Sportsmens Report
April 24, 2018
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Keeping up with wild populations

By: Bill Hanson
February 23, 2018
Sportsman's Report

In the olden days a fishing or hunting license was good for a year, a duck stamp or two and a deer tag were about it. In those days a ‘rules and regulations’ book was a small pamphlet that covered details and were almost interchangeable year to year. However, those days are gone. 

Today our natural resources are under increasingly more and more pressure, un-managed we would find little fish and game to take except in protected areas. Some sportsmen blame immigrants who come here and fall in love with the outdoors and all it offers. The problem is that there are limits on how much ‘take’ takes place. Consider the abalone population. Our coast from the Golden Gate north to Eureka is a perfect habitat for the sea snail we love to eat. In decades past, the abalone population was rampant clear down to the warmer waters of southern California. Check out Google images and search for ‘historic abalone fishing’ to see some photos of men standing next to mountains of abalone shells. Most of that activity was done south of San Francisco. In those days there were so many abalone in the kelp forests, that there was no concern over sustainability. On our coast there was no limit except that you had to be able to carry your sack to the car. Eventually the resource became so over fished it had become a threatened population. In the 1970s a parasitic worm grew along with a steep rise in pollution near shore waters. There was and still is a massive commercial kelp harvest that mows down huge swaths of kelp to use in many of the products we consume today, make-up, thickeners for dairy products and natural iodine are a few. The end result was a possible extinction of abalone in the southern waters. Decades later the population has stabilized, however it remains fragile, sport and commercial take is still prohibited. 

It is all about resource management, without which we are toast. Enter the future, our connectivity makes it easier for the sportsman, collective gender, to keep up with not only the ever changing rules and regulations but it includes reports of conditions and health of the wild populations. One invaluable resource is the status of toxins in sea food. Think ‘Domoic Acid,’ a serious threat to anyone who eats crab with too high levels of this toxin. Enter the Department of Fish and Wildlife, which has evolved to include continuous updates on specific game species. He who ignores these updates and relies only on printed media is subject to fines and possible poisoning. Ignorance of the law is not a valid defense no matter who you are. 

Here are a few sites with updates on specific resources, you will find tons of links to other sites that will help you get out there when the gett’n is good. 

On the DFW web site there links to: 

•Calendar of Events. 

•A free online subscription to Marine Region News.

•Blogs like the Herring spawn reports. This is important if you like to use them for bait. As a Scandinavian pickled Herring is one of my favorite snacks, I usually fish at Safeway for them.

For hunters:

There are species ‘specific sites’ with updates and links to hunter safety classes, ammunition requirements and places to hunt for the public. Go to the DFW site and click on hunting to learn more.

Bill Hanson is a Sonoma County native and lifelong sportsman. He is the former president of the Sonoma County Mycological Association. Look for his column in The Community Voice each week.