It is very difficult to own a pet owl in the United States. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act federally protects them, so no native owls can be kept as pets. Other non-native owls can be kept as pets if the state allows for them. It is important to check local regulations as well since each county or city may have its own rules.
There are certain states where it is completely legal to own a pet owl. Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Tennessee all allow non-native owls to be owned. In Alabama, only the American kestrel owl can be kept as a pet.
Additionally, you may be able to own a pet owl in eight states with proper permits. Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, New Hampshire, Ohio, and Pennsylvania all have general permit requirements. In Texas, you will need to apply for a permit, but being granted one is determined based on how dangerous the owl breed is. In Vermont, permits can be issued for educational purposes only.
In all other states, it is illegal to own a pet owl. In these states, you may face fines or even jail time if it is discovered that you are in possession of an owl.
Most experts agree that owls are not a good choice for pet owners. They are wild animals who cannot generally be kept in a house like other more traditional pets. Owls need space that cannot be provided inside a house. They also are messy animals, so owners would need to clean often to remove excrement and regurgitated pellets of undigested food.
Owls have sharp talons which they will use on humans because they are not used to frequent or prolonged contact with them. They are not the type of animal that can easily become domesticated and enjoy human interaction. Because owls are nocturnal, there wouldn’t be time to interact with them without completely changing your schedule as well.
Pet Owl Legality
|Texas||PermitRequired||depends on how dangerous|
|Vermont||PermitRequired||educational purposes only|