California Mink Trapping Seasons, Laws, and Hunting Locations

California mink hunting seasons and California mink trapping.

Here, we fetch up California mink trapping seasons, laws, and hunting locations. Also see our pages for general trapping rules and mink hunting.

Topics

    1. Seasons.
    2. Bag limits.
    3. Shooting / trapping hours.
    4. Methods of Take.
    5. Hunting and trapping licenses.
    6. Locations for hunting.
    7. Hunting forum.
    8. Trapping.
    9. Buying and selling.
    10. Possession of live mink.
    11. Violations.
    12. Regulations.

Hunting Laws for California Mink Trapping

For California mink trapping, there are hunting laws just for mink (e.g. seasons, bag limits, and possession limits). Mink are more broadly regulated as MammalsFurbearing Mammals, and Wild Animals. The law also refers to them as as “furbearers” and “fur-bearing mammals.” See FGC § 4000.

Hunting laws for mink 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 mink trapping.

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Hunting and Trapping Licenses

For California mink 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 huntersWarning shot!!! You have to have your license with you while hunting. 14 CCR § 770(b).

Hunting License

To hunt mink 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.

Trapping License

To trap mink, and all other Furbearing Mammals or Nongame Mammals, you also need a Trapping License (see below).

Disabled Hunters

If you’re a disabled and want to hunt mink, you can apply for a Recovering Service Member Hunting LicenseDisabled Veteran Hunting License, or Mobility Impaired Disabled Persons Motor Vehicle License.

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Hunting and Trapping Seasons

General Season

The seasons for hunting and trapping mink in California are from November 16 through March 31, 2017.  The seasons applies statewide. See 14 CCR § 462.

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Daily Bag and Possession Limits

There is no Daily Bag Limit or Possession Limit for hunting or trapping mink in California. See 14 CCR § 462.

Warning shot!!! If you legally injure or trap a mink in California, you have to kill it immediately. See 14 CCR § 251.5(c).

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Possession of Live Mink

Under very limited circumstances, you may possess a live mink.  However, you have to meet minimum facility and caging standards for housing them at a permanent facilities. See 14 CCR § 671.3(a)(10).

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Methods of Take

California mink trapping seasons hunting methods.
California mink trapping seasons hunting methods.

In this section, you’ll find info about methods of hunting and trapping during the California mink trapping. In general, furbearing mammals, including mink, 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: airplanesarchery, boatscapturecontestscrossbowsdogsfirearmsharassmentherding & drivinginfraredlights, motorized vehiclespoisonproperty damagesnowmobiles, and traps.

Archery

In general, you can hunt furbearing mammals, including mink, 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.

Warning shots!!!

California mink trapping seasons archery.
California mink trapping seasons archery.
    1. Don’t shoot from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
    2. Your bow has to be capable of casting a legal arrow at least 130 yards.
    3. 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).
    4. Don’t put a bow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.

See FGC § 400214 CCR § 465, and 14 CCR § 354. Also see and our summary of archery-specific regulations and Crossbows.

Boats

See Motorized Vehicles below.

Capture

In general, it’s illegal to capture and confine furbearing mammals, including mink, taken from the wild.  There are limited exceptions for injured or diseased animals. See FGC § 3005.5

Contests

It’s illegal to offer a reward for killing furbearing mammals, including mink, 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].

Crossbows

Crossbows for California mink trapping.
California mink trapping seasons crossbows.

In general, you can hunt furbearing mammals, including mink, 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.

Warning shots!!!

    1. Don’t shoot from or across any highway, road, or place open to the pubic for vehicles.
    2. Your crossbow has to be capable of casting a legal arrow at least 130 yards.
    3. 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).
    4. Don’t put a crossbow in your vehicle if it’s nocked or the end of an arrow is fit to the notch.

See FGC § 400214 CCR § 465, and 14 CCR § 354. Also see and our summary of archery-specific regulations.

Dogs for Hunting and Training

Hunting dogs during the California mink trapping
California mink trapping seasons hound dogs.

In general, you can use dogs to hunt furbearing mammals, including mink, during the California mink 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. Link to our page for Dog Hunting Laws, and see FGC § 400214 CCR § 465, and 14 CCR § 265.

Firearms

Firearms for the California mink trapping
California mink trapping seasons firearms.

In general, firearms are allowed for hunting furbearing mammals, including mink, during the California mink 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 § 400214 CCR § 250.1(d), and 14 CCR § 465.

Harassment

In general, it’s illegal to Harass furbearing mammals, including mink.

Herding & Driving

In general, it’s illegal to herd or drive furbearing mammals, including mink. 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 mink. Examples include infra red, plus binos and scope with light amplifying circuits. See FGC § 2005(c).

Lights

In general, you can use lights to hunt furbearing and nongame mammals, including mink, 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, you cannot use lights:

    1. During the general deer season.
    2. From a moving vehicle or with the motor on.
    3. 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 use lights but only if you satisfy the conditions listed below.

    1. The batteries have to be nine volts or less (hand-held and headlights are okay).
    2. You have to be on foot.
    3. You cannot use them from a vehicle.
    4. They can’t be powered from any other source.

See 14 CCR § 264.5.

There is another exception when mink are causing Property Damage (see below).

Motor Vehicles

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.

Poison Permit

In general, a poison permit from the CDFW is required to take furbearing mammals, including mink. 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 and FGC § 4003.

Property Damage

If you’re a landowner or tenant, and a mink is causing property damage, you can kill it any time, day or night, and in any legal manner.  If someone else does it for you at night, they’ll need your written permission before using more than 9 volts of artificial light. After it’s killed, you have to notify the closest CDFW office. In the alternative, the CDFW might be willing to send an employee to kill if for you too.

Warning shot!!! If you kill a mink in this manner, you can’t sell the raw fun. If traps are used, they have to be checked and emptied daily.  See FGC § 3005(d) [exempt from restrictions on the use of any net, pound, cage, trap, set line or wire], FGC § 4180, FGC § 4181 [permit required only for elk, bear, beaver, wild pig, wild turkeys, or gray squirrels], and 14 CCR § 264.5(d) [use of lights].

Snowmobiles

See Motorized Vehicles below.

Traps

See “Trapping” below.

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Trapping

In general, trapping is allowed for Nongame Mammals and Furbearing Mammals, which includes mink. See FGC § 4002 and 14 CCR § 465. In this section, you’ll find info about:

    1. Trapping license.
    2. Legal traps.
    3. Body-gripping traps.
    4. Conibear traps.
    5. Identification of traps.
    6. Trap placement.
    7. Trap checking.
    8. Animal removal.
    9. Reports.

Trapping License

A trapping license from the CDFW is required for trapping nongame mammals and furbearing mammals, including mink.  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.

See FGC § 4005, FGC § 4006, FGC § 4007, FGC § 4008, and FGC § 4009.

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.)

See FGC § 3003.1 and 14 CCR § 465.5(c) and (g).

Illegal Body-Gripping Traps

Body-gripping traps are almost always illegal.  They include traps that grip the mammal’s body or body part. Here are some examples:

California mink trapping laws.
California mink trapping illegal traps .
    1. Steel-jawed leghold traps.
    2. Saw-toothed traps,.
    3. Spike-jaw traps.
    4. Padded-jaw leghold traps.
    5. Conibear traps.
    6. Snares.

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 § 3003.1FGC § 4004(a) and (b), and 14 CCR § 465.5(c) and (d)

Conibear Traps

In general, you can only use Conibear traps in certain areas, and the rules change based on the size and location of trap. There may also be an exception for landowners and tenants trying to prevent property damage.

Zones Closed To Conibear Traps

There are geographical zones were Conibear traps and snares are prohibited unless they are completely submerged.  See 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, it has to be partially or wholly submerged. See FGC § 4004(e).

Less Than 10 x 10 Inches

If the jaw opens less than 10 x 10 inches, but more than 8 x 8 inches, you can only use them (a) in water OR (b) within 100 feet of (1) permanent water or (2) marshes, pastures, ag land, or floodways with standing or running water.  There’s another exception for beavers in wooded areas. See FGC § 4004(e) and 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(4) and (5)

Public Land

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) and 14 CCR § 465.5.

Trap Identification

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).

Trap Placement

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.

Trap Checking

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).

Animal Removal

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. You are not allowed to kill it by any of the methods listed below.

    1. Intentional drowning.
    2. Injection with any chemical not sold for the purpose of euthanizing animals.
    3. Thoracic compression, commonly known as chest crushing (except for tapping beaver and muskrat with conibear traps).

See FGC § 4004(d) and (g) and 14 CCR § 465.5(g)(1) and (2).

Reports

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.

If you don’t report, the CDFW can suspend your tappers’ license and deny your application for renewal. If you need help with this, contact our attorney for a free consultation. See 14 CCR § 467.

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Shooting / Trapping Hours

In general, furbearing mammals, including mink, 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).

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Purchase and Sale

In general, it’s illegal to buy or sell birds and mammals taken from the wild. However, there’s an exception for nongame and furbearing mammals.  The exception includes mink taken during the California mink trapping seasons.  You can buy and sell handcrafted items made from the mink, including the carcass. See FGC § 3039(b).

If you kill a mink under the authority of a trapping license, you can also sell the raw fur. You need a dealer license if you’re in the business of buying, selling, trading, or dealing raw fur. If you’re a domesticated breeder, you don’t need a dealer license. See summary for Buying and Selling Birds and Mammals; andFGC §§ 4030, 40344036, and 4042.

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Violations

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.

If you misuse lights during the California mink trapping, you could be arrested by a peace office. See FGC § 12156 and FGC § 2005(e).

If you break a trapping law, you could be fined up to $2,000 and go to jail for up to one year. See 14 CCR § 465.5(h)

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Hunting Areas

In this section, you’ll find public areas where you might find mink during the California mink trapping.

Lakes

In general, hunting and trapping is allowed on land surrounding several lakes managed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). See 36 CFR § 327.8(b).

Wildlife Areas

In general, it’s illegal to take any mammal from a game refuge unless the regulations specifically allow it, which is the case for all “Type CWildlife AreasWarning shots!!!  Make sure you follow all the rules for California mink 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 mink:

    1. Decker Island Wildlife Area
    2. East Walker Wildlife Area
    3. Elk River Wildlife Area

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Mink Hunting Forum and Blog

To participate in our forum for the California mink trapping, just leave a question or comment below.

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While we try to fetch up all California mink trapping seasons, 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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