MAINE laws


71.  Wildlife.  "Wildlife" means any species of the animal kingdom, except fish, that is wild by nature, whether or not bred or reared in captivity, and includes any part, egg or offspring of the animal, or the dead body or parts of the animal. "Wildlife" includes wild animals and wild birds. 

72.  Wildlife exhibit.  "Wildlife exhibit" means a place where wildlife is kept in captivity, either in an enclosure or by tether, upon any street or highway or upon land, public or private, for the evident purpose of exhibition or attracting trade. The term "wildlife exhibit" does not include the showing of an animal in connection with a theatrical exhibition, circus or agricultural fair.  

BANS possession, breeding and selling of deer, bear, moose, wild turkeys and hybrids and nuisance animals along with import of wild turkeys and hybrids.

Maine classifies all other wildlife in captivity except fish as either unregulated, prohibited, restricted or unclassified.   


  • scientific or educational purposes take/import (Section 10105(10))
  • collection or use of native wildlife within state for personal, scientific or educational purposes
  • Take/import wildlife and birds to inspect, cultivate, propagate or distribute or for scientific purposes for game industry (Section 10105(10))
  • Permit to import of live mallard, quail, and Chukar and Hungarian partridge for commercial shooting areas (Section 12102)
  • Those allowed under Agriculture import permit (1809)
  • Wildlife purchased from a dealer or pet shop
  • Native wild-caught reptiles, amphibians and invertebrates not threatened/endangered/special concern for personal use
    • 5 per species of amphibians, 2 per species of reptiles and unlimited invertebrates legal without a permit if kept separate from non-native
    • EXCLUDES: Commercial use and import
  • Harvest and sale of native amphibians and nonmarine invertebrates under commercial permit
  • Department owned migratory game birds, partridge, grouse or pheasant
  • Permit to take and transport wildlife within state for breeding and advertising
  • Fish, which are covered under separate rules
  • Authorized release into the wild
  • Falconry
  • Savannah cats F4 or higher
  • Importation of dead wildlife
  • Commercial large game shooting areas
  • Domestically raised, genetically altered wildlife for agricultural production
  • Capuchins used as physical aides from recognized institution and not in public contact


  • Unrestricted (No importation, exhibition, propagation, research or possession permit required)

  • Prohibited (BANNED except research if significant public benefit)
    • Monk parakeet
    • Mute swan

  • Restricted (PERMIT required to possess, import, exhibit, propagate, or rehabilitate)
    • Category 1 (US or state threatened and endangered species, CITES Appendix I, IUCN Endangered, Critically Endangered or Extinct in the Wild, harbors agents substantially harmful to humans, livestock and native wildlife, USFWS Injurious Species, could survive in Maine, cause serious bodily injury, and housing and care requires professional facility)
      • Must be exhibitor, rehabilitator, laboratory, research
    • Category 2 (Require special care or commitment)
      • Issued to exhibitor, rehabilitator, laboratory, research or individual with demonstrated experience

  •     Unclassified (BANNED)


  • Importation Permit (import wildlife including transport or relocation in state)
    • EXEMPT: unrestricted species or transport through
    • LIMITED TO: captive-bred wildlife or wild-caught native wildlife used to recover threatened or endangered species
    • ALSO NEED: Certificate of Veterinary Inspection
    • TYPES:
      • Category 1 restricted species importation permit –250 application/$27 permit
      • Category 2 restricted species importation permit – 100 application/$27 permit

  • Category 1 Restricted Species Exhibition Permit (Possess wildlife for commercial exhibition, attracting trade, or educational purposes) - 2 years - $250 application and $150 permit fee
    • EXCLUDES: wolf hybrids

  • General Possession Permit for Category 2 Species (possession by exhibitor, rehabilitator, USDA laboratory, research facility or individual with experience) - 2 years - $27 application and $27 permit fees
    • EXCLUDES: native wildlife (banned)

  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit (Possess debilitated or orphaned wildlife and rehabilitate and release or euthanize if release is not possible) - 2 years – FREE
    • EXCLUDES: black bear, moose, white-tailed deer, wild turkey, threatened and endangered species, and exotic animals (BANNED)
    • LIMITED TO: rehabilitation or approved public viewing for education

  • Research permit (import and possess endangered/threatened/human risk species or species requiring special housing or care for scientific research or educational purposes) - 2 years – FREE
    • REQUIRES: animal care and use policy

  • Educational and Scientific Collection Permit (hunt, trap, possess, band and transport native wildlife for educational or scientific purposes) – 1 year – FREE
    • EXEMPT: invertebrates not endangered/threatened/special concern, falconry, import, other captive wildlife permittees, fish

(Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Ch. 6)



  • NO conviction of criminal law involving cruelty to animals in last 10 years of law no longer in effect, NO adjudication of civil violation of animal cruelty, and no conviction or adjudication of similar law in another state or country
  • Allow inspections
  • Proof of federal permits and CITES compliance as applicable
  • MAY require microchips, spay/neuter, protected handler contact AND may have special conditions or exemptions for special needs animals
  • Restricted: maintain records for 5 years after disposition
  • Permission for new species or quantities and report births within 30 days
  • Meet ZAA and department facility and care requirements
  • NO chaining or tethering except training or controlled activities, medical care and grooming and except for diurnal birds of prey
  • Immediately notify of escapes of restricted
  • All but rehabilitators must submit head of adult cervid that dies for testing


Restricted Species:

  • 18 or older
  • 1-year practical husbandry OR 100 hours training or 50 hours with Bachelor of Science AND 2 professional references for Class 1 OR 2 personal references for Class 2
  • Safety measures in place to prevent public injury
  • Records
  • Category 1 - emergency plan and requires authorization to allow public contact
  • Category 2 - maintenance plan in case of owner's death or injury


  • Requires 40 programs or 500 attendance every 2 years (may be waived educational)
  • Copy of USDA exhibitor’s license
  • Sufficient employees or volunteers (be 18+ if working directly with animals)
  • $500,000 general liability coverage
  • adequate barriers
  • signs telling public not to annoy animals
  • BANS unauthorized feeding by public


  • Must not run freely, be removed from premises, taken to public area or come into contact with the public except for to a veterinarian or person authorized to possess it


  • Examination for 1st application, prior permit holders renewing if not taken in last 3 years, and those not actively rehabilitating in last 3 years
  • 100 hours of experience (or 50 with Bachelor of Science) and 2 professional references
  • BANS sale, barter and trade except transfer of debilitated wildlife to another rehabilitator
  • Transfer of nonreleaseable to other facilities requires permission
  • Authorization for volunteers or interns and sub-permittees
  • Be responsible for rehabilitation costs except may charge veterinarian for care
  • IWRC or NWRA minimum standards
  • Wildlife must not become dependent on humans
  • Must either be released or euthanized within 6 months or request extension or transfer
  • Keep records and submit within 30 days of expiration or before renewal
  • Notify department within 48 hours of endangered and threatened species
  • Authorization if doing public viewing for education
  • Notify department of deaths of cervids
  • Allows “ability for strategic recruitment and permitting for wildlife rehabilitators”

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §12151 et. al.; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Ch. 7)


Allowing exotic animals to escape is a Class E crime if 1) person has permit but fails to report escape, or 2) person does NOT have permit and reports escape.  Class D crime if person does not have permit and does not report escape.

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §12152)



BANS keeping hunted and trapped upland game and furbearers alive except as allowed under the captive wildlife laws and for beagle clubs.

(Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Sec. 16.12(3) and 17.04(3)


Department issues these other captive wildlife permits:

  • Release Permit (release captive-bred, captive raised or imported wildlife)
    • EXCLUDES: wild turkeys and hybrids

  • Transport wildlife for breeding and advertising permit (take or transport wildlife for breeding/advertising)

  • Falconry Hunting Permit - $26

Law: 12 Maine Rev. Statutes §11159, §12151 et. al.; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Ch. 4 & 7



BANS wild-caught reptiles for export, sale or commercial purposes. 

PERMIT required for wild-caught amphibians, freshwater mussels, butterflies, moths, dragonflies and beetles for export, sale or commercial purposes (must be 16+).

  • Commercial Amphibian Permit (harvest native amphibians for sale) - 1 year - $27
  • Commercial Nonmarine Invertebrate Permit (harvest freshwater mussels, butterflies, moths, dragonflies, beetles for commercial purposes) - 1 year - $27

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §12151 et. al.; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Ch. 26)


BANS commercial take (see commercial use).  Allows taking 2 snapping turtles from the wild for personal purposes without permit (as allowed under captive wildlife exemption).

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §12152; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Sec. 16.14)



Domesticated deer (fallow deer raised for food) are regulated by Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.  Deer kept for other purposes are regulated by DIFW.

PERMIT (Entry Permit) from Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, health certificate, negative TB test in last 60 days, and negative Brucellosis test and Bluetongue test in last 30 days unless less than 180 days old required to import domesticated deer.

  • EXEMPT: testing for deer imported for slaughter within 24 hours

PERMIT (Domesticated Deer Permit) required for domesticated deer.

  • EXEMPT: livestock dealer holding deer less than 24 hours

( 01-001 Code of Maine Rules Ch. 220)


Wolf hybrids follow domestic dog licensing, but must have permanent ID before a license is issued. Wolf hybrid kennels (where 1 or more wolf hybrids are kept and bred) require registration with the department.

Requires IFW to respond to requests to help capture and dispose of wolf hybrids (no dog license or identification and distinct wolf-like characteristics).  May require genetic testing. 

Need permanent identification, be spayed and neutered and meet possession permit criteria for IFW. 

Agencies: Agriculture; Inland Fisheries & Wildlife

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes 12160; 7 MRS 3921-A & B; Code of Maine Rules 01-001 Ch. 721)



BANS import of live bait for fishing in inland waters, import and sale of salmon, brook, brown, rainbow and lake trout, and salmon outside US and Canada, and taking live fish other than baitfish and smelt.  

Black bass, landlocked salmon, pickerel, togue, trout and white perch must be commercially produced or imported.

Issues the following fish permits:

  • Fish Cultivation Permit (cultivate or sell commercial grown and imported fish) - $27
    • EXCLUDES: Atlantic salmon commercial aquaculture in coastal waters AND Atlantic salmon restoration program
    • Must keep invoices of fish purchased and sold and display license at each premise

  • Fish Importation Permit (import and transport live fish or eggs)
    • EXCLUDES: tropical species allowed for aquariums, Atlantic salmon commercial aquaculture in coastal waters AND Atlantic salmon restoration program
    • ALSO NEED: invoice or document

  • Fish Stocking Permit for Private Ponds

  • Permit to Sell Inland Fish Commercially - $27

  • Permit to transport live fish for breeding and advertising

  • Bait Retailer's License (possess to resell or sell live smelts and baitfish) - $16
    • ALLOWS: sale of ones acquired from another licensee, designation of assistants at business facility, transport including by another person, possess more than daily limit of smelts from another licensee
    • BANS: take or possession from inland waters or private ponds for retail sale, possession of species prohibited as bait at facility
    • REQUIRES: invoice, bill of sale or bill of lading for retail sale of legal ones

  • Baitfish Wholesaler's License (take and possess to sell or sell live baitfish) - $26
    • ALLOWS: take from inland waters or private ponds for sale, designate assistants at facility, transport including by another, use food to lure baitfish into traps or nets
    • TAKE METHODS: seine, baitfish trap, dip net, drop net, lift net or bag net, hook and line
    • BANS: failing to show license upon request, taking eels, taking or selling suckers > 10” from April 1 – Sep 30, possessing species banned as pets at facility

  • Smelt Wholesaler's License (take and possess to sell and sell live smelts) - $71
    • ALLOWS:
      • take for resale from inland waters and private ponds under bag limit and restrictions, use artificial light to lure smelt, transport or possess greater than daily bag limit of smelts to facility if taken or from licensee, designate assistants at facility, transport including by another
      • use drop net, lift net or hook and line and take up to 8 quarts through openings from opening day of ice fishing until Mar 31 up to daily bag limit (may use dip net to assist)
      • Take smelt from 12pm to 2 am using dip net in ice free waters up to daily limit
    • BANS: failing to display license upon request during take of smelts for resale in inland waters, take of multiple bag limits from waters under general rules to obtain 8-quart limit, use seine to take smelt, transport or possess at facility more than daily bag limit from ways not above (need invoice, bill of lading or sale for acquisition from licensee), transport from inland water to business more than 8 quarts, designate transporter directly from inland water, failing to mark holes as listed used to ice fish in inland waters with drop net, taking smelt without operable commercially manufactured #14 fish grader to sort smelts by size (must return undersized),  possess fish not legal as bait, use food to bait or lure except light above, use dip net not meeting requirements

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §12507, 12509, 12512, 12551A, 12556, 12609-A, 12611; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Sec. 2.03)


Elephant dealers and exhibitors shall have an attending veterinarian employed under formal arrangements, have an adequate veterinary care program and allow inspections including special inspections for missing elephants along with meeting specific handling, care and facility requirements.

BANS buying, selling, exhibiting, using for research, or transporting stolen elephants. 

(01-001 Code of Maine Rules Ch. 703)



Ferrets must be at least 8 weeks old before sale along with for import unless with mother.

(7 Maine Rev. Statutes §3970-A)



Allows commissioner (Agriculture) to regulate breeding and sale of small mammals like guinea pigs, hamsters and rabbits. 

(7 Maine Rev. Statutes §3970-B)



Baitfish – chub (lake and creek), minnow (Eastern silvery, fathead), shiner (golden and common), dace (Northern redbelly, finescale, blacknose, pearl), fallfish, banded killifish, mummichog, sucker (longnose, white), American eel

Migratory game bird – migratory waterfowl (Anatidae), Columbidae except rock doves, gruidae, limicolae, rallidae

Wild Animal – wild mammal

Wildlife – any wild species except fish

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §10001)

BANS possession and sale of wild birds along with buying and selling live bear, deer, moose and wild turkey.

BANS selling live wildlife except as allowed under 12152 Permit to Possess Wildlife in Captivity and those on the unrestricted list.  (Chapter 184 – Effective 6/21/21)

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §11217)



BANS taking, possessing, taking and transporting endangered and threatened species except educational or scientific purposes or enhance recovery or survival.


Endangered Species:

  • Mammals: New England cottontail, little brown bat, Northern long-legged bat
  • Birds: least tern, golden eagle, piping plover, sedge wren, grasshopper sparrow, roseate tern, black tern, American pipet (breeding pop.), peregrine falcon (breeding pop.), black-crowned night heron, least bittern
  • Herp: box turtle, black racer, Blanding’s turtle
  • Fish: redfin pickerel
  • Snails: six-whorl vertigo
  • Insects: Edward’s hairstreak, Hessel’s hairstreak, Katahdin arctic, Juniper hairstreak, rapids clubtail, cobblestone tiger beetle, Frigga fritillary

Threatened Species:

  • Mammals: Northern bog lemming, Eastern small-footed bat
  • Birds: razorbill, Atlantic puffin, Harlequin duck, Arctic tern, upland sandpiper, common gallinule, great cormorant (breeding pop.), short-eared owl (breeding pop.), Barrow's goldeneye
  • Herp: spotted turtle
  • Fish: swamp darter
  • Mussels: tidewater mucket, yellow lampmussel, brook floater
  • Insects: roaring brook mayfly, ringed boghaunter, Clayton's copper, Tomah mayfly, twilight moth, Pine barrens zanclognatha, purple lesser fritillary, sleepy duskywing, Boreal snaketail

Marine Endangered:

  • Right whale, humpback whale, finback whale, sperm whale, sei whale, leatherback turtle, Atlantic ridley turtle, and shortnose sturgeon

Marine Threatened:

  • loggerhead turtle

(12 Maine Rev. Statutes §6971 et. al. and §12801 et. al.; Code of Maine Rules 09-137 Ch. 8)


Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry mainly has control over import of domestic animals and poultry.  Pet birds imported must come from licensed suppliers.  Ferrets must also come from a supplier with a permit for importing ferrets and be vaccinated against rabies by 3 months of age and certificate of veterinary inspection within 30 days.  New World camelids require import permit and test negative for brucellosis, TB and bluetongue.   Ratites must test negative for avian influenza in last 30 days.  Bison are regulated as cattle.

(7 Maine Rev. Statutes 1809; Code of Maine Rules 01-001 Ch. 206)