North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission

Wildlife Captivity License

License Description

A Wildlife Captivity License authorizes an individual to possess wild animals or wild birds for scientific, educational, exhibition, or other purposes.However, in North Carolina, you cannot hold a wild animal or wild bird as a pet or for amusement or companionship purposes.


 Last Revised on 11/17/15

License Restrictions, Rules, and Conditions

Before a license can be issued, it must be determined that the wild animal or wild bird was acquired lawfully and will not be kept merely as a pet or for amusement or companionship purposes as stated in G.S. 113-272.5.

No captivity license will be issued until the applicant has constructed or acquired a facility for keeping the animal or bird that complies to that standards found in 15A NCAC 10H .0302 and the suitability of the facility has been verified by inspection.

There is a limited number of ways which a wild animal or bird can be lawfully obtained:

  • The wild animal or bird can be taken from the wild using lawful methods during open season by a properly licensed or permitted individual.
  • The wild animal or bird can be acquired from a person legally holding a captivity license of this or another state. If it is obtained from another state, an importation permit, and health certificate is also required in addition to the captivity license.

Finding an orphaned animal or bird in the wild is NOT a legal means to acquiring a species and a permanent captivity license will not be issued in such cases. If you have found an orphaned animal or bird, please contact a wildlife rehabilitator near your county. (Wildlife Rehabilitators List)

Any substantial deviation from the requirements of keeping a wild animal or wild bird as imposed by 15A NCAC 10H .0301 and 15A NCAC 10H .0302 renders the possession of a wild animal or wild bird unlawful.

Licenses are issued to a single individual at least 18 years of age or older.

Unless otherwise indicated on the license form, captivity licenses are annual licenses and will expire on December 31st of the issued year.

Download the current Wildlife Captivity License Rules from North Carolina Office of Administrative Hearings and General Statute:

How to Obtain License

Fill out a completed Wildlife Captivity License Application and submit to the Commission address listed at the bottom of the application form. This license has a $5.00 application/renewal fee plus a $2.00 transaction fee which may be paid by:   

  • To pay by credit card over the phone, call 1-888-248-6834 during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm).
  • To pay by check or money order, make payable to NC Wildlife Resources Commission.

Download the License Forms

License Contact Information


Address:   North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 
Customer Service Section
1707 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1700
 Phone: 1-888-248-6834 or  919 707- 0391
 Fax: 919-707-0292