The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) deadline for captive wildlife permits is fast approaching.
Arkansans have until July 1 to submit their application if they have not yet updated or obtained their permits for owning, breeding or dealing with certain captive wildlife species.
This includes any first-time permittees who may not have all the proper documentation usually required to obtain these permits.
“Some species could cause harm to people if not contained or cared for properly, while others could possibly carry diseases that could decimate native wildlife populations if they or any equipment used to handle them is exposed to native habitat,” Ashley Grimsley-Padron, AGFC captive wildlife program coordinator, said. “Still others that escape or get released could become invasive and cause harm to native wildlife.”
For these reasons and many others, all non-domestic animal species are classified as wildlife in Arkansas, whether they are native or exotic, free-ranging or captive-born. Many non-traditional pet species fall within this category of wildlife, which places responsibility for their oversight with the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission.
During the last two years, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission staff have evaluated and updated many regulations concerning the possession, breeding and sale of non-domestic pets. Biologists and the state wildlife veterinarian evaluated many species for risk to Arkansas and continued to update its list of captive wildlife species.
These changes made it possible to breed, sell and import many species without permits, however other species require more oversight. Before the captive wildlife regulations overhaul in February 2019, most wildlife imported bred or sold required a Wildlife Importation and Wildlife Breeder/Dealer permit.
“We have sought input from organizations and individuals throughout the regulation process, and will continue to do so,” Matthew Warriner, AGFC assistant chief of wildlife management, said. “Some species do pose enough risk to people and native wildlife if they are improperly kept that we do require a permitting process to help prevent issues that may arise from escape or disease transmission.”
The AGFC is working with these customers to get them into compliance.
Owners of venomous reptiles also must submit an application for a new Venomous Reptile Permit no later than July 1.