top of page


FCF makes every effort to keep summaries current, however, you are strongly advised to verify this information by reading the state’s department of wildlife, department of natural resource, department of game and fish or department of agriculture’s regulatory code. 

Additionally there may be city or county regulations that also regulate the possession of wild and exotic felines. County regulations are not provided with the table information below. You need to research this before acquiring an exotic feline.


Alabama Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Conservation and Natural Resources
64 N Union St.
Montgomery, AL 36104

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Possession of Wildlife for Public Exhibition Purposes:

Short Summary: It is illegal to possess, sell, trade or harbor any feline which has no USDA approved rabies vaccine which includes all felines and hybrids.  Zoos, circuses, colleges and universities, USDA animal refuges, local humane shelters, the Department, and veterinary clinics are exempt. 

Issues permits for the public exhibition of wildlife. Carnivals, zoos, circuses, and other like shows and exhibits where ample provision is made so the birds, animals, reptiles, amphibians, and fish will not escape or be released in this state are permitted. Applications require statement regarding person education and experience, description of facilities, number of species desired, and signed agreement that recommended standards for wildlife exhibition will be adhered to. New in 2017 –  Rule 220-2-.154 was amended to state that a USDA license is required for Class I and II wildlife. Pantheras and large felines are Class I and other felines are Class II. Import permit from state vet office  is required for wild felines entering the state except from zoo to zoo. 

Bobcats and Cougars are not allowed to be imported into the state, transported within the state (except for licensed game breeders), and future possession permits to keep these species will not be issued (as of March, 2003). Accredited educational facilities, research facilities, and permitted rehabilitation facilities shall be exempt from this regulation through the written permission of the Director of the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries or his designee. Previous owners that already have permits will be grand fathered, but breeding is prohibited.


Alaska Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Game
P.O. Box 25526
Juneau, AK 99802

State Web Site:
Department Web Site: 

Short Summary: Does not allow private ownership of wild felines other than domestic hybrids that are four or more generations removed that are registered with a pedigree showing such lineage and for which a permit is obtained. Only issues permits for farming of lynx or scientific or educational use of animals. The policy for Scientific and Educational Permits requires applicants to demonstrate a significant benefit to the state and produce a substantial study plan identifying the purpose and need of their study in addition to specific objectives and procedures.

Issues permits for the temporary commercial use by circuses, traveling animal shows, film productions and similar purposes for up to 120 days.  A surety deposit of $500 is required which is forfeited if the animals are not removed by the permit expiration date. 


Arizona Regulations on wild and exotic felines

Game & Fish Dept
7200 E University
Mesa, AZ 85207

State Website: 

Department Website: 

Short Summary: Issues Private Game Farm license for USDA licensed facilities which allows the sale, trade, rental, purchase, display, import and export, possession and propagation of wildlife.

Also have Zoo License and Wildlife Holding License.  Wildlife holding license is for scientific advancement, wildlife management, educational displays, abandoned or disabled wildlife, animals that are no longer useful in previous captive situations, and commercial photography. They may not be exhibited.  Wildlife holding is divided into four categories: Wildlife Management/Science/Public Health, Educational, Humane Treatment and Commercial Photography licenses. Scientific Study permit is only issued to students and faculty members of higher learning institutions. Humane treatment license is required to hold non-releasable animals. These are one-year renewable permits. They do not cover healthy animals wanted for personal possession. Education does not permit “exhibiting”, but requires educational use of animals.


Arkansas Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Game & Fish Commission
Two Natural Resources Dr.
Little Rock, AR 72205

State Web Site:
Commission Web Site:

Short Summary: Changed regulations in 2005. New state law requires all exisiting tiger and lion owners to register with county sheriff’s departments, and obtain liability insurance, pay a $250 per cat yearly fee, and abide by USDA caging standards. No new cats may be obtained.

Persons with USDA exhibiting license or a Game and Fish Breeder/Dealer Permit are exempt from the requirement to register with the county. New Breeder/Dealer permits for tiger, lion or cougar will only be issued for conservation or scientific purposes after December 2005.

A new Cougar possession permit was created in 2007. This permit is for existing cougar holders who are not breeding or dealing, just possessing. This permit does not require monthly reporting.

Bobcats may be captured by hand legally – up to six per household. Bobcats can also be legally purchased instate or imported. Possession of other exotic felines are not regulated but all imported animals require an import permit.

The rearing of any wild feline, or the dispursing of them, whether by sale or donation requires a wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit. Sanctuaries will need to obtain this permit as well.

All Breeder/Dealer or cougar holding permit holders must follow general provisions applicable to Captive Wildlife permits in code 15.11, which includes caging and fencing standards for large cats.

Wildlife imported into or through the state requires an Importation permit. Only USDA licensed exhibitors may import lion or tiger into Arkansas. The $25 permit must be acquired before the animal is brought into the state and it must be filled out and signed by a veterinarian and returned to AR G & F within seven days of the feline’s arrival. Possession of wild felines is regulated on a county level in several counties. 


California Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Game
License and Revenue Branch
3211 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95816

State Web Site:
Department Website: 
Department Regulations:

Short Summary: All felines and hybrids are banned as pets except domestic hybrids.  Issues the following special permits for other purposes:  
Animal Care – for grandfathered animals owned before January 1992
Exhibiting – only issue permits for educational purposes, and must have a written statement of purpose that specifically incorporates a “wild animals are not pets” message in the education policy. Must also present animals in a natural setting with natural behavior patterns.
Breeding – permits will be issued for animals that the department determines will not result in unwanted or uncared for animals or if species is endangered and needs to be propagated.
Single Event Breeding for Exhibitor – Allows exhibitors to conduct a one-time breeding of an animal
AZA Zoo – permit allows possession of only species listed on department approved permit inventory.
Research – must be college, government, or bona fide scientific institution.
Broker/Dealer – for those who conduct intrastate transport of animals for other permittees
Shelter – sanctuary license 
In 2010-2012, California made several changes to its rules regarding restricted species facilities. 


Colorado Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Division of Wildlife
6060 Broadway
Denver, CO 80216

State Website:

Department Website:

Short Summary: Issues Commercial Wildlife Park Permits. Wild felines must be possessed for commercial purposes only. Has specific requirements to meet definition of commercial – must provide a plan to show a profit, have experience, maintain business records, hire and train employees, file state and Federal income tax based on this activity, etc. Further, has caging requirements, and any animal exhibited out of a cage requires a $500,000 liability policy. Big cats can be held in natural settings. Open topped enclosures must be 10 feet, with double electrified wires on top and fencing sunk 3 feet into ground.

2007 change: Has added Non-profit Commercial permit for 501 c 3 non-profit facilities that does not require a business plan designed for profit.
In 2007 added new requirement for posting bonding in a sufficient amount to cover the expense of placement of cats should the facility have to close.

Effective 9/1/2013  New rule change allows all grandfathered wildlife sanctuaries that are impacted with a force of nature to move to a new location without becoming AZA.  

Colorado  Effective 7/1/2014  New Rule change to Chapter 11 #1103C was adopted to clarify what sectors were exempt from the different parts of the wildlife parks rule.


Connecticut Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Dept of Environmental Protection
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Only allows for municipal parks, zoos, nature centers, museums, laboratories and research centers to possess wild felines.

Prohibits pet and private ownership or any feline breeding facilities.


Delaware Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Agriculture
2320 South DuPont Highway
Dover, DE 19901


State Web Site:
Department Website:

Short Summary: Delaware revised its exotic animal permit system in 2010.  Must have permit to possess animals not native to state – has specific carnivore category and hybrid of a wild mammal category for hybrids. Must have USDA caging and secondary enclosure (perimeter fence), but Accredited Zoo, Exhibitor, and Rehabilitation permits may request a variance.  Delaware issues the following permits:

Individual for pet ownership that must be renewed every 3 years
Accredited Zoo for AZA accredited facilities

Exhibitor One permit covers all animals, but the exhibitor must notify the Department within 60 days before the exhibition with the dates and activity list.  Must have a public health and safety plan, animal attack protocol, and animal health plan available upon request.  A sales permit is required if selling animals.  It does not permit breeding. 

Rehabilitator Issued for short term care and rehabilitation.  Native bobcats require a permit from the DNREC too. 

Sales Does not allow the breeding of carnivores or hybrids of wild mammals, so the breeding of all exotic felines and hybrids is prohibited under this license. 


Florida Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Game and Fresh Water Fish Department
620 South Meridian St.
Tallahassee, Fl 32399

State Web Site:

Department Web Site:

Captive Wildlife Page:

Short Summary: Regulations Governing the Importation, Transportation, Sale, and Possession of Wild Animals – Class I animals (includes panthera cats and cougar and cheetah) cannot be kept for personal use – must be commercial exhibitors. Class I permit requires 1 year and 1000 hours experience, details of experience and place acquired and 2 references. Documented educational experience in zoology or other relevant biological sciences, obtained at the college or technical school level or above, may substitute for up to six months or 500 hours of the required experience. The Class I permit applicant still has to prove another documented 500 hours or 6 months if they have the Biological Sciences qualifications.

Class I animal permits applied for after July 1, 2000 require that facilities for Class I animals be constructed on properties of not less than 5 acres in size. New state law passed in 2007 requires all Class I holders to have $2,000,000 liability insurance or $10,000 cash bond to cover the cost of recapture of escaped animal. New regulations passed in 2009 place cougar and cheetah in Class I. Existing class II facilities with cougars may continue to keep them, but new acquisitions can only be had by class I licensed facilities of 5 acres.  Grandfathered felines were also required to have permanent identification by January 1, 2010.

Most small cats are listed under Class II and may be kept as pets. Permits require 1,000 hours experience and successful completion of a test. Class II wildlife shall not be possessed in multi-unit dwellings unless the dwelling in which they are housed is equipped with private entrance, exit, and yard area.


Georgia Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
2109 US Highway 278
SE Social Circle, GA 30025

State Website: 
Department Website:

Short Summary: All felines and hybrids are banned as pets including domestic hybrids. Issues the following licenses: 

Wild Animal License – Must be 18 and USDA licensed, have $40,000 per animal of liability insurance up to $500,000 for large felines (panthera species, snow leopard, cougar or cheetah) except governmental agencies and university research centers, prove that no local ordinances forbid holding wildlife, and have facility separate from a residence. Has regulation that specifies humane handling, care, confinement and transportation of wildlife.

Wild Animal Auction License – Allows one time auction for up to 7 days and requires $5000 fee, cash or surety bond for $50,000, descriptions of numbers and species of animals to be sold, a plan for housing facilities, and a copy of the auction brochure.  Applications must be sent in 60 days prior to the auction date.  

Wildlife Exhibition permit – Must be 18 and USDA licensed.  Permanent facilities must be open at least 30 hours a week for 6 months a year with sign of hours of operation.  Bobcats must be quarantined 180 days before exhibition, and handlers must have rabies pre-exposure vaccines, which must be re-administered every 5 years.  Mobile educational programs must have at least 12 documented program hours per year.  Public contact with felines is prohibited.  Bobcats may not be exhibited in mobile programs.  Government agencies and traveling circuses which donate 10% of proceeds to state charities will be given a free permit. 

Rehabilitation Permit – Issued for releasable animals unless exception granted. Rehabilitation permits for rabies vector species (bobcats) will only be issued to vets or those with 2 years experience as a rehabilitator, who cared for at least 20 animals, score at least 85% on an exam covering rabies, and who receive rabies pre-exposure vaccines.


Hawaii Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Agriculture
701 Iialo St.
Honolulu, HI 96813

State Web Site: 
Department Website: 

Short Summary: No private ownership allowed.  Animals are classified into four categories.  Caracals, cheetahs, clouded leopards, cougars, jaguars, leopards, lions, margays, ocelots, servals, and tigers are listed in Restricted Species Part A and are limited to research, exhibition, and scientific and medical purposes.  Feline hybrids are declared prohibited and are completely banned.  All other felines are unlisted and may be considered for filming, shows, and exhibition for up to 90 days or for scientific research with site inspection and approval.  

In 2010, Hawaii increased the fine for prohibited or restricted animal permit violations to $50,000 and a maximum of $200, 000.


Idaho Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Agriculture
P.O. Box 7249
Boise, ID 83707
State Web Site:
Department Web Site:
Regulations of Deleterious Exotic Animals

Short Summary: Issues Fur farm permits for bobcats and Canada lynx, and in order to raise any fur bearing animal you need to do the following: Applicants must notify Dept of Agriculture of intention to possess fur bearing animals, individually mark each animal, maintain records of purchases, sales and progeny, allow facility inspection by F & G personnel, and importation of any bobcat or lynx requires valid state health certificate.
Issues Commercial Wildlife Farm, and Commercial Wildlife Facility license, and private park license. Propagation of fur bearing felines would require a commercial wildlife farm license.
Lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, serval, caracal, margay, ocelot, and Geoffroy’s cat are listed as deleterious exotic animals and require a possession permit. Possessors of these felines must submit annual reports. Has caging requirements for wildlife in confinement that require a shelter and 8 foot chain link enclosure that is large enough to give ample exercise, etc.  The state also issues a Temporary Exhibitor Permit for traveling exhibitions to exhibit in the state for up to 30 days.  Breeding requires a possession permit, permission by the Administrator, USDA exhibitor license, ISIS membership, and participation in a population management plan or species survival plan by AZA TAG.  If a PMP or SSP does not exist, proof that breeding will not threaten the agriculture or wildlife, capacity to hold the animals and their offspring, frequency and purpose of breeding, and use of offspring.  Deleterious exotic animals are not allowed to be imported into the state except by AZA zoos or USDA licensed open to the public exhibitions, and research facilities.


 Illinois Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
524 South Second St.
Springfield, IL 62701

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Lions, tigers, leopards, ocelots, jaguars, cheetahs, margays, mountain lions, lynx, bobcats, and jaguarundis are considered by the state as “Dangerous Animals” and are limited to USDA licensed exhibitions, zoos, circus, college or university, scientific institution, research, veterinary hospital, or to animal refuges by the Director of Natural Resources.

Even though servals are not included in the Dangerous Animals Act, servals and their hybrids other than those recognized by CFA or TICA are included in the list of dangerous animals that cannot be sold.  
Illinois does issue fur farm licenses, but they are not issued for bobcat as their possession is prohibited. Bona fide public or state scientific, educational or zoological institutions are exempt. 

Importation of any wild feline into the state requires approval from Director. An intent to import wildlife must be filed with state Director not less than 30 days prior to importation, and must include veterinary proof animal is free of disease, and director must be satisfied that in no way does the animal pose a threat to wildlife or potential to become a nuisance to people of the state. Zoos and public displays of wildlife are exempt from permit requirement.


Indiana Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Division of Fish and Wildlife
402 W Washington St., Rm. W273
Indianapolis, IN 46204

State Web Site:
Department Website:

Short Summary: Bobcats are native endangered species, but may be legally possessed with proof of legal captive birth paperwork and require either a USDA license, Wild Animal Possession Permit, Wild Animal Rehabilitation Permit, or Scientific Purposes License.

Issues Wild Animal Possession Permits. Permits must be renewed annually. Class III is for wild cats. Must provide health certificate for animal being possessed, escape recapture plan, pay $10.00 fee, and have cages inspected by conservation officer. Provides caging requirements – concrete floors must be covered with natural substrate, loafing platforms, 14 foot tall walls with 45 degree incline can be used if no roof provided, etc.  AZA and municipal zoos, carnivals, commercial animal dealers, pet shops, circuses, nature centers, those traveling through the state, and USDI license are exempted from this state permit and its requirements.

Also issues Special Purpose Educational Permits for educational displays or lectures that use live animals.  Must also have a wild animal rehabilitation permit or wild animal possession permit or be an educational institution or nonprofit organization.  Rehabilitators may only use non-releasable wildlife.  Licensed zoos, carnivals, animal dealers, pet shops, circuses and nature centers are exempt from needing a permit.

In 2010, the Department added that a vet exam is required within 45 days of getting a wild animal permit and added for definitions for Class I, II and III wildlife. 

Indiana – On 1/21/2014, a rule change was adopted affecting wildlife possession permits that now lists serval, leopard cat, margay, jaguarundi, jungle cat, Pallas’ cat, sand cat, black-footed cat, flat-headed cat, fishing cat, Geoffroy’s cat, pampas cat, little spotted cat, Pantanal cat, and marbled cat as Class II wildlife.  All cats not listed above remain Class III.  All domestic hybrids are exempt from the rule.   

In addition, the rule change: 

  • removes the USDI exemption

  • allows a permit within 5 days of getting class I or II instead of prior to getting one

  • removes Class III requirement to describe type of enclosure to be used

  • removes requirement for cats to be appropriately immunized for vet verification

  • only requires recapture plan for Class III instead of all classes

  • changes notification of escapes for class III to only if it passes perimeter fence

  • adds animals and documentation of legal acquisition if already in possession to list of items to inspect

  • clarifies inspections must be done before a permit is issued

  • removes requirement for wildlife to be housed in buildings

  • adds lighting requirement for enclosures

  • defines commercial purpose

  • exempts requiring daily drinking water with written instructions from vet


Iowa Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
502 E. 9th Street
Wallace State Office Building
Des Moines, IA 50319

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

State File 564:

Short Summary: As of 2007, private possession, propagation, and importation of all wild cats is prohibited.  Current owners had to register with the state before December 31, 2007 (those under 18 or who had felony convictions or misdemeanor drug offenses in the last 10 years were ineligible), payment of registration fees, implant a microchip in each animal, provide photos, and maintain $100,000 liability insurance with not more than a $250 deductible. Any violations of law will result in penalty and seizure and permanent disposition of the animals.

This law has 20 exemptions, some of which it does not apply, to include: accredited AZA zoos, 501 c 3 wildlife sanctuaries, circuses, state fairs, animal shelters, dangerous wild animals used as an agricultural animal, assistance animals, falconry licensees, a city, and, a veterinarian. Also exempted are persons who keep a dangerous wild animal pursuant to all of the following conditions:
    a.  The person is licensed by the United States department
of agriculture as provided in 9 C.F.R. ch. I.
    b.  The person is registered by the department of agriculture and land stewardship. Upon a complaint filed with the department of agriculture and land stewardship, the department may inspect the premises or investigate the practices of the registered person and suspend or revoke the registration for the same causes and in the same manner as provided in section 162.12.

Effective 7/1/2013 – Bengal cats and savannahs F4 and later are now exempt from the dangerous wild animal laws


Kansas Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Wildlife and Parks
512 SE 25th Ave
Pratt, KS 67124
(620) 672-5911

State Website:  
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Small exotic felines may be kept, bred, sold, imported, and purchased, without limit in time or number.

New state law passed in 2006 limits possession of large cat species – lion, tiger, cougar, leopard, cheetah and jaguar.  Present owners who were not USDA licensed may keep their cats if they comply with caging rules, $250,000 liability insurance or bond, display signs on the property, maintain health and ownership records, recovery plan, and register with local animal control and may not acquire any more large felines.  Also bans direct public contact except the owner, registered designated handler or vet and bringing onto public property or commercial or retail establishment other than a vet.  AZA and ZAA facilities and licensed medical or research institutions are exempt from the possession and breeding restrictions and the requirement to register with the local animal control.  USDA exhibitors for a circus, rodeo, fair, or carnival are also exempt.  

Pet bobcats are not regulated, but bobcats kept for breeding require a Kansas Game Breeder permit.


Kentucky Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources
#1 Game Farm Road
Frankfort, KY 40601

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Policies: Transport and holding exotic wildlifeTransport and holding native wildlife

Live Wildlife Possession Page:

Short Summary: Possession or importation of cougar, lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, clouded leopard, snow leopard, or cheetah is limited to only AZA accredited zoos, municipally operated zoos, college or university, scientific or licensed educational institution, circus, exhibitor contracted by a county or state fair, or service animals under the ADA that obtain written permission from the commissioner or those with a transportation permit in the state less than 96 nonconsecutive hours. 
For native bobcat, Kentucky issues both Commercial Captive Wildlife Permits and Non-Commercial Captive Wildlife Permits. Application for either type of permit must be made within ten days after taking possession of a wildlife species. Wildlife must be acquired only from legal, licensed sources. If acquired from outside the state, a transportation permit must be obtained prior to importation. If acquired inside Kentucky, there is no import permit requirement. 
Confining facilities shall be large enough to allow reasonable space for exercise, shelter, and maintenance of sanitary conditions. The holder of a captive wildlife permit shall allow a conservation officer to inspect the facilities at any reasonable time.

Requires a transportation permit to import any wildlife into the state. Transportation permit application requires a bill of sale on the animal and a health certificate.


Louisiana Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Wildlife and Fisheries
P.O. Box 98000
Baton Rouge, LA 70898

State Web Site:
Department Website:

Short Summary: In 2007, a new state law went into effect limiting cougar, lion, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, snow leopard, cheetah, and jaguar to AZA zoos, circuses, research facilities, and colleges and university mascots.  Other zoos, educational institutions, and AZA sanctuaries must have a permit.   

Present owners may keep their large cats acquired before August 15, 2006, but must register and have a current health certificate, recapture plan, signed agreement holding everyone harmless for damages, signed statement of responsibility for all costs of capture and disposition of cats, $100,000 insurance per cat up to $1,000,000 from an A or higher rated company, weapon to destroy the cat and chemical immobilizer with a name of vet available to deliver it, sign on all entrances, microchips, and enclosure requirements.  Cats must remain in an enclosure except for medical care.  No breeding or acquiring new cats allowed. Sanctuaries may not acquire new cats. Large cats may not be imported into the state.

Possession of bobcats requires a non-game quadruped exhibitor or breeder license.  
In 2010, a law passed allowing owners of illegal animals to surrender them without penalty, provided they surrender them before an investigation. 

In 2012, a law passed allowing a representative from the entertainment industry to take, possess, and transport wild quadrupeds within and from the state for entertainment purposes.

Louisiana (SB 250) Effective 8/1/2014 Those who continually possessed a regulated species of exotic cat since 2006 may get a permit even those who never obtained one. 


Maine Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife
284 State Street, Station #41
Augusta, ME 04333

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Requires one of the following permits:
Wildlife Possession Permit Issued for serious professional or advocational husbandry or for legitimate therapy or aid for the disabled.  It is not for keeping felines as pets. 
Wildlife Propagation Permit  Issued for breeding for consumption, sale or release. 
Wildlife Exhibitor Permit  Issued for commercial exhibition, using wildlife to attract trade, and educational purposes.  Sites are inspected before the permit is issued. 
Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit ‘s Issued solely to rehabilitate and release wildlife back into the wild within 6 months. 
Importation Permit.  All wildlife being imported into the state other than those just traveling through and those on the unrestricted species list require an Importation permit.


Maryland Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
Tawes State Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401

State Website:
Department Website:

Short Summary: No personal possession of wild felines allowed other than wild/domestic cross hybrid felines that weigh less than 30 pounds. 

Exempt are a USDA research facility, USDA exhibitor, DNR licensee, 501(c) 3 sanctuary that does not conduct commercial activity or buy, sell, trade, lease, or breed any animal other than under a SSP for the AZA, animal control officer, licensed vet, non resident who is traveling through the state in less than 10 days, or trained service animal.  Current owners were grandfathered if they provided written notification to their local animal control by August 1, 2006.

Non-profit 501 c 3 wildlife sanctuaries may possess wild felines without a USDA license.

Maryland (HB1124/SB 827) – Effective 7/1/2014 – A law was passed changing the exemptions to the dangerous animal law to add a circus exemption for those in state less than 90 days with sufficient public barriers from the animals and create requirements for USDA Class C exhibitors to acquire a new lion, tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, snow leopard, jaguar, cheetah, cougar of hybrid of one of these cats after June 30.  Requirements are that the exhibitor must have: $1,000,000 insurance policy, paid full-time director and at least one full-time staff trained to care for each species, animal disposition policy if the facility closes, and zoonotic disease risk and prevention training plan


Massachuttes Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Wildlife
251 Causeway St.
Boston, MA 02114

State Web Site:
Department Website:

Wildlife as Pets:

Short Summary: No permits for propagation unless in compliance with AZA, IUCN, or the state of Massachusetts or the USA, and in the eyes of MA Director will make a meaningful contribution to the survival and recovery of the species. No personal possession permits for the purpose of pet ownership will be issued. Authentic and legitimate educational use certified by zoological or biological officials will be issued permits. Commercial businesses where the animal is in conjunction with the  primary existing occupation or livelihood of the applicant will be granted a permit.

Feline hybrids are considered wildlife and subject to the wildlife permits.  However, felines registered with national and international feline organizations certified to be at least 3 generations removed are exempt.


Michigan Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 30444
Lansing, MI 48909

State Web Site:
Department Website:  

Short Summary: Must have permit to hold wildlife for native species cougar and lynx are state-endangered specie and cannot be privately owned for pets, though a few of these cats are held as pets, having been purchased before this law was passed. Bobcats in MI are regulated by the DNR. Separate enclosure must be built first, and then a special permit called “Permit to Hold Wildlife in Captivity” needs to be obtained BEFORE getting the animal and are issued by the DNR Permit Specialist, James Janson. Inspection may be required before permit approval and Monthly Inventory Reports are required after obtaining the permit. Minimum Enclosure Requirements for a Bobcat: 8ft x 6ft x 6ft for a single animal with 24 sq ft of floor space per additional animal, clawing logs, 2ft x 2ft den box per animal, climbing tree 3 or 4 in diameter branches for each animal, and a 14in x 36in lounging shelf located at least 3ft above the floor per animal.

On July 7, 2000, Michigan passed new legislation prohibiting tiger, leopard, lion, jaguar, panther, cheetah, cougar, and hybrids of such to be owned by private individuals. Circuses are exempt.  The prohibition on possession and the microchips and enclosures do not apply to animal shelters, state or US Fish and Wildlife Service licensees, AZA facilities, sanctuaries under the Association of Sanctuaries or American Sanctuary Association, law enforcement officers or vets, and USDA Class C business that presents animals that does not allow direct contact with large carnivores or close contact with those over 20 weeks and does not sell them except to other exempt businesses or breed them.  The prohibition of Class C Exhibitors using their animal business to attract customers to another business was removed in March 2013. 

Existing large felines owned by those without this federal permit must register their feline with the state and a variety of regulations must be complied with for the animal to continue to be possessed for its lifetime. The new regulations forbid the breeding of any large feline. Importation of other non-native species is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division.

The state does not regulate small exotic felines at this time. 


Minnesota Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 20
St. Paul, MN 55155

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: As of January 2005, acquiring exotic felines for pets is illegal. All existing felines must be registered with county and state. Persons possessing a registered regulated animal may replace the regulated animal if it dies, but may replace it only once.  Those that are USDA licensed may acquire new ones to maintain the numbers of regulated animals they possessed on the effective date and breed and sell animals to other USDA licensees, buyers outside the state, and to those who were grandfathered who are replacing an animal.  

Fully exempt are AZA zoos, wildlife sanctuaries that only breed if for a SSP, licensed game farms with the Department of Natural Resources with bobcats, Canada lynx or cougars,  persons with a permit issued by the Department, research or medical institutions, circus, rodeo, or fair.

statute 345.166


Mississippi Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
P.O. Box 451
Jackson, MS 39205

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Must obtain permit for all large feline species (pantheras) as well as clouded, snows, cheetahs and cougars. Can get personal possession, or breeding or exhibiting permits. Requires $100,000 per animal Liability insurance, health certificate $300.00 per animal yearly fee. Sanctuaries are exempted from paying yearly fee, only if they are USDA Class C licensed. Permits have caging, housing, record keeping requirements.

Possession of bobcats is prohibited.


Hinds County, Mississippi passed an exotic animal ordinance that requires them to be registered with the Sheriff Department. Link below is a copy of the county agenda concerning this change.


Missouri Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

State Website: 
Department of Conservation (native) 
P.O. Box 180
Jefferson, MO 65102
Department Website:

Department of Agriculture (large carnivores)
Animal Health Division

Department Website: 

Short summary: Effective January 1, 2012, anyone who possesses, breeds, or transports a tiger, lion, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, cheetah, or a hybrid of a listed cat must obtain a permit for each animal.  Current owners had 60 days to obtain the permit.  Applicants must be at least 21 and not have ever been convicted of animal cruelty or of a felony within the last 10 years, have them microchipped, report any deaths within 10 days, maintain $250,000 of liability insurance, and obtain a permit to transport them.  Animal control or humane shelters holding a large carnivore for less than 90 days, law enforcement officers or department of agriculture employees, vets, those just transporting the animal through the state, and USDA Class C Exhibitors who maintain large carnivores on August 28, 2010 are exempt from the permit and microchip requirements, provided that Class C Exhibitors who obtain additional large carnivores must obtain a permit for those animals.  Completely exempt from this act are circuses, the University of Missouri-Columbia College of Veterinary Medicine, and zoological parks under Chapter 184.  

Those who keep a lion, tiger, leopard, ocelot, jaguar, cheetah, margay, mountain lion, Canada lynx, bobcat, or jaguarundi must register them with their local law enforcement agency.  This does not apply to a zoological park, circus, scientific or educational institution, research laboratory, veterinary hospital, or animal refuge. 

Regulates native felines (bobcat and cougar) only. Has caging requirements and permit application. Bobcats are Class I animals, and cougars are Class II animals. Bobcats can be permitted for personal possession reasons, called Wildlife Hobby Permit for $10 fee.

Commercial breeders can get a Class I Wildlife Breeder Permit for $50 per year.

Possession of cougars requires a Class II Breeder Permit for $150.00 per year – they cannot be possessed under the wildlife hobby permit. Has caging, husbandry and transportation standards. Cougars must be microchiped. The owners must also submit a blood or tissue sample for DNA analysis. All animals must be registered with the Department when acquired, born, at death, or when sold.

Exemptions to the Breeder or Wildlife Hobby permits are vets, rehabilitation centers, circuses, publicly owned zoos, AZA not-for-profit facilities, bona fide research facilities, and fur farms.  However, circuses may not allow public contact with Class I or II wildlife.


Montana Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Fish, Wildlife and Parks
P.O. Box 200701
Helena, MT 59620

State Website:
Department Website:  

Short Summary: Bobcats and lynx are listed as furbearers. State issues Fur Farm permit, but make one exception. If animal is raised not for its fur or body parts, a permit is not required.

Importation of wild felines into the state requires an import permit. 
Exotic wildlife is classified into prohibited, controlled, and non-controlled.  Servals and jungle cats are non-controlled and may be possessed and sold as pets without a permit.  All other felines are automatically prohibited and are limited to zoo or roadside menagerie permit, AZA facility, USDA Class C Exhibitor for less than 90 days, college, university, or government agency for scientific or public health research, scientific institution, USDA nonprofit organization that exhibits wildlife for educational or scientific purposes, a service animal, and national or state agency affiliated rescue facility.  

Roadside Menagerie is for exhibiting or using wild animals to attract trade.  Must keep detailed records of acquisition, birth, death and transfer. There are also housing, feeding, treatment and care regulations. Roadside Menagerie Permits requires proof of liability insurance for bodily injury up to $25,000 per person up to $100,000 on each occurrence along with property damage up to $5,000 per occurrence. Insurance must be with a reputable operation and must cover all injury to the public whether negligent operation, maintenance care, confinement or supervision causes an accident. Permit fees are $10.00 for less then 6 animals, and over 6 animals cost $25.00. No more than 10 animals may be possessed with a Wild Animal Menagerie permit. Has caging, record keeping, feeding, treatment and sanitation requirements.

Wild Animal Menagerie is where up to 10 large cats are kept for purposes other than exhibition.

Zoo permits require that the licensee be a non-profit organization or AZA.

Tigers and mountain lions must be tattooed on the left thigh.


Nebraska Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Game and Parks Commission
P.O. Box 30370
Lincoln, NE 68503

State Web Site:
Department Website:  

Short Summary: Private, non-commercial possession of wild felidae, including cross breeds with domestic cats is illegal. Only issues captive wildlife permits for the possession of felidae to municipal, state or federal zoos, parks, refuges, wildlife areas, government owned or operated nature center, bona fide circus, AZA or ZAA zoo, or anyone raising bobcat or Canada lynx for fur or producing stock for sale to persons engaged in fur farming.

In 2012, Nebraska removed the requirement for wild animals to be in semi-natural environments.


Nevada Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

State Website: 
Department Website:

Wildlife Permit Page:

City of North Las Vegas:

Short Summary: Requires a permit for the possession of bobcats and mountain lions. Also has import permit for bobcat and cougar. All non-native felines are exempt from permit requirements. Issues both non-commercial licenses ($15.00 per year) and commercial licenses ($500 per year.) Has caging requirements. Allows for the option of open-topped enclosures. Cougars must have perimeter fences 8 feet tall and have Y-recurve on top of at least 12 inches wide. Gates must be self-closing and have two locking devices. Native felines must be permanently marked or ear-tagged.

          Noncommercial Possession of Widlife License 

NDOW Offices:


Headquarters / Western Region

1100 Valley Rd.
Reno, NV 89512
(775) 688-1500     Hours – 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday – Friday

380 West B. St.
Fallon, NV 89406
(775) 423-3171

Southern Region 
Las Vegas 
4747 Vegas Dr. 
Las Vegas, NV 89108
(702) 486-5127      Fax (702) 486-5133

744 S. Racetrack Rd.
Henderson, NV 89015
(702) 486-6742

Eastern Region 
60 Youth Center Road
Elko, NV 89801
(775) 777-2300 

815 E. Fourth St.
Winnemucca, NV 89445
(775) 623-6565
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Nevada County and City animal control contacts:

Clark County, NV animal control: 
City of North Las Vegas, NV animal control: 
City of Henderson, NV animal control:
Washoe County, NV Animal Control:

New Hampshire

New Hampshire Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

New Hampshire Fish and Game Department 
2 Hazen Drive 
Concord, NH 

Department Web Site:

State Website:

Short Summary: All wild felines other than domestic hybrids at least 3 generations removed and registered with national or international cat registries are considered controlled and may only be possessed and imported under a state exhibitor permit.  The only exceptions to the permit are Department employees, rehabilitators with native wildlife, and wildlife possessed under other licenses.   

The NH state exhibitor permit requires that one have 2,000 hours of paid experience with a licensed exhibitor to qualify. Exhibitors must not allow direct contact of the felines with the public.

New Jersey

New Jersey Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Division of Fish, Game and Wildlife
P.O. Box 430
Trenton, NJ 08625

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Does not issue permits for potentially dangerous species (All felids) for pet or hobby purposes.

Possession of potentially dangerous species must be for scientific holding, animal exhibitor, zoological holding, animal theatrical or propagation and sales (animal dealer).

Application asks for education and background information, demonstration of a working knowledge of the species, the stated purpose and intent, description of housing and caging plans.

Endangered specie possession permits will not be issued for the purpose of propagation by amateurs. A scientific institution, zoological society or similar organization must sponsor the possession of any endangered species.

New Mexico

New Mexico Regulations for Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Game and Fish
P.O. Box 25112
Santa Fe, NM 87504

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: In 2009, New Mexico passed new importation rules.  All felines other than hybrids are considered Group IV and are limited to scientific studies, restoration and recovery plans, zoos, temporary events/entertainment, service animals or for a qualified expert only.  
Issues zoo, Class A Parks, and scientific study permits. 

 An additional Class A Parks License is required if facility is over 3200 acres.  Has caging and record requirements.

New York

New York Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

State Department of Environmental Conservation
50 Wolf Road
Albany, NY 12233

State Web Site:
Department Website:

Short Summary: New York bans the breeding, purchase or sale of wild felines other than hybrids that are at least four generations removed and registered by CFA or TICA for pets. All existing owners had to register their felines by June 30, 2005 and apply for a license. License fee is $170 for 2 years. Exempt are AZA zoos, USDA exhibitors, research facilities, licensed vets, incorporated humane societies, shelters, SPCA, colleges and universities, wildlife rehabilitators, those transporting an animal to an exempted place, wildlife sanctuary, and those traveling through in less than 10 days.

Lions require a Dangerous Wildlife License, which is only issued for science, education or exhibition. 

Native species such as bobcats and cougars may not be kept as pets.  Bobcats can be imported for other purposes without a permit, but require a Fur Breeder License to possess or breed.  Cougars are considered an endangered species and require an Endangered Species License. 

In 2012, New York passed legislation which required the department to create lists of prohibited non native species, species that require a permit and legal species.  It also passed a ban on releasing exotic animals. 

New York (S 6903/Chapter 307) – Effective within 180 days – On 8/11/2014, a new law passed prohibiting dealers or exhibitors from allowing direct contact with big cats – lion, tiger, leopard except clouded leopard, jaguar, cougar or hybrid of such, without a permanent physical barrier.

North Carolina

North Carolina regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Wildlife Resources Commission
1724 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Requires Wildlife Captivity License for native cougars and bobcats, which is only issued to bona fide publicly supported zoos and educational or scientific research institutions. For private possession of cougars, the state requires natural habitats of rather grandiose proportions: minimum one-acre enclosure, 12-foot fences with 45-degree recurve, pool, den, vegetation and landscaping, property must be owned by applicant.

Zoos or Scientific Research facilities are allowed to keep cougars in concrete and chain link cages.

Natural habitats are not required for bobcats like they are for cougars, but the state has minimum cage size requirements. Must apply for Import Permit if native feline is being brought into state from outside the state. Must be USDA exhibitor or research institution to import any species native to North or South America. But that is not a requirement to purchase in-state, though NC does not issue permits for pet purposes.

Effective 3/6/2013 – The state passed a new law that any captivity license violation shall be processed in a superior court in the county in which the violation took place. 

State does not regulate non-native species, but many counties have enacted regulations of wild felines.

North Dakota

North Dakota Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Board of Animal Health
Department of Agriculture
600 E Boulevard Ave. Dept 602
Bismarck, ND 58505

State Website:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Requires a license for private ownership of nontraditional livestock, i.e.: all wild animals in captivity. Cougar, jaguar, leopard, lion, tiger and cheetah and their hybrids are category 3 (Inherently dangerous) animals, and all other felines are Category 2 (health or environmental risk). Before any category 2 or 3 animals can be imported into the state, an importation permit must be issued. 
Nontraditional livestock permitees must provide a description and sketch or map of the facility, have a holding and quarantine facility or access to a quarantine facility.  Category 3 has special housing, handling and health requirements. Permitees must keep records of sales, purchases, escapes, captures, diseases or animal transfers or births. Record keeping must be available for inspection.

Auctions of nontraditional livestock require a Nontraditional Livestock Auction Permit and certificates of veterinary inspection.  A vet must be on the premises.  Category 3 buyers must have a license before bidding, and Category 2 buyers have 10 days after purchase to apply for a license.


Ohio Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
1840 Belcher Drive
Columbus, OH 43224

State Website:

Department Website:

Department of Agriculture (dangerous wild animals)
Division of Animal Industry
8995 East Main Street
Reynoldsburg, OH 43068-3399 

Department Website:
Dangerous Wild Animals:    

Short Summary: Effective 9/5/2012, Ohio bans Canada lynx, Eurasian lynx, bobcat, caracal and hybrids, cheetah, clouded leopard, cougar, Eurasian lynx, Iberian lynx, jaguar, leopard, lion, serval excluding savannahs, snow leopard, and tiger as dangerous wild animals.  Though they are not listed, bobcats have also been interpreted to be included in this ban.  Exempt are AZA, ZAA, research, circus, vet, Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries accredited/verified sanctuaries, grandfathered educational institution with single mascot (requires animal to live at AZA or ZAA facility, $1,000,000 liability insurance and no public contact), rehabilitators, state endangered/threatened species licensees, and those traveling through the state less than 48 hours.  To be grandfathered, owners had to register their animals, have them microchipped, neuter the males unless waived, comply with sign and temporary caging and care standards by November 5, and must obtain a Wildlife Shelter Permit or Wildlife Propagation Permit (breeding for Species Survival Plan only) before January 1, 2014 and comply with all permit requirements.  The state also issues Rescue Facility Permits which must be obtained by 1/1/2014 for current ones or before 60 days of starting one.  

Update: In 2016 a lawsuit filed by an Ohio bobcat owner challenging the inclusion of bobcat into the list of felines regulated by the Department of Agriculture was won and a subsequent appeal by the Ohio officials was also lost so that all Department of Agriculture bobcat permits have been discontinued and this native feline now is regulated under the Department of Natural Resources. Previously, DNR required a permit to possess the native endangered species bobcat. Permits issued for zoological, propagation, scientific and educational purposes. Must have import permit before the bobcat can be imported into the state. Now bobcats are also regulated by Ohio Department of Agriculture as a dangerous wild animal.


Oklahoma Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Wildlife Conservation
P.O. Box 53465
Oklahoma City, OK 73152

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: The state issues noncommercial wildlife breeder’s permits and commercial wildlife breeder’s permits.  However, exotic felines are exempt from the noncommercial wildlife breeder’s, commercial wildlife breeder’s, and import permits.  Native bears or cats with an adult weight that exceeds 50 pounds (black bear and cougar) may only be kept under a commercial breeder’s permit as they are banned as pets.   

Importation into the state of bobcats or cougars requires an Import Permit. 

Cage construction and inspection is required before bobcat or cougar permit is issued. Requires that permitee follow the general care guidelines of the AWA. Permit fee is $48.00 for commercial permit and $10.00 for personal possession permit. Permit application is at:

Exhibition of cougars requires either a Resident Cat/Bear Exhibitor’s Permit or a Nonresident Cat/Bear Temporary Exhibitor’s Permit. 

Effective 5/14/2013  In addition to owners of any member of the family felidae running at large being liable for death or injury to livestock, owners are now also liable for damages caused, including attorney and litigation fees.


Oregon Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 59
Portland, OR 97207 503-872-5260

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Neither bobcat nor lynx can be bartered, sold or purchased in the state of Oregon. Oregon Dept. of Fish and Wildlife issues holding permit for bobcat, but it is not legal for Oregon residents to sell bobcats. Dept of F & W issue commercial wildlife propagators license for cougars.

On June 26, 2009, SB 391 was signed into law, banning exotic animals including all wild cats other than domestic hybrids.  Current owners had to prove ownership before January 1, 2010, obtain a permit before January 1, 2011, and meet the requirements for keeping exotic animals.  Relevant exemptions are rehabilitators, USDA facilities, animal protection organizations, law enforcement agencies, vets, non-profit wildlife sanctuaries, and those taking an exotic for less than 48 hours for an emergency.  USDA facilities may obtain a state permit if they decide to drop their USDA license.  The state also grants exceptions for those that breed wild cats under 50 pounds with domestic cats. 

Cats are divided into Class I, II and III. Applications require contact info, veterinary plans, escape plans, a site inspection and annual renewal. Caging construction and minimum cage sizes are established by the Agriculture Dept.

Oregon (SB 1584)  Effective 2/26/2014  A person with an approved disability for which a physician recommends having an exotic animal to help alleviate the disability who possessed the animal since before January 1, 2010 has until December 31, 2014 to obtain an exotic animal permit to keep the animal. 


Pennsylvania Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Pennsylvania Game Commission
2001 Elmerton AveHarrisburg, PA 17110
State Web Site: 
Department Web Site:

Regulations: Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes GAME AND WILDLIFE CODE (TITLE 34) Chapter 29 Subchapter D -PERMITS RELATING TO WILDLIFE.
Pennsylvania Code Chapter 147 
Special Permits SubChapter 147.261 Possession Permit
Special Permits SubChapter 147.241 Wildlife Dealer

Short Summary: Native bobcats may not be kept or sold as pets, but may be kept or imported by licensed propagators.  Exempt are nationally recognized circuses that submit list of acts and dates, public zoological gardens that receive government grant, and AZA zoos.  
Requires a permit for exotic felines.

Experience required. A new applicant for an exotic wildlife possession permit and for an exotic wildlife dealer permit shall provide documentation of at least 2 years experience of hands-on work with the designated species, including care, feeding, handling, training and husbandry. This experience shall be from a recognized/approved facility by the Pennsylvania Game Commission and the owner, manager or licensee of this facility shall provide a letter of reference.

Exotic Wildlife Possession Permit ($50.00 per animal) that does not allow breeding and sale.

Exotic Wildlife Dealer Permit ($200.00) does allow breeding and resale.

Wildlife Menagerie Permit ($100) allows possession of cats as well as many other species, but to qualify, facility must be open to the public and charge a fee.

PA Game Commission has caging, housing, bill of sale, sanitation and general requirements to be met to qualify for permit. PA Game Commissioned Officer inspects facilities prior to permit approval.

Exotic Wildlife Possession Permit requires inspection by Pennsylvania Game Commissioned Officer prior to receiving animal.

Exotic Wildlife Dealer Permit allows the importation and possession of wildlife, but a separate permit must be applied for each animal.

Importation permit required to bring in animals from out of state.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Division of Fish and Wildlife
P.O. Box 218
West Kingston, RI 02892

State Web Site:

Rhode Island State Veterinarian
Dr. Hanifin
Division of Agriculture
235 Prominenade St.
Providence, RI 02908

Department of Environmental Management:   

Short Summary: Must obtain a permit from the RI Department of Environmental Management, Division of Agriculture to import, possess or receive any native wildlife or hybrid thereof. Permits are only issued to AZA zoos, US F & W Service, or other USDA approved facilities complying with the AWA, with specific attention to part 3 – Standards, part 2 sub-part E – Identification of Animals and additionally sub-part C – Research facilities.

New rules passed in 2010 require an Exotic Wild Animal Possession Permit from the RI Department of Environmental Management Division of Agriculture and Resource Marketing for exotic wildlife including domestic cat hybrids.  Breeding must be approved by the Department.

South Carolina

South Carolina Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 167
Columbia, SC 29202

State Website:
Department Website:

Section 47-5-50 Prohibition on sale of wild carnivores as pets states that no carnivores, which normally are not domesticated, may be sold as a pet in this state. Dangerous animals are not permitted beyond premises unless safely restrained. Further, those possessing dangerous animals must maintain them in a controlled and confined manner. Dangerous animal is not defined only on the basis of species. No person may possess with the intent to sell, offer for sale, breed, or buy, or attempt to buy, a known dangerous animal; however, this subsection does not apply to a person who is licensed to possess and breed an animal under the classifications specified and regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture under the Animal Welfare Act as codified in Title 7 of the United States Code. It is illegal to sell, possess or import wild felines except for scientific or exhibition purposes.

2017 Legislative change – Large felids (lion, tiger, cougar, leopard, cheetah, hjaguar, snow leopard) may only be possessed by USDA licensed facilities. Already existing large felids can be kept but require registration, pay for a permit andannual fee, have the animal microchipped and it cannot be replaced.

From Act 86:
This section does not apply to the sale, purchase, donation, or transfer of ownership of carnivores between publicly-owned zoos or animal dealers located in this State and licensed by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) under the Animal Welfare Act on the effective date of this chapter. These exemptions do not allow for the sale, purchase, donation, or transfer of ownership to private individuals in this State.

Additionally, the regulation prohibiting the public contact with wildlife not vaccinated with an approved rabies vaccine was amended to read as follows:

Any public displays, showings, or exhibitions of wild carnivores, primates, or any other animal will default to the Animal Welfare Act-9 CFR 2.131- Handling of Animals.

South Dakota

South Dakota Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Animal Industry Board
411 South Fort Street
Pierre, SD 57501

State Web Site:
Department Website:

Short Summary: Requires a permit to possess all nondomestic felines and their hybrids. The state issues the following relevant permits:
Entry Permit – required for import, and it may be granted by telephone (no charge).
Dealer Auction Permit – Require to broker, lease, purchase or sell felines ($100).
Possession Permit – For personal possession ($10 per animal, max of $100).
Zoo Permit – For non-profit exhibitors ($10 per animal, max of $100).
Facility must be built and approved before issuing permit.
Bobcats and Canada lynx are considered fur-bearing animals, and while the state allows the keeping of some furbearers as pets, it does not permit bobcat and lynx as pets.


Tennessee Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Wildlife Resources Agency
P.O. Box 40747
Nashville, TN 37204

State Web Site:
Department Website:

All wildlife is classified as Class I – Class V.  State has housing and transportation rules for possession of any wild animal.

Class I felines (inherently dangerous) are lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, and cougars and may only be possessed by zoos, circuses and commercial propagators.  Two years of experience or scoring at least 70% on a test is required. Test is on handling, habits, health care and housing. Have caging, sanitation, and housing standards. Cages must be inspected by TWRA before animals will be permitted.  One acre is required for personal possession or 3 acres for commercial propagators.  Felines under 25 pounds and between 8 weeks and 3 months are allowed public contact for one hour for every 8 hours. 

Bobcats are considered a native species and require a class II (native) permit.  Nature centers may have bobcats for educational purposes.  Import permit is required before bringing bobcats into the state.
All other felines, bobcat hybrids, and domestic hybrids fall under Class III, which does not require a permit.  Nature centers, rehabilitation centers, and educational exhibits are prohibited from possessing Class III felines other than bona fide zoos.

The state issues the following permits.
Personal Possession – Class I is $150 per animal up to $1,000 per facility and Class II is $10 per animal up to $100 per facility
Commercial Propagator – $1,000 per facility for Class I wildlife
Propagator – $100 per facility for Class II bobcats
Importation – $10 per shipment or $100 per year
Temporary Exhibitor – $100 for 30 days
Permanent Exhibitor – $500 per year per facility
Zoos, Nature Centers, Rehabilitation Centers, and Educational Exhibits Certified As Nonprofit – Free
Zoos are exempt from permit requirements if they are AZA accredited or official municipal zoo with 100,000+ visitors a year. There is a Rehab permit for native bobcat.

In 2011, Tennessee passed a law allowing Roane County officials to attend inspections of Class I facilities.


 Texas Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

State Website:

Department of State Health Services – Department Website:

Texas Online 512.936.2669 email at

Short Summary: In 2001 the Texas legislature passed a state law mandating that all counties either regulate or ban dangerous wild animlas. A list of species considered dangerous contains nearly all felines, with only a few species such as Geoffroys cats, jungle cats and Asian leopard cats not listed. 

Each county must develop a plan to administer a registration process that requires a permit fee, caging standards, $100,000 liability insurance and veterinary care requirements as outlined in the state law.

Many counties have chosen to ban possession of feliens rather then fund a county registration requirement. Contact county clerk of the court to request a copy of the county animal ordinances.


Utah Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 145610
Salt Lake City, UT 84114

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Does not permit pet ownership or private breeding centers. Issues certificates of registration for educational and scientific use of wild felines. Applicant must be a college or university, government agency, non-profit institution, or persons involved in wildlife research. Wild felines can be imported and possessed only for commercial purposes by a bona fide zoo, circus, amusement park, or film company.  Exempts animals transported through the state within 72 hours if not for commercial purpose. 

Bobcat or lynx can be propagated for their fur but you must apply for a certificate of registration from the department.


Vermont Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Fish and Wildlife
103 South Main Street
Waterbury, VT 05671

State Website: 
Department Website:

Short Summary: Must have an importation permit before any wild felines may enter the state. Office does not issue permits if wild felines are desired for pets, breeding stock or private collection. They have not issued any importation permits for wild felines. With sufficient documentation, they would allow the importation for scientific research, education, or exhibition purposes.

Issues the following permits:

Dealer�s, Importation and Possession (bona fide scientific or educational purposes)

Scientific and Educational Collection (public scientific research, educational, art or photography)

Commercial Collection (collect and sale native wildlife)

Temporary Exhibition, and Propagation. 


Virginia Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 11104
Richmond, VA 23230

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short Summary: Does not allow pet possession of wild felines.

Must be USDA licensed as a Class B broker or C Exhibitor or have scientific or educational purposes. Must have import permit before animals can enter this state. USDA licensed persons are automatically granted an import permit, but must notify state 24 hours in advance of intention to import, and FAX a copy of their current license or registration prior to receiving new animals.

In 2011, Virginia passed new requirements for imported animals. 

In 2013, Virginia passed a new law to create a permit for teachers displaying wildlife for educational purposes.

Virginia (SB 413) Effective 7/1/2014 A law passed allowing those with a state permit to provide care for native wildlife without being considered practicing veterinary medicine.


Washington Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife
600 Capitol Way N
Olympia, WA 98501

State Web Site:
Department Website: 

Short summary: In 2007 a new state law (HB 1418 – signed 7/22/07) prohibits the possession, breeding or importation of large cat species (lion, tiger, leopard, jaguar, cheetah, cougar and hybrids thereof) except for AZA zoos and facilities that participate in an SSP, animal protection organizations, animal control, vets, wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife sanctuaries, research facilities, circuses, persons temporarily transporting and displaying them for less than 21 days, fair displays, and game farms.  Effected felines held at the time of bill signing may be kept.  No new animals may be acquired.

Washington Dept. of F&W does not regulate small feline species that are non-native.

Bobcat and lynx (considered native species) require that the propagation, ownership or commercial use of bobcat or lynx is limited to specimens legally acquired from outside the state. Must have state issued importation permit number on health certificate to bring native species into state.

There are numerous county laws that restrict or prohibit exotic feline possession.
Link to HB1418 Bill History:
Link to HB1418:

In December 2012, Washington revised its live wildlife agency rules.

West Virginia

West Virginia Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Division of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 67
Elkins, WV 26241

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: West Virginia (HB 4393) – Effective 6/4/2014 – The dangerous wild animals act passed banning the possession of such animals except for AZA or certified related facility, animal control or law enforcement, vet, medical institution, research facility, circus, USDA Class C exhibiting at fair or carnival, transport through the state less than 48 hours.  It creates a new Dangerous Wild Animals Board to enforce it.  The final list of felines as approved by the legislature in April 2015 that took effect 6/1/2015 are lion, tiger, jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, clouded leopard, Sunda leopard, cheetah, lynxes, and the following and all hybrids including domestic cat hybrids: cheetah, lynxes, cougar and caracal.  Those who currently possess an animal may keep their animals if they obtain a permit annually and meet the following requirements: 

  • Immediately notify county sheriff or humane officer of escape

  • Do NOT allow physical contact except permittee, handler, law enforcement or vet,

  • Has NOT been convicted of animal abuse/neglect

  • Did NOT have a government dangerous wild animal permit revoked or suspended

  • Permanently mark each animal with unique identifier

  • Maintain records (veterinary, acquisition, purchase date, proof of ownership)

  • $300,000 liability insurance with maximum $250 deductible

  • Notify Board at least 3 days before transferring ownership out of state

  • Get written consent from Board before in state transport

  • Notify Board before moving and notify Board prior to moving except for medical emergency

  • Comply with all Board rules


Wisconsin Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707

State Website: 
Department Website:  

Short Summary: Regulates native species bobcat, cougar and lynx, but not exotic wildlife. State allows possession of these species for exhibition or advertising purposes and issues an Exhibitor License. Applicants must provide information on location of exhibit, source of exhibit animals, and hold a USDA license to exhibit.

State also issues permit for Game Farms to those engaged in the breeding or hobby keeping of wildlife.

Cougars are considered harmful wild animals and require special permission, but vets and public zoos are exempt. 


Wyoming Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Game and Fish Department
5400 Bishop Boulevard
Cheyenne, WY 82006

State Web Site:
Department Web Site:

Short Summary: Possession of all wildlife is regulated by state statutes and commission regulations. Application for possession permit requiring source of wildlife, purpose of possession, description of holding facility, biological evaluation on threats to native species must be approved before importation permit will be issued.

Bobcats can be possessed for commercial fur farming.

Lynx, considered native protected species may be possessed only for scientific and educational permits.

There shall be no private ownership of animals classified as trophy animals, which includes cougars.

Applications for possession of exotic felines will be evaluated upon human health and safety, animal welfare and threats to Wyoming’s wildlife resources from competition, damage, and destruction of habitat and predation.

Effective 3/28/2014  Wyoming adopted a rule that adds a permit denial process to Chapter 10 live wildlife, Chapter 33 scientific permits, and Chapter 45 rehabilitation permits.

Ready to Adopt?

Thanks for submitting!

tica logo.jpg
FCFoundation logo.png
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok

© 2022 Antebellum Exotics - All Rights Reserved.

bottom of page