CDFW mailbag: Know who can validate your deer, elk tag; see GPS fishing maps
Q: I’m a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection firefighter, and I heard there were changes regarding which firefighters can validate deer tags. What are those changes and can I validate my hunting buddy’s deer if he gets a deer this season? Can I validate my own tag?
A: Good question. Yes, there were some changes in 2019. We'll answer the question as it relates to both deer and elk, since they are lumped together for regulation purposes.
A few years ago, the California Fish and Game Commission clarified which firefighters could countersign deer and elk tags. California Code of Regulations (CCR) covers countersigning and transporting requirements. The CCR states that any person legally taking a deer in California shall have the deer license tag countersigned by a person authorized by the Fish and Game Commission before transporting such deer, except for the purpose of taking the deer to the nearest person authorized to countersign the license tag, on the route being followed from the point where the deer was taken. The same goes for elk. CCR lists personnel authorized to countersign deer and elk tags.
To answer your question directly: Yes, you may countersign your friend’s deer tag if they are successful this season. As a firefighter and a Cal Fire employee, you are actually double-covered in the regulation. Most firefighters are limited to the authority to countersign deer and elk tags if they're employed full-time and the carcasses are brought into the station while they are on duty. CAL FIRE employees have the extended authority to countersign under the circumstances you describe, such as in the field if your friend is successful.
To answer your follow-up question: No, you cannot countersign your own tag.
Q: How do I identify GPS coordinates for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) when fishing for groundfish at the Farallon Islands off the coast of San Francisco?
A: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has two great resources that should help. Our web-based Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Map at https://bit.ly/390nqiR allows you to view any area of the state and see the various marine protected areas and other restrictions. If you click or tap on a specific location, more detailed information — including MPA coordinates — will be displayed. When used with a smartphone, the interactive map will show your current position in relation to the various boundaries. Note that this tool requires a cellular or internet connection, so you may need to access it in advance. The CDFW is working on a mobile app that will replace this tool and work outside of cellular range.
Additionally, the CDFW has produced printable maps at https://bit.ly/3nvijQ2. These depict the coastal, island and offshore areas that are open (or closed) to groundfish fishing in 2021. These detailed Rockfish Conservation Area (RCA) maps show California RCA waypoints and lines, as well as MPAs. Map #11 shows the Farallon Islands.
Q: What are the dates of the upcoming recreational spiny lobster season? Can I purchase a lobster report card before the season starts?
A: Divers and hoop netters can now begin preparing for the 2021-22 recreational spiny lobster season by purchasing spiny lobster report cards. The CDFW requires all lobster divers and hoop netters to record their catches on these cards. The cards can be purchased online for $10.54 at https://wildlife.ca.gov/Licensing/Online-Sales. Cards are valid for the length of the recreational spiny lobster season, which runs from Oct. 2, 2021 through March 16, 2022.
A $21.60 non-return fee will be charged when purchasing a card if the previous year’s report card was not returned or reported online by the April 30, 2022 deadline. To avoid the fee, you may skip one lobster fishing season. After skipping one season, you can purchase a card the following season at no extra cost.
In addition to the spiny lobster report card, all divers and hoop netters ages 16 and older must purchase a California Sport Fishing License with Sport Ocean Enhancement Validation, except for persons hoop netting from a public pier.
Email CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov with questions for the CDFW.