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Owl Ownership: Can You Legally Own an Owl?

Owl Ownership

Owning an owl can be a unique and rewarding experience for anyone. But it is not as easy as you think. Wildlife laws protect owls from being captured or killed, which would result in their extinction.

So, can you legally own an owl? Yes, you can. However, you must obtain the necessary permits and licenses from the appropriate authorities, such as the USFWS. And to own a permit, the reasoning has to be for educational purposes, rehabilitation centers, research, or falconry.

Well, you have to know all the ins and outs of the permit and license to be able to apply for it. Here, we will talk about everything that will increase the chances of you being able to own an owl. Let’s get started!

Can You Legally Own an Owl?

Yes, but the law took charge to protect them. Hence, you can’t own an owl if you don’t have your own reasoning. So, if you just want to keep owls as your pet, the law won’t allow it.

Can You Legally Own an Owl

Besides, owls have specific dietary needs, housing requirements, and behavioral characteristics that must be met for their well-being. So, you must show a valid reason to own an owl and prove that you have the necessary knowledge and facilities to care for an owl properly. 

Then, you will get your permits and licenses and be able to own an owl.

Owl Ownership: What Types of Permits Do You Need?

There are two types of permits related to owl ownership: possession permits and educational permits.

Educational purposes and scientific research fall under educational permits, whereas falconry and rehabilitation centers fall under possession permits. Let’s dive into them.

What Types of Permits Do You Need

Educational Purposes

The educational purposes permit is one of the easiest ones to get, yet most of us are not eligible. For example, you are a teacher and want to show your students different characteristics of an owl. Thus, you might need an owl with you and this is where educational purposes permit comes in. 

You can apply for it if you can provide USFWS with proof that you will be requiring it for educational purposes. Furthermore, a safe enclosure that the federal wildlife agency approves is also a requirement for it.

Scientific Research

Those who are interested in studying owls or want to collect new data about owls are welcome to take this permit. 

It will require you to submit certain documentation, such as your identification and proof of address. Also, proof of your qualifications and experience in owl care and management.

Permits Do You Need Owl Ownership

Rehabilitation Centers

If you own a rehabilitation center, you can apply for an owl ownership permit. This type of center is there for the injured owls who need human help to get well and are left in the wild again. 

See also:  How Do Owls Hunt and Kill Their Prey? - Interesting Facts

Since citizens are not allowed to possess an owl, they can take it to these centers for the betterment of the owls.


Falconry is one of the most common reasons for owning an owl in the United States. It is a regulated sport that involves training raptors, including owls, for hunting purposes. 

Nevertheless, to become a licensed falconer, individuals must undergo a process that includes exams and facility inspections. Once licensed, falconers can legally possess and train owls for falconry purposes.

Here’s a video that will know more about falconry; 

Step By Step Guide: How To Get A License To Own An Owl

Whether it be for educational purposes, research purposes, rehabilitation center purposes, or falconry, the licensing process is quite similar. The only thing different is the purpose and the exams you may need to attend. Let’s check out a step-by-step guide on that.

How To Get A License To Own An Owl

Step 1: Being Aware Of The Laws

Different states may have specific requirements and restrictions for owning owls.  So it is essential to be aware of the legal aspects by contacting a local lawyer.

Step 2: Obtaining The Necessary Training

Depending on the purpose of owning an owl, certain training or education may be required. For example, individuals seeking a falconry license may need to undergo training under experienced falconers. 

Similarly, those aiming for educational or research licenses may need to demonstrate relevant knowledge and expertise.

Step 3: Contact The Authorities

In the USA, there are two renowned authorities you can contact to apply for a license. One is the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the other is the State Wildlife Agencies. So you can directly contact USFWS or go through a Wildlife agency which is located in every state.

Get A License To Own An Owl

Step 4: Fill out the Form

Obtain the necessary application forms from the relevant authorities and carefully complete them. This includes information about your intended use of the owl, as well as any supporting documentation that may be required. Once filled, simply submit the application.

Step 5: Meet The Requirements

Once you have submitted the form, you will be asked to meet specific requirements and conditions. This includes suitable housing facilities for the owl, and demonstrating knowledge of owl care and handling. You may even be asked to provide details of how the owl will be used in educational or research activities.

Step 6: Wait For Approval

Once you have submitted your form and met the requirements, it will go for approval. In the meantime, people from the respective authorities may come for an inspection. Once everything is checked and secured, you will get your license.

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Punishment For Owning An Owl Illegally In The US

Let’s say you have got yourself hold of an owl and don’t feel like leaving it out in the wild or in rehabilitation centers. Well, since it is illegal to own an owl without a permit, there is quite a lot of trouble waiting for you.

Punishment For Owning An Owl Illegally In The US

Firstly, there is a fine in the form of punishment, which is between $1,000 to $50,000 per violation for individuals. However, if the act was done in an organization, the fine could go up to $500,000.

On the other hand, imprisonment is another punishment for illegally owning an owl. Individuals may also face imprisonment for up to 10 years. Overall, the exact amount of the fine and imprisonment can vary depending on the circumstances and jurisdiction.

Table: Legal Status of Owning Owls in Different Parts Of The World

Legal Status of Owning Owls

Here’s a table that will help you understand the legal status of owning owls in different parts of the world;

CountryLegal Status
United StatesPermit required in most states
CanadaPermits are required in all provinces and territories
United KingdomRequires a license from Natural England
GermanyPermits required from local authorities
FranceRequires authorization from the Ministry of Ecology
IndiaRequires permit
JapanPermits required from the Ministry of the Environment
United Arab EmiratesPermits required from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment
AustraliaRequires a permit from state wildlife agencies


Let’s check out some commonly asked questions regarding owning an owl.

Q1. Can I own owl eggs in the UK?

No, owning an owl or owl egg in the UK without a permit is illegal. Under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, taking or possessing any wild bird or its eggs without a license is illegal.

Q2. Can I legally own an owl as a pet?

No, it is generally not legal to own an owl as a pet. However, if you are interested in Falconry, which is quite similar yet different from petting, you can apply for a Falconry license.

Q3. Are there any age restrictions for obtaining a USFWS license to own an owl?

Yes, you have to be at least 18 years old to be able to apply for a USFWS license. With the license, you will be able to own owls.


To conclude, we hope you got your answer to how can you legally own an owl. In short, if you have proper reasoning and proof, you will be able to get a USFWS permit where owning owls is legal. Furthermore, you will have to take exams at USFWS, where you will have to prove you can handle an owl.

On the other hand, if you own an owl illegally, the consequences are quite dangerous. The fine starts from $1,000 and goes up to $50,000. Similarly, there is also a 10-year imprisonment.


Peter Kaestner

Hi there, my name is Peter Kaestner and I am the owner of As a avid bird watcher and enthusiast with a passion for ornithology, I want to share my knowledge and experience with other bird lovers through this blog. As someone who regularly participates in bird-related forums and groups online, I am dedicated to helping others learn more about these amazing creatures. However, it's important to note that while I am happy to share my expertise and advice, it is always crucial to consult with an avian veterinarian before making any decisions that could potentially impact your bird's health or well-being. Your bird's health and happiness should always be your top priority, and consulting with a professional is the best way to ensure that you are making informed decisions on their behalf. I hope that through my blog, I can help make a positive difference in the lives of birds and the people who care for them. Whether you are an experienced bird owner or just starting out, I encourage you to use this resource as a way to learn more about these fascinating animals and how to provide them with the best possible care.View Author posts