This set of statutes is comprised of the sections within Arizona's Game and Fish Code that are relevant to the possession of wildlife, including: the authority of the Department of Game and Fish and the Game and Fish Commission to regulate wildlife, enforcement authority and duties, definitions, restrictions on the possession of wildlife, licenses, and violations.
§ 17-101. Definitions
§ 17-104. Duties of peace officers as special game rangers
§ 17-201. Game and fish department and game and fish commission members; appointment; removal; meetings
§ 17-231. General powers and duties of the commission
§ 17-238. Special licenses for field trials, for shooting preserves and for collecting or holding wildlife in captivity
§ 17-306. Importation, transportation, release or possession of live wildlife
§ 17-309. Violations; classification
Chapter 1. General Provisions
A. In this title, unless the context otherwise requires:
1. “Angling” means taking fish by one line and not more than two hooks, by one line and one artificial lure, which may have attached more than one hook, or by one line and not more than two artificial flies or lures.
2. “Bag limit” means the maximum limit, in number or amount, of wildlife that any one person may lawfully take during a specified period of time.
3. “Closed season” means the time during which wildlife may not be lawfully taken.
4. “Commission” means the Arizona game and fish commission.
5. “Department” means the Arizona game and fish department.
6. “Device” means any net, trap, snare, salt lick, scaffold, deadfall, pit, explosive, poison or stupefying substance, crossbow, firearm, bow and arrow, or other implement used for taking wildlife. Device does not include a raptor or any equipment used in the sport of falconry.
7. “Domicile” means a person's true, fixed and permanent home and principal residence. Proof of domicile in this state may be shown as prescribed by rule by the commission.
8. “Falconry” means the sport of hunting or taking quarry with a trained raptor.
9. “Fishing” means to lure, attract or pursue aquatic wildlife in such a manner that the wildlife may be captured or killed.
10. “Fur dealer” means any person engaged in the business of buying for resale the raw pelts or furs of wild mammals.
11. “Guide” means a person who meets any of the following:
(a) Advertises for guiding services.
(b) Holds himself out to the public for hire as a guide.
(c) Is employed by a commercial enterprise as a guide.
(d) Accepts compensation in any form commensurate with the market value in this state for guiding services in exchange for aiding, assisting, directing, leading or instructing a person in the field to locate and take wildlife.
(e) Is not a landowner or lessee who, without full fair market compensation, allows access to the landowner's or lessee's property and directs and advises a person in taking wildlife.
12. “License classification” means a type of license, permit, tag or stamp authorized under this title and prescribed by the commission by rule to take, handle or possess wildlife.
13. “License year” means the twelve-month period between January 1 and December 31, inclusive, or a different twelve-month period as prescribed by the commission by rule.
14. “Nonresident”, for the purposes of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp, means a citizen of the United States or an alien who is not a resident.
15. “Open season” means the time during which wildlife may be lawfully taken.
16. “Possession limit” means the maximum limit, in number or amount of wildlife, that any one person may possess at one time.
17. “Resident”, for the purposes of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp, means a person who is:
(a) A member of the armed forces of the United States on active duty and who is stationed in:
(i) This state for a period of thirty days immediately preceding the date of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp.
(ii) Another state or country but who lists this state as the person's home of record at the time of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp.
(b) Domiciled in this state for six months immediately preceding the date of applying for a license, permit, tag or stamp and who does not claim residency privileges for any purpose in any other state or jurisdiction.
(c) A youth who resides with and is under the guardianship of a person who is a resident.
18. “Road” means any maintained right-of-way for public conveyance.
19. “Statewide” means all lands except those areas lying within the boundaries of state and federal refuges, parks and monuments, unless specifically provided differently by commission order.
20. “Take” means pursuing, shooting, hunting, fishing, trapping, killing, capturing, snaring or netting wildlife or placing or using any net or other device or trap in a manner that may result in capturing or killing wildlife.
21. “Taxidermist” means any person who engages for hire in mounting, refurbishing, maintaining, restoring or preserving any display specimen.
22. “Traps” or “trapping” means taking wildlife in any manner except with a gun or other implement in hand.
23. “Wild” means, in reference to mammals and birds, those species that are normally found in a state of nature.
24. “Wildlife” means all wild mammals, wild birds and the nests or eggs thereof, reptiles, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans and fish, including their eggs or spawn.
25. “Youth” means a person who is under eighteen years of age.
26. “Zoo” means a commercial facility open to the public where the principal business is holding wildlife in captivity for exhibition purposes.
B. The following definitions of wildlife shall apply:
1. “Aquatic wildlife” means fish, amphibians, mollusks, crustaceans and soft-shelled turtles.
2. “Big game” means wild turkey, deer, elk, pronghorn (antelope), bighorn sheep, bison (buffalo), peccary (javelina), bear and mountain lion.
3. “Fur-bearing animals” means muskrats, raccoons, otters, weasels, bobcats, beavers, badgers and ringtail cats.
4. “Game fish” means trout of all species, bass of all species, catfish of all species, sunfish of all species, northern pike, walleye and yellow perch.
5. “Game mammals” means deer, elk, bear, pronghorn (antelope), bighorn sheep, bison (buffalo), peccary (javelina), mountain lion, tree squirrel and cottontail rabbit.
6. “Migratory game birds” means wild waterfowl, including ducks, geese and swans, sandhill cranes, all coots, all gallinules, common snipe, wild doves and bandtail pigeons.
7. “Nongame animals” means all wildlife except game mammals, game birds, fur-bearing animals, predatory animals and aquatic wildlife.
8. “Nongame birds” means all birds except upland game birds and migratory game birds.
9. “Nongame fish” means all the species of fish except game fish.
10. “Predatory animals” means foxes, skunks, coyotes and bobcats.
11. “Raptors” means birds that are members of the order of falconiformes or strigiformes and includes falcons, hawks, owls, eagles and other birds that the commission may classify as raptors.
12. “Small game” means cottontail rabbits, tree squirrels, upland game birds and migratory game birds.
13. “Trout” means all species of the family salmonidae, including grayling.
14. “Upland game birds” means quail, partridge, grouse and pheasants.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1959, Ch. 81, § 1; Laws 1962, Ch. 85, § 1; Laws 1967, Ch. 38, § 1; Laws 1968, Ch. 101, § 1; Laws 1969, Ch. 6, § 1; Laws 1971, Ch. 31, § 1; Laws 1976, Ch. 58, § 2; Laws 1977, Ch. 114, § 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1978; Laws 1980, Ch. 198, § 1; Laws 1988, Ch. 60, § 1; Laws 1998, Ch. 67, § 1; Laws 2006, Ch. 238, § 4; Laws 2011, Ch. 282, § 1; Laws 2012, Ch. 272, § 1; Laws 2013, Ch. 197, § 5, eff. May 7, 2013; Laws 2019, Ch. 77, § 1; Laws 2019, Ch. 210, § 1.
All county, city and town peace officers are ex officio special game rangers and are required to carry out the duties of this title.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2.
A. The laws of the state relating to wildlife shall be administered by the game and fish department. Control of the department is vested in the game and fish commission. The commission shall consist of five members, appointed by the governor pursuant to § 38-211. Not more than three members shall be members of the same political party, and no two members may be residents of the same county. Members shall be well informed on the subject of wildlife and requirements for its conservation. Appointments shall be for a term of five years and shall expire on the third Monday in January of the appropriate year.
B. The governor may, after public hearing, remove a member for inefficiency, neglect of duty or misconduct in office. Upon removal of a member the governor shall file in the office of the secretary of state a complete statement of all charges made against the members and his findings thereon, together with a complete record of the proceedings.
C. Each member of the commission while attending general or specific meetings of the commission or while performing official duties for the commission shall receive compensation as determined pursuant to § 38-611. A commission member who is otherwise employed as a public officer shall not receive such payment if it is prohibited by law. Compensation and expenses shall be paid monthly from the game and fish fund.
D. The commission shall have its principal office at the state capitol but meetings may be held at any time or place within the state. The commission shall meet at least once quarterly. Meetings may be held at the call of the chairman or majority of the commission. A majority of the commission shall constitute a quorum to transact business.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1962, Ch. 98, § 74; Laws 1970, Ch. 204, § 38; Laws 1971, Ch. 125, § 20; Laws 1972, Ch. 163, § 14.
A. The commission shall:
1. Adopt rules and establish services it deems necessary to carry out the provisions and purposes of this title.
2. Establish broad policies and long-range programs for the management, preservation and harvest of wildlife.
3. Establish hunting, trapping and fishing rules and prescribe the manner and methods that may be used in taking wildlife, but the commission shall not limit or restrict the magazine capacity of any authorized firearm.
4. Be responsible for the enforcement of laws for the protection of wildlife.
5. Provide for the assembling and distribution of information to the public relating to wildlife and activities of the department.
6. Prescribe rules for the expenditure, by or under the control of the director, of all funds arising from appropriation, licenses, gifts or other sources.
7. Exercise such powers and duties necessary to carry out fully the provisions of this title and in general exercise powers and duties that relate to adopting and carrying out policies of the department and control of its financial affairs.
8. Prescribe procedures for use of department personnel, facilities, equipment, supplies and other resources in assisting search or rescue operations on request of the director of the division of emergency management.
9. Cooperate with the Arizona-Mexico commission in the governor's office and with researchers at universities in this state to collect data and conduct projects in the United States and Mexico on issues that are within the scope of the department's duties and that relate to quality of life, trade and economic development in this state in a manner that will help the Arizona-Mexico commission to assess and enhance the economic competitiveness of this state and of the Arizona-Mexico region.
B. The commission may:
1. Conduct investigations, inquiries or hearings in the performance of its powers and duties.
2. Establish game management units or refuges for the preservation and management of wildlife.
3. Construct and operate game farms, fish hatcheries, fishing lakes or other facilities for or relating to the preservation or propagation of wildlife.
4. Expend funds to provide training in the safe handling and use of firearms and safe hunting practices.
5. Remove or permit to be removed from public or private waters fish which hinder or prevent propagation of game or food fish and dispose of such fish in such manner as it may designate.
6. Purchase, sell or barter wildlife for the purpose of stocking public or private lands and waters and take at any time in any manner wildlife for research, propagation and restocking purposes or for use at a game farm or fish hatchery and declare wildlife salable when in the public interest or the interest of conservation.
7. Enter into agreements with the federal government, with other states or political subdivisions of the state and with private organizations for the construction and operation of facilities and for management studies, measures or procedures for or relating to the preservation and propagation of wildlife and expend funds for carrying out such agreements.
8. Prescribe rules for the sale, trade, importation, exportation or possession of wildlife.
9. Expend monies for the purpose of producing publications relating to wildlife and activities of the department for sale to the public and establish the price to be paid for annual subscriptions and single copies of such publications. All monies received from the sale of such publications shall be deposited in the game and fish publications revolving fund.
10. Contract with any person or entity to design and produce artwork on terms that, in the commission's judgment, will produce an original and valuable work of art relating to wildlife or wildlife habitat.
11. Sell or distribute the artwork authorized under paragraph 10 of this subsection on such terms and for such price as it deems acceptable.
12. Consider the adverse and beneficial short-term and long-term economic impacts on resource dependent communities, small businesses and the state of Arizona, of policies and programs for the management, preservation and harvest of wildlife by holding a public hearing to receive and consider written comments and public testimony from interested persons.
13. Adopt rules relating to range operations at public shooting ranges operated by and under the jurisdiction of the commission, including the hours of operation, the fees for the use of the range, the regulation of groups and events, the operation of related range facilities, the type of firearms and ammunition that may be used at the range, the safe handling of firearms at the range, the required safety equipment for a person using the range, the sale of firearms, ammunition and shooting supplies at the range, and the authority of range officers to enforce these rules, to remove violators from the premises and to refuse entry for repeat violations.
14. Solicit and accept grants, gifts or donations of money or other property from any source, which may be used for any purpose consistent with this title.
C. The commission shall confer and coordinate with the director of water resources with respect to the commission's activities, plans and negotiations relating to water development and use, restoration projects under the restoration acts pursuant to chapter 4, article 1 of this title, [FN1] where water development and use are involved, the abatement of pollution injurious to wildlife and in the formulation of fish and wildlife aspects of the director of water resources' plans to develop and utilize water resources of the state and shall have jurisdiction over fish and wildlife resources and fish and wildlife activities of projects constructed for the state under or pursuant to the jurisdiction of the director of water resources.
D. The commission may enter into one or more agreements with a multi-county water conservation district and other parties for participation in the lower Colorado river multispecies conservation program under § 48-3713.03, including the collection and payment of any monies authorized by law for the purposes of the lower Colorado river multispecies conservation program.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1969, Ch. 15, § 1; Laws 1971, Ch. 49, § 31, eff. April 13, 1971; Laws 1971, Ch. 51, § 4, eff. April 12, 1971; Laws 1977, Ch. 54, § 1, eff. May 17, 1977; Laws 1978, Ch. 117, § 1; Laws 1979, Ch. 70, § 1; Laws 1980, 4th S.S., Ch. 1, § 5, eff. June 12, 1980; Laws 1984, Ch. 363, § 1; Laws 1989, Ch. 22, § 1; Laws 1991, Ch. 179, § 1; Laws 1992, Ch. 156, § 1; Laws 2001, Ch. 231, § 3; Laws 2005, Ch. 78, § 3; Laws 2011, Ch. 276, § 1; Laws 2012, Ch. 75, § 1; Laws 2012, Ch. 272, § 2; Laws 2012, Ch. 321, § 23, eff. Sept. 29, 2012.
[FN1] Section 17-401 et seq.
A. The commission may adopt rules and regulations and issue licenses for the conduct of field trials, shooting preserves, private wildlife farms and zoos, or for the personal use and possession of wildlife so as to safeguard the interests of the wildlife and people of the state.
B. The commission, at its discretion and under such regulations as it deems necessary, may issue a permit to take wildlife for scientific purposes to any person or duly accredited representative of public educational or scientific institutions, or governmental departments of the United States engaged in the scientific study of wildlife.
C. A person holding a permit issued pursuant to this section may, upon advance approval by the commission, buy, sell and transport wildlife legally possessed. Each person receiving a permit under this section shall file with the department within fifteen days after requested by the department a report of his activities under the permit. The commission may revoke such licenses or permits for noncompliance with regulations.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1986, Ch. 228, § 1.
A. No person shall import or transport into this state or sell, trade or release within this state or have in the person's possession any live wildlife except as authorized by the commission or as defined in title 3, chapter 16.[FN 1]
B. It is unlawful for a person to knowingly and without lawful authority under state or federal law import and transport into this state and release within this state a species of wildlife that is listed as a threatened, endangered or candidate species under the endangered species act of 1973 (P.L. 93-205; 87 Stat. 884; 16 United States Code sections 1531 through 1544).
C. A person who violates subsection B of this section is guilty of a class 6 felony.
D. A person who violates subsection B of this section with the intent to disrupt or interfere with the development or use of public natural resources to establish the presence of the species in an area not currently known to be occupied by that species is guilty of a class 4 felony.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1969, Ch. 15, § 2; Laws 1990, Ch. 374, § 405, eff. Jan. 1, 1991; Laws 2015, Ch. 172, § 1.
[FN 1] Section 3-2901 et seq.
A. Unless otherwise prescribed by this title, it is unlawful for a person to:
1. Violate any provision of this title or any rule adopted pursuant to this title.
2. Take, possess, release, transport, buy, sell or offer or expose for sale wildlife except as expressly permitted by this title.
3. Destroy, injure or molest livestock, growing crops, personal property, notices or signboards, or other improvements while hunting, trapping or fishing.
4. Discharge a firearm while taking wildlife within one-fourth mile of an occupied farmhouse or other residence, cabin, lodge or building without permission of the owner or resident.
5. Take a game bird, game mammal or game fish and knowingly permit an edible portion thereof to go to waste, except as provided in § 17-302.
6. Take big game, except bear or mountain lion, with the aid of dogs.
7. Make more than one use of a shipping permit or coupon issued by the commission.
8. Obtain a license or take wildlife during the period for which the person's license has been revoked or suspended or the person has been denied a license.
9. Litter hunting and fishing areas while taking wildlife.
10. Take wildlife during the closed season.
11. Take wildlife in an area closed to the taking of that wildlife.
12. Take wildlife with an unlawful device.
13. Take wildlife by an unlawful method.
14. Take wildlife in excess of the bag limit.
15. Possess wildlife in excess of the possession limit.
16. Possess or transport any wildlife or parts of the wildlife that was unlawfully taken.
17. Possess or transport the carcass of big game without a valid tag being attached.
18. Use the edible parts of any game mammal or any part of any game bird or nongame bird as bait.
19. Possess or transport the carcass or parts of a carcass of any wildlife that cannot be identified as to species and legality.
20. Take game animals, game birds and game fish with an explosive compound, poison or any other deleterious substances.
21. Import into this state or export from this state the carcass or parts of a carcass of any wildlife unlawfully taken or possessed.
B. Unless a different or other penalty or punishment is specifically prescribed a person who violates any provision of this title, or who violates or fails to comply with a lawful order or rule of the commission, is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
C. A person who knowingly takes any big game during a closed season or who knowingly possesses, transports or buys any big game that was unlawfully taken during a closed season is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor.
D. A person is guilty of a class 6 felony who knowingly:
1. Barters, sells or offers for sale any big game or parts of big game taken unlawfully.
2. Barters, sells or offers for sale any wildlife or parts of wildlife unlawfully taken during a closed season.
3. Barters, sells or offers for sale any wildlife or parts of wildlife imported or purchased in violation of this title or a lawful rule of the commission.
4. Assists another person for monetary gain with the unlawful taking of big game.
5. Takes or possesses wildlife while under permanent revocation under § 17-340, subsection B, paragraph 3.
E. A peace officer who knowingly fails to enforce a lawful rule of the commission or this title is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.
Added by Laws 1958, Ch. 80, § 2. Amended by Laws 1968, Ch. 101, § 2; Laws 1971, Ch. 31, § 4; Laws 1978, Ch. 201, § 299, eff. Oct. 1, 1978; Laws 1979, Ch. 107, § 1; Laws 1986, Ch. 228, § 2; Laws 1989, Ch. 41, § 1; Laws 1990, Ch. 196, § 1; Laws 2002, Ch. 103, § 1; Laws 2006, Ch. 238, § 5; Laws 2012, Ch. 128, § 2; Laws 2015, Ch. 172, § 2.