Nongame Mammals include all mammals that are not classified as a game mammal, furbearing mammal, or fully protected mammal. By default, coyotes are considered nongame mammals. Rules and regulations for “Mammals” and “Nongame Mammals” apply to California coyote trapping. See FGC § 4150.
A Hunting License from the California Department of Fish & Wildlife (“CDFW”) is required to hunt birds and mammals in California, including California coyote trapping. There are also licenses for dealers, disabled hunters, guides and outfitters, hunting clubs, junior hunters, and trapping.
If you’re a fur dealer, you need to get a Fur Dealer License.
If you’re a disabled hunter and want to hunt American crow, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting License, Disabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.
Guides and Outfitters
If you’re a commercial guide or outfitter that offers American crow hunting, you must get a Guide License.
If you’re a commercial hunting club that offers American crow hunting, you must get a Commercial Hunting Club License.
If you’re a Junior and want to hunt American crow, you must get a Junior Hunting License.
A trapping license is required for trapping of of furbearing mammals and nongame mammals, including coyote. See FGC § 4005.
Seasons & Limits
In general, the California coyote trapping is allowed all year long throughout the State. See 14 CCR § 472.
Daily Bag Limit
There is no Possession Limit for coyotes. See 14 CCR § 472. Warning Shot!!! If you shot or trap a coyote, you must kill it immediately and it becomes part of your daily bag limit. The same is true for all game birds, game mammals, furbearing mammals, and other nongame animals. See 14 CCR § 251.5(c).
Methods of Take
Nongame mammals, including coyote, can be taken in any manner but there are exceptions and restrictions related to: Bait, Boats, Bow and arrows, calls, computer assisted remotes, contests, crossbows, dogs, harassment, lights, motor vehicles, night hunting, pistols, poison, property damage, rifles, shotguns, and traps. See 14 CCR § 475.
When hunting with dogs, it’s usually illegal to use feed, bait and other attractants to take nongame mammals, including coyote. There is an exception for using dogs to follow a trap drag. See 14 CCR § 475(e) and Dogs below.
Boats, Canoes, & Kayaks
See Motorized Vehicles below.
Bow and Arrows
In general, you can use a Bow and any type of Arrow to hunt coyotes. However, you cannot use arrows with (1) lighted nocks casting a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison.
- Don’t shoot arrows from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
- Your bow has to be capable of killing the animal from at least 130 yards.
- In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting during any archery season.
- Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.
You can use recordings of bird and mammal to hunt coyotes. You can also use electrically amplified bird and mammal calls and sounds (or imitations of bird and mammal sounds). These are exceptions to the general rule against using them for hunting birds and mammals. The exceptions also apply to hunting bobcats, American crows, and starlings. See FGC § 3012 and 14 CCR § 475(b).
In general, it’s illegal to offer an award to take game birds in California. The only exceptions are when the award is less than $500 or with a permit from the CDFW. See FGC § 2003 and 14 CCR § 472(e).
In general, you can use a Crossbow and any type of bolt to hunt coyote. However, you cannot use crossbow bolts with (1) lighted nocks casting a beam of light, (2) an explosive head, (3) tranquilizers, or (4) poison.
- Don’t shoot crossbow bolts from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
- Your crossbow has to be capable of killing the animal from at least 130 yards.
- In general, you’re not allowed to have a firearm while hunting during any archery season.
- Don’t have your crossbow in your vehicle if it’s in a ready-to-fire position.
In general, dogs are allowed for hunting and trapping coyotes in California. Click here for more California hunting dog laws, including hunting and training.
In general, Animal Harassment is illegal and includes any disruption of the animal’s normal behavior patters (e.g. breeding, feeding, sheltering). There’s an exception for landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage. See 14 CCR § 251.1, 14 CCR § 251.2, and Property Damage.
If you’re in possession of a firearm or weapon that could be used to kill nongame mammals, like coyotes, use of artificial lights may be illegal. First, you cannot use artificial lights on a highway. Second, you can use artificial lights on animal. Third, you can’t use artificial lights in a field, woodland or forest where nongame mammals are commonly found. These rules apply even if you don’t try to kill it. The same is true for game mammals and furbearing mammals. See FGC § 2005.
In general, it’s illegal to chase coyotes with or shoot the from a motorized vehicle, including boats, snowmobiles, etc. There are exceptions related to private property damage, permits, and agricultural practices.
In general, it’s illegal to “pursue, drive, herd, or take any bird or mammal from any type of motor-driven air or land vehicles, motorboat, airboat, sailboat, or snowmobile.” This includes driving them toward another person for the purpose of taking them. See FGC § 3003.5 [general rule and exceptions] and FGC § 3501.
In general, it’s illegal to “shoot at any game bird or mammal, including a marine mammal as defined in Section 4500, from a powerboat, sailboat, motor vehicle, or airplane.” There is an exception when the motor has be shut off (or the sails furled) and all forward momentum has come to a halt. The boat has to be “drifting, beached, moored, resting at anchor, or is being propelled by paddle, oar or pole.” There are more exceptions related to private property damage and a license from the CDFW. See FGC § 3002 and 14 CCR § 251.
“Night hunting” means from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise. Whether you can use lights to hunt at night depends on the location. What kind of lights you can use depends on the time of year, the kind of lights you want to use, and how you’re using them (see 14 CCR § 264).
Counties Closed to Night Hunting
Night hunting is not allowed east of Highway 101 in both Monterey County and San Benito County.
Deer Season Exception
Motor Vehicle Restriction
If you’re using artificial lights (e.g. spotlights) from a motor vehicle, the the motor has to be turned off and the vehicle has to be stopped. Warning shot!!! You cannot use spotlights from a vehicle on a public road or highway. The same rules apply to furbearing mammals. See 14 CCR § 264(a)(2).
Night Hunting Zones 1 and 2
In general, you can use lights of any size or voltage if you’re located in one of the two night-hunting zones (see 14 CCR § 264(b)-(c) for description).
Outside of the Night Hunting Zones, the following rules apply:
- You can only use 9 volt lights or smaller, either hand-held or worn on the head.
- Hunters must be on foot.
- You can’t use them in or from a vehicle.
- The lights can’t be attached or powered from anything other than self-contained batteries.
There is an exception for landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage (e.g. livestock). They can give written authorization for someone else to kill the coyotes. When one is killed, they must notify the closest fish and game office. Warning shots!!! All other restrictions may apply. See 14 CCR § 264.5.
Pistols & Rifles
When hunting coyote in the California Condor Range with rifles and pistols, you can only use nonlead centerfire ammunition. No later than July 1, 2019, the same rule will apply through California.
State Recreation Areas
The use of rifles and pistols to take any bird or mammal is prohibited in Picacho and Providence Mountains State Recreation Areas. See 14 CCR § 311.6.
It’s illegal to use poison to hunt any bird or mammal, including coyotes. It’s also illegal to possess one that was killed with poison. See 14 CCR § 475(a).
If you’re suffering from property damage caused by nongame mammals, including coyotes, you can kill them any time of the day and in any manner.
You can have someone else to do it, so long as they have your written permission. The California Department of Food and Agriculture might also send someone to kill it. Warning shot!! You cannot sell the raw fur of a coyote taken this way.
If you use a trap, you must inspect it daily and immediately remove any animals.
These same rules apply to black-tailed jackrabbits, muskrats, subspecies of red fox that are not the native Sierra Nevada red fox (Vulpes vulpes necator), and red fox squirrels. See FGC § 4152.
As of July 1, 2016, it’s illegal to use or possess any shotgun capable of firing lead ammunition. You can only use Non-toxic Shot approved by the United State Fish & Wildlife Service. The same date applies to Upland Game Birds, Resident Small Game, and Furbearing Mammals. See 14 CCR § 250.1 and 14 CCR § 475(f).
In general, trapping is allowed for taking coyotes. Warning shots!!! Some traps are illegal, and there are a lot of restrictions and requirements. See 14 CCR § 475(d) and our summary of California Trapping Laws.
Body-gripping traps are almost always illegal (e.g. steel-jawed leghold traps, padded-jaw leghold traps, conibear traps, and snares). In fact, it’s illegal to buy, sell, or barter “raw fur” from a nongame mammal taken with these kinds of traps. See FGC § 3003.1(a) [ban, definitions, exceptions], FGC § 4004(a), FGC § 4005 [def. of “raw fur”], 14 CCR § 465.5(c) – (e) [ban, definitions, trapping requirements].
Conibear traps are only legal for non-recreational and non-commercial purposes in order to prevent property damage, but there are multiple requirements and restrictions. 14 CCR § 465.5(f)
“Cage and box traps, nets, suitcase-type live beaver traps, and common rat and mouse traps” can be used for trapping for recreation and commerce in fur. See 14 CCR § 465.5(c).
Before using a legal trap, you must get a trap number that is registered with the CDFW. Stamp the trap number (and number of people using it) onto the trap or a metal tag attached to the chain or trap. See 14 CCR § 465.5(f).
In general, it’s illegal to set traps within 150 yards of any a residence unless they’ve given you prior written consent. There are exception for landowners, tenants, and their agents. Warning shot!!! There are additional requirements for Conibear traps. See 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(3) and (4).
You must check you trap at least once a day and immediately remove any animals. Someone else can do it for you, so long as they have your prior written consent. See 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(2).
If you catch a coyote in a legal trap, you must kill it immediately or set it free. In areas where it’s legal and safe to do so, you must shoot the coyote if you don’t set it free. Certain government officials can use chemical euthanasia. See 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(1).
Product & Crafts
It’s legal to buy and sell products or handcrafted items made from nongame mammals, including coyotes, so long as they were trapped legally. See FGC § 3039(b).
A violation of these rules can result in a fine of $300 to $2,000 and/or jail up to one year. It can also result in the loss of your trapping license. If you’re charge with a violation, contact our attorney immediately. See FGC § 12156, 14 CCR § 465.5(h).
In general, nongame mammals can be taken at any time. There are exceptions in areas closed to night hunting and on private property lying outside of those areas.
Area Closed to Night Hunting
In general, you can only take nongame mammals between one-half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset in areas closed to night hunting. There are limited exceptions related to trapping. See 14 CCR § 474(a).
Beginning at a point where Little Panoche Road crosses Interstate 5 near Mendota; south on Interstate 5 to Highway 198; east on Highway 198 to Highway 99; south on Highway 99 to Interstate 5; south on Interstate 5 to the Los Padres National Forest boundary in Section 8, T 9 N, R 19 W, S.B.B.M near Fort Tejon Historical Monument; west along the National Forest boundary to Cerro Noroeste Road; northwest on Cerro Noroeste Road to Highway 33-166; north on Highway 33-166 to the Soda Lake Road; northwest on the Soda Lake Road and on the Simmler Soda Lake San Diego Creek Road to Highway 58 at Simmler; west on Highway 58 to the Cammotti Shandon Road; north on the Cammotti Shandon Road to the Shandon San Juan Road; north on the Shandon San Juan Road to Highway 41; northeast on Highway 41 to the Cholame Valley Road; northwest on Cholame Valley Road and Cholame Road to the Parkfield Coalinga Road in Parkfield; north on Parkfield Coalinga Road and Parkfield Grade to Highway 198; northwest on Highway 198 to the Fresno-Monterey county line; north along the Fresno-Monterey county and Fresno-San Benito county lines to the Little Panoche Road; north and east on the Little Panoche Road to the point of beginning at Interstate 5.
On private property lying outside of the area closed to night hunting, coyotes may be taken night by the landowner, his or her agents, and anyone with prior written consent. See 14 CCR § 474(b).
Possession & Transport
In general, it’s legal for you to have possession of a nongame bird or mammal, including coyotes, that you legally killed. See 473
In general, it’s illegal to import coyotes into California. The only exception is with a permit from the CDFW. Warning shot!!! There may be additional requirements by cities and counties. See 14 CCR § 671.
In general, it’s illegal to capture, possess, or confine nongame mammals taken from the wild, including coyotes. There’s an exception for temporary confinement for treatment of injury or disease. Illegal animals may be seized by the CDFW. The same is true for any game mammal, game bird, nongame bird, and furbearer. See FGC § 3005.5 and 14 CCR § 679 [temporary confinement for treatment].
In general, it’s illegal to transport coyotes within California. The only exception is with a permit from the CDFW. Warning shot!!! There may be additional requirements by cities and counties. See 14 CCR § 671.
There are many hunting opportunities during California coyote trapping, including public land and hunting clubs. In fact, there are several Wildlife Areas and Ecological Reserves with area-specific rules about hunting coyotes:
- Carrizo Plains Ecological Reserve: Prohibited on the North and South Chimineas units per 14 CCR § 630(d)(11).
- Cibola National Wildlife Area: Prohibited per 50 CFR § 32.24.
- Fort Hunter Liggett
- Hollenbeck Canyon Wildlife Area: Allowed per 14 CCR § 551(t)(8).
- Imperial National Wildlife Refuge: Allowed per 50 CFR § 32.24.
- Oroville Wildlife Area: highlighted by the CDFW, click here.
- Spenceville Wildlife Area: highlighted as an authorized species
NOTE: Under the CDFW SHARE Program, participants are not allowed to hunt nongame birds or mammals, including coyotes. See FGC § 1573.
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