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Nesting wild mallards in my backyard pool?

carrie wilson author badge for myoutdoorbuddy.com

e have a pair of mallard ducks that seem to have taken up residency in our backyard pool and have laid eggs in the surrounding plants. I am afraid that if they hatch they will end up dead because of all the meat eating birds in the area. Why are they doing this? If I can get them to leave, where will they fly off to? I can’t seem to find any help in the town that I live in (Modesto, Calif.). I read your piece in the Modesto Bee and wondered if you had any suggestions of what I could do? (Richard, Modesto)

Answer: Unless ducks are marked with a transmitter, we can only speculate where they are headed. Most likely the ducks in your backyard are a drake and hen pair that need a safe place to build a nest. Backyard pools generally don’t have many predators so ducks often nest nearby them. Once the eggs hatch, they won’t want to hang out in the pool for long because there is no food in the water. At that point, you may want to open your backyard gate so the hen can walk her brood out to a nearby river or other water source.

Mallard pair (ODFW photo)
Mallard pair (ODFW photo)

You have another option, too. Since waterfowl are protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, you cannot catch and move them yourself. Instead, you might want to contact a permitted local wildlife rehabilitation center if there is a need to move them after hatching to a more appropriate non-residential setting. For a list of permitted wildlife rehab facilities, please go to dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/WIL/rehab/facilities.html.

Are hooks with pinched barbs legal for fishing salmon?
Question: I was told that a barbed hook (circle or otherwise) which has had the barb “pinched down” with pliers is by law considered legal for salmon fishing. True or false? (Rick S.)

Answer: True. As long as it is pinched all the way down so there is no barb. It’s safer to just buy barbless hooks or grind off the barbs. Barbless hooks are defined as, “A fish hook from which the barb or barbs have been removed or completely bent closed, or which is manufactured without barbs” (California Code of Regulations Title 14, section 1.19).

Where’s the search authority?
Question: My friend and I disagree about a point of law. If a game warden sees that you are fishing, or have been fishing, or sees your rods and ice chests in the car, can he demand you open the car and open your ice chests? Can he demand you open the trunk also? I think this is fair because we have definitely been fishing and always have less than our limits, but my friend thinks it is an abuse of power to demand we open our trunk or car, which is our private property. If the game warden does have this right, what would happen if we refuse to comply? Thanks! (S. Love, Los Angeles)

Answer: Yes, any wildlife officer can ask for your consent to inspect a vehicle. Whether an officer has the authority to conduct an inspection when consent is not given depends upon the specific circumstances of the contact. Wildlife officers have extensive inspection authorities that are unique to their jobs. For example, it is a crime to refuse to show a wildlife officer “… all licenses, tags, and the birds, mammals, fish, reptiles or amphibians taken or otherwise dealt with under this code, and any device or apparatus designed to be, and capable of being, used to take birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians” (Fish and Game Code, section 2012).

Also, wildlife officers are authorized to inspect all receptacles, except the clothing actually worn by a person at the time of inspection, where birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, or amphibians may be stored or placed (FGC, section 1006).

Fishing multiple rods from shore outside San Francisco Bay?
Question: I know that you can use as many rods and hooks as you want outside the Golden Gate, but can I use multiple rods to catch striped bass and halibut from the shore? I already know that only one rod can be used for salmon, rockfish and lingcod. I have heard if you have a striped bass or a halibut in possession, then only one rod can be used. Is this true? (Eddie H.)

Answer: No, that’s not correct. Outside of the Golden Gate, if you are fishing from shore for halibut and striped bass, you can use as many rods and hooks as you want. If you were to catch another species like salmon or rockfish, however, you would have to release it, as only one line may be used for these species.

Carrie Wilson is a marine environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. While she cannot personally answer everyone’s questions, she will select a few to answer each week in this column. Please contact her at CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.

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The drake mallard, with its iridescent green head., by Steven T. Callan
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Western Toad, by kathy callan
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Rafting on the American River, by Steven T. Callan
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Male hooded oriole in pomegranate tree, photo by Steven T. Callan
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Don Webster, author badge, myoutdoorbuddy.com
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hand holding fish, by phil akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
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​A Letter to Ted Trueblood

Ted Trueblood, photo courtesy of Don Webster
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Example of what happens to a flat tire driven at freeway speed and possibly ten miles distance, photo by Don Stec
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A stately bull elk in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Photo by Kathy Callan
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Steven T. Callen with one of three orphaned black bear cubs, circa 1981. Photo courtesy of Steven T. Callan
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Susan Lake, photo by Phil Akers
Article and photos by Phil “Flip” Akers
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Once coveted by the pet trade, native reptiles, like this chuckwalla, may no longer be sold in California. Photo by Steven T. Callan
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Indigo snake
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ish and Wildlife Warden Jerry Karnow with suspected poisoned bear at an illegal marijuana grow site. Photo courtesy of California Department of Fish and Wildlife Warden Jerry Karnow
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Life is hard... it's even harder if you're stupid, John Wayne
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Pup, Phil Akers, A Happy Dog is a Panting Dog
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Butte Valley Wildlife Area with Mount Shasta in background, photo by Kathy and Steven Callan
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blue lake surrounded by gray snow peaked mountains with green grass meadow in the foreground. Photo by Phil Flip Akers
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A humungous crowd of people.
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Silver mobile home with striped awning, parked on a grassy field alongside a river with forested hills leading up to snow capped mountains. Photo by William E. Simpson
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NASA image depicting solar storm impacting earth’s geomagnetic field.
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Ishi

 Newspaper headline from early August 1911. Photo courtesy of the Sacramento Bee.
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Jim Broshears, Mt. Lassen view from Brokeoff Mountain
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The Mystery of the Middle Fork – Part III

Jim Broshears, Trailhead Tales author badge for My outdoor buddy
By Jim Broshears
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