Transportation and Holding of Live Native Wildlife


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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With limited exceptions, the following shall not be imported into KY, transported through KY or possessed:​

  • Alligator snapping turtle
  • Bats
  • Black bear
  • Bobcat
  • Copperbelly water snake
  • Cougar or mountain lion
  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Hellbender
  • Kirtland's Snake
  • Otters
  • Raccoons
  • Skunks
  • Rabbits
  • Wild turkey
  • Wolf​
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    A captive wildlife permit shall be obtained prior to possessing live native wildlife (exceptions listed below). A person shall only obtain native wildlife through legal means, including trapping during the legal season for the species, or from a properly permitted commercial breeder.

    It is illegal to remove young wildlife from the wild. You are risking citation, and a permit will not be issued for illegally taken wildlife. These animals should be left in the wild or returned there, and legal recourse for injured and orphaned wildlife is the prompt transfer of these animals to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

    The captive wildlife permit is issued as “commercial” or “noncommercial".  A commercial captive wildlife permit shall be required for a person to use native wildlife for any commercial activity, including to sell, offer to sell, trade, barter native wildlife, or exhibit.  **Important** A person shall not buy, sell, offer to buy or sell, or trade or barter native wildlife obtained from the wild; only captive-bred native wildlife may be commercially offered.

    Exceptions to the requirement of a captive wildlife permit:

    • Northern Bobwhite Quail
      • One hundred or fewer Northern Bobwhite Quail may be possessed for personal use without a permit, provided the birds are not propagated or sold, they are legally obtained, and the confining facilities meet regulatory requirements.
    • Native reptiles and amphibians
      • Up to five (5) individuals of each species of native reptile or amphibian may be taken year-round from the wild, or legally obtained from a breeder, and possessed for personal use without a permit.
      • A captive wildlife permit shall not be required to hold native reptiles with a color morphology that is distinctly different from the wild type of the same species of reptile.
    • To exceed the limitations of these exceptions, a captive wildlife permit shall be obtained.

    In order to hold federally protected birds (Migratory Bird Treaty Act), including raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl, a person shall have both a state captive wildlife permit and a federal permit.  Information on the United States Fish & Wildlife Service Migratory Bird permits.

    Issuance Cycle

    Noncommercial captive wildlife permits are valid for a period of three (3) years from the date of issuance.

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


    Application Process

    An applicant for a captive wildlife permit a person shall:

    1. Be at least 18 years old;
    2. Construct holding facilities that meet or exceed the enclosure specifications in Sections 8 & 9 of 301 KAR 2:081 for each listed species to be acquired;
    3. 3. Have their facilities inspected by a KDFWR Conservation Officer to receive their required signature on the permit application if compliance is demonstrated;
    4. Indicate a legal source for how the wildlife will be obtained on the permit application; and 
    5. Submit an application fee ($75 noncommercial, $150 commercial) and complete the captive wildlife permit application.


    Captive wildlife permit holders shall maintain accurate records for all captive-bred and wild-captured wildlife for five (5) years and shall allow these records to be inspected by a Department representative upon request. Section 3 of 301 KAR 2:081 details the information required to be recorded.


    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, except 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.   ​

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    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 annually) and complete the 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.​​