California Bobcat Hunting Season, Laws, and Locations

California bobcat hunting seasons

Here, we fetch up rules about the California Bobcat Hunting Season, plus important laws and hunting locations.

Topics

    1. Seasons.
    2. Bag & Possession Limit.
    3. Shooting Hours.
    4. Tags.
    5. Hunting Methods.
    6. Hunting Locations.
    7. Hunting License.
    8. Calling.
    9. Trapping.
    10. Pelts.
    11. Depredation Permits.
    12. Hunting dogs.
    13. Selling.
    14. Live Bobcats.
    15. Export.
    16. Imports.
    17. Definitions.
    18. Housing Facilities.

Bag & Possession Limit

California bobcat hunting season bag limits.
California bobcat hunting season bag limits.

The bag and possession limit in California is five (5) bobcats of either sex per season. See 14 CCR § 478(b).  Warning shots!!!  Bobcats can only be taking during season and also requires a hunting tag (see below).

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Bobcat Calling

Recorded and electrically amplified bird and mammal calls or sounds, both natural or imitation, are allowed for hunting bobcat in California. This an exception to the general rule against using them.  The same exception applies to coyotes, American crows, and starlings. See 14 CCR § 475(b).

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Definitions

A bobcat is a mammal.  By definition, nongame mammals are those that are not “game mammals, fully protected mammals, or fur-bearding mammals.” By process of elimination, a bobcat is a nongame mammal. See  FGC § 4150 and definitions for “big game,” “small game” and “furbearing mammals.”

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Depredation Permits

Is a bobcat threatening your land, property, or livestock?

California bobcat hunting season permits.
California bobcat hunting season permits.

If you’re the landowner or tenant, you’ll need what’s called a “depredation permit” from the CDFW to kill it. In this section, you’ll find a summary of the regulations, which are generally located at 14 CCR § 401 and our page for Depredation Permits.

Livestock

If the bobcat is an immediate threat to your livestock, you can kill it immediately.  The next working day, you have to go to the CDFW and get a depredation permit.

Land & Property

If a bobcat is threatening to harm you land or property, you have to get a permit  before you kill it.

Application

To get a depredation permit from the CDFW, you have to fill out an application. You’ll have to provide info, like what you’ve already done to prevent the bobcat from harming your land or property, and what you’ll do in the future to keep it from happening again.  You’ll also have to propose how you intend to kill the bobcat.

Damage to People and Property

To get a depredation permit, you’ll have to tell the CDFW how you plan to kill the bobcat. In general, you can use all legal methods to kill the bobcat subject to the following restrictions:

    • No poison.
    • No steel-jawed leghold traps.

Warning shots!!! In addition, the CDFW is allowed to restrict the caliber and type of firearm and ammunition, as well as the type of archery equipment and crossbow.  They can even require that you capture the bobcat live with traps. If you’re allowed to kill it, you have to do it quickly and humanely. You still have to comply with any and all city, county, and state firearm regulations.

See 14 CCR § 465.5 and 14 CCR § 475 for further restrictions on methods for hunting bobcats, including traps with depredation permits.

Hours of Take

In general, if the bobcat is causing damage to growing crops or other property, you can use the permit to kill it at any time, day or night.  However, the CDFW may restrict the hours for reasons of public safety and to protect other wildlife.

Warning shots!!!  For more info about qualifications, conditions, and requirements, see FGC § 4152.

Dogs

California Bobcat Hunting Season with Dogs.
California Bobcat Hunting Season with Dogs.

In general, it’s illegal to pursue bobcats with a dog. See “Dogs” below.  However, if you need dogs to kill a bobcat that’s causing property damage, you’ll have to apply to the CDFW.  You’ll have to tell them why you need dogs and how many.  Warning shots!!!  Under no circumstances can you use more than three dogs to go after a bobcat. See FGC § 3960(2)(b) and FGC § 3960.2 for more information the use of dogs to purse bobcats.

You can also use dogs to chase a bobcat if it’s being used to guard or protect livestock or crops, as long as the dog is on property owned, leased, or rented by the dog owner.  Warning shot!!!  The dogs have to be reasonably closed to the things it’s guarding. See FGC § 3960.6.

If you misuse dogs to pursue bobcats, the government has the right to capture or kill your dogs.

Helpers

You can designate up to three people to do the job for you (including a dog handler). However, they all have to be at least 21 years old.  They also can’t have any wildlife-related convictions within the past two years or be prohibited from hunting or carrying firearms.

Permit

In general, the permit gives you 60 days to kill one bobcat.  You can’t pursue it more that one mile from your property.  If you’re using dogs, the permit gives you only 20 days to kill the bobcat. Don’t worry, though, you can apply for a renewal if the problem still exists.

Tags

After killing the bobcat, you have to tag it immediately with the tags provided with the permit. As soon as you get home, mail the tag report back to the CDFW.

Carcass

You cannot use the bobcat or any part of the bobcat for commercial or personal use. You either have to leave it where it was killed or dispose of it.

Reports

If you used dogs, you have to send a report to the CDFW within 30 days of being issued the permit. You have to tell them the date of kill and sex of the bobcat.  If you didn’t kill the bobcat, you have to tell them why not and whether it was harmed.  Warning shots!!!  You have to send the report even if you didn’t kill the bobcat.

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Dogs for Bobcat Hunting

California Bobcat Hunting Season with Dogs.
California Bobcat Hunting Season with Dogs.

In general, dogs are not allowed for hunting or taking bobcats in California. Similarly, bobcats may not be used to train dogs.  (Click here for our summary of dog-specific regulations.)

There are a few exceptions for preventing property damage and for scientific research. Warning shot!!!  Depending on the circumstances, the CDFW may capture or kill any dog unlawfully in pursuit of, inflicting injury to, or threatening to injure a bobcat

See “Depredation Permits” above, as well as FGC §§ 3960.4(b) and 3960(c).

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Export of Bobcats Out of California

If you take (i.e. kill) a bobcat in California, it’s illegal to export it or any part of it from California.  See 14 CCR § 478(c).

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Import of Bobcat Pelts Into California

In general, it’s illegal to import a pelt or other part of a bobcat.  Similarly, it’s illegal to receive or buy an imported pelt or other part of a bobcat.

California Bobcat Hunting Season Pelts.
California Bobcat Hunting Season Pelts.

The only exception is with a current export or shipping tag from the other state. Warning shot!!! You also have to have an “import declaration” with info like the state where it’s from, the license humber of the hunter, a statement that it was killed legally.  The pelt also has to have proper marking.  For more information, see  14 CCR § 479(b).

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Housing Facilities for Bobcats

Under very limited circumstances, live bobcats may be held in captivity.  See Section 14 CCR Sec. 671.3 for minimum facility and caging requirements.

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Shooting Hours for California Bobcat Hunting

In general, the shooting hours for bobcats are one-half (1/2) hour before sunrise until one-half (1/2) hour after sunset

However, landowners and tenants (or people with written authorization from the landowner or tenant) on privately-owned property can hunt them at night except in areas closed to night-hunting. See 14 CCR § 474 for a description of closed area.

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License for California Bobcat Hunting

A California hunting license is required to pursue, take or possess any bobcat.  Warning shot!!!  Tags are also required. See 14 CCR § 478(a).

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Live Bobcats in California

Live bobcats may NOT be imported, transported or possessed without a permit from the CDFW. See 14 CCR § 671.

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Methods of Hunting Bobcats

Bobcats are considered “nongame mammals.” In general, bobcats can be hunted in any manner subject to the following restrictions:

    1. No poison.
    2. No  trapping.
    3. No feed, bait, or other attractant in conjunction with a dog.
    4. No lead ammunition or projectile in the California Condor Range.
    5. No lead ammunition or projectile after July 1, 2019.

Reference 14 CCR § 475 and 14 CCR § 478(c). Also see “Bobcat Calls” above, and link to our summaries on the use of Nontoxic Shoot and hunting in the California Condor Range.

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Bobcat Pelts

California Bobcat Hunting Season Pelts.
California Bobcat Hunting Season Pelts.

You cannot possess, export, of use a bobcat pelt unless you killed it with a valid hunting license and tag.  In the past, there was an exception if the CDFW either marked the pelt or put a shipping tag on it, but that ended in November 2015. Also, see 14 CCR § 479 and “Bobcat Imports” above.

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Seasons for California Bobcat Hunting

In general, the season for California bobcat hunting is from October 15 through February 29, 2017Warning shot!!!  Since November 20, 2015, it has been illegal to trap bobcats. Also, see 14 CCR § 478(c).

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Tags for California Bobcat Hunting

In addition to a valid hunting license, a tag is also required for California bobcat hunting. The tags must be purchased from the CDFW prior to hunting. You can get them online or from a CDFW purchasing agent or license sales office.  You can buy no more than five tags per season. In 2015, the fee was $14.25 per tag. (See Section 702(c)(1)(P) for current pricing.) After killing a bobcat, you have to fill out the tag immediately and attach it to the pelt. You have to keep it tagged until the bobcat is tanned, dried, or mounted. Also, see 14 CCR § 478.1.

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Selling California Bobcats

If you take (i.e. kill) a bobcat in California, it’s illegal to sell it or any part of it.  Also, see 14 CCR § 478 and “Pelts” above.

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Bobcat Trapping

California Bobcat Hunting Season Trapping.
California Bobcat Hunting Season Trapping.

As of November 20, 2015, bobcats may no longer be trapped in California.   In fact, if you have a trapping license and trap a bobcat, you must release it immediately to the wild unharmed. See 14 CCR § 478(c).

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Hunting Opportunities

Private Land

There are hunting clubs and guides that will take you bobcat hunting.

Military Bases

There may be opportunities for you to hunt bobcat in California at Fort Hunter Liggett.

National Forests

California bobcat hunting is authorized in the following National Forests:

Cleveland National Forest.

Wildlife Areas

California bobcat hunting is authorized at the following Wildlife Areas:

    1. Cedar Roughs Wildlife Area.
    2. Hallelujah Junction Wildlife Area.
    3. Hope Valley Wildlife Area.
    4. Knoxville Wildlife Area.
    5. Slinkard-Little Antelope Wildlife Area.
    6. Surprise Valley Wildlife Area.

Other Areas

California bobcat hunting is allowed at other locations:

    1. Eastman Lake.
    2. Mojave National Preserve.
    3. New Hogan Lake.

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While we try to fetch up all California bobcat hunting season laws and locations, we might miss a few or make a typo. If so, please leave a comment or question in the reply box below.

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