Transportation and Holding of Live Exotic Wildlife

Please note: Importation of Game Birds -  In addition to obtaining a transportation permit from the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, the applicant is responsible to ensure that the shipment is compliance with the Kentucky’s Department of Agriculture’s entry and avian influenza requirements. (302 KAR 20:020, 20:040, 20:250) In light of recent highly pathogenic avian influenza occurrences in the U.S., birds must originate from a National Poultry Improvement Plan (NPIP) avian influenza H5/H7 certified flock. The NPIP flock number shall be recorded on the Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (CVI) per 301 KAR 2:084.

Please note: Importation of Salamanders - In light of the recent threat of introduction of the salamander chytrid fungus into U.S, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has issued an interim rule under the Lacey Act by which the importation, transportation, or acquisition of any live or dead specimen of the following genera is prohibited:  Chioglossa, Cynops, Euproctus, Hydromantes, Hynobius, Ichthyosaura, Lissotriton, Neurergus, Notophthalmus, Onychodactylus, Paramesotriton, Plethodon, Pleurodeles, Salamandra, Salamandrella, Salamandrina, Siren, Taricha, Triturus, and Tylototriton.

Please note:  Importation of Exotic or Native Wildlife - All shipments of wildlife, except for amphibians and reptiles, must be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection issued by a veterinarian (301 KAR 2:081/082).

NOTE:  Please allow six weeks to process your permit.  If after six weeks you still have not received your permit, please call 800-858-1549.


Holding Exotic Wildlife

General Information

The Department does not issue permits for the holding (i.e. possession within Kentucky) of exotic wildlife; however, importation or transportation of exotic wildlife from out-of-state, requires a wildlife transportation permit. Environmentally injurious and inherently-dangerous exotic wildlife species are prohibited unless you’re exempted; and some species regularly held as livestock or pets are exempt from the transportation permit requirement.

What does this really mean?

  • If you legally obtain a non-prohibited exotic species within Kentucky then you will never need a permit from the Department assuming the animal(s) never leave Kentucky with intent to return.
  • If you plan to bring an exotic species into Kentucky from out-of-state you must have a wildlife transportation permit authorizing the movement. 
  • Prohibited species may not be possessed by the general public. 

Local ordinances may be stricter than state regulation, and some counties and cities prohibit additional species or restrict wildlife possession beyond the level of the state. It is a person’s individual responsibility to ensure compliance with all local ordinances.  Always ensure a species you plan to possess is legal through all levels of government.

*Exotic wildlife shall not be released into the wild,* with the exception of pheasants and chukars.

Prohibited Exotic Wildlife

Environmentally Injurious - A person shall not import, possess, or transport through Kentucky the following species:

  • Baya weaver (Ploceus philippinus);
  • Blackbirds (Genus Agelaius), except native species;
  • Cape sparrow (Passer melanurus);
  • Cowbirds (Genus Molothrus), except native species;
  • Cuckoo (Family Cuculidae), except native species;
  • Dioch or red-billed quelea (Quelea quelea);
  • European blackbird (Turdus merula);
  • Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris);
  • Flying fox or fruit bat (Genus Pteropus);
  • Fox (Genus Vulpes and Alopex lagopus);
  • Gambian giant pouched rat (Cricetomys gambianus);
  • Giant, marine, or cane toad (Bufo marinus);
  • Hawaiian rice bird or spotted munia (Lonchura punctulata);
  • Jack rabbit (Genus Lepus);
  • Java sparrow (Padda oryzivora);
  • Madagascar weaver (Foudia madagascariensis);
  • Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus);
  • Monk or Quaker parakeet (Myiopsitta monachus);
  • Multimammate rat (Genus Mastomys);
  • Mute swan (Cygnus olor);
  • Nutria (Myocastor coypus);
  • Prairie dog (Cynomys spp.);
  • Raccoon dog (Nyctereutes procyonoides);
  • San Juan rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus);
  • Sky lark (Alauda arvensis);
  • Song thrush (Turdus philomelus);
  • Starling (Family Sturnidae) including pink starlings or rosy pastors (Sturnus roseus), except for Indian Hill mynahs (Gracula religiosa);
  • Suricate or slender-tailed meerkat (Genus Suricata);
  • Tongueless or African clawed frog (Xenopus laevis);
  • Weaver finch (Genus Passer), except Passer domesticus;
  • White eyes (Genus Zosterops);
  • Wild European rabbit (also called the San Juan Rabbit) not distinguishable morphologically from native wild rabbits;
  • Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella); or
  • A member of the following families:
    • Suidae (pigs or hogs), except for domestic swine;
    • Viverridae (civits, genets, lingsangs, mongooses and fossas); or
    • Tayassuidae (peccaries and javelinas)

Inherently Dangerous - A person shall not import or possess the following species:

  • Alligators or caimans (Family Alligatoridae);
  • African buffalo (Syncerus caffer);
  • Bears (Family Ursidae);
  • Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus);
  • Clouded leopard (Neofelis nebulosa);
  • Crocodiles (Family Crocodylidae);
  • Elephants (Family Elephantidae);
  • Gavials (Family Gavialidae);
  • Gila monsters or beaded lizards (Family Helodermatidae);
  • Hippopotamus (Hippopotamus amphibius);
  • Honey badger or ratel (Mellivora capensis);
  • Hyenas (Family Hyaenidae), all species except aardwolves (Proteles cristatus);
  • Lions, jaguars, leopards or tigers (Genus Panthera);
  • Old world badger (Meles meles);
  • Primates, nonhuman (Order Primates);
  • Rhinoceroses (Family Rhinocerotidae);
  • Snow leopard (Uncia uncia);
  • Venomous exotic snakes of the families Viperidae, Atractaspididae, Elapidae, and Colubridae, except for hognose snakes (Genus Heterodon);
  • Wolverine (Gulo gulo); or
  • Hybrids of all species contained in this list.
ExemptionsSee Section 5 of 301 KAR 2:082


Prohibited Native Wildlife

With limited exceptions the following shall not be imported or possessed:

  • Alligator snapping turtle
  • Black bear
  • Copperbelly water snake
  • Cougar or mountain lion
  • Wild turkey
  • Wolf

The following shall not be imported or transported through Kentucky:

  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks

For more information on native wildlife, go here.

Wildlife Transportation Permit 

General Information

A wildlife transportation permit shall be obtained for all shipments of wildlife (native or exotic) prior to:

  • Receiving a shipment of wildlife;
  • Importing wildlife into Kentucky; or
  • Transporting wildlife into and through the state to a destination outside of Kentucky.

There are two types of wildlife transportation permits:

  • An individual wildlife transportation permit shall be valid for one (1) shipment of wildlife.
  • An annual wildlife transportation permit shall be valid for multiple wildlife shipments. 

All shipments of wildlife, excepting reptiles and amphibians, shall be accompanied by a certificate of veterinary inspection. This is not required with your application; it must be with the wildlife during shipment and available if stopped for inspection.

A person may apply for a transportation permit to temporarily transport into and through the state to a destination outside of Kentucky a prohibited inherently-dangerous species and shall not:

  • Remain in the state in excess of forty-eight (48) hours;
  • Stop in Kentucky for exhibition purposes; or
  • Sell, trade, barter, or offer for sale, trade, or barter a prohibited animal while in Kentucky.

Permit Exempt Species

The following shall not require any permits from the Department for importation, transportation, or possession:
  • Alpaca (Lama pacos);
  • American bison (Bison bison);
  • Breeds and varieties of goats derived from the wild goat or bezoar (Capra hircus);
  • Camels (Camelus bactrianus and Camelus dromedarius);
  • Chinchillas (Chinchilla laniger);
  • Cockatoos (family Cacatuidae);
  • Domesticated races of ducks and geese (family Anatidae) distinguishable morphologically from wild ducks or geese;
  • Domesticated races of European rabbit (Oryctolagus cuniculus) distinguishable from wild rabbits;
  • Domesticated races of mink (Mustela vison) if;
    • Adults are heavier than 1.15 kilograms; or
    • The fur color can be distinguished from wild mink;
  • Domesticated races of rats (Rattus norvegicus or Rattus rattus) or mice (Mus musculus);
  • Domesticated races of turkeys (Meleagris gallopavo) recognized by the American Poultry Association and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but shall not include captive held or bred wild turkeys;
  • Domestic yak (Bos grunniens);
  • Gerbils (Meriones unguiculatus);
  • Guinea fowl (Mumida megeagris);
  • Guinea pigs (Cavia porcellus);
  • Hamsters (Mesocricetus spp.);
  • Indian Hill mynahs (Graclua religiosa);
  • Llama (Lama glama);
  • Parrots, lovebirds, cockatiels, budgerigar, parakeets (except monk parakeet (M. monachus), macaws (family Psittacidae);
  • Peafowl (Pavo cristatus);
  • Pigeons (Columba domestica or Columba livia) or domesticated races of pigeons;
  • Ratite, as defined by KRS 247.870; and
  • Toucans (family Rhamphastidae).

Issuance Cycle

Individual wildlife transportation permits are valid for only the range of dates authorized upon issuance.

Annual wildlife transportation permits are valid for a period of one (1) year from the date of issuance.

Application Process

An applicant for a wildlife transportation permit shall be at least 18 years old and submit an application fee ($25 individual, $250 annual) and completed individual wildlife transportation permit application or annual wildlife transportation permit application.

**Online Option** An applicant for an individual wildlife transportation permit may also utilize our online application system to quickly complete their application at any time, provide payment by credit/debit card, and have a printable permit without delay.  Proceed to the online application system.


301 KAR 2:082. Transportation and holding of exotic wildlife

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Starting January 2020, online transportation permit applications will go through a screening process to ensure species can legally enter Kentucky. Some permits will no longer be available immediately for printing. To ensure permits are approved in a timely manner, the Department recommends applying for online transportation permits at least 5-7 business days before shipment.

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