State wildlife officials in Maine approve new rules for owning, breeding, and selling animals

A series of new rules that apply to animal owners in the State of Maine that generated a range of reactions during the public comment period earlier this summer, were approved last week by state wildlife officials.

The new rules allow the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife to impose steeper fines on those who keep wildlife illegally, tighten the permitting process for those wanting to keep and sell wildlife, and give third-party contractors the ability to carry out the necessary inspections of a facility where wildlife will be kept along with other measures.

State lawmakers directed the wildlife agency to draft rule changes three years ago.

At a public hearing in June, residents and non-residents supported the changes arguing they will ensure animals are treated better while in captivity. However, breeders, collectors, rehabilitators, and researchers expressed concerns about the proposed new rules.

Under the rule changes, the wildlife agency will convene a technical committee to consider which species Mainers should be allowed to possess and which should be restricted, said Nate Webb, the state biologist. The committee will accept public input and make recommendations to the agency’s advisory council about how to categorize the animals.

For those animal owners who are concerned about what the new rules mean for their particular species, Webb suggested consulting the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries & Wildlife website, where the new rules will be published and future public hearings will be announced.

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