Posted under Rich Reeser's Outdoor Column
Can Lizards be Legally Captured and Kept as Pets?
Question: My 8-year-old caught a pair of western fence lizards in the park near our house. He brought them home and they’re doing very well in a terrarium in his room. We did some online research to find out how to care for them, and came across several lively debates on the herp forums as to whether it’s even legal to keep them as pets. Some believe it’s against the law unless you have a collection permit, while others say it’s only illegal to collect and keep threatened or endangered species. My son would like to keep them, but doesn’t want to break any Fish and Game laws. (Kirsten M., Sacramento)
Answer: Lizards are considered herps, and herps fall under the fishing regulations. Herps may be taken in accordance with section 5.60 in the Freshwater Fishing Regulations. A fishing license is required for those 16 and older. Western fence lizards are legal to take but they cannot be traded, bartered or sold, and the bag limit is 25.
Definition of “Vessel” to transit through MPAs?
Question: With the MPAs now in effect here in Southern California, I would like a better definition of the word “vessel” specifically related to: “Vessels shall be allowed to transit through marine protected areas and marine managed areas with catch onboard. Fishing gear shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine reserve. Fishing gear, except legal fishing gear used to take species identified as allowed for take in subsection 632(b), shall not be deployed in the water while transiting through a state marine recreational management area, state marine park or state marine conservation area.”
Does a “vessel” always have to have a motor or can it be a non-motorized kayak, canoe, row boat, float tube, etc.? (Chad C., Poway)
Answer: Yes to all of the examples you present. A vessel under the circumstances you’re asking will be defined as any floating platform that a person can fish from. We even see people here in my local area actively fishing from their surfboards. So by doing so, that surfboard is then considered a “vessel” when it is used in this manner as a fishing platform.
Hunting ducks affected by standing corn?
Question: This past duck season, I hunted at a private club with a guide. We did OK but the birds all seemed to want to go to the club next door. The guide told me that was because the neighbor had corn on his property and the ducks went in there to feed. I asked him if that was baiting, which I thought was illegal. The guide said that the corn they had next door was “standing corn” which was not harvested and left to fall on its own. He said as long as the owner didn’t harvest or “manipulate” the corn, that it was not considered baiting. Is this correct? What are the rules on planting corn and leaving it alone for the ducks? (Luke B.)
Answer: Yes, the guide was correct. Baiting of waterfowl fall under the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 50, section 20.21(i), available online at www.gpoaccess.gov/cfr/index.html.
What to do with a pig that’s rooting through our neighborhood?
Question: We live in a residential subdivision in Gualala in Sonoma County and there is a wild male pig rooting around the homes. This pig is making himself at home and rooting up the unfenced ground around our home. Most everyone who lives around here has had this guy at their home. This is a 2- to 5-acre residential zoning so we cannot shoot him, not that we want to. He follows the same evening route just before sunset. I have no objection to Fish and Game setting a trap box here. We don’t venture around our place after sunset. This pig has been sighted in the past two weeks by about six people. We have weekly garbage service which no doubt is an attraction and our homeowners association has notified its membership. (Jeff W., Gualala)
Answer: First of all I suggest you make sure no garbage or artificial food attractants are being left out to draw the animal into your neighborhood. Talk to your neighbors about this and make sure your homeowners association spreads the word, too.
Homeowners associations differ from place to place, but most are within a designated city limit and most cities impose firearm discharge restrictions for the general populous. Thus, this would make shooting the pig unlawful in most situations. As such, hunting and immediate take are not options. Landowners or your housing association can apply to the Department of Fish and Game for a depredation permit and then contact a local pig removal company or a federal trapper through USDA Wildlife Services who operate in select California Counties (www.aphis.usda.gov/wildlife_damage/) to trap and remove the pig.