- Bag limits.
- Shooting / trapping hours.
- Hunting methods.
- Hunting and trapping licenses.
- Hunting areas.
- Hunting forum.
- Buying and selling.
- Live Beavers.
Hunting Laws for California Beaver Trapping
For California beaver trapping, there are hunting laws just for beavers (e.g. seasons, bag limits, and possession limits). Beavers are more broadly regulated as Mammals, Furbearing Mammals, and Wild Animals. The law also refers to them as “furbearers” and “fur-bearing mammals.” See FGC § 4000.
Hunting laws for beaver are mostly found in the California Fish and Game Code (“FGC”) and Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations (“14 CCR”). You can link to current regulations from the Fish and Game Commission’s webpage. Warning shot!!! When on public lands, like Wildlife Areas, there may be area-specific rules that may further restrict beaver hunting and trapping.
Hunting and Trappings Licenses
For California beaver trapping, you need a hunting license and/or trapping license from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”). There are also licenses for disabled hunters and junior hunters. Warning shot!!! You have to have your license with you while hunting. 14 CCR § 770(b).
To hunt beaver in California, you have to have a valid Hunting License from the CDFW. Hunting licenses are available to residents and nonresident, who are at least 18 years old. See FGC § 3031(a)(1) and (3).
Junior Hunting License
If you’re under the age of 18 on July 1, you qualify for Junior Hunting License. If you’re 16 or 17 years old, you can hunt alone on State Wildlife Areas but can’t supervise anyone under the age 16. See FGC § 3031(a)(2) and our page for Juniors.
If you’re a disabled and want to hunt beaver, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting License, Disabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.
Hunting and Trapping Seasons
In general, the California beaver trapping seasons are from November 1 through Mar 31, 2017. However, you can only trap them in the counties and areas listed in 14 CCR § 463 [supersedes FGC § 4001].
Daily Bag and Possession Limits
Warning shot!!! If you legally injure or trap a beaver in California, you have to kill it immediately. See 14 CCR § 251.5(c).
Under very limited circumstances, you may possess a live beaver. However, you have to meet minimum facility and caging standards for housing them at a permanent facilities. You also have to give them gnawing materials, a pool of fresh water that’s 2 1/2 feet deep, a nest box, a limited number of comparable adults, etc. See 14 CCR § 671.3(a)(10) and (b)(1)(J).
Methods of Take
In this section, you’ll find info about methods of hunting and trapping during the California beaver trapping. In general, furbearing mammals, including beaver, may only be taken with a “trap, a firearm, bow and arrow, poison under a proper permit, or with the use of dogs.” See FGC § 4002. However, additional rules and restrictions related to: airplanes, archery, boats, capture, contests, crossbows, dogs, firearms, harassment, herding & driving, infrared, lights, motorized vehicles, poison, property damage, snowmobiles, and traps.
In general, you can hunt furbearing mammals, including beaver, with a Bow and Arrow. Any type of arrow can be used except arrows with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison. The same is true for migratory game birds, resident small game, and nongame mammals and birds.
- Don’t shoot from or across any highway, road, or place open to the public for vehicles.
- Your bow has to be capable of casting a legal arrow at least 130 yards.
- In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm during archery season or with an archery-only tag (the only exception is with a Disabled Archer’s Permit).
- Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
See Motorized Vehicles below.
In general, it’s illegal to capture and confine furbearing mammals, including beaver, taken from the wild. There are limited exceptions for injured or diseased animals. See FGC § 3005.5
It’s illegal to offer a reward for killing furbearing mammals, including beaver, in an individual contest, tournament, or derby. This rule is an exception to the general rule that those events are allowed for most game birds, fish, reptiles, or amphibians, so long as you have a permit from the CDFW or if the reward is less than $500. See FGC § 2003 and 14 CCR § 465(b) [illegal for furbearing mammals].
In general, you can hunt furbearing mammals, including beaver, with a Crossbow, which is a type of “firearm.” Any type of crossbow bolt can be used except crossbow bolts with (1) lighted nocks with a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison. The same is true for migratory game birds, resident small game, and nongame mammals and birds.
- Don’t shoot from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
- Your crossbow has to be capable of casting a legal arrow at least 130 yards.
- In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm during archery season or with an archery-only tag (the only exception is with a Disabled Archer’s Permit).
- Don’t put a crossbow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
Dogs for Hunting and Training
In general, you can use dogs to hunt and trap furbearing mammals, including beaver, during the California beaver trapping. You can also use them to train your dog. Warning shot!!! This rule does not apply in areas closed to dogs. However, there are several restrictions you should read about. See FGC § 4002, 14 CCR § 465, and 14 CCR § 265 and click here for more California hunting dog laws, including hunting and training.
In general, firearms are allowed for hunting furbearing mammals, including beaver, during the California beaver trapping. Warning shot!!! As of July 1, 2015, you can only use nontoxic ammo. on Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves. As of July 1, 2016, you can only use nontoxic ammo for furbearing and nongame mammals. See FGC § 4002, 14 CCR § 250.1(d), and 14 CCR § 465.
Herding & Driving
In general, it’s illegal to herd or drive furbearing mammals, including beaver. The only exceptions are for landowners and tenants preventing damage to private or public property, including aquaculture and agriculture crops. See FGC § 3003.5 and 14 CCR § 251.1 and Motor Vehicles below.
Infrared & Night-Vision
In general, you cannot use night vision equipment to hunt in California, including beaver. Examples include infrared, plus binos and scope with light amplifying circuits. See FGC § 2005(c).
In general, you can use lights to hunt furbearing and nongame mammals, including beaver, but it depends on your location.
Zones 1 and 2
In general, you can the Zone 1 and Zone 2, you can use lights of any size or voltage, and use a spotlight from your vehicle. However, there are several exceptions listed below.
- You can’t use lights during the general deer season.
- You can’t use lights from a moving vehicle or with the motor on.
- You can’t use lights from a public road or highway.
See 14 CCR § 264 for zone descriptions.
Balance of State
Outside of Zone 1 and Zone two, you can still use lights as long as you comply with the restrictions listed below.
- First, the batteries have to be 9 volts or less (hand-held and headlights are okay).
- Second, you have to be on foot.
- Third, you cannot use them from a vehicle.
- Fourth, they can’t be powered from any other source.
See 14 CCR § 264.5.
There is another exception when beaver are causing Property Damage (see below).
In general, it’s illegal to:
“[T]o pursue, drive, or herd any bird or mammal with any motorized water, land, or air vehicle, including, but not limited to, a motor vehicle, airplane, powerboat, or snowmobile…”
The only exceptions are (1) with a permit from the CDFW, (2) landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage, and (3) during agricultural practices. See FGC § 3003.5.
In general, a poison permit from the CDFW is required to take furbearing mammals, including beaver. The application must indicate the kind of poison that you want to use and the time and place you plan to use them. See FGC § 4002, FGC § 4003, and 14 CCR § 465.
If you’re a landowner or tenant, you can probably kill a beaver that’s causing property damage. If you have a prior conviction or are on probation, you might not be allowed to kill it. Either way, you can have someone else kill it for you, including the CDFW.
If you choose to do the job yourself, you’ll need a permit from the CDFW. On the application, you’ll have to give them the basic about the situation. You’ll also have to describe what you’ve done in the past–and you’ll do in the future–to prevent the damage. You can also designate up to three people to help you, as long as they’re at least 21.
In general, you can kill the beaver in any time of the day. If you try at night, you can use artificial light in excess of 9 volts, which is true for all furbearing and nongame mammals. If someone goes after them for you at night, they need your written approval. If you’re successful, you have to let the close CDFW office know about it.
In general, you can kill the beaver in any legal manner. Steel-jawed leg hold traps are not allowed. You can use poison, but only with a permit from the CDFW. If you use legal traps, you have to check them and remove the animals every day. You have to kill them instantly and humanely, and keep injured beavers from escaping.
After killing the beaver, you have to dispose of the body–you cannot eat it, sell the fur, make anything with the carcass, or ship it from the premises except as allowed under the permit. Warning shot!!! Make sure you observe all city, county, and state firearm regulations.
While you don’t have to tag beavers you kill with the permit, you may have to mail reports to the CDFW. Your permit will be good for up to one year but you can file for a renewal if beavers continue to be a problem.
See Motorized Vehicles below.
See “Trapping” below.
A trapping license from the CDFW is required for trapping nongame mammals and furbearing mammals, including beaver. To get the license, you have to pass a test. It’s available to residents and most nonresidents of California. There is a reduced fee for Juniors, who are youth under the age of 16.
The license is good from July 1 through June 30. To renew a license, you’ll have to submit a sworn statement to the CDFW showing how many you took during the previous year. The license authorizes the holder to trap and sell the raw fur.
Warning shot!!! In general, it’s illegal to remove or disturb someone else’s trap. The only exceptions are if the trap isn’t licensed, isn’t being used, the person doesn’t have permission to be there, or it’s being removed by a CDFW employee doing official business.
Cage traps, box traps, nets, suitcase-style live beaver traps, and common rat and mouse traps may be used for recreation or commerce. Conibear traps and snares may also be used to prevent property damage, so long as they comply with the other requirements identified below (trap identification, placement, checking reporting, etc.)
Illegal Body-Gripping Traps
Body-gripping traps are almost always illegal. They include traps that grip the mammal’s body or body part. A few examples are listed below.
Steel-jawed, leg hold traps are only allowed in extraordinary circumstances in order to protect human health and safety. Even then, only certain government employees can use them. Warning shot!!! It’s illegal to buy, sell, or barter raw fur from animals taken with body-gripping traps. See FGC § 3003.1, FGC § 4004(a) and (b), and 14 CCR § 465.5(c) and (d).
In general, conibear traps are illegal for the purpose of recreational and commercial trapping of Furbearing and Nongame mammals. Subject to location, placement, and size restrictions, they might be allowed by landowners and tenants with a depredation permit for the purpose of protecting property. See FGC § 3003.1(a), 14 CCR § 465.5(c) and California Depredation Permits.
Zones Closed To Conibear Traps
There are geographical zones were Conibear traps and snares are prohibited unless they are completely submerged. See 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(5) for a description.
Larger Than 6 x 6 Inches
If the jaw opens more than 6 by 6 inches, conibear traps must be partially or wholly submerged in water. See FGC § 4004(e).
Less Than 10 x 10 Inches
With a depredation permit, landowners and tenants might be allowed by the CDFW to use conibear traps with jaws that open up to 10 x 10 inches. Warning shots!!! If so, you can’t set the trap within 150 yards of permanent or temporary structure that could be used as a residence. (Unless you control the property or have the landowner’s written permission.) If the jaws are larger than 8″x8″, the trap has to be at least partially submerged in water unless the trap is in one of the areas listed below.
- 100 feet of permanent water.
- 100 feet of seasonally flooded marshes, pastures, agricultural lands or floodways when standing or running water is present.
- The riparian vegetation zone when found where the take of beaver is permitted (e.g. willow, cottonwood, sycamore, salt cedar, cattail, bulrush and rushes.
In two geographical zones, conibear traps must be completely submerged. You or your designee have to check the trap at least one a day and immediately remove any animals. (Your designee has to carry a permission slip.) You cannot use them for recreation or commerce. You cannot buy, sell, or barter the raw fur, which includes salted furs and pelts. If legally trapped, you either have to kill or release it immediately. If killed, it has to be shot unless it’s unsafe, illegal, or unalloyed by the landowner. (If you don’t want to kill it, certain government officials are allowed to euthanize the animal). See FGC § 4004(e) and 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(4) and (5)
If the conibear trap is used on land open to the public, you have to put a sign at every entrance and exit to the property. You have to put at least four signs within 50 feet of the trap, on the north, south, east, and west boundaries. There has to be a warning on the signs. The letters have to be at least three inches. At minimum, the sign has to say, “Danger! Traps Set For Wildlife. Keep Out.” You have to check on the signs every day. See FGC § 4004(e) and (f).
In general, trapped mammals cannot be killed by intentional drowning, chemical injection, or chest crushing. However, there is an exception for legally set conibear traps for muskrat and beaver, and colony traps for muskrat. See FGC § 4004(b).
When traps are legal, you have to use traps numbers registered with the CDFW. It has to be clearly stamped on the trap or on a metal tag attached anywhere on the trap. See FGC § 4004(c) and 14 CCR § 465.5(f)(1).
In general, traps are not allowed within 150 yard of a place where someone lives, even temporarily. The only way you can do it is if it’s your property or you have the owner’s written consent. See 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(3) and “Conibear Traps” below.
When traps are legal, you have to check it every day. If you’re not the one checking the trap, the person must carry written statement from you that’s it’s okay for him or her to check your traps. See FGC § 4004(d) and 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(2).
If there’s something in the trap, it has to be killed or released immediately. Warning shots!!! Only kill it in an area where it is allowed under local laws and by the landowner, and where it can be done safely. Except for beaver and muskrat, you’re NOT allowed to kill furbearers by any of the methods listed below.
- Intentional drowning.
- Injection with any chemical not sold for the purpose of euthanizing animals.
- Thoracic compression, commonly known as chest crushing (except for tapping beaver and muskrat with conibear traps).
If you have a trappers license, you have to file a report with the CDFW. The report includes a sworn statement of how many furbearing and nongame mammals you killed, where you killed them, and the name and mailing address of who you sold them to, if any. The report is due by July 1st.
Shooting / Trapping hours
In general, furbearing mammals, including beaver, can be hunted and trapped at any hour of the day or night.
Areas Closed to Night Hunting
One exception is that night hunting (one-half hour after sunset until one-half hour before sunrise) is not allowed in the zones closed to night hunting. See 14 CCR § 474 for a legal description of those areas. See 14 CCR § 466 and our custom map (rough draft).
Purchase and Sale
In general, it’s illegal to buy or sell birds or mammals taken from the wild. There’s an exception for nongame and furbearing mammals, which includes beavers trapped during the California beaver trapping seasons. You can buy and sell handcrafted items made from the beaver, including the carcass. See FGC § 3039(b).
If you killed the beaver with a trapping license, you can also sell the raw fur. If you’re in the business of buying, selling, trading, or dealing raw fur, you’ll need a dealer license. If you’re a domesticated breeder, you don’t need a dealer license. See summary for Buying and Selling Birds and Mammals; andFGC §§ 4030, 4034, 4036, and 4042.
If you get charged with a potential hunting violation, we’re here to help. Contact our attorney for a free consultation.
If you get convicted of a hunting violation, you could loose your trapping license. You wouldn’t be able to trap any furbearing or nongame mammals for up to three years. In fact, it would be illegal to even apply for a trapping license during that time. FGC § 12156.
During the California beaver trapping, you can only hunt and trap beavers in the following counties:
- Alameda County.
- Alpine County.
- Amador County.
- Butte County.
- Calaveras County.
- Colusa County.
- Contra Costa County.
- Del Norte County.
- El Dorado County.
- Fresno County.
- Glenn County.
- Humboldt County.
- Imperial County.
- Inyo County.
- Kern County.
- Kings County.
- Lake County.
- Lassen County.
- Madera County.
- Mariposa County.
- Merced County.
- Modoc County.
- Mono County.
- Monterey County.
- Nevada County (except Sagehen Creek).
- Placer County.
- Plumas County.
- Riverside County (within 10 miles of the Arizona-California border).
- Sacramento County.
- San Bernardino County (within 10 miles of the Arizona-California border).
- San Joaquin County.
- San Luis Obispo County.
- Shasta County.
- Sierra County.
- Siskiyou County.
- Solano County.
- Stanislaus County.
- Sutter County.
- Tehama County.
- Trinity County.
- Tulare County.
- Tuolumne County.
- Yolo County.
- Yuba County.
See 14 CCR § 463 [supersedes FGC § 4001]
In general, it’s illegal to take any mammal from a game refuge unless it’s specifically allowed. Occasionally, beavers cause or threaten damage within game refuges. The CDFW has discretion to issue a free permit for hunting and trapping. If so, you have to apply for the permit. If you get a permit and a beaver, you have to turn in a report during the first two weeks of January. See 14 CCR § 656 for more details.
In general, it’s illegal to take any mammal from a game refuge unless it’s specifically allowed. Trapping is specially allowed on all “Type C” wildlife areas. Warning shots!!! Make sure you follow all the rules for California beaver trapping and any special rules at the wildlife area, like closures and firearm restrictions. See FGC § 10500 [generally not allowed], 14 CCR § 550(ee), 14 CCR § 551(o), 14 CCR § 551(r), and CDFW’s trapping law handout.
Here are a few wildlife areas where the CDFW indicates that you can find beaver:
Beaver Hunting Forum
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