On this page, you’ll find a summary of key California Taxidermy Laws.
- Daily Bag and Possession Limits.
- Golden Eagles.
- Migratory Game Birds.
- Record Keeping.
- Preservation Facilities.
- Sale of Unclaimed Mounts.
- Tagging Requirements.
Daily Bag & Possession Limits
When hunting birds in California, hunters have to comply with Daily Bag and Possession Limits. (Follow the links for definitions and limits for each species that may be hunted in California.)
For anyone to take custody or possession of birds, they usually have to comply with bag and possession limits. There’s a limited taxidermy exception. Taxidermists are allowed to take possession of more than those limits at any time of the year. However, the birds must have been lawfully taken and properly tagged.
In general, a taxidermist is allowed to mount Golden eagles. However, they must be received from a falconer whose raptor died. The eagle must have a band or implanted microchip, which must be left in place.
Deer and Elk
In general, it’s illegal for a hunter to import a deer or elk carcass or any of the parts. There’s an exception for finished taxidermy mounts with no meat or tissue attached. There’s also an exception for antlers in the velvet stage if no meat, brain or other tissue is attached.
See 14 CCR § 712(e).
Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, Migratory Game Birds may be imported into the U.S. for the purpose of mounting by a taxidermists. However, the rules listed below must be met.
Migratory Game Birds
Also see our Section for Imports above.
In general, Migratory Game Birds may be delivered to a taxidermist for mounting.
In general, Migratory Birds may be received by a taxidermist for mounting. However, before providing the service the taxidermist must get a permit from the appropriate Regional Director of the USFW.
For more info, see and What You Should Know About a Federal Migratory Bird Taxidermy Permit.
For info on applications, see 50 CFR § 13.11.
The permit authorizes the taxidermist to do all of the things listed below. For more info, see 50 CFR § 21.24(c).
- Mount migratory birds. (This also applies to the bird parts, nests, or eggs.)
- Sell captive-reared migratory waterfowl. (However, those birds must have been legally acquired and mounted.) They can also place them on consignment for sale for the owner.
Taxidermists must keep annual records of their operations (January – December). The records must show the names and addresses of their clients. Also record the number and species of each bird, and the dates of receipt and delivery. Maintain the original of the completed Form 3-186, Notice of Waterfowl Sale or Transfer.
See 50 CFR § 21.24(d)(1).
To receive the birds, they must be properly tagged. In general, the taxidermist can take them off for the procedure, but has to put them back on prior to delivery to the owner.
The taxidermist permit expires as stated on the permit. Permits can be amended or revoked. The term shall not exceed five years from the date of issuance or renewal.
See 50 CFR § 21.24(e).
Taxidermists must keep accurate records of their operations. Records must be from January through December. Record the names and addresses everyone that received services on wildlife. Wildlife includes fish, reptile, amphibian, bird, or and mammals. Also record the number and species each bird. Finally, record the dates of receipt and delivery. The same is true for any bird parts, nests, or eggs. See FGC § 3087, 14 CCR § 695, and Migratory Game Bird: Permits above.
When a taxidermist is hired to mount a migratory bird, he or she is considered to be a migratory bird preservation facility. For info about those rules, see 50 CFR § 20.11 and link to our summary for California Cold Storage Plants and Frozen Food Lockers.
Sale of Unclaimed Mounts
Sometimes, customer fail to pick and/or pay the cost of stuffing wildlife. Wildlife includes fish, reptile, amphibian, bird, or and mammals. If that happens, the taxidermist is allowed to sell it under the following conditions.
- The taxidermist posted a notice visible to all customers that the skins will be sold if unclaimed or unredeemed by the owner. (A copy of 14 CCR § 695(d) must be included with the notice.)
- The taxidermist provides the CDFW, upon request, the name and address of any person who has failed to claim or redeem any skin or skin part.
- The sale price doesn’t exceed the actual cost of labor, preparation and advertising relating to the sale, less any amount already paid by the owner.
- It’s not from a fully protected, rare, or endangered species.
- It’s not a migratory bird covered by the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act or Bald Eagle Act. (The only exception is with prior approval from the USFWS.)
For Migratory Game Birds, taxidermists cannot receive, possess, or store them unless they are properly tagged. Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, the tags may be removed by the taxidermist for mounting. However, the taxidermists must reattach the tags to the mount until it’s delivered to the owner. See 50 CFR § 20.36, 50 CFR § 21.24, and FGC § 3087.
Proper tags will include the information listed below. See 14 CCR § 251.7.