Massachusetts bans private possession of exotic pets, and requires licenses for those who deal and propagate wild species for other reasons. The Massachusetts director of the Division of Fisheries and Wildlife also issues a list of exempted species for which no permit is needed. (See also
Except as otherwise provided by this section or any rule or regulation made under the authority thereof, a person shall not engage in the propagation, cultivation, or maintenance of, or the dealing in, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, or amphibians, or parts thereof, as provided in section twenty-four, twenty-five or forty-seven, without first having obtained a propagator's license or dealer's license, as the case may be, authorizing him so to do. For the purpose of this section, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians shall refer to undomesticated birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians that are wild by nature. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the propagation, disposition, sale, possession or maintenance of domesticated species.
The director, after a public hearing, shall make and may alter, amend, or repeal, rules and regulations governing the possession, propagation, maintenance, disposition, purchase, exchange, sale or offering for sale of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles or amphibians, or parts thereof, protected by this chapter, and may issue licenses in accordance with such rules and regulations.
The director shall draw up a special exemption list of fish, birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians. Animals to be thus listed shall meet the following criteria: (1) accidental release of the fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian will not result in an adverse effect on the ecology of the commonwealth; (2) the animal in captivity, or escaped therefrom poses no substantial danger to man, by either injury or disease; (3) proper care of the animal is no more demanding in any major respect than proper care of common domestic animals; and (4) trade in the fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian has no significant adverse effect on the wild population of such animal in any of its natural habitats. No animal listed in any category of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red Data Books shall be listed; no animal protected by either federal endangered species law or by section 4 of chapter 131A shall be listed. The special exemption list may be altered by the director after a public hearing. Any individual may possess as a pet, without a license, any animal on the special exemption list, and may continue to do so in case of subsequent removal of such animal from the list, for the lifetime of his animal, contingent upon evidence of acquisition of the animal while so listed.
Each license issued by the director shall specify the degree to which fish, birds, mammals, reptiles or amphibians, or parts thereof, may be propagated, cultivated, maintained, disposed of, or dealt in, and the section of the law with respect to which such license is issued. For the granting of an individual license for an animal that is not on the special exemption list, the applicant shall satisfy the director that he can maintain in good health, properly confine and protect the animal; if, however, depletion of the wild population of the species is an issue, proposed acquisition of a captive-bred animal or acquisition by a person whose ownership is likely to benefit the species shall be given preference.
A license to possess as a pet a bird, mammal, fish, reptile or amphibian owned prior to January first, nineteen hundred and seventy-four shall, provided that any potentially injurious animal is properly confined in a suitable facility, be granted at any time to any individual upon presentation of evidence of ownership of the animal in question prior to January first, nineteen hundred and seventy-four.
A person, club or association operating under authority of a license issued as hereinbefore provided shall not sell for food fish of a size prohibited by this chapter or by any rule or regulation made under authority thereof.
The following classes of licenses may be issued under this section:--
(1) To any individual, a special propagator's license to possess, propagate and maintain fish at any time for the personal use of himself, his immediate family or guests; or to any club or association, or its members or guests; a special propagator's license to possess, propagate and maintain fish at any time for the purpose of fishing within waters under the control of such club or association for the personal use of the members and guests thereof.
(2) To any individual, club or association, a special propagator's license to possess, propagate and maintain fish for the purpose of liberation into public waters, for which there shall be no fee.
(3) To any individual, club or association, a propagator's license to possess, propagate, maintain, buy, sell or otherwise dispose of fish at any season of the year.
(4) To any individual, a propagator's license to possess, maintain, buy, sell, offer for sale or have in possession for the purpose of sale, birds, mammals, reptiles or amphibians.
(5) To any individual, club or association, a special propagator's license to possess birds or mammals to propagate for the purpose of liberation into covers open to public hunting, for which there shall be no fee.
(6) To any individual, a dealer's license to possess, buy, sell, or offer for sale, fish, birds or mammals lawfully taken or lawfully propagated outside the commonwealth or lawfully propagated within the commonwealth.
(7) To any individual, a license to possess but not to sell except under authority of a permit from the director, authority to issue such permits being hereby granted to the director, a bird or mammal as a pet, or for the purpose of training dogs, or a reptile or amphibian.
(8) To any individual, a license to possess, liberate and recapture, but not to sell except under authority of a permit from the director, authority to issue such permit being hereby granted to the director, up to twenty-five quail for the purpose of training dogs.
(9) To any person who successfully fulfills the license requirements as established by the director, a falconry license, for either an apprentice falconer, general or master falconer, depending upon the applicant's qualifications and testing, to keep, train and hunt with raptors in accordance with the rules and regulations established therefor, provided that when hunting, the licensee shall also possess a valid hunting or sporting license.
(10) To any person fulfilling the requirements of this license as established by the director, a raptor breeding license to possess and propagate birds of the families Accipitridae, Falconidae, Tytonidae, and Strigidae in accordance with the rules and regulations established therefor. The sport of falconry shall be permitted under this license only for the purposes of conditioning and training propagated raptors prior to their release to the wild or transfer to a falconry permittee or other use as authorized by the director.
(11) To any person fulfilling the requirements of this license as established by the director, a raptor salvage license to possess, transport, rehabilitate and release to the wild, transfer to a falconry permittee, or other use as authorized by the director, birds of the order Falconiformes, except species prohibited by federal regulations, in accordance with the rules and regulations established therefor. The sport of falconry shall be permitted under this license only for the purposes of conditioning and training rehabilitated raptors prior to their release to the wild, transfer to a falconry permittee or other use as authorized by the director.
It shall be unlawful to purchase, sell, barter or offer for sale or barter, or to have in possession for the purpose of sale or barter, any raptors licensed under clauses (9), (10) and (11) unless otherwise authorized in writing by the director, except that no raptors taken from the wild in the commonwealth shall be purchased, sold, bartered or offered for sale or barter or held in possession for such purposes.
The amounts of initial fees for licenses issued in accordance with this section and for each annual renewal thereof shall be determined annually by the commissioner of administration under the provision of section three B of chapter seven for the filing thereof.
Any fish, bird, mammal, reptile or amphibian possessed, propagated, cultivated, maintained, sold, or offered for sale in violation of this section or of any rule or regulation made under authority thereof may be seized and shall be disposed of by the director of law enforcement for the best interests of the commonwealth.
Added by St.1967, c. 802, § 1. Amended by St.1972, c. 573, §§ 1, 2; St.1973, c. 496, §§ 4, 5; St.1973, c. 1071, §§ 4 to 7; St.1977, c. 542, §§ 1, 2; St.1980, c. 572, § 238; St.2002, c. 23, § 10.