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 animals from the following list and taken by hand from the wild may be kept per household:
- bobcats, coyotes, gray foxes, red foxes, opossums, quail, rabbits, raccoons or squirrels.
- Species that are neither hunted nor trapped, except 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 before June 30, 2012, 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 code approved on February 21, 2019, for further information. 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.