Q: Does CDFW offer online fishing resources for new anglers?
A: CDFW’s online Fishing Guide is a great tool to help new and experienced anglers plan their fishing activities. The guide can be used to identify historically good locations to fish, and to see which species of fish are available to catch in waterbodies statewide. Additional features include planting schedules for CDFW-stocked lakes and ponds, as well as boat launches/ramps, locations of license sales agents and fishing regulations. The guide can also be used to identify locations of Marine Protected Areas and quagga mussel-infested waters. CDFW’s Recruit, Retain, Reactivate (R3) team has a wealth of resources available on the R3 webpage, including how-to videos (R3H3), recipes and tips for cleaning your catch. For ocean fishing, CDFW’s Ocean Sport Fishing Interactive Web Map shows both fishing regulations and Marine Protected Area boundaries in relation to your location when used with a smart phone. The Marine Species Portal provides pictures, life history, and other information for a large number of ocean fish and invertebrates. Visit CDFW’s Fishing in California webpage and Fishing in the City program for additional resources.
Antlers vs. horns
Q: How are antlers different from horns and pronghorns in ungulate species like deer, elk and bighorn sheep?
A: California is home to several ungulate species that have antlers, horns and pronghorns. Deer and elk have antlers which are made of bone and grow from pedicels, which are bony supportive structures that develop on an ungulate’s skull. Antlers are deciduous, which means they shed every year. For most ungulate species, only males grow antlers and typically not until after their first year of life (female caribou and caribou calves – which live in much colder climates than California – are an exception, because they do grow antlers). Horns are made of bony core covered in keratin, a structural protein that can be likened to fingernails. Horns occur in bighorn sheep and grow continuously through an animal’s life. Scientists can generally count growth rings on horns of males to determine an animal’s age, but aging females from horn rings is far less reliable. There are also several herds of pronghorn antelope in California, including on the Carrizo Plain in San Luis Obispo County and throughout northeastern California. Pronghorns are comprised of a sheath that grows over a bony core. Pronghorn sheaths are deciduous and shed yearly like antlers.
Q: I saw a recent CDFW Facebook post that said K-9s can be trained to sniff out gunpowder, quagga mussels, deer, bear, abalone, shark fin, ivory and marijuana. I can understand the gunpowder and the animal products—but does ivory have a smell?
A: Yes! CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division has K-9s that are trained to detect (or “sniff”) ivory. K-9s can be useful in this regard because of the number of very high-quality synthetic ivory replicas out there. Wildlife officers are trained in ivory identification, but K-9s trained to detect ivory can make an investigation much more efficient.
Generally speaking, dogs can be trained to identify distinct smells even when the item has no detectable odor to humans. Some dogs have even been trained to alert on imperceivable odors such as the presence of cancer in blood samples. CDFW K-9s have been trained to locate saltwater fish, abalone, crab, lobster, firearms, gunpowder, freshwater fish, methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, cannabis, deer, bear, ivory, shark fin, quagga mussels and grey squirrel.
Q: Is there a way to report mountain lion sightings online?
A: The public can report mountain lion sightings to CDFW through its Wildlife Incident Reporting system. Public safety concerns should be reported to law enforcement, and if your wildlife encounter is an emergency call 911. There are also community organizations that track mountain lion sightings and offer community sightings maps.
Pumas are commonly referred to as mountain lions, but they are known by many names including cougar, panther and catamount. In California’s wild, they are different names for the same animal. Mountain lions live across much of California, including along urban-wildland interfaces where they hunt for deer and other animals. However, it’s rare to see a mountain lion because they are elusive creatures. If you do see a mountain lion or mountain lion cub, do not approach it or intervene. Remember that adult pumas, when out hunting prey, may leave offspring somewhere safe for up to days at a time.
If you have a question you would like to see answered in the California Outdoors Q and A column, email it to CalOutdoors@wildlife.ca.gov.