California Outdoors Q&A

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Video can you hunt with a pellet gun

Releasing wildlife

Q: Someone posted on Facebook that they were seeking a kingsnake to breed and release into the wild for rattlesnake control. Wouldn’t that be illegal? Should I report the post to CDFW?

A: Yes, this would be illegal. Written authorization from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is required to release animals into the wild. CDFW would not approve this release for two general reasons: (1) The risk of spreading pathogens and parasites and (2) The risk of introducing new genotypes into the environment which could impact the species or ecosystem.

California kingsnakes are ubiquitous and habitat generalists. If a property doesn’t already have California kingsnakes, then it’s probably not suitable habitat. It wouldn’t be a healthy environment for the snakes, and they probably wouldn’t persist for long.

You can report release of captive wildlife through CalTIP, which stands for Californians Turn in Poachers and Polluters. Reports can be submitted anonymously. We genuinely appreciate your help in protecting against those who illegally harm the state’s natural resources!

Kingsnake photo: Taken by CDFW Scientific Aid Raquel Elander while investigating snake fungal disease.

Air rifles

Q: Can I use a big-bore air rifle to hunt big game like wild pigs, deer and bears in California?

A: No, big-bore air rifles cannot be used for the take of big game species or migratory game birds. However, they can be used to take small game mammals and resident game birds.

The allowable “methods of take” for big game animals can be found in California Code of Regulations (CCR), Title 14, section 353. Air guns are not listed as an allowable method of take.

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Note that air rifles are not considered “firearms” in California. Pre-charged pneumatics (PCP) big-bore air rifles use compressed air as a propellant to fire pellets.

Wildlife Violator Compact

Q: What is the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact?

A: The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact (IWVC) is an agreement between 49 states which allows for the reciprocal recognition of hunting and fishing license suspensions. If your license privileges have been suspended by another state, the suspension may be recognized here in California. For example, if your sport fishing or hunting privileges have been suspended in Colorado for five years, your privileges may also be suspended for five years in California or any of the states participating in the IWVC. The purchase of licenses or tags during the term of the suspension is a violation of the law and may result in prosecution. Licenses or tags purchased prior to or during a suspension are not refundable. Information on member states can be found on the National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs website.

Over the years, CDFW has received occasional calls from hunters or anglers wondering why they were not allowed to purchase a hunting or fishing license at a California vendor. A common reason is that they have an unpaid citation in another state for something as simple as fishing without a license. That failure to take care of the fishing without a license citation would put them in the IWVC, which would prohibit them from purchasing a fishing license in California or any of the other participating 46 states until it is handled per the direction of the out-of-state court.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>