California Black Bear Hunting Seasons, 32 Laws, and 73 Locations

California black bear hunting seasons.

Here, we fetch up rules and regulations for California Black Bear hunting seasons. We retrieve them from the Fish & Game Code and Title 14 of the California Code of Regulations, as well as other sources. We bring them back with hunter-friendly summaries, and links to supporting laws and our pages with related topics.

Topics

    1. Species.
    2. Hunting license.
    3. Seasons.
    4. Tags.
    5. Depredation permits.
    6. Shooting Hours.
    7. Bag and possession limits.
    8. Hunting methods.
    9. Trapping (limited).
    10. Bear body parts.
    11. Purchase and sale.
    12. Violations.
    13. Hunting areas.
    14. Hunting forum and blog.

Species for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

Species for California Black Bear hunting seasons.
Species for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

Black and brown or cinnamon bears (genus Euarctos) are regulated in California as Big Game mammals.  In general, no bear may be hunted in California.  However, there is presently an exception for California black bear hunting seasons (genus Ursus americanus), when found in the wild.

See FGC § 3950 and FGC § 3960, and 14 CCR § 350.

[Back to Top]


California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

California black bear hunting seasons
California Black Bear hunting seasons.

Black bear seasons can change from year-to-year depending on the health and size of the population. The vary by hunting zone, hunting method, “deer zone,” and quota. There may also be special seasons for helping to prevent property damage. See FGC § 302 and our summary for damage control.

Black Bear Hunting Zones

Black bear hunting seasons are only allowed in the hunting zones listed below (click here for legal descriptions).

    • Northern California.
    • Central California.
    • Southern Sierra.
    • Southern California.
    • Southeastern Sierra.

General Season

Deer Zones (A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10, and X12)

The general black bear season opens with the general deer seasons in hunting zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10, and X12  (click here for the general deer season).

The general black bear season closes on the last Sunday in December (December 25, 2017)__ or if 1,700 bears are reported taken.  For daily updates, go online or call (888) 277-6398.

Deer Zones (X-1 through X-7b)

For the remaining deer zones (X1 – X7b), the general black bear season opens on the second Saturday in October (October 8, 2017).

The black bear season in these zones last for 79 days, closing on December 25, 2017 or if 1,700 bears are reported taken.  For daily updates, go online or call (888) 277-6398.

See 14 CCR § 365(b).

Archery-Only Season

California black bear hunting seasons for archery, bow and arrow.
Archery California Black Bear hunting seasons.

California black bear archery hunting is allowed during the General Season (see above).  The archery-only season is from August 20 – September 11, 2016 or if 1,700 bears are reported taken.  For daily updates, go online or call (888) 277-6398. This black bear bow and arrow regulation is located at 14 CCR § 366.

Black Bear Quota

The bear season could close earlier if the quota of 1,700 black bears had been reached.  Click here for CDFW’s weekly black bear harvest updates or call 888-277-6398.

[Back to Top]


License for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

To hunt black bear in California, you must purchase a current hunting license from the CDFW, either online, from a license office, or license agent.  The 2014-2015 licenses may be purchased by residents ($46.44), non-residents ($161.49), and juniors under the age of 16 on  July 1 ($12.14).  Click here for current prices.  For disabled veterans and recovering service members, click here for a summary of reduced fees).  Hunting licenses are valid from July 1 or the date of purchase through August 31. Warning shot!!!  While hunting black bear, the license must be in the hunter’s immediate possession. This California bear hunting license regulations is located at 14 CCR § 700(b).

[Back to Top]


Tags for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

California black bear hunting is not allowed until after procuring a tag from the CDFW.  This California bear hunting rule is located at FGC § 4750.

[Back to Top]

Purchasing

Age Limit

To qualify a California bear hunting tag, the applicant must be at least 12 years old. This hunting tag regulations for California black bear season is located at FGC § 4751(a).

Availability

In general, California black bear license tags are available through the Automated License Data System for the CDFW either online, a license sales office, agent, or phone.  Warning shot!!!  Hunters may purchase only one tag per season. Any person who purchases more than one bear license tag may be denied bear license tags for the current license year. This hunting tag regulations for California black bear season is located at 14 CCR § 708.12(a)(1) and (4).

Fees

In 2015, California bear hunting tags are available for purchase by residents ($45.62) and nonresidents ($290.75), but is adjusted annually per Section 713.  (Click here for current prices.) The fees are deposited into the Big Game Management Account. These hunting tag rules and regulations for California black bear season are located at FGC § 4751(a) and 14 CCR § 708.12(a)(2) and (3).

License

To obtain a California bear hunting tag, the applicant must have a valid hunting license from the CDFW. This hunting tag regulation is located at FGC § 4751(a).

Nonresident

California black bear hunting tags may be purchased by nonresidents that are at least 12 years old and in possession of a valid California hunting license. However, the base fee per tag is $105, which is adjusted annually per Section 713.  These hunting tag rules and regulations are located at FGC § 4751(b); and 14 CCR §§ 702 and 708.12(a).

Possession

California black bear tags must be in the holders immediate possession while in the field hunting for bear. See FGC § 4753.

Tagging Requirements

It is unlawful to possess any untagged bear. See FGC § 4753.

Tags

Upon killing a bear, the tag holder must immediately (1) complete the tag in a legible and permanent manner, (2) cut our or punch out and completely remove notches or punch holes for the month and date of kill, and (3) attach one part to the ear of the bear.  Warning shot!!! The tag must remain attached for the open season and for 14 days thereafter.  These California black bear rules and regulation are located at FGC § 4753 and 14 CCR § 708.12(a)(5).

Countersigning

After killing a California black bear, it cannot be transported except for taking it to the nearest CDFW employee for the purpose of countersigning the tag.   If the office is closed, the tag must be countersigned within one business day of transporting from the kill site.

Warning shots!!!  Call ahead to make an appointment for validation and tooth extraction (click here for a list of field offices).  If you harvest a bear with a GPS collar, return it to you locaal CDFW Regional office.  The collar has information about a study in the Lake Tahoe Basin.

This hunting tag regulation for California black bear season is located at 14 CCR § 708.12(c).  It supersedes FGC Section 4755 that used to authorized other people to countersign the tag.

Notice

Upon harvesting a bear, the tag holder must immediately notice the CDFW as specified by the Fish & Game Commission. See FGC § 4753.

Reporting

After having the tag countersigned, the tag holder must immediately return the report card (1) to a CDFW office, (2) to a CDFW officer, or (3) by  United States Mail.  Warning shot!!!  Hunters who were unsuccessful or did not hunt must return report cards by February 1.

These hunting tag regulations for California black bear season are located at FGC § 4753 and 14 CCR § 708.12(d)(1).

Skin & Head

After killing a bear, the skin and portion of the head bearing ears must be retained in the tag holders possession for the rest of the season and for fifteen (15) days thereafter.  The California black bear skin and ears must be produced upon demand to an authorized enforcement officer.  Warning shot!!!  Also see “Skulls.” See FGC § 4757.

Guides

California black bear license tagholders must make sure that their guide is in possession of a valid guide’s license, and shall place the guide’s license number on the bear license tag in the space provided.  Click here for additional regulations for guides.  See 14 CCR § 708.12(b).

Replacement Tags

Only one replacement California bear license tag may be purchased per year, but requires an affidavit.  See 14 CCR § 708.17.

Skulls

Sale of skulls from California black bear hunting seasons.
Skulls for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

After killing a California black bear with a depredation permit, the skull must be submitted to the CDFW.   These black bear season regulations are located at FGC § 3960.2(c) and 14 CCR § 401(i).

Unused Tags

Every person who is unsuccessful in taking bear shall return the report card portion of the bear license tags by February 1 of the current license year. The tag may be presented to a department office/officer or returned through the United States Mail. See 14 CCR § 708.12(d)(2).

Validity

California black bear hunting tags are only valid for the current license year in which bear may be taken or possessed.  See FGC § 4752.

Violations

If convicted of a hunting violation, all bear tags must be forfeited and no more will be issued for that current license year (ends June 30). Warning shot!!! If convicted of a hunting violation, the violator cannot apply for a California black bear tag(s) for the following license year. See FGC § 4754.

[Back to Top]


Shooting Hours for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

In general, California bear hunting hours begin one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise. California bear hunting hours end one-half (1/2) hour after sunset.  Also see “California Black Bear Permits” below. See 14 CCR § 352.

[Back to Top]


Depredation Permits for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

Bears can cause serious damage to people and property, including crops, domestic animals, and livestock. In general, landowners, tenants, and/or their agents and employees can kill or trap bears to protect people and property. For more information, see our page for California Depredation Permits.


Limits for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

Only one adult California black bear may be killed per hunting license year.  Warning shot!!!  Cubs and females may NOT be killed.  A cub is a bear less than one year of age or weights less than 50 pounds.  These California black bear season limit hunting regulations are located at 14 CCR § 365(c) and 366.

[Back to Top]


Methods of Hunting for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

In addition to methods authorized for hunting all Big Game species, California bear hunting is has the following restrictions:

Ammunition

See “California Condor Range”  below.

Bait

Bait and other materials capable of attracting a California black bear is NOT allowed.  Warning shot!!!  California black bears may NOT be taken within 400 yards of a garbage dump or bait.  See FGC § 365(e).

Bow and Arrow

California black bear hunting seasons for archery, bow and arrow.
Bow and arrows for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

In general, bow and arrows may be used for hunting black bear in California, subject to archery equipment restrictions. Warning shot!!! Link to our summary of restrictions related to hunting bears with a bow (tags, blades, casting distance, lights, disabilities, use of dogs, etc.).  These bow hunting restrictions are located at 14 CCR §§ 353(a) and 354(c).

California Condor Range

California black bear hunting seasons in the California Condor Range
California Black Bear hunting seasons in the Condor Range.

When hunting California black bear in the California Condor Range, only non-lead centerfire rifle and pistol ammunition may be used.   Link to our summary of the regulations for the California Condor Range.

When at a State wildlife area or ecological reserve with a firearm capable of firing any projectile, it’s illegal to even possess non-lead ammo.

These California black bear hunting rules are located at FGC § 3004.5 and 14 CCR § 353.

Computers

California black bear may not be hunted with any computer-assisted or remotely controlled device, equipment, Internet site, web-based system, software, telemetry device, or other technology.  See 14 CCR §§ 251 and 251.9.

Crossbows

California black bear hunting seasons for Crossbows.
Crossbows for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

In general, crossbows are NOT allowed during the California archery black bear season.  There is an exception for hunters with a Disabled Archer Permit. See 14 CCR §§ 353(e) and 354(g) and (j).

Dogs

Dogs are NOT allowed for hunting California black bear.   In addition, no hunting dog is allowed during the archery seasons for bear and deer. Click here for more California hunting dog laws, including hunting and training.  See FGC §§ 3960(b), 3960.4, and 3960.6.

Harassment

It is illegal to harass, herd, or drive California black bear, intentionally disrupting the bear’s normal behavior patterns (e.g. breeding, feeding and sheltering).  See 14 CCR § 251.1.

Lights

In general, artificial light is NOT allowed for hunting black bear in California. However, black bear may be hunted at night with a depredation permit (see “California Black Bear Hunting Permits” above).  These California bear season rules and regulations are located at 14 CCR §§ 250, 263, and 353.

Muzzleloaders

California black bear hunting seasons for Muzzleloaders and muzzleloading shotguns.
Muzzleloaders for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

In general, black bear may be hunted in California with a muzzleloader.  Warning shots!!!  Link to our summary for restriction related to ammunition, caliber,  sites, transportation and tags. See 14 CCR §§ 353(a), (f), (g), (j) and (k).*

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to make it unlawful to hunting Big Game in violation of Sections 250.1 and 353 and to add the following definitions:

(1) A softnose or expanding projectile is a bullet designed to increase from its original diameter, commonly referred to as “mushrooming”, and retain a significant part of its original weight upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal.
(2) Projectiles commonly referred to as “frangible” bullets, designed to disintegrate upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal are not softnose or expanding projectiles.

Pistols & Revolvers

In general, pistols and revolvers may be used for hunting black bear in California.  However, ammunition is restricted to centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles.* See 14 CCR § 353(c) and “California Condor Range” above.

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to make it unlawful to hunting Big Game in violation of Sections 250.1 and 353 and to add the following definitions:

(1) A softnose or expanding projectile is a bullet designed to increase from its original diameter, commonly referred to as “mushrooming”, and retain a significant part of its original weight upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal.
(2) Projectiles commonly referred to as “frangible” bullets, designed to disintegrate upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal are not softnose or expanding projectiles.

Rifles.

In general, hunting black bear in California with a rifle is allowed.  However, ammunition is restricted to only centerfire cartridges with softnose or expanding projectiles.* (Also see “Muzzleloaders” above.) These rifle hunting regulations are located at 14 CCR § 353(a).

* Proposed Regulation: there is a proposal to make it unlawful to hunting Big Game in violation of Sections 250.1 and 353 and to add the following definitions:

(1) A softnose or expanding projectile is a bullet designed to increase from its original diameter, commonly referred to as “mushrooming”, and retain a significant part of its original weight upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal.
(2) Projectiles commonly referred to as “frangible” bullets, designed to disintegrate upon impact with, or when passing through the tissues of an animal are not softnose or expanding projectiles.

Shotguns.

In general, shotguns are allowed for black bear hunting in California subject to ammunition and shell capacity restrictions.

Ammunition.

California black bear hunting seasons for shotguns.
Shotgun restrictions for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

Slugs may be used for hunting California black bear.  Warning shot!!!  In areas where the discharge of slugs is prohibited by county ordinances, buckshot may NOT be used for hunting black bear.  Also see “California Condor Range” above. See 14 CCR § 353(b).

Shell Capacity.

Shotguns must be incapable of holding more than three (3) shells firing single slugs. See 14 CCR § 353(b).

Skulls.

Sale of skulls from California black bear hunting seasons.
Sale of skulls for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

Within 10 days of killing a California black, the skull (even if damaged) must be given to a CDFW office/officer for scientific purposes. Warning shot!!!  CDFW requires premolar tooth extraction from every bear taken during the hunting season for the purpose of bear management.  To keep the jaws open, place a stick or other object in the bear’s jaw.   Don’t resent frozen skulls to have have the premolar tooth removed; they break easily when skulls are frozen.  Wildlife biologists use it to determine the bear’s age, which will be sent to you the following fall or winter.

See 14 CCR § 367.5.

Trapping.

No iron, steel-jawed, or metal jawed trap may be used for hunting black bear in California.  In San Bernardino County and Riverside County, California black bears may be taken with other types of traps (see FGC §§ 3011 and 4185; and Food and Agric. Code § 17121). See FGC § 4750 and our summary of California Trapping Laws.

Vehicles.

Aircraft.

No motorized, hot-air, or unpowered aircraft capable of flight or earth orbiting imaging device may be used beginning 48 hours before until 48 hours after the Big Game hunting season. Warning shot!!!  Flying slowly at low altitude, hovering, circling, and repeatedly flying over is evidence of a violation. See 14 CCR § 251.

Powered Vehicles.

Vehicles during California black bear hunting seasons, including ATV and OHV's.
Motor vehicles for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

In general, motor vehicles may NOT be used to pursue, drive, herd, take, or kill a California black bear (e.g. motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, and snowmobile). However, such vehicles may be used if (1) the motor has been shut off or the sails furled, (2) all forward progress has ceased, and (3) it is drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by paddle, oar, or pole.

There are exceptions related to private property damage, depredation permits, and mobility impaired hunters with a Mobility Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License (link to our summary of rules for California disabled hunters.

Link to our summary for hunting in California on navigable waters. These California black bear laws are located at 14 CCR § 251.

[Back to Top]


California Black Bear Body and Parts.

Donations.

The tag holder of a California black bear may donate the skin, hide, teeth, claws, or other parts to veterans’ organizations or veterans’ service committees for use by veterans for rehabilitation purposes.  Warning shot!!! The donor must retain the receipt for the designated period of time. See FGC § 4759.

Imports.

In general, bears taken outside of and transported into California are subject to the provisions in the section. Click here for Declaration of Entry. See FGC § 4760.

Live Bears.

It is illegal to import, transport, or possess live bears except with a permit from the CDFW. See 14 CCR § 671(c)(2)(K).

Personal Use.

For personal use only, the tag holder may tan or use his or her California black bear skin, hide, teeth, claws, and other parts. See FGC § 4759.

Property Damage.

In general, bears taken to prevent damage to livestock, land, and other property are subject to the provisions in the section. Also, see Depredation Permits and FGC § 4760.

[Back to Top]


California Black Bear Purchase and Sales.

In general, it’s illegal 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.  Warning shot!!! Possession of more than one bear gall bladder is proof of possession for sale.

These California bear hunting regulation are located at are FGC § 4758 and 12005]

[Back to Top]


Hunting Areas for California Black Bear Hunting Seasons.

Public hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
Hunting locations for California Black Bear hunting seasons.

There are a lot of great hunting opportunities for black bear in California. For private hunts, follow our links to hunting clubs and hunting guides. For public land, follow the links below, which are organized by regions of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW).

    • Region 1:  Northern California Bear Hunting.
    • Region 2:  Northern California Bear Hunting, North Central.
    • Region 3:  Northern California Bear Hunting, Bay Delta.
    • Region 4:  Central California Bear Hunting.
    • Region 5:  Southern California Bear Hunting, South Coast.
    • Region 6:  Southern California Bear Hunting, Inland Deserts.

Region 1.

Northern California Black Bear Hunting.

CDFW Region 1 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
Skulls for Northern California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Antelope Valley Wildlife Area.
    2. Cahto Peak Unit of the South Fork Eel River  (BLM).
    3. Cantara/Ney Springs Wildlife Area.
    4. Jackson Demonstration State Forest.
    5. King Range National Conservation Area (BLM).
    6. Klamath National Forest.
    7. Lacks Creek Area Management Area (BLM).
    8. Lassen National Forest.
    9. Latour Demonstration State Forest.
    10. Red Mountain Management/Recreation Area (BLM).
    11. Sacramento River Management Area (BLM).
    12. Shasta Management Area (BLM).
    13. Shasta-Trinity National Forest.
    14. Sheepy Ridge Wildlife Area.
    15. Six Rivers National Forest.
    16. South Fork Eel River (Cahto Peak Unit) (BLM).
    17. Tehama Wildlife Area.
    18. Trinity Management Area (BLM).
    19. Wiskeytown National Recreation Area.

Region 2.

North Central California Black Bear Hunting.

CDFW Region 2 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
North Central California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Cache Creek Recreation Area (BLM).
    2. Cache Creek Wildlife Area.
    3. Coon Hollow Wildlife Area.
    4. Cow Mountain Recreation Area (BLM).
    5. Eldorado National Forest.
    6. Heenan Lake Wildlife Area.
    7. Hope Valley Wildlife Area.
    8. Indian Valley Recreation Area (BLM).
    9. Indian Valley Wildlife Area.
    10. Mendocino National Forest.
    11. Plumas National Forest.
    12. Red Lake Wildlife Area.
    13. Smithneck Creek Wildlife Area.
    14. Stanislaus National Forest.
    15. Tahoe National Forest.
    16. Toiyabe National Forest.
    17. Truckee River Wildlife Area.
    18. Warner Valley Wildlife Area.

Region 3.

Bay Delta California Black Bear Hunting.

CDFW Region 3 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
Bay Delta California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Knoxville Recreational Area (BLM).
    2. Knoxville Wildlife Area.

Region 4.

Central California Black Bear Hunting.

 

CDFW Region 4 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
Central California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Domeland Addition Wilderness (BLM).
    2. Keysville/Isabella Lake.
    3. Kinsman Flat Wildlife Area.
    4. Klavah Wilderness (BLM).
    5. Los Padres National Forest.
    6. Monache Meadows Wildlife Area.
    7. Mountain Home Demonstration State Forest.
    8. Owens Peak Wilderness (BLM).
    9. Pleasant Valley Ecological Reserve.
    10. Sacatar Trail Wilderness (BLM).
    11. Sequoia National Forest.
    12. Sheep Ridge (BLM).
    13. Sierra National Forest.
    14. Stanislaus National Forest.
    15. Walker Pass (BLM).

Region 5.

South Coast California Black Bear Hunting.

 

CDFW Region 5 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
South Coast California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Los Padres National Forest.
    2. Santa Barbara County (SHARE Program).

Region 6.

Inland Deserts California Black Bear Hunting.

CDFW Region 6 hunting areas for the California black bear hunting seasons.
Inland Deserts California Black Bear hunting seasons.
    1. Bridgeport Management Area (BLM).
    2. Buttermilk Country Wildlife Area.
    3. By-Day Creek Ecological Reserve.
    4. Cadiz Dunes (BLM).
    5. East Walker River Wildlife Area.
    6. Green Creek Wildlife Area.
    7. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest.
    8. Inyo National Forest.
    9. Long Valley Management Area (BLM).
    10. Owens Lake Management Area (BLM).
    11. Pickel Meadow Wildlife Area.
    12. San Bernardino Mountains (BLM).
    13. San Bernardino National Forest.
    14. San Jacinto Mountains (BLM).
    15. Slinkard-Little Antelope Wildlife Area.
    16. West Slinkard Valley Management Area (BLM).
    17. West Walker River Wildlife Area.

California Black Bear Hunting Forum.

To participate in our California bear hunting forum, leave your buddies a response or reply below with a California bear hunting tip.

[Back to Top]


While we try to fetch up all rules and procedures for California black bear hunting seasons, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

e24

2 thoughts on “California Black Bear Hunting Seasons, 32 Laws, and 73 Locations”

Leave a Reply