Sign In

​​​​​​​​​Exactly what is considered wildlife?

The statutory definition of "wildlife " means wild vertebrates, mollusks, and crustaceans, whether alive or dead, including any part, product, egg or offspring thereof, that exist as a species in a natural wild state in their place of origin, presently or historically, except those species determined to be domestic animals by rule or regulation by the commission and the state agriculture commission.

How can I own wildlife in Colorado?

Wildlife in general may NOT be held as pets in Colorado. There are some exceptions to this under regulation #1103 "Exemptions from License Requirements" in Chapter 11.

What types of licenses are there for possession of wildlife?

The following are the major license types for possession of wildlife:

  • Commercial Parks - for the operation of privately owned wildlife parks and the related commercial use of such wildlife

  • Wildlife Sanctuary - a place of refuge where a nonprofit entity provides care for abused, neglected, unwanted, impounded, abandoned, orphaned, or displaced wildlife for their lifetime. The animals in a sanctuary may not be used for entertainment and they may not be sold, bred, bartered or traded. This type of license is issued only to nonprofit entities.

  • Commercial Lakes - for the operation of privately owned lakes for purposes of charging customers to fish. No live fish or eggs may be sold or transported from the premises.

  • Commercial Fishing - for the taking or possession of fish, amphibians, mollusks or crustaceans for commercial purposes.

  • ​Falconry - the sport of hunting quarry with a trained raptor.

  • Noncommercial Parks - for the possession, purchase, raising, releasing, trade, exchange of release of game birds only. A profit may NOT be generated.

  • Noncommercial Lakes - for the operation of privately owned lakes for the purpose of fishing when no fee is charged; no fish or eggs may be sold or live fish or eggs transported from the premises.

  • Scientific Collection - for marking, banding, temporary or permanent possession of wildlife and collection of specimens outside of established seasons and bag and possession limits for the purpose of collecting scientific data.

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation - for the rehabilitation of wildlife that is sick, injured, orphaned, or imprinted on humans. The primary purpose of wildlife rehabilitation is to return the wildlife to the wild.

What types of animals can I have?

That will depend greatly upon: 

  • The intended use of the wildlife species (commercial park, noncommercial park, falconry, etc.)

  • Its protection status at either the state or federal level

  • Whether or not it is a prohibited, restricted for commercial use only, domestic, or unregulated species.

Which animals are prohibited in the State of Colorado?

There are a number of both aquatic and terrestrial species which are prohibited in Colorado. The major reasons for these prohibitions are: 

  1. There is a potential for hybridization with native species if escape were to occur

  2. There is the potential for spread of disease into the native populations if escape were to occur 

  3. There is the potential for habitat destruction if escape were to occur

We are often asked if a species can be brought into Colorado which is on the prohibited list, but has been a family pet in another state for years. Unfortunately, the answer to this is no. There are no exceptions. Please review the Colorado's Prohibited Species (Chapter 0 #008 A & B)  for a list of Colorado's prohibited Species.

What other laws do I need to be aware of to own wildlife?

Generally it can be assumed that ownership of wildlife may require regulation by several agencies. No matter which agency or agencies regulate the wildlife you are interested in, the agency that has the MOST RESTRICTIVE LAW is the law that applies. For example: if the city of Denver prohibits the possession of wildlife for any reason, there is no agency or law that will override this local law. There would simply be no way to own wildlife in that city unless the local laws were to change. 

The first step is to check with your local city and county laws to ensure there are no restrictions or prohibitions against possession of wildlife. The next step is to check with Special Licensing at the following email address Depending upon the use and classification of the proposed species, a federal permit may be required in addition to the state permit. Federal permits for possession are issued by the USDA or the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service or both depending upon the use and protection status of  the animals.

Where do I obtain wildlife?

Wildlife can NOT be taken from the wild in the State of Colorado. Wildlife may be obtained for private possession by purchase from a propagated (commercially raised) legal source, but again only with the appropriate licenses and intended uses.

How do I bring wildlife into Colorado from other states?

Most wildlife requires a health certificate issued by a veterinarian within 30 days of the date of the proposed importation. Contact the State of Colorado Veterinarian's Office by phone (303-239-4161) to obtain an Entry Permit Number. For the importation of raptors (birds of prey) and fish, a Colorado Parks and Wildlife Importation License is also required. Applications for these can be found under "Applications" on the Special Wildlife Licenses webpage.

What are the laws in regards to venomous snakes?​

See the Venomous Snake Possession regulations.

Who needs to purchase an importation license for red swamp crayfish (Louisiana crawfish)?​

In most cases, the business importing live crayfish will apply for the importation license and a copy of the approved license must accompany the shipment of crayfish. Consumers buying live crayfish from a vendor will receive a copy of the importation license along with the required receipt. Consumers buying cooked crayfish from a restaurant do not need an importation license. ​