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Bear Hunting in California

Hunting Regulations Icon California Hunting

Bear Tags

To hunt bear in California, all residents and nonresidents must be age 12 or older and have both a valid hunting license and a bear tag. Bear tags can be purchased from any CDFW license sales office, license agent, online, or by telephone sales. Hunters may purchase only one bear tag per hunting license year.

Bag and Possession Limits

No person may possess more than one bear per hunting license year.

Bear Hunting Seasons

Archery bear season in all bear zones opens August 19, 2017, and runs through September 10, 2017.

The general season for black bears opens with the general deer hunting seasons in deer zones A, B, C, D, X8, X9A, X9B, X10 and X12 and extends through December 31, 2017. In the remaining deer X zones, the season opens October 14, 2017, and extends through December 31, 2017. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, visit our website: or call toll-free (888) 277-6398.


It is unlawful to take a cub or a sow accompanied by one or more cubs.

It is unlawful to feed or bait bears for the purpose of hunting them. It is unlawful to hunt bear over bait, or within a 400-yard radius of a garbage dump or bait.

Only CDFW employees may validate bear tags. Bear tags must be validated before the bear can be transported except for the purpose of taking it directly to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag. If Department offices are closed, the bear tag shall be validated within one (1) business day of transporting the bear from the point where taken.

Every licensed bear hunter who takes a bear must immediately return the validated report card portion of the bear tag. The tag may be presented to a CDFW office/officer, returned via mail, or reported online at

Any bear hunter who utilizes the services of a guide must verify that the guide has a valid guide’s license and must write the guide’s license number on the bear tag in the space provided.

Every licensed bear hunter who is unsuccessful in taking bear must return the report card portion of the bear tag by Feb. 1, of the current license year. The tag may be presented to a CDFW office/officer, returned via mail, or reported online at

It is illegal to sell parts of any bear in California, including portions of legally-taken bears imported from other states. However, you have the right to retain any and all parts of the bear you take, except the skull, which becomes the property of CDFW.

Mandatory presentation of bear skull

Any person who takes a bear shall present the skull (even if damaged) to a CDFW office/officer within 10 days of taking the bear. The skull shall become the property of CDFW. The portion of the skull not needed for scientific purposes will be returned (CCR T14-367.5). Please see appointment section and office phone numbers on the next page.

IMPORTANT! Place a stick or other object in the bear’s jaws so that the mouth remains open. Do not present frozen skulls to have the premolar tooth removed. Premolars break easily when the skull is frozen.

Whether or not you are successful, all bear tags must be returned to the CDFW no later than February 1, 2018. If you fail to return your 2017 bear tag, even if you did not kill a bear, you will be in violation of (CCR T14-708.12(e)).

Please call ahead before bringing your bear skull to a CDFW office.


If you kill a bear, you must have the tag countersigned (validated) by a CDFW employee. Bear tags must be validated prior to transporting the bear, except for the purpose of taking the bear to the nearest person authorized to validate the tag en route to your home from the point where the bear was taken. All CDFW offices will validate bear tags. The report card portion must be returned immediately after tag validation.

CDFW is requiring a premolar tooth be extracted from EVERY bear taken during the hunting season. This will provide wildlife biologists with sufficient information to refine bear management. The premolar tooth will be processed by cutting it in cross section and examining it under a microscope. The bear’s age can then be determined by counting annual growth rings, similar to tree rings. Information on age of harvested bears through tooth aging will be posted online at


If you cannot locate a CDFW employee, please call one of the offices listed below and they will provide assistance.

All CDFW offices will validate bear tags.

Please call the following locations for an appointment to have your bear tag validated and/or a tooth pulled. Please leave your bear skull in your vehicle until you check in for your appointment.

License and Revenue Branch
(Sacramento)(916) 928-5805

Region 1, Redding(530) 225-2300

Region 2, Rancho Cordova(916) 358-2900

Region 3, Yountville(707) 944-5500

Region 4, Fresno(559) 243-4005

Ext.132 or Ext.133

Region 5, San Diego(858) 467-4201

Region 6, Ontario(909) 484-0167

Region 7, Monterey(831) 649-2870

Bishop(760) 872-1171

Crystal Lake Hatchery(530) 335-4111

Darrah Springs Hatchery(530) 474-3141

Eureka(707) 445-6493

Feather River Hatchery(530) 538-2222

Iron Gate Hatchery(530) 475-3420

Kern River Hatchery(760) 376-2846

La Grange(209) 853-2533 Ext. 6

Los Alamitos(562) 596-3885

Los Banos Wildlife Area(209) 826-0463

Mad River Fish Hatchery(707) 822-0592

Mendota Wildlife Area(559) 655-4645

Merced River Hatchery(209) 563-6410

Moccasin Hatchery(209) 989-2312

Mokelumne River Hatchery(209) 759-3383

Mt. Shasta Hatchery(530) 926-2215

Red Bluff Screen Shop(530) 528-9406

Red Bluff Field Office(530) 529-7162

Shasta Valley Wildlife Area(530) 459-3926

Trinity River Hatchery(530) 778-3931

Warm Springs Hatchery(707) 433-6325

Yreka Screen Shop(530) 841-2555


Bear cub

A bear less than one year old or weighing less than 50 lbs. CCR T14-365(c).

Bait Related to Bears

Any material capable of attracting a bear. CCR T14-365(e).

Baited Area

Any area where shelled, shucked or unshucked corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed whatsoever capable of luring, attracting, or enticing such birds or mammals is directly or indirectly placed, exposed, deposited, distributed, or scattered, and such area shall remain a baited area for ten days following complete removal of all such corn, wheat or other grains, salt, or other feed. CCR T14-257.5.

Note: Scents sprayed into the air and allowed to disperse over a wide area in the wind generally do not fall within the definition of bait. Scent products that have to be applied directly to a surface such as a rock, tree or bush generally cause the game to come to that specific place, and if they feed on it, it is bait.


Effective January 1, 2013, the use of dogs to pursue/take bears is unlawful for sport-hunting purposes.