The legal implications of owning an owl as a pet

Pets law May 19, 2023

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, you might have dreamed of having your own pet owl like Hedwig. However, before you rush to buy one, you should be aware of the legal implications of owning an owl as a pet. Owls are not like parrots or other domesticated birds. They are wild animals that have special needs and challenges in captivity. Moreover, they are protected by various laws and regulations that make it illegal or difficult to keep them as pets in most places.

owl judge

One of the main laws that affect owl ownership in the United States is the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. This law prohibits the possession, import, export, purchase, sale, barter, transport, or exchange of any native bird species or their parts, such as feathers, eggs, or nests, without a valid permit. This means that you cannot own any owl that is native to North America, such as the barn owl or the snowy owl, unless you are a licensed falconer or an educational facility with the necessary permits. The process of obtaining these permits is very complex and time-consuming, and requires extensive training and experience.

However, even if you manage to get a permit for a native owl, or if you opt for a non-native owl species that does not require a permit, such as the Eurasian eagle-owl, you still have to deal with many practical considerations of owning an owl as a pet. Owls are not cuddly or affectionate animals. They are solitary and territorial, and do not like to be touched or handled by humans. They also have very specific dietary and environmental needs that are hard to meet in captivity. Owls are carnivorous and need to eat whole prey items, such as mice, rats, rabbits, or quails. They also need a large and secure outdoor enclosure that mimics their natural habitat and allows them to fly and exercise. Owls can also be very noisy, messy, and destructive, and can pose a risk to other pets or people with their sharp talons and beaks.

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Owning an owl as a pet is not only illegal in most places, but also impractical and unethical. Owls belong in the wild, where they can live freely and fulfill their natural roles in the ecosystem. Keeping them as pets deprives them of their natural behaviors and exposes them to stress and disease. It also contributes to the decline of their populations in the wild due to habitat loss and poaching. Therefore, if you love owls and want to help them, you should not keep them as pets, but rather support conservation efforts and visit reputable sanctuaries or wildlife centers where you can learn more about these magnificent birds.

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