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  • California Fish & Game Enforcement Penalties

    California's Department of Fish and Game issues booklets every year that identify the laws regarding hunting and fishing in the state and the penalties for breaking those laws. Learn about some of the most common violations and penalties. Fees listed are based on the state's 2016 Fish and Game Bail and Penalty Schedule and include base fines plus associated costs, including surcharges and county, city, and court fees. (Pictured below: Black Tail Deer in California)
    black tail deer

    California Deer Hunting Penalties

    Someone that violates one of California's laws regarding deer hunting risks forfeiting his current tags and having no tags issued to him for the next hunting season, as well as significant penalties and fines. Taking an untagged deer, hunting without a deer license tag, or wasting game meat will cost you $685. When trophy deer (and certain other animals are involved), the penalties increase to over $20,000. 

    Cost of Fishing Without License in California

    Sport fishing without a valid California fishing license can cost an angler $485. If the angler can produce proof of having a valid license in court, the total penalties can be reduced to just under $200.

    Gill Net Fishing Violations

    Fishing without a license is not the only penalty that California anglers need to be concerned about. Using gill nets unlawfully can lead to penalties of more than $8,000.

    Unlawful Possession or Sale of Sport Fish

    The financial penalties (over $8,000 total) for unlawful gill net usage applies to possessing or attempting to sell fish improperly caught with gill nets. The same is true for selling or purchasing any game fish. 

    Undersized Fish Fines

    The state designates base fines for specific infractions related to hunting and fishing. For example, someone in possession of undersized fish faces an overall penalty ranging from $485 to $1,095 (depending on type of fish), plus a separate $82 fine for each fish that does not meet the state's size regulations for that particular species.

    Over-the-Limit Fishing Fines

    The financial penalties for catching more fish in a particular species than the defined limit are the same as the undersized fish fines. If you are caught taking more than allowed, you'll owe between $485 and $1,095, plus another $82 for each fish beyond the allowed quantity. 

    Protected/Endangered Species Violations

    There are steep fines involved in instances involving protected or endangered animals. The possession or taking of a fully protected species of mammal, for example, will cost you $20,000 in fines, fees, and penalties. When the protected animal is a reptile or fish, the penalty is lower - but still steep - at more than $2,000. 

    Tip Line for Reporting Violations

    California has a tip line that anyone can call to turn in people who are violating Department of Fish and Game regulations. If you are aware of violations, including (but not limited to) poaching, polluting the environment, or transporting illegal non-native species within the state, exercise your civic duty by notifying the proper authorities.

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