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Pennsylvania State Laws Governing Private Possession of Exotic Animals

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34 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. §2961 - Definitions

The following words and phrases when used in this subchapter shall have the meanings given to them in this section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:

"Educational purposes." Displays by or for public or private schools, sportsmen's organizations, youth organizations, civic associations, conservation camps and school or any other organization deemed appropriate by the commission.

"Exotic wildlife." The phrase includes, but is not limited to, all bears, coyotes, lions, tigers, leopards, jaguars, cheetahs, cougars, wolves and any crossbreed of these animals which have similar characteristics in appearance or features. The definition is applicable whether or not the birds or animals were bred or reared in captivity or imported from another state or nation.

"Exotic wildlife dealer." Any person who imports into this Commonwealth, possesses, buys, sells, locates or finds for a fee, barters, donates, gives away or otherwise disposes of more than one bird or one animal classified as exotic wildlife by this subchapter.

"Menagerie." Any place where one or more wild birds or wild animals, or one or more birds or animals which have similar characteristics and appearance to birds or animals wild by nature, are kept in captivity for the evident purpose of exhibition with or without charge.


34 PA. CONS. STAT. ANN. §2963 - Exotic wildlife possession permits

(a) Authorization. - The commission may issue permits to persons to possess exotic wildlife which shall authorize the holder to purchase, receive or possess exotic wildlife from any lawful source from within or without this Commonwealth.

(b) Shelter, care and protection. - No permit provided for in this section shall be granted until the commission is satisfied that the provisions for housing and caring for such exotic wildlife and for protecting the public are proper and adequate and in accordance with the standards established by the commission.

(c) Unlawful acts. - It is unlawful for any person to:

(1) Possess, purchase or receive exotic wildlife, without first securing a permit to possess exotic wildlife issued under this section or regulations pertaining to this section.

(2) Release exotic wildlife into the wild.

(3) Fail to exercise due care in safeguarding the public from attack by exotic wildlife.

(4) Recklessly engage in conduct which places or may place another person in danger of attack by exotic wildlife.

(d) Penalty. -

(1) A violation of this section relating to permits is a summary offense of the third degree.

(2) Any other violation of this section is a summary offense of the fifth degree.

(3) Each day of violation shall constitute a separate offense, but under no circumstances shall the accumulated penalty for purposes of a field receipt exceed $300. There shall be no limit on any accumulated penalty a court may assess.

(e) Discretion of director. - In addition to the penalties provided, the director may, for any violation of this section, revoke or suspend any permit and order the disposal of any exotic wildlife held.


58 PA. Code §137.1. Importation, possession, sale and release of certain wildlife.

(a) Unless otherwise provided in this section or the act, it is unlawful for a person to import, possess, sell, offer for sale or release within this Commonwealth the following wild animals or wild birds or the eggs of the birds or a crossbreed or hybrid of the wild animals or wild birds, which are similar in appearance:

(1) In the family Felidae. Species and subspecies, except species which are commonly called house cats which may be possessed but not released into the wild. Lawfully acquired bobcats-Lynx rufus-may be imported or possessed, or both, by licensed propagators specifically for propagation for fur farming purposes. Importation permits and transfer permits as mentioned in subsections (d) and (e) are not required for bobcats imported for propagation for fur farming purposes. Bobcats imported under this exception and their progeny may not be sold or transferred for wildlife pet purposes or released into the wild.

(2) In the family Canidae. Species and subspecies of the coyote, the red and gray fox and a full-blooded wolf or crossbreed thereof not licensed by the Department of Agriculture. Lawfully acquired coyotes and red or gray foxes may be imported or possessed, or both, by licensed propagators specifically for propagation for fur farming purposes. Coyotes and red and gray foxes imported under this exception and their progeny may not be sold or transferred for wildlife pet purposes or released into the wild. This subsection does not permit the sale for release or the release of the mammals into the wild.

(3) In the family Ursidae. All species of the bears.

(4) In the family Procyonidae. All species of raccoons.

(5) In the family Capromyidae. The nutria.

(6) In the family Mustelidae. All species of the skunks.

(7) The order Primates. All families of nonhuman primates.

(8) An animal, bird or egg of a bird listed by the Commonwealth or the United States Department of the Interior as threatened, endangered or injurious.

(9) The Monk Parakeet, Myiopsitts monachus, sometimes referred to as the Quaker Parakeet or Gray-headed Parakeet.

(10) Game or wildlife taken alive from the wild, except the Commission may import wildlife taken from the wild for enhancement of this Commonwealth's wild fauna.

(11) Game or wild held captive. Game or wildlife held in captivity or captive bred in another state or nation.

(b) Nothing in this section prevents a Nationally recognized circus from temporarily bringing wildlife into this Commonwealth in connection with presenting circus performances.

(c) Nothing in this section prevents zoological gardens from importing wildlife.

(d) A person wishing to import lawfully acquired wildlife, or parts thereof, shall first obtain an importation permit from the Commission subject to the following:

(1) Importation permits will be issued for a fee of $50 for each transaction.

(2) A person wishing to import wildlife for a menagerie, exotic wildlife possession, exotic wildlife dealer or propagation purposes shall be in possession of a menagerie, exotic wildlife possession, exotic wildlife dealer or propagation permit prior to submitting the application for an import permit. See Chapter 147 (relating to special permits).

(3) An application for an importation permit shall state the name and address of the applicant, name and address of the person supplying the wildlife, the common and scientific name and the number of wildlife to be covered by the permit, the purpose for which the wildlife is being imported, the qualifications of the applicant to use the wildlife for the stated purpose and the location where the wildlife will be housed or retained.

(4) Menagerie permittees who also possess a USDA Class C Exhibitor permit and who operate a menagerie facility as their primary means of making a livelihood, are exempt from the possession prohibition of this section, and may import lawfully acquired wildlife pursuant to an importation permit.

(e) Transfer of wildlife imported under subsection (d), or its progeny, or parts thereof, to a second party by sale, trade, barter or gift may only be done subject to the following:

(1) A permit issued by the Commission is required to transfer by sale, trade, barter or gift, wildlife or its progeny, or a part thereof.

(2) The fee for a transfer permit is $50.

(3) Transfer is limited to persons authorized to lawfully import wildlife.

(f) Live wildlife imported for any reason shall be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection signed by an accredited veterinarian.

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