Living with Wildlife

Mountain Lion 
Coyote walking with head downCoyote 
Gray owl in tree branchGreat Gray Owl  
Two deer in dry grassMule Deer  
Profile of a black bearBlack Bear 

Enjoy and celebrate wildlife with respect and understanding.

California is rich in diversity of people and land. The golden state is home to more plants and wildlife than any other state and nearly 40 million people. As more people live and recreate in or near wildlife habitat, encounters with wildlife are likely.

It's possible to share space and safely coexist with native species. Please visit our Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program page for helpful resources.

Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program

bear in tree

The Human-Wildlife Conflicts Program provides technical assistance and support to staff, interested parties, the diverse public, and local communities.

  • CDFW recorded no fewer than 35,243 staff hours responding to 30,763 wildlife incidents (September 2015 - June 2017).
  • The total impact to residents experiencing human-wildlife conflict is unknown.
  • Learn how to reduce or prevent potential conflicts, related laws and regulations, and more!

Wildlife Watch

Coyote standing on leave and grass covered ground

Wildlife Watch is a community-based model inspired by the Neighborhood Watch program that emphasizes respect for people and wildlife.

  • Provide education and outreach about wildlife.
  • Provide training and support to local communities.
  • Provide assistance to develop sustainable solutions to human-wildlife conflicts.

Let's work together!

Threats to Wildlife

hawk in flight with blue sky in backgroundTo ensure a sustainable future for fish and wildlife in California - and their enjoyment for generations to come – CDFW uses a collaborative approach to identify and address threats.

General Resources

owl perching on wooden stickLearn more about CDFW's vision, values, and mission to manage California's diverse fish, wildlife, plant resources, and habitats - for their ecological values and their use and enjoyment by the public.

Human Dimensions Unit

elk standing in grass

The Human Dimensions of Wildlife Conservation Unit uses robust social science to investigate the role people play in conservation and management issues.

  • Human values, perceptions, and behaviors shape how we manage and conserve fish and wildlife.
  • Social science complements the work of biologists, wildlife managers, and conservationists.

Learn how CDFW conducts novel research to help make scientifically-sound decisions about fish and wildlife in California.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I keep a "non-releasable" wild animal?

skunk on grass and dirt

No, it is not legal in California to keep non-releasable native wildlife.

A wild animal deemed non-releasable by CDFW, a wildlife rehabilitation professional, or veterinarian are humanely euthanized - or may be considered a candidate for captive placement at a restricted species facility permitted pursuant Title 14 CCR § 671.1. Wild animals in captivity have special requirements to ensure all conditions are met to maintain animal welfare. Restricted species facilities may include accredited zoos, educational organizations, and universities.

Can I keep a hedgehog, ferret, or other exotic animal as a pet?

CDFW often receives inquiries about why certain exotic animals - allowed as pets in other states - are NOT allowed as pets in California. The most common examples are ferrets, hedgehogs, sugar gliders, gerbils, monkeys, and monk parakeets.

These animals are prohibited because they pose a threat to California native fish and wildlife, agriculture, public health or safety pursuant CA Fish & Game Code § 2118. There are many concerns related to competition with native species, predation, and potential disease transmission when any non-native animal is introduced into the wild.

Legal possession of a restricted species may be allowed under a Restricted Species Permit issued pursuant Title 14 CCR Section 671. CDFW is authorized to issue permits only to qualified individuals or institutions for limited purposes such as research, public exhibition, education, or shelter. Permits are not issued to import or possess any wild animal for pet purposes.

Is it normal to see wildlife during the day or near humans?

Raccoon in treeMany wildlife can be seen day or night. A wild animal that is active during the day may be normal and healthy.

  • Some wildlife may adapt their behaviors to be more active during the day and closer to humans.
  • These animals may be searching for food, rearing young, or seeking mates.
  • Humans can attract wildlife by providing resources (e.g. food) - sometimes without even knowing it.

As the human population grows, human-wildlife interactions and wildlife sightings may increase.

In California, one example is coyotes and foxes in urban environments.

Who do I call to report sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife?

adult bird with 4 baby birds

Contact a local wildlife rehabilitator or facility to report sick, injured or orphaned wildlife.

  • Most rehabilitators are not "on-call" (24 hours).
  • Most rehabilitators do not capture or transport wildlife.
  • Most rehabilitators are volunteers. Please be kind.

You may also contact a local animal services division for information or possible assistance.

CDFW proudly works with agencies, organizations, and volunteers to to ensure quality rehabilitation of injured, orphaned, and displaced wildlife for the purpose of release to the wild.

How do I “remove” nuisance wildlife from my property?

3 possums on a tree branchWildlife provide valuable ecosystem benefits.

Many "nuisance" species are harmless and may be managed to reduce conflict. Safe co-existence is possible.

  • Contact the UC Agricultural & Natural Resources Integrated Pest Management Program for assistance.
  • Wildlife cannot be trapped and released elsewhere.
  • Wildlife may be "removed" through non-lethal deterrence or lethal methods like trapping.

Fish & Game Code § 4152

  • Nongame mammals, black-tailed jackrabbits, muskrats, non-native red foxes, and red fox squirrels found to be injuring growing crops or other property may be taken at any time or in any manner in accordance with this code and regulations Inspection and removal shall be done by the person who sets the trap or the owner of the land where the trap is set or an agent of either by the owner or tenant of the premises or employees and agents in immediate possession of written permission from the owner or tenant thereof.

Who do I call to report wildlife that damage my property or harm my animals?

1 adult and 2 baby woodpeckers in treeReport wildlife that cause damage to your property or harm your domestic animals to the CDFW Wildlife Incident Reporting online system or Regional Office.

Fish and Game Code § 4181

  • Any owner or tenant of land or property being damaged or destroyed or in danger of being damaged or destroyed by elk, bear, beaver, wild pig, wild turkeys, or gray squirrels, may apply to CDFW for a permit to kill or haze the animal.
  • It shall be unlawful for any person to violate the terms of any permit issued under this section.
  • Fish and Game Code § 4181.1 - Take Bear or Wild Pig in Act of Injuring Livestock; Reporting Requirement.

Who do I call to remove domestic animals (living or dead) from my property?

cat standing in grass next to automobile tireContact your local Animal Services Division for information and assistance regarding domestic animals (living or dead) on private or public property.

  • Contact the Department of Transportation local office to report dead animals on or near roads.

CDFW does not remove domestic animals or livestock (living or dead) from private or public property.

Who do I call to report dead or distressed marine mammals?

Seal and birds on a rock with water and a sailboat in the background.Contact the link opens in new windowNational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to report dead, injured, sick, entangled or stranded marine mammals at (866) 767-6114.

  • Timely reporting is the best way to ensure authorized responders know about an incident and can take appropriate action.
  • Marine mammals are protected by State and Federal law, and the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
  • Marine mammals include whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, sea lions, and sea otters.

Always keep a safe distance—it’s good advice, and it's the law.


If your wildlife encounter is an emergency, call 9-1-1.

Wildlife Reporting

link to Wildlife Incident Reporting System

Coyotes – Safety and Coexistence in California