Possession and Collection

Definitions of “wildlife” in the General Statues vary. For purposes of this section, “wildlife” is defined as all wild animals found in North Carolina. With respect to possession and collection of wildlife, the Statutes generally distinguish between dead wildlife, live wildlife, and exotic wildlife.

Dead Wildlife: Dead wildlife, lawfully taken may be possessed and transported without a permit. See Hunting and Trapping regulations for legal manner of take, seasons, bag limits, and possession limits. An individual may accept the gift of lawfully taken wildlife provided that it does not cause them to exceed the applicable possession limits for that species. If the person receiving the gift notes and preserves in writing the name and address of the donor and under what license or exemption from license requirement the wildlife was taken, they may possess that wildlife without a permit.

Dead wildlife may be possessed also under any number of special permits or licenses. You should refer to the terms of that permit or license to determine the legal requirements. Contact the Division of Wildlife Management office at (919) 707-0060 for the appropriate permit or license.

Live Wildlife: Possession of live wildlife generally requires a permit or license. Contact the Division of Wildlife Management office at (919) 707-0060 for the appropriate permit or license.

There are a few exceptions:

  1. The law does allow crippled, injured or orphaned wildlife to be kept in captivity for a period of not longer than 5 days provided that person applies to the Commission for a Captivity Permit within that five day period or gives up possession of the wild animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator within that 5 day period. The law is different for crippled, orphaned, or injured bear or deer. For these two species, the Commission should be notified immediately. A Commission representative will then arrange for transport to an approved deer or bear rehabilitation facility.
  2. The law allows for taking of bait fish and freshwater mussels in certain situations. See Possession and Collection of Nongame Wildlife for more information.
  3. Individuals may hold less than five reptiles or less than 25 amphibians not on the endangered, threatened or special concern lists and not including spotted turtles, Carolina pygmy rattlesnakes, timber (canebrake) rattlesnakes and Eastern coral snakes without a Captivity License or Permit. See Possession and Collection of Nongame Wildlife for more information.

Exotic Wildlife: It is unlawful to import, transport, export, purchase, possess, or sell any species of Tongueless or African Clawed Frog (Xenopus spp.), or to stock them in the public or private waters or lands of North Carolina. (Exceptions may be made in certain situations for qualified research institutions). See Possession and Collection of Nongame Wildlife for more information.