so this scenario does not happen to you.

Question: Occasionally, I see a few knuckleheads who after a great day of fishing will decide to clean their fish and toss the remains into the lake, thus bringing the sea gulls in. You can probably imagine what the fishing is like for the rest of us who want to continue fishing then. Is there a regulation regarding fish cleaning in lakes and streams?

Answer: No. While under some circumstances it may attract birds looking for an easy snack and end up spoiling the fishing experiences of anglers close by, this practice does not violate Fish and Game Code. According to Department of Fish and Game Warden Nick Buckler, the Fish and Game Code only prohibits the disposal of mammal viscera or carcasses and dead bird carcasses into the state water (FGC section 5652). Depending on the waters, there may be special county park ordinances requiring all fish cleaning be done at cleaning stations or away from the fishing waters, but there is no state law requiring this.

Question: Can California marmots be hunted?

Answer: Yes, marmots are nongame mammals (rodents) and may be taken by hunters with a current hunting license. Marmots have no seasons or bag limits but some regulations on hunting hours and methods of take for nongame animals apply. Check the current Mammal Hunting regulations book, beginning on page 43 (CCR t_14, sections 474-475) available online at

Other nongame birds and mammals (not classified as threatened or endangered) that may be legally taken at any time of the year and in any number (except as prohibited in Chapter 6) include: English sparrow, starling, coyote, weasels, skunks, opossum, moles and rodents, excluding tree and flying squirrels, and those listed as furbearers, endangered or threatened species. (CCR, Title 14, section 472.)

Carrie Wilson is a marine biologist with the California Department of Fish and Game.

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