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 18, 2018, and runs through September 9, 2018.
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 30, 2018. In the remaining deer X zones, the season opens October 13, 2018, and extends through December 30, 2018. CDFW shall close the season earlier if 1,700 bears have been reported taken. For daily updates on reported bear harvest, visit our website: www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Bear or call toll-free (888) 277-6398.
Summary of Bear Regulations
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 CDFW 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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/tagreporting.
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 February 1, of the current license year. The tag may be presented to a CDFW office/officer, returned via mail, or reported online at www.wildlife.ca.gov/tagreporting.
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.
Whether or not you are successful, all bear tags must be returned to CDFW no later than February 1, 2019. If you fail to return your 2018 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.
Bear Tag Validation and Tooth Extraction
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 www.wildlife.ca.gov/Hunting/Bear.
Bear Tag Validation and Tooth Extraction Appointments
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
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
Crystal Lake Hatchery(530) 335-4111
Darrah Springs Hatchery(530) 474-3141
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
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).
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 10 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.
Use of Dogs for Pursuit/Take
Effective January 1, 2013, the use of dogs to pursue/take bears is unlawful for sport-hunting purposes.