Ferrets are illegal to keep as pets in Hawaii, California, Washington D.C. and New York City. California and Hawaii are the strictest areas, outright banning the sale, import, transport or keeping of ferrets. You can obtain a permit from the California Department of Fish and Game to keep ferrets, but they do not allow them to be kept as pets. The permits are only issued under special circumstances such as medical research or to take rescued ferrets out of the state. But why are ferrets illegal in these areas? Ferrets are banned in California because lawmakers fear that escaped ferrets may start a wild population and could disrupt the ecosystem.
Hawaii does not allow ferrets because they are potential carriers of rabies. Hawaii is the only state that is free of the deadly disease, and they would like to keep it that way. Permits are not available for ferrets, and if you are caught housing one you could face penalties or up to 3 years in prison and a max fine of $200,000.
Ferrets are only technically illegal to keep in the District of Columbia. The housing code of Washington, D.C. lists only the following: dogs, cats, rabbits, domesticated rodents, fish, turtles, non-poisonous snakes, caged birds and racing pigeons. Since they aren’t listed, ferrets are technically illegal! There is no reason behind the wording of the law, unlike the other states we’ve talked about so far. They do grant waivers on a case-by-case basis, so owning a ferret there isn’t impossible in Washington D.C.
Ferrets are legal everywhere in New York state except New York City. In 1999 Mayor Giuliani banned them, believing they were potentially dangerous wild animals that posed a risk in densely populated areas due to the fact that they can carry rabies. New York requires that all pets receive rabies vaccinations.
What do you think about ferrets being illegal? Do you think the laws should change?
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