Captive Wildlife 

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Importing Wildlife

It is illegal to import native or exotic wildlife into Arkansas without an AGFC Wildlife Importation Permit. Permits will not be issued to import the following wildlife:

  • Any species listed as injurious wildlife under the Lacey Act (50 CFR 16) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service including but not limited to flying fox, mongoose, meerkat, European rabbit, European hare, wild dog, multimammate rat or mouse, raccoon dog, brushtail possum, pink starling, dioch, Java sparrow, red whiskered bul bul, brown tree snake, and pythons.
  • Members of the cervid family, including white-tailed deer, black-tailed deer, mule deer or elk
  • Live waterfowl
  • Raccoons, bats or skunks 
  • Coyotes that originated or have lived in Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Wisconsin, Wyoming or Canada
  • Gray and red foxes that originate or have lived in Alaska, Arizona, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, Wyoming or Canada
  • Rodents captured in the wild from Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah or Wyoming.

Wildlife Pets

After June 30, 2012 deer may no longer be taken from the wild and kept as pets though deer taken prior to that date may be kept until their death. Wildlife species make poor pets. However:

  • Up to six individual bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, opossums, quail, rabbits, raccoons or squirrels may be kept per household if taken by hand from the wild in Arkansas.
  • Up to six individuals of a species that is neither hunted nor trapped may be kept per household if taken by hand from the wild so long as they are not birds (such as songbirds, hawks and owls), bats, ornate box turtles, alligator snapping turtles, hellbenders, cave-dwelling creatures or endangered species.
  • Once taken, the animal must remain in the owner’s custody, except pets other than white-tailed deer may be turned over to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for release back into the wild.
  • Animals kept as pets must be kept in separate pens by sex or the males must be neutered to prevent reproduction.
  • All wildlife kept as pets must be kept in cages that keep them from escaping and keep other wildlife from entering.
  • Adult deer originally caught in the wild must be kept in pens that are at least 8-feet tall and
    meet minimum cage size requirements.
  • These animals may not be sold or transferred to a different owner and may only be taken from the state with the permission of the Chief of Wildlife Management.
  • Individuals may purchase and own up to six per household of captive-born, commercially obtained
    native wildlife species, except for cervids such as deer or elk, from permitted Wildlife Breeder/
    Dealers and keep them as personal pets. Owners must have proof of legal purchase. If the number
    of animals possessed exceeds six, the owner must obtain a Wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit. Those
    who purchased deer or elk as pets before June 30, 2005 may keep them in any number provided
    they have proof of legal ownership and are registered with the Commission. Such animals may not be hunted, sold, otherwise distributed or allowed to breed.
  • Commission captive wildlife regulations apply to all species of wildlife including exotic animals not native to Arkansas. A Wildlife Importation Permit is required to bring all species of wildlife into the state. A Wildlife Breeder/Dealer Permit is required to breed or sell wild animals, including exotic species. The only species exempt from these requirements are Buffalo, Emu, Llama, Muscovy duck, European domestic ferret, Hamster, Guinea pig, Ringneck dove, Gerbils, common white mice and common white rats, and Wolf/Dog hybrids.

Please refer to the complete Arkansas Game and Fish Commission Code of Regulations. Please be aware that the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission, Arkansas Department of Health, the federal government and local city or county government also may have regulations affecting ownership or use of certain wildlife.

Release of Animals into the Wild

Wildlife may not be released into the wild without prior approval of the AGFC with these exceptions:

  • A licensed Gamebird Shooting Resort may release captive-raised quail, pheasant, chukar or mallards in accordance with the terms of their permit.
  • A licensed wildlife rehabilitator may release native wildlife other than mountain lions.
  • Raccoons, foxes, coyotes or pen-raised quail used for AKC, UKC and ACHA-sanctioned field trials may be released with the approval of the Chief of Wildlife Management.
  • Pen-raised quail and pheasants may be taken by holders of a Shoot-to-kill Bird Dog Field Training Permit or a Shoot-to-kill Bird Dog Field Trial Permit.
  • Landowners and nuisance wildlife control operators may livetrap nuisance wildlife outside the legal harvest season and release to the wild. Traps must be marked with the user’s identification.