California quail keeping laws?

Discussion in 'Quail' started by SarahMelisse, Dec 26, 2012.

  1. SarahMelisse

    SarahMelisse Out Of The Brooder

    I have already gotten a response back from California state fish and game on what is NOT allowed, but they were less than helpful on what I CAN raise without a permit. I'm really trying to follow the law on this one since I live on a 1/4 acre surrounded by nosy neighbors.

    The state of California says that you cannot raise: Pheasants of the species Phasianus colchicus, including all ring-necked pheasant races, Indian chukar, domestically reared wild turkey, Hungarian partridge, bobwhite quail, Coturnix quail... without a permit (of which I refuse to spend $360 on annually).

    I know that button quail are okay without a permit, but is there another larger breed that isn't under any of these other breeds?
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
  2. gorabbitgo

    gorabbitgo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Technically, the law that was cited applies to persons who raise these birds to be released on private land for purposes of hunting. It doesn't specifically say anything about keeping them in caged areas for other reasons, such as personal enjoyment, exhibition, or subsistence farming.
    California game bird law also only applies to domesticated birds found native in California. They only include Japanese Coturnix because they are so often released for hunting, but as long as you're not releasing them and there's no mistake about it you're not going to be in any trouble.
    White Texas A&M Coturnix quail, for example, would not be considered a game bird and would therefore not be under California game bird jurisdiction. This could be said for any "fancy" Coturnix colors, but it's especially true for the white and tuxedo varieties as those are obviously no good for sport.

    Honestly whether you choose to play it safe or skirt the laws on technicalities might depend on why you're raising quail. If you're breeding birds for personal use, then just build a tall fence. Your neighbors would actually have to properly identify the birds, know the laws, and then file a complaint with the proper authorities in order to drum up a hassle for you, and even then as long as you're not releasing the birds or hunting them you should be okay. You could always tell them that the quail you choose are something else, or just make up a name and tell them it's an exotic bird.
    If you're selling birds, meat, or eggs, though, then you're in a different situation. Stay away from California, Bobwhite, and Gambel's quails as these are native species. Japanese quail should be alright so long as you choose a breed that is difficult to mistake for one of the Coturnix species commonly found in California or released for game purposes.
     
  3. Ntsees

    Ntsees Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Before I go on, where did you get the information that states the $360 annual fee from?
     
  4. SarahMelisse

    SarahMelisse Out Of The Brooder

    Ugh! The people at fish and game are so confusing and unhelpful! Thank you so much for your reply!!!!

    I first found the game bird permit information here: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/licensing/specialpermits/specialpermitsdescrip.html
    But since it only specified permits for game reserves or game clubs, I called the local fish and game office to get more information. I asked the woman (who sounded irritated before I even spoke) what the basic rules are on owning quail for "pets" and she told me a permit was required to own native species. I thought that was silly because there are California quail all over the place here in the foothills. I asked her if she could send me a copy or link to the information, but she never did. Now it seems to me that she didn't send me that information because it isn't true.

    Thank you so much for your response. I have pretty malicious neighbors so I think I'll stick to the Japanese breeds that can't be mistaken for a native species as you suggested.
     
  5. gorabbitgo

    gorabbitgo Chillin' With My Peeps

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    California animal laws are pretty weird. Permits are required to own any California native species unless it's something that has been domesticated such as corn and king snakes, ring-necked pheasants, heritage turkeys, valley quail, etc., but the animals you own must be captive bred and often times you need a permit to breed or sell them in large volumes.

    The rules are somewhat arbitrary and poorly enforced. When the state budget was slashed a few years ago many of the fish and game jobs were privatized and the whole system got further sludged up with bureaucracy and nonsense. A lot of times even state employees don't know all of the laws!

    I'm glad i was able to help clear things up for you, and i hope you have a ton of fun with whichever breed you choose! Quail are extremely rewarding and entertaining little birds.
     
  6. SarahMelisse

    SarahMelisse Out Of The Brooder

    Thanks gorabbitgo! I think I may go for the tuxedo coturnix just because they're cute, but the Texas variety is a close second for its unmistakeable identity. I'll probably be poking around here to learn more about raising quail in the spring. We get snow until May so I guess I have until April to research.
     
  7. Ntsees

    Ntsees Chillin' With My Peeps

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    What you're probably looking for is a Domesticated Game Breeders License - where the annual fee is a $20.34 and not $360. Here's what I got from the Department webpage (from your same link):

    "Domesticated Game Breeder's Licenses are required for any person engaged in raising or importing, or who keeps in captivity in this state, domesticated game birds or domesticated game mammals which normally exist in the wild in this state if the birds or mammals are kept more than 30 days after acquisition."

    You should also know that if you plan to keep migratory game birds (like wild ducks), you'll also need a federal permit. But if you're sticking with the California quail, the domesticated game breeders license should suffice.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. SarahMelisse

    SarahMelisse Out Of The Brooder

    I don't have any desire to keep ducks of any sort, but thanks for the tip. The huge listing of fees scrambled my brain and that's why I called F&G in the first place.

    So from what you're reading/quoting, a game breeders license is only required for native game birds right? So in your opinion, if I were to raise Texas A&M or tuxedo coturnix I would not need a permit since they are not a native species right?
     
  9. Ntsees

    Ntsees Chillin' With My Peeps

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    It's not just native game birds, but both native and naturalized game birds. Ring-necked pheasant and chukar are found in the wild here in California, but they are not native. If you want to keep coturnix, I do not think you would need a domesticated game breeders license because the last time I checked, coturnix was not listed in the upland gamebird list.
     
  10. SarahMelisse

    SarahMelisse Out Of The Brooder

    Good point.
     

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