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Laws Relating to Exotic Animal Auctions

At dozens of exotic animal auctions across the United States, tigers, lions, bears, non-human primates, and other exotic animals are offered for sale to the highest bidder.

Ten states have laws that pertain to auctioning exotic animals. The majority of these laws require a license or permit to operate a public auction. States not listed below either do not have a state law relating specifically to holding exotic animal auctions, or the holding of an exotic animal auction falls on the local level to regulate. On the federal level, all auction markets that sell exotic animals must be licensed pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act.

Federal Laws

Pursuant to the Animal Welfare Act and its corresponding regulations, all persons operating an exotic animal auction must obtain a license. The auction operator is responsible for compliance with all regulations and standards, including transportation standards, once the animals are accepted by the auction, as well as sanitation, cleaning, and general health and well-being of the animals. (7 U.S.C. Section 2131 et seq.; 9 CFR §2.1 et seq.; Policy #5 - Exotic Animal Auctions under the Animal Welfare Act)

State Laws

ALABAMA -- The concentration, collection, or assembly of wild and exotic birds, at a private or public place, for purposes of sale, is prohibited. (ALA. ADMIN. CODE r. 80-3-18-.10)

FLORIDA -- To possess birds, mammals, and reptiles in captivity for public sale, a person must obtain a permit from the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Wildlife held for sale may be temporarily housed or caged in smaller cages or enclosures than the sizes set forth in Rule 68A-6.004 for a period not to exceed 60 days; Annual Fees $5.00 (for up to ten individual specimens), $25.00 (for ten or more individual specimens); possession of ostriches, emus, and rheas is exempted. (FLA. STAT. ANN. § 372.921, FLA. ADMIN. CODE ANN. r. 68A-6.0041)

GEORGIA -- To conduct an auction of wild animals, a person must obtain a wild animal auction license. The application includes: a cash bond or surety bond in the amount of $50,000; a description of the animals to be sold and plans of the facilities to house the animals; a certificate or policy of insurance; authorization to inspect the auction premises; copies of materials to be distributed to the public; 60 days' advance notice. Fee $5,000.00 (for a seven-day period). (GA. CODE ANN. §§ 27-2-23, 27-5-11)

IOWA -- To operate a public auction involving animals, a person must obtain a permit or a certificate of registration if the auction is federally licensed; failure of any public auction to adequately house, feed, water or care for the animals in the facility's possession or custody may subject the animals to seizure and impoundment; other than obtaining the certificate of registration, any public auction under a current and valid federal license shall not be subject to further regulation; "animals" includes nonhuman primates, birds, and other vertebrate animals. Annual license fee $40.00, annual certificate fee $20.00. (IOWA CODE § 162.6, IOWA ADMIN. CODE r. 21-67.7, 21-67.8)

MISSOURI -- To operate a "livestock market," a person must obtain a license (livestock includes exotic animals). All exotic animals presented for exchange, barter, lease or sale at a licensed livestock market/sale must be accompanied by an official Certificate of Veterinary Inspection showing an individual listing of the common and scientific names of the animal(s) and appropriate descriptions of the animal(s) such as sex, age, weight, coloration and the permanent tag number, brand or tattoo identification; exotic bovids eight months of age and over must have a negative brucellosis test and a negative tuberculosis test within thirty (30) days prior to arrival at the market/sale; exotic bovids include Indian bison, Gaur, Banteng, Kouprey, domesticated yak, water buffalo, Tamarau, Mountain Anoa, Lowland Anoa, and buffalo group; exotic cattle must meet the same brucellosis requirements as domestic cattle and must be tested for tuberculosis within thirty days prior to arrival at the market/sale; exotic equine, donkeys, asses, burros and zebras must meet domestic equine requirements; feral swine, javalena, and peccaries must be in compliance with domestic swine requirements; elephants (Asiatic, African) must be tested negative for tuberculosis within one year prior to exhibition.

Every broker or operator of an auction sale shall maintain records which disclose the following information concerning each animal sold: the name and complete mailing address of the person who owned or consigned the animal(s) for sale; the name and complete mailing address of the buyer or consignee who received the animal; the USDA and ACFA license or registration number of the person(s) selling, consigning, buying or receiving the animals if s/he is licensed or registered under the Acts; the vehicle license number and state and the driver's license number and state of the person, if s/he is not licensed or registered under the Acts; the date of the consignment; the official USDA or ACFA tag number assigned to the animal(s) under this rule; a description of the animal; and the auction sales number or records number assigned to the animal. Certain caging requirements are mandated; notification of the date and place of any public sale of consigned wildlife shall be provided to the conservation agent of the county in which the sale will be held not less than thirty days prior to the sale. Annual license fee $75.00. (MO. CODE REGS. ANN. tit. 2, §§ 30-6.015, 30-6.020, 30-9.020; tit. 3, 10-9.220, 10-9.353)

NEBRASKA -- To conduct a captive wildlife auction, a person must obtain a captive wildlife auction permit. However, no person may sell any wolf, skunk, Asian raccoon dog, white-tailed deer, mule deer, red deer, wild pig, big horn sheep, or any member of the families Felidae and Ursidae at an auction. Wild birds and wild mammals must be accompanied by documentation indicating proof that such animals were legal in their state of origin (license numbers of state and federal permits); auction houses dealing in or selling wild birds or captive wild mammals must record the name, address, social security number, and permit number of the consignor as well as the purchaser of the animals; these records must be maintained for one year following the sale. Application Fee $50.00. (NEB. REV. STAT. ANN. §§ 37-477, 37-478, 37-482; NEB. ADMIN. CODE § 163-4)

NORTH DAKOTA -- A nontraditional livestock auction permit is required to conduct auctions as a business where categories 3, 4, and 5 animals are offered for sale or trade. Category 3 animals are those species that are indistinguishable from wild, indigenous species or present a health risk to wild and domestic species, or both, including elk, deer (except those listed under subdivisions a and b of subsection 3 of section 48-12-01-03), reindeer, bighorn sheep, fallow deer, ring-necked pheasant, Bohemian pheasant, sichuan pheasant, Canadian [sic] lynx, bobcat, and raptor. Category 4 animals are those species that are considered inherently or environmentally dangerous, including bears, wolves, wolf hybrids, primates, lions, tigers, and cats (not listed previously). Category 5 are those species that are not categorized in categories 1 through 4 require a special license, the requirements of which will be established by the board. (N.D. ADMIN. CODE 48-12-01-02.)

There are specific requirements that the permit holder must comply with to hold a nontraditional livestock auction. Some of the requirements are as follows: (1) all potential buyers and sellers must register at the auction and provide their state and federal permit numbers, if applicable; (2) an attending veterinarian shall be available during the auction; sick or injured animals must receive veterinary care; (3) auction sale operators shall maintain records on each animal consigned for the auction in accordance with the federal Animal Welfare Act; (4) private sales on the auction grounds on dates of auction are prohibited; and (5) the permittee shall notify the board within twenty-four hours of the occurrence of any unexplained diseases or deaths occurring in animals held under this permit. (N.D. ADMIN. CODE 48-12-01-18.)

RHODE ISLAND -- To conduct a public auction of animals, a person must obtain a license; "animals" includes any dog or cat, rabbit, rodent, nonhuman primate, bird or other warm-blooded vertebrate amphibian, fish or reptile. Annual Fee $25.00. (R.I. GEN. LAWS §§ 4-19-2, 4-19-6)

SOUTH CAROLINA -- To operate a livestock auction market, a person must obtain a permit. "Livestock" means all classes and breeds of animals, domesticated or feral, raised for use, sale, or display. All applications must be accompanied by a copy of the detailed plans and specifications for the livestock auction market; all species must be identified on the permit; all wild, feral or exotic animals must meet any health requirements for diseases imposed upon domestic livestock unless otherwise noted or waived by the State Veterinarian, and must have necessary approval from other concerned state agencies. Veterinary services must be furnished on the day of regularly scheduled sales in order to inspect, examine and treat livestock. (S.C. CODE ANN. § 47-4-20; 27 S.C. CODE ANN. REGS. 1013, 1015)

SOUTH DAKOTA -- To broker, lease, purchase or sell mammals of the following orders, a person must obtain an annual permit: Carnivora (Felidae - non-domestic; Canidae - non-domestic; Ursidae, Mustelidae, and Hyaenidae); Artiodactyla, (all non-domestic members); Perissodactyla (Tapiridae - non-domestic; Rhinocerotidae - non-domestic); Proboscidea (African elephant and Asian elephant). Annual Fee $100.00. (S.D. ADMIN. R. 12:68:18:03, 12:68:18:03.03)