Utah DWR reminds the public not to keep wildlife illegally

Courtesy photo: Utah DWR

VERNAL, Utah, June 21, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is reminding residents not to keep wildlife illegally.

“The Utah DWR recently received multiple reports from across the state of people taking home newborn fawns and baby raccoons, and would like to remind the public of the dangers and laws of trying to keep a wild animal as a pet,” it says in a press release.

It is illegal to keep protected wildlife in captivity in Utah, the news release said. Wildlife protected includes a wide variety of species, including those that you can hunt, such as deer, cottontail rabbits, various species of birds, bears, pumas, and others. The DWR monitors the management of these species across the state.

Some wildlife are not protected by Utah state law, which means you don’t need to have a valid hunting or trapping license to catch them, the news release added. However, there are other rules for keeping one in your possession.

Wild animals like non-Utah raccoons and coyotes require permits to be kept in captivity. The importation, distribution, relocation, captivity, or possession of live coyotes and live raccoons in Utah is regulated by the Agricultural and Wildlife Damage Prevention Board and is prohibited under the Utah Code unless otherwise directed by the Utah Department of State Veterinarian Office . approves agriculture and food.

Unapproved animals can be confiscated immediately by the DWR, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, animal welfare officers or peace officers if the owner of the animal cannot produce a valid permit for each individual animal.

The following wildlife are considered unprotected wildlife in the state of Utah:

  • Raccoons
  • Striped skunks
  • Coyotes
  • Ground squirrel
  • Ground squirrel
  • Jack rabbit
  • Muskrats
  • Field mouse

You may be charged with illegally possessing these animals, which is a Class B misdemeanor.

“It is important to protect the health, welfare and safety of the public and wildlife,” said Wyatt Bubak, DWR police officer. “These animals are wild and should be treated as such, even if they are babies.”

There are also several species of reptiles that are illegal to keep in Utah without proper permits issued by the DWR. Visit the DWR website to learn more about this process.

Illnesses and Other Safety Concerns

Diseases, viruses and parasites from unprotected and protected wild animals can be transmitted to humans and pets via saliva, feces or urine, the press release said. Viral diseases of raccoons include rabies, canine distemper, raccoon parvoviral enteritis, canine infectious hepatitis, and pseudo-rabies. Raccoons can also carry and transmit leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be fatal to unborn babies.

Raccoons can also be infected with the baylisascaris roundworm, a parasite. Raccoons rarely show symptoms of these roundworms and can transmit them to humans and other animals through their droppings. This parasite can cause extreme damage to the human eye, organs, and brain.

Fawns and other large game animals may look harmless at birth, but they can become aggressive as they age, especially around dogs and during the breeding season, the press release said. As wild animals get used to people, it can create dangerous situations for the animals and the public.

What to do if you come across a wild baby animal?

When humans encounter a baby animal that they believe has been abandoned in the wild, its mother is usually nearby. The DWR recommends leaving the animal where you found it and not touching it. If you have any concerns or if the animal appears sick or injured, you can contact the nearest DWR office.

For more tips on living safely with wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.

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