Buying and Selling Wildlife in California

California bobcat pelts

On this page, you’ll find information about buying and selling wildlife in California, including animals, animal parts, pelts, skins, furs, and handicrafts. To “buy” or “sell” a bird or mammal in California includes any offer to buy, sell, barter, exchange, or trade. In general, it’s illegal to buy or sell any part of a bird or mammal found in the wild. The same is usually true of domestically reared animals. See definition in FGC Sec. 24 [to buy], 68 [to purchase], and 75 [to sell].

If you have questions or get cited for a violation, ask our Attorney to “Fetch it up!.”

Topics

  1. Big Game Black BearBears.
  2. Bobcats.
  3. Deer.
  4. Diseased Birds & Mammals.
  5. Domesticated Game Birds.
  6. Domesticated Game Mammals.
  7. Endangered Species.
  8. Falcons & Raptors.
  9. Furbearing Mammals.
  10. Game Bird Clubs.
  11. Mammals.
  12. Meat Dealers.
  13. Mountain Lions.
  14. Nongame Birds.
  15. Nongame Mammals.
  16. Pheasants.
  17. Property Damage.
  18. Protected Species.
  19. Restricted Species.
  20. Rodents.
  21. Taxidermists.
  22. Threatened Species.
  23. Violations.

Bears

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including bear.It is unlawful to buy or sell any bear or parts thereof (e.g. claws, hide, meat, paws, and teeth). The first-time offender penalty for the knowing and unlawful purchase or sale of a bear part is a fine of $250.  See FGC Sec. 4758 and 12005, and our summary for the California Black Bear Hunting Season.

[Top]


Bobcat Pelts

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including bobcat pelts.If you want to buy, sell, barter, or trade a bobcat pelt, there are several requirements. First, the bobcat must have been taken legally (e.g. during hunting season.) Second, a hunting tag from the CDFW must be properly attached to the pelt. Third, a shipping tag from the CDFW must also be attached. The same is true for transporting the pelt out of California. Warning shots!!! You can’t do any of those things with a bobcat taken illegal. The same is true if it was killed by landowners or tenants pursuant to a depredation permit or by federal predatory animal control agents. See 14 CCR § 478.1 and 479(b), and our summaries for the California Bobcat Hunting Season and California Depredation Permits.

[Top]


Deer & Reindeer

Fallow Deer

In general, fully-certified fallow deer farmers may sell the meat. See Section 676 (d) for details.

Meat

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including deer meat.In general, it is unlawful to buy, sell, or transport deer meat. It doesn’t matter whether it’s smoked, canned, or preserved. There are exceptions related to domestically raised game mammals, fallow deer, and foreign imports of deer jerky, venison, and deer salami. See FGC Sec. 4301, and our summary for the California Deer Hunting Seasons.

Reindeer

In general, retail meat dealers can sell quarters or loin of domestic reindeer for consumption. This is true for keepers of hotels, restaurants, and boarding houses for consumption by patrons, guests, and customers. See 14 CCR § 675 for more details (e.g. shipping packages).

Skins and Hides

In general, deer skins and hides may be sold, purchased, tanned, or manufactured into articles for sale. You can also donate them to veterans’ organizations or service committees, for use by veterans for rehabilitation purposes. Warning shot!!! This is only true for lawfully taken deer. See FGC Sec. 4303 and our summary for the California Deer Hunting Seasons.

[Top]


 Diseased Birds & Mammals

In general, it’s illegal to sell, propagate, release, or dispose of birds or mammals with a disease. There’s an exception for people with a free written permit from the CDFW. See 14 CCR § 680.

[Top]


Domesticated Game Birds

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including domesticate game birds like quail.In general, you need a breeder’s license from the CDFW to sell the carcass of a domesticated game bird. There are limited exceptions for the entities listed below when sold for consumption at the location. Warning shot!!! You have to let the CDFW your storage facility. See FGC Sec. 3212, Game Bird Clubs below, and our summary for Licensed Game Bird Clubs.

  1. Hotels.
  2. Restaurants.
  3. Boardinghouses.
  4. Clubs.

[Top]


Domesticated Game Mammals

Same as Domesticated Game Birds above.

[Top]


Endangered Species

In general, no endangered species or part thereof may be purchased, sold, imported, or exported. For exceptions, see FGC Sec. 2080 and 14 CCR Sec. 783.1.

[Top]


Falcons & Raptors

* Also see our summary for California Falconry Hunting Seasons.

Captive-Bread Raptors

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including falcons and raptors.In general, it’s illegal to buy, sell, trade or barter raptors. There’s a limited exception for people with a license from the CDFW to sell them to other licensed falconers. However, the buyer must be authorized to posses the raptor. The same is true for hybrid and exotic raptors.

Feathers

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including feathers of falcons and raptors.It’s illegal to buy, sell, or barter feathers from falcons and raptors. This includes molted feathers and those from dead birds. It doesn’t matter whether the feathers where donated or mounted.

Wild Raptors

It’s illegal to buy, sell, barter, or trade any part of a wild raptor. The same is true for the feathers. See 50 CFR §§ 21.29(f)(12), 21.29(f)(13)(v), and 21.29(k)(4), and 14 CCR § 670(h)(12).

[Top]


Furbearing Mammals

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including furbearing mammals like beaver.In general, anyone with a valid trapping license is authorized to sell the “raw fur” of Furbearing Mammals. It’s illegal to buy, sell, or barter Furbearing Mammals that were trapped: (1) in body-gripping traps or (2) by someone without a valid trapping license. The same rules apply to Nongame Mammals (e.g. Coyote). See FGC Sec. 3039 and our summary for California Trapping Laws.

[Top]


Game Birds

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including game birds like pheasants.In general, it’s illegal to buy or sell Game Birds. There is an exception for domestically raised game birds. See FGC Sec. 3504 and the Section above for Domesticated Game Birds.


Game Bird Clubs

Buying and selling wildlife in California from Game Bird Clubs.It’s illegal to remove a Game Birds from a licensed game bird club unless it was killed in a legal manner. It’s also illegal to buy or sell a domestic game bird taken from the club.  See 14 CCR § 600(a)(14).

[Top]


Mammals

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including large mammals.In general, a domesticated game breeder’s license is required to sell a quarter or loin from a large mammal. There a limited exception for the entities listed below. First, it has to be sold for actual consumption on the premises. Second, the entity has to let the CDFW inspect the carcass and storage facility. See FGC Sec. 3212.

  1. Hotels.
  2. Restaurants.
  3. Boardinghouses.
  4. Clubs.

[Top]


Meat Dealers

Meat dealers Buying and selling wildlife in California.In general, retail meat dealers are allowed to raise, hold, or import domesticated game in captivity. When allowed, a domesticated game breeder’s license is NOT required. However, the meat has to be sold to customers for actual consumption. For large mammals, this includes the quarters and loins. With the license, it also includes the carcass of Game Birds or Game Mammals raised or imported. See FGC §§ 3200(d) and 3213, and the Sections for Game Birds and Mammals above.

[Top]


Mountain Lions

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including Mountain Lions.No person may sell a mountain lion, part, or product except with a permit from the CDFW, which is only issued upon evidence that the applicant was in possession on or before June 5, 1990. See FGC § 4800 and 14 CCR § 251.4.

[Top]


Nongame Birds

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including Nongame Birds like American CrowIn general, it is unlawful to sell nongame birds. The same is true for their feathers, carcasses, skins, or other parts. The rules also apply to Native Americans. See FGC Sec. 3504, FGC Sec. 3801.6(b)(2), and the Section above for Domesticated Game Birds.

[Top]


Nongame Mammals

Same as Furbearing Mammals above.

[Top]


Pheasants

In general, it’s illegal to sell Chinese and/or Mongolian Ringneck pheasants. There is a limited exception for people with a “Class 1” or “Class 2” domesticated game breeder’s license. The rule also applies to hybrids of those two species. See FGC Sec. 3202.

[Top]


Property Damage

Buying and selling wildlife in California, including animals causing property damage.In general, landowners and tenants can kill birds and mammals that are causing or threatening to cause personal or property damage, including crops, domestic animals, and livestock. The fancy legal term is “depredation.” When a depredating animal is killed, you typically cannot sell any part of the animal.  One of the only exceptions is for wild pigs. For more information, see our summary for California Depredation Permits.

[Top]


Protected Species

It’s usually illegal to take / hunt, buy, or sell any part of the species listed below. See FGC Sec. 3505.

  1. Aigrette.
  2. Bird of Paradise.
  3. Egret.
  4. Goura.
  5. Numidia.
  6. Osprey.

[Top]


Restricted Species

In general, a permit from the CDFW is required to import or export species restricted in Section 671(c), e.g. certain owls, larks, cuckoos, ravens, and sparrows. The permit is also required to transport, maintain, sell, dispose of, or use those species. See FGC Sec. 2118 and 2124; and 14 CCR § 671.1.

[Top]


Rodents

In general, it is unlawful to knowingly capture for sale, transport for sale or sell wild rodents. See FGC Sec. 2576.

[Top]


Taxidermists

Taxidermists Buying and selling wildlife in California.In general, taxidermists may sell the unclaimed or unredeemed skins of birds and mammals. See FGC § 3087 re taxidermists and 14 CCR § 695(d) and our summary for California Taxidermy Law.

[Top]


Threatened Species

Same as Endangered Species above.

[Top]


Violations

The first offense for the illegal purchase, sale, barter or trade of any bird or mammals is punishable by fine between $5,000 and $40,000 and/or up to one year in county jail. In addition, a judge will issue an order forfeiting and either disposing of or donating the animal(s). See FGC Sec. 2582 and 12012, and Bears above.

[Top]

Leave a Reply