California BLM Hunting Laws and General Use

California hunting seasons, California trapping laws, and California BLM hunting rules.

“BLM” stands for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. On this page, you’ll find California BLM hunting laws and general use. For hunting in particular, topics include restrictions related to ATV’s, boats, camping, dogs, firearms, natural resources, OHV’s, registration, and trapping. However, these rules apply to all BLM land, water, and facilities.

Warning shot!!! When hunting or enjoying other activities, these rules are in addition to all other applicable Federal, State, and local laws. Visitors are responsible for knowing and complying with all applicable rules and procedures, plus any postings of closed and special use areas. See 43 CFR §§ 423.3 and 423.21. Unless noted otherwise, all legal references are to Title 43 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 423.

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Aircraft

See Section 423.41

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Alcohol

Possession or consumption of alcohol must comply with applicable Federal, State, or local laws, plus any rules established for BLM Special Use Areas. [423.43]

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Boats, Canoes, & Kayaks

See “Vessels” below.


Camping

California BLM hunting laws for campers, trailers, RV's, tents, camping.Camping is defined as “erecting a tent or shelter; preparing a sleeping bag or other bedding material for use; parking a motor vehicle, motor home, or trailer; or mooring a vessel for the intended or apparent purpose of overnight occupancy.”

  • Duration: a permit is required to camp longer than 14 days in a 30-day period of time
  • Ground: digging and leveling is NOT allowed
  • Latrines: when near a waterbody, toilets are NOT allowed (a) when the lowest point is lower than the high water mark or (b) within 150 of the high water mark
  • Personal Property: may NOT be used in an effort to reserve a campsite for future use
  • Prohibited: a permit is required to camp in areas that are posted, reserved, or closed
  • Refuse: the site must remain clean and all refuse properly disposed of
  • Special Use Areas: allowed in compliance with restrictions, conditions, limitations, or prohibitions
  • Structures: only tents are allowed

[423.2, 423.33 and 423.34]

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Closures

The following areas are closed to the public:

  • Areas fenced or gated
  • Areas with signs indicating that the area is closed or posted
  • Roads that are identified as being closed
  • Areas blocked with barriers and/or locked doors
  • Areas identified with 30 days advance public notice in the newspaper
  • Emergency situations

[Subpart B]

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Conditions For Use

Compliance with all Federal, State, and local laws, as well as all BLM-specific regulations in Part 423, is a condition for public use. [423.20]

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Controlled Substances

Possession, consumptions, delivery, or being under the influence of controlled substances included in Schedules I – V is NOT allowed except when legally obtained through a valid prescription or order [423.44]

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Cultural Resources

A Cultural Resource “means any man-made or associated prehistoric, historic, architectural, sacred, or traditional cultural property and associated objects and documents that are of interest to archaeology, anthropology, history, or other associated disciplines. Cultural resources include archaeological resources, historic properties, traditional cultural properties, sacred sites, and cultural landscapes that are associated with human activity or occupation.” [423.2]

  • Climbing: except in designated special use areas, do NOT walk on, climb, enter, ascend, descend, or traverse cultural resources, including monuments or statues,  [423.29(e)]
  • Tampering: except for renewable resources (picking berries and mushrooms, collecting antlers, etc.), do not destroy, injure, deface, remove, search for, disturb, or alter cultural resources, which may include abandoned buildings or structures. [423.29]
  • Visitors: are responsible for the use and treatment of cultural resources [423.21(c)]

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Disorderly Conduct

Disorderly conduct is NOT allowed and includes, for example, fighting, threats, obscenities, offensive behavior, public nuisances, unreasonable noise, and violence. [423.22]

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Dogs & Pets

  • California BLM hunting laws for dogs and pets.Abandoned: animals may be removed or confined by the BLM
  • Prohibited: animals are NOT allowed in public buildings, public transportation vehicles, or sanitary facilities except for properly trained animals assisting persons with disabilities (e.g. seeing-eye dog).
  • Public Nuisance: vicious, aggressive, and threatening pets and animals are NOT allowed
  • Wild & Exotic Animals: a permit is required (e.g. cougars, lions, bears, bobcats, wolves, snakes)

[423.35]

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Firearms

California BLM hunting laws for firearms, shotguns, rifles, pistols, etc.A firearm “means a device that expels a projectile such as a bullet, dart, or pellet by combustion, air pressure, gas pressure, or other means.” Firearms, ammunition, bows and arrows, and crossbows–

  • Authorization: are allowed–
  1. Hunting: for hunting, subject to all Federal, State, and local laws
  2. Special Use Areas: in special use areas subject to BLM prohibitions or regulations
  3. Stowed: if they are stowed in compliance Federal, State, and local law
  4. Transported: if they are transported in compliance Federal, State, and local law
  5. Shooting Ranges: in areas authorized for target shooting and archery practice
  • Prohibited: are NOT allowed at or in Reclamation Facilities (see below)

[423.2 and 423.30]

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Fires

Fires are allowed subject to the following regulations and restrictions:

  • Attendance: fires must be attended and extinguished before leaving
  • Gasoline: gasoline is allowed, but ONLY  in containers designated for that purpose
  • Smoking Materials: visitors must properly dispose of lighted smoking materials (cigarettes, cigars, pipes, matches)
  • Toxins: visitors are NOT allowed to burn toxic materials (e.g. tires, plastic, treated wood.

[423.31]

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Firewood

ONLY dead wood may be gathered as firewood [423.29(d)]

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Fishing

Fishing means “taking or attempting to take, by any means, any fish, mollusk, or crustacean found in fresh or salt water.”  In general, fishing is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws.  However, fishing is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area. Warning shot!!!  Visitors may NOT introduce fish into Reclamation Waterbodies. [423.2, 423.29 and 423.32]

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Gambling

Commercial gambling of any kind is NOT allowed [423.42]

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Government Officials

Visitors must comply with all Federal, State, and local officials. [423.22]

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Hunting

California BLM hunting laws for hunting.Hunting means “taking or attempting to take wildlife by any means, except by trapping or fishing.”  In general, hunting is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws.  However, hunting is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area [423.2 and 423.32]

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Ice

For ice fishing, ice sailing, and ice skating, see “Winter Activities” below.

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Knowledge of the Law

Visitors are responsible for knowing all applicable laws and regulations, as well as any notices and postings of closed and special use area.  Warning shot!!! Ignorance is not an excuse for violations. [423.21]

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Memorials

Memorials are NOT allowed, including, for example, burials, scattering of human remains, vases, markers, and plaques. [423.28]

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Metal Detectors

A permit is required to use any detection device, including metal detectors, for locating or recovering subsurface objects or features. [423.29(f)]

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Natural Resources

  • Renewable Resources: visitors are allowed to gather renewable resources such as berries, mushrooms, and antlers. [423.29(g)]
  • Responsibility: visitors are responsible for the use and treatment of natural resources [423.21(c)]
  • Rocks: visitors are NOT allowed to drop, place, throw, or roll rocks inside, into, at, or down natural formalities (e.g. caves, caverns, valley, canyons, mountains, thermal features) [423.29 (c)]
  • Tampering: except for “Renewable Resources” (see above), visitors are NOT allowed to destroy, injure, deface, remove, search for, disturb, or alter natural resources, which may include abandoned buildings or structures [423.29]

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Off-Road Vehicles

California BLM hunting laws for ATV's and OHV'sOff-road vehicle means any motorized vehicle (including the standard automobile) designed for or capable of cross-country travel on or immediately over land, water, sand, snow, ice, marsh, swampland, or natural terrain. For restrictions, see “Vehicles” below. [423.2]

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Permits

Permits are required for any use or activity that is otherwise prohibited or restricted (for details, see Sec. 423.50]

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Pets

A pet means any “domesticated animal other than livestock. (“Livestock” is any hoofed animal used for agricultural, riding, pulling, or packing purposes.) [423.2]

See “Dogs & Pets” above for restrictions.

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Personal Property

Personal property of visitors is considered to be abandoned if left unattended for a period of 24 hours.  Abandoned property may be sold at a public sale. [423.23]

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Public Uses

Except when specifically closed, all Reclamation land, waterbodies, and facilities are open to the public for lawful use. [423.10]

  • Advertising: a contract or permit is required to advertise. [423.27]
  • Closures: see above
  • Conditions For Use: see above
  • Gatherings: a permit is required for public assemblies, meetings, demonstrations, parades, and the like. [423.26]

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Reclamation Facility

Reclamation Facility means “any facility constructed or acquired under Federal reclamation law that is situated on Reclamation lands and is used or occupied by Reclamation under a lease, easement, right-of-way, license, contract, or other arrangement. The term includes, but is not limited to, any of the following that are under the jurisdiction of or administered by Reclamation: dams, powerplants, buildings, switchyards, transmission lines, recreation facilities, fish and wildlife facilities, pumping plants, and warehouses.” [423.2]

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Reclamation Lands

Reclamation Land means “any real property under the jurisdiction of or administered by Reclamation, and includes, but is not limited to, all acquired and withdrawn lands and lands in which Reclamation has a lease interest, easement, or right-of-way.” [423.2]

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Reclamation Project

Reclamation Facility means “any water supply, water delivery, flood control, or hydropower project, together with any associated facilities for fish, wildlife, recreation, or water treatment constructed or administered by Reclamation under the Federal reclamation laws (the Act of June 17, 1902 (32 Stat. 388, chapter 1093; 43 U.S.C. 371 et seq.), and Acts supplementary thereto and amendatory thereof).” [423.2]

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Reclamation Waterbody

Reclamation Waterbody means ” as any body of water situated on Reclamation lands or under Reclamation jurisdiction.” [423.2]

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Registration

Visitor registration may be established to limit public use. [423.62]

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Reservations

Visitor reservations may be established to limit public use. [423.62]

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Snow

For snow skiing and snow sleds, see “Winter Activities” below.

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Special Use Areas

For details about the designation and public notice of special use areas, refer to Subpart E.

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Swimming

In general, swimming, wading, snorkeling, scuba diving, rafting, and tubing are allowed at the visitor’s own risk. However, those activities are NOT allowed–

  • Buoys: within 100 yards of buoys or barriers marking public access limits
  • Dams: within 300 yards of dams, power plants, pumping plants, spillways, stilling basins, gates, intake structures, and outlet works
  • Diving: when diving, jumping or swinging from dams, spillways, bridges, cables, towers, or other structures
  • Docks: at public docks, launching sites, and designated mooring areas
  • Drainage: in canals, laterals, siphons, tunnels, and drainage works
  • Signs: when otherwise delineated by signs or other markers.

[423.36] Warning shot!!! There are additional restrictions for underwater activities.

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Trapping

 

California BLM hunting laws for trapping.In general, trapping is allowed in accordance with all applicable Federal, State, and local laws.  However, trapping is NOT allowed if the area has been (1) closed to the public or (2) otherwise designated in a special use area. [423.32]

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Trespassing

Trespassing is NOT allowed and includes, for example, the following unauthorized activities–

  • Commercial activities
  • Dumping of personal property
  • Entry into closed areas
  • Extraction or disturbance of cultural resources,
  • Possession or use of BLM property
  • Public gatherings

[423.24]

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Tubing

Tubing is allowed, but only during daylight hours and subject to any Federal, State, or local laws. [428.38(k)]

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Vandalism

Vandalism is NOT allowed and includes tampering with

  • Property belonging to others
  • Rocks dropped, thrown, or rolled inside, into, down, or from dams, spillways, dikes, and other structures or facilities

[423.25]

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Vegetation & Plants

  • Green Trees/Plants: visitors are NOT allowed to damage green trees or plants
  • Introduction: visitors are NOT allowed to introduce vegetation or plants to Reclamation lands or waterbodies.

[423.29]

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Vehicles

The following requirements and restrictions are in addition to any Federal, State, or local laws, as well as posted restrictions and regulations–

  • Off-Road Vehicles: must comply with 43 CFR Part 420.
  • Owners: are responsible for the operation and use of their vehicles (also see “Off-Road Vehicles”)
  • Parking:
  1. Obstruction: may NOT obstruct or impede (a) normal or emergency traffic or (b) parking of others
  2. Safety: may NOT created a safety hazard or endanger people, property, or natural features.
  • Reckless Driving: vehicles may NOT be operated in a negligent, careless, or reckless manner that endangers people, property, natural resource, or cultural resources
  • Signs, Barriers, & Fences: vehicles may NOT be operated through, around, or beyond restrictive signs, barricades, or fences.

[423.21(b) and 423.40]

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Vessels

The following requirements and restrictions are in addition to any Federal, State, or local laws, as well as posted restrictions and regulations–

  • Construction & Maintenance: vessels must comply with Title 46 of the Code of Federal Regulations
  • Habitation: may NOT be used as a place of habitation or residence
  • Motors: must have proper and effective exhaust muffler
  • Operation: owners and operators may NOT operate vessels
  1. Closed Areas: within closed areas
  2. Intoxication: while impaired or intoxicated
  3. Reckless Driving: in a negligent or reckless manner that endangers people, property, natural resources, or cultural resources
  4. Signs, Buoys, & Markers: in violation of restrictions on signs, buoys or markers
  • Overnight: vessels are allowed overnight, but ONLY as (a) designated in special use areas or (b) provided under Federal, State, or local law.
  • Safety Equipment: vessels must comply with U.S. Coast Guard boating safety requirements (e.g. personal flotation devices)
  • Storage: vessels can remain on Reclamation land or waterbodies, but ONLY if it is either (a) used within 24 hours, (b) securely moored, or (c) stored in a designated special use area.
  • Structures: vessels may NOT be anchored or attached to structures (e.g. locks, dams, and buoys) except when designated for that purpose

[428.38 and 423.39]

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Violations

Violations of Part 423 may result in a fine and/or up to six months in jail. [Subpart F]

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Water Skiing

Water skiing is allowed, but ONLY during daylight hours and subject to any Federal, State, or local laws [428.38(k)]

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Weapons

See “Firearms” above

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Wildlife

  • Animal Remains: may not be buried, deposited, scattered, or memorialized except for parts taken during legal hunting, fishing, or trapping [423.28].
  • Introduction: visitors are NOT allowed to introduce wildlife into Reclamation lands or waterbodies [423.29]
  • Restrictions: visitors are NOT allowed to harass, endanger, or collect animals except when taken in the course of authorized hunting, fishing, or trapping. [423.35]
  • Visitors: are responsible for use and treatment of wildlife [423.21(c)]

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Winter Activities

The following winter activities are allowed subject to posting restrictions and the following conditions–

  • Ice Activities: skating, fishing, and sailing are NOT allowed within 300 yards of dams, power plants, pumping plants, spillways, stilling basins, gates, intake structures, or outlet works
  • Snow Activities: vehicles may NOT be used for towing people on sliding devices (e.g. skis and sleds) except (a) with sleds designed for towing by a snowmobile with a rigid hitching mechanism or (b) disabled snowmobile.

[423.37]

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