Thursday, February 2, 2023
Feb. 2, 2023

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Yes, Washington has law against owning rhinos

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Did you know you can’t own a rhinoceros in Washington?

There are various state agencies that regulate animal laws and ownership across Washington, such as the Department of Health and the Department of Fish and Wildlife, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture.

Washington deputies recently responded to a complaint of a Washington resident owning an alligator as a pet, and found the man living in a small shipping container with his alligator, Al, along with a small calf, according to recent reporting from McClatchy.

Alligators are only one of the many exotic animals that are illegal to own in Washington.

Here are a few state laws that regulate animal ownership in attempts to keep wild and dangerous animals contained and to limit rabies. Animals such as elephants, foxes, quail and beavers are illegal to own, transport or import in the state, along with many others.

Rabies law

The rabies law, WAC 246-100-197, prohibits the ownership of these animals in Washington:

  • Coyotes
  • Foxes
  • Bats
  • Skunks
  • Raccoons

Wild animal law

The wild animal law, WAC 220-450-030, prohibits the ownership of deer, bear, quail and falcons in Washington, along with these animals:

  • Bobcats
  • Elks
  • Pheasants
  • Grouse

Wild animals such as cougars, bullfrogs, beavers and otters are also illegal to own under WAC 220-400-020, along with:

  • Hares
  • Jackrabbits
  • Mountain goats
  • Bighorn sheep
  • Weasels
  • Badgers

Dangerous animal law

The dangerous animal law, Chapter 16.30 RCW, prohibits the ownership of lions, monkeys, elephants and jaguars in Washington, along with these animals:

  • Tigers
  • Cougars
  • Cheetahs
  • Lemurs
  • Leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards
  • Wolves, excluding wolf-hybrids
  • All bear species
  • Hyenas
  • Rhinoceroses
  • Snakes such as cobras, mambas, coral snakes, and Australian tiger snakes.
  • Crocodiles
  • Alligators

Deleterious animal law

The deleterious animal law, WAC 220-640-200, prohibits animals that are considered to be dangerous to be owned in Washington, such as reindeer, boars and mongoose, as well as these animals:

  • Swans
  • Wildebeests
  • Wild goats
  • Wild sheep
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