by Carol A. Heiser, Wildlife Division
At teacher workshops, programs, and other educa-
tor trainings around the state we are frequently
the millinery trade also severely impacted wild bird pop-
asked questions about wildlife laws. “What kinds
of animals can I keep in my classroom?” “Is it O.K. to buy
The extensive habitat loss that resulted from clearing
native animals for educational purposes?” “What do I do
large acreages of the eastern deciduous forest was the pri-
if one of my students brings a bird nest or an injured ani-
mary factor that caused sharp reductions in wildlife pop-
mal to school?”
ulation numbers. With habitat being reduced at such
In this article we will try to provide a basic overview
rapid rates, combined with the effects of unregulated har-
of some of the most widely cited wildlife laws to help an-
vesting, many wildlife species could not adapt success-
swer these questions.
fully to survive, and some species were virtually non-ex-
However, this article is only a general summary of wildlife
istent by the early l900s.
laws in Virginia and does not attempt to address all laws, per-
Few people realize, for example, that by 1911 there
mits, conditions, or exceptions.If you have questions about
were no beaver left in Virginia, white-tailed deer were
more specific aspects of the law, please call one of the con-
rare in the western part of the state, Canada geese were
tacts listed at the end of this article.
infrequently sighted, and the Carolina parakeet, the elk,
and the bison had long since disappeared.
Because of this history and a growing realization of
Why We Have Wildlife Laws
the economic value of wildlife, Virginia officially began
Between 1700 and 1900, Virginia’s landscape
its wildlife conservation efforts in 1916 with the passage
changed dramatically. Increasing numbers of settlers
of a law that established the Commission of Game and
Inland Fisheries. Today, as then, one of the missions of the
DGIF is “to manage Virginia’s wildlife and inland fish to
in the number
maintain optimum populations of all species to serve the
of forested acres
needs of the Commonwealth.”
that were cleared for
Since 1916, many wildlife-related laws have been
agriculture, new com-
passed that protect game as well as non-game species.
munities, and trans-
These laws have substantially helped curb declining
portation for com-
population numbers such that many species have experi-
merce. During the
enced a successful comeback. For example, the deer pop-
same period, wide-
ulation in Virginia is now greater than it was when set-
scale and unregulat-
tlers first came to the continent, and beaver populations
ed hunting and trap-
have become re-established throughout the state. The
ping of large game
great blue heron has also made a tremendous recovery
and other fur-bear-
since the turn of the century.
ing mammals for the
Wildlife laws also serve to control commercial ex-
meat market trade
ploitation and illegal trade. Game laws set hunting sea-
put additional pres-
sons that do not conflict with breeding seasons and bag
sure on wildlife popu-
limits that regulate animal harvest. Other laws require
lations. The demand for
specific permits to collect, possess, propagate, exhibit, or
feathers in ladies’ hats for
sell native species. In addition, wildlife laws that restrict
importation ensure that non-native species are not intro-
duced from other states or countries that might otherwise
The feathers of the
out compete native species, dilute the natural gene pool,
great blue heron were
alter the environment, or introduce diseases.
used to adorn ladies’
hats in the 1800s.
How Wildlife Laws Are Made
The complexity of wildlife laws may make you won-
Definitions: (from §29.1-100 of the
der how all those details are actually worked out. The
Code of Virginia and 4 VAC 15-20-50)
process involves two decision-making bodies: the
Wild Animal—any member of the animal kingdom, ex-
General Assembly of Virginia, and the Board of the
cept domestic animals, including without limitation any na-
Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.
tive, naturalized, or non-native (exotic) mammal, fish, bird,
A bill that is introduced to the General Assembly
amphibian, reptile, mollusk, crustacean, arthropod or other in-
must be passed by both houses of that body before it can
vertebrate, and includes any hybrid thereof; except as otherwise
be sent to the Governor. Once it has been passed, the
specified in regulations of the board, or part, product, egg, or off-
Governor must sign the bill in order for it to become law.
spring thereof; or the dead body or parts of them.(4 VAC 15-20-
Laws of the Commonwealth established this way are
then written into Virginia State Code. The numbers given
in parenthesis at the end of each law quoted in this article
Naturalized Animal—those species and subspecies of
refer to a section of regulation or Code.
animals not originally native to Virginia which have estab-
lished wild, self-sustaining populations, as included in the de-
Since most laws cannot cover all of the details that
partment’s 1991 official listing of “Native and Naturalized
may be needed to effectively carry them out, additional
Fauna of Virginia.”(4 VAC 15-20-50)
regulations are written to cover the specifics. This “nuts
and bolts” part of the process is where the DGIF comes in.
Game Animal—Gamemeans wild animals and wild
The staff and Board of the DGIF spend months and some-
birds that are commonly hunted for sport or food. Game
times years developing the basic regulations that govern
animal means deer, bear, rabbit, fox, squirrel, bobcat and
the way wildlife is managed in the Commonwealth.
raccoon. (§29.1-100 of the Code of Virginia)
A team of biologists, environmental planners and
Native Animal—those species and subspecies of animals
law enforcement officers take all aspects of a particular
naturaly oc ur ing in Virginia, as included in the depart-
wildlife species into account when they develop recom-
ment’s 1991 official listing of “Native and Naturalized Fauna
mendations. These aspects include the biology of the
of Virginia.”(4 VAC 15-20-50)
species, such as how they reproduce, as well as their habi-
Domestic Animal—This term is commonly accepted
tat requirements and their population numbers. Once all
to mean animals which humans have tamed in captivity
of the data and analyses are complete, recommendations
or bred for particular genetic traits. Although all domestic
for a particular regulation are then made to the DGIF
animals at one time had their origin in wild species, they
no longer share those distinguishing “wild” traits. The fol-
This Board consists of 11 members appointed by the
lowing animals are defined as domestic animals (4 VAC 15-20-
Governor, with one representative selected from each
congressional district in the state. The Board meets ap-
Domestic - dog (including wolf hybrids); cat (including
proximately six times a year to set regulations and policy
hybrids with wild felines); horse (including hybrids with Equus
for the operation of the Department. Proposed regula-
asinus); ass/burro/donkey; cattle; sheep; goat; swine (including
tions are presented at public meetings so that anyone
who has an interest in them is able to voice their opinion.
Domesticated races of - hamsters; mink; red fox (where
Once the discussion is complete, the Board votes on the
their coat color can be distinguished from wild red fox); guinea
regulation and sets a date for when it will take effect if it
pigs; gerbils; chinchillas; rats; mice; European rabbit; chickens;
turkeys; ducks and geese distinguishable morphologically from
Laws, regulations and permit conditions are en-
wild birds; pigeons (and feral pigeons); guinea fowl; peafowl.
forced by game wardens in the Law Enforcement
Also, llama, alpaca, and camels are designated do-
Division of the DGIF. Like a state trooper, a warden can
mestic under this law.
write tickets, take people into custody, and can issue
Exotic Animal—The term non-native (exotic) animal
summons to appear in court if a person breaks either a
means those species and subspecies of animals not naturally oc-
law or a regulation.
curring in Virginia, excluding domestic and naturalized
Laws and regulations are written in the best interests
species. (4 VAC 15-20-50)
of Virginia’s wildlife and for your safety and well-being.
As a citizen, you have the right to participate in this legal
Game Fish—means trout (including all Salmonidae), all
process and to comment on laws and regulations both be-
of the sunfish family (including largemouth bass, smallmouth
fore and after they are enacted.
bass and spotted bass, rock bass, bream, bluegill and crappie),
walleye or pike perch, white bass, chain pickerel or jackfish,
muskellunge, and northern pike, wherever such fish are found
in the waters of this Commonwealth and rockfish or striped bass
The Laws in Brief
where found above tidewaters or in streams which are blocked
Being familiar with some basic legal definitions is
from access from tidewaters by dams (§ 29.1-100) except those
crucial to a thorough understanding of wildlife laws. [See
species that may be listed as Threatened or Endangered.
definitions at right.] The word take, for example, legally
Fur-Bearing Animals—includes beaver, bobcat, fox,
to harass, harm, pursue, hunt, shoot, wound, kill, trap,
mink, muskrat, opossum, otter, raccoon, skunk, and weasel
capture, possess or collect, or to attempt to engage in any such
conduct (4 VAC 15-20-140). The word personmeans any in-
dividual, firm, corporation, association, or partnership (4 VAC
The above quotations are only excerpts of a lengthy
15-20-140). Possession is the exercise of control of any wild an-
regulation. In addition to the above, this regulation de-
imal, wild bird, fish or fur-bearing animal, or any part of the
tails what methods are allowed for collecting the animals
and what areas of the state are restricted from taking
Such definitions are very specific so as to minimize
mollusks or salamanders.
inaccurate or deliberately misleading interpretations of
Albino reptiles and albino amphibians or those domestic
the law. In this way, the original intent of the law is less
animals as defined in 4 VAC 15-20-50(4 VAC 15-30-30) can
likely to be distorted or misconstrued.
be possessed live in any number without a permit.
What This Means to the Educator...
Know This Law!
Note that the above possession limits are given for
Perhaps the most important regulation to be aware of
private use, and they address the collection of liveanimals
is fairly short and sweet: Under authority of 29.1-103 and
only (hunting is a completely different issue). The regula-
29.1-521 of the Code of Virginia it shall be unlawful to take, pos-
tion is interpreted by game officials to mean wildlife that
sess, import, cause to be imported, export, cause to be exported,
you collect live and bring home to keep, either for a short
buy, sell, offer for sale, or liberate within the Commonwealth
period of time or indefinitely. If you are an educator and
any wild animal unless otherwise specifically permitted by law
choose to bring the live animal(s) into your school or
or regulation (4 VAC 15-30-10). In other words, unless a
classroom for educational purposes, as an individual you
particular wildlife activity, purpose, or use is specifically
can onlyhave the limit specified by law.
authorized by law, you can assume it’s illegal. It is up to
So, for example, a teacher may collect five live tad-
you to find out whether or not the activity is authorized!
poles for “private use” and choose to keep them in
his/her possession in a classroom setting. However, each
student in the class cannot bring in five tadpoles and
Collecting Live Aquatic
leave them with the teacher as a “classroom collection,”
because the teacher would then be holding or “possess-
ing” more than the five legally allowed to him/her for
Reptiles, and Nongame Fish
Virginia law specifies how many and what type of
To carry this example further, each child in the class
wild animals you can legally collect and/or have in your
could only have five tadpoles apiece if the animals would
possession at any given time. The following personal pos-
stay in the children’s possession and would be taken back
session limitsdo not require a permit but instead are pur-
home at the end of the day (i.e. for their “private use”).
posefully designed to discourage wildlife collecting so
Aprudent educator who understands that the intent
that existing levels of wildlife populations will not be
of this law is to protect wildlife populations by control-
jeopardized. According to 4 VAC 15-360-10:
ling widespread collection will teach students to leave
It shall be lawful to capture and possess live for private use
wildlife in its natural setting. Instilling an ethic of respect
and not for sale (excluding threatened and endangered species
that encourages patient observation of wildlife in the en-
provided for in 4 VAC 15-20-130)
vironment and discourages collecting animals as neat
• no more than five individuals of any single native or nat-
“pets” is one of the challenges educators face in the 21st
uralized (as defined in 4 VAC 15-20-50) species of amphibian
and reptile and
• 20 individuals of any single native or naturalized (as de-
fined in 4 VAC 15-20-50) species of aquatic invertebrate and
• …The following species may be taken in un-
limited numbers from inland waters statewide:
carp, bowfin, longnose gar, mullet, bullhead
catfish, suckers, gizzard shad, blueback her-
ring, white perch, yellow perch, alewife,
stoneroller (hornyhead), fathead minnow,
golden shiner and goldfish....
• …‘fish bait’shall be defined as na-
tive or naturalized species of minnows and
chubs (Cyprinidae), salamanders, crayfish, and
hellgrammites. The possession limit for taking fish bait
shall be 50 individuals in aggregate, unless said person has pur-
chased ‘fish bait’and has a receipt specifying the number of indi-
viduals purchased by species....
By law, no more than five
• …The daily limit for bullfrogs and snapping turtles shall individuals of any species of
amphibian or reptile, such
as this five-lined skink, may
be taken from the wild for
one’s “private use.”
Collecting Live Invertebrates,
Also remember that it is unlawful to take, possess, trans-
port or sell all other wildlife species not classified as game,
Mammals, and Birds
furbearer or nuisance, or otherwise specifically permitted by
law or regulation(4 VAC 15-20-160).
The regulations governing our smaller critters such
as insects are much more lenient: Earthworms may be taken
Birds, Feathers, and Nests
at any time for private or commercial use (4 VAC 15-20-180).
There is no provision in the Code of Virginia to live
Also, except as otherwise provided for in 3.1-1020 through 3.1-
collect and/or possess wild birds except under an appro-
1030 and 29.1-418 of the Code of Virginia and in4 VAC 15-20-
priate permit or license or as directly specified by law.
130, 4 VAC 15-30-10 et seq. and 4 VAC 15-360-10 inverte-
Migratory game birds (doves, ducks, brant, geese, swan,
brates, other than those listed as endangered or threatened, may
coot, gallinules, sora and other rails, snipe and wood-
be taken for private use (4 VAC 15-20-180).
cock) as defined in § 29.1-100 of the Code of Virginia and
non-migratory game birds (grouse, pheasant, bobwhite
quail, and turkey) as defined in §29.1-100 of the Code of
In general, you cannot capture or collect live mam-
Virginia can only be taken with a valid Virginia hunting
mals or birds in Virginia for any purpose except under
license in accordance with wildlife regulations. Also,
limited situations with a special permit. This includes the
hunting any waterfowl requires a federal Migratory
errant raccoon or squirrel in your attic! Please review the
Waterfowl Stamp (“Duck Stamp”) in addition to the
language of 4 VAC 15-30-10 listed under the “Know This
Most other birds for which Federal hunting regula-
tions have not been set and which are not officially listed
Things to Remember
* Keep records of any animal purchase or any animal specimen donated to your school.
* Teach our students not to collect wild animals or other wildlife-related specimens such as feathers,
nests, bones, etc. Encourage them to observe wildlife in its natural setting and keep a journal of what
* Call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries for more specific information about
wildlife laws that are not covered in this article. Don’t…
* Collect or buy any animal that occurs
naturally in Virginia without knowing
the law! Call your county Game Warden.
* Buy wild animals from other states unless
they have been legally collected or
propagated according to the laws of that
* Release any captive animals to the wild. This
is neither healthy for the individual animals
released, nor for the environment they’re
If you decide to purchase an animal that is native to Virginia
for educational or research purposes, be sure to check that
the seller is authorized to do so and has the proper permits.
by state law as a migratory game bird, a non-mi-
gratory game bird, a nuisance species, or a
threatened or endangered species are federal-
ly regulated and protected under the provi-
sions of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The
U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the federal
agency which administers the provisions of this
Act. The Act also prohibits collecting any bird feathers or
nests unless specifically allowed under the terms of a sal-
vage permit, a falconry permit or a raptor propagation
What This Means to the Educator...
Since birds and mammals are carefully regulated,
it is important to explain these laws to your students.
If, for example, a student brings in a baby bird or
mammal to school, there are a few things you can tell the
student. First, the majority of young animals that we
think are orphaned really are not: the parent animal is
usually close by or well aware of the young’s location, al-
though it is not often apparent to us. Second, let them
know that even though they may be “just trying to help,”
Osprey are but one of the many nongame bird species
the laws were made for all people to follow and to protect
protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.
wildlife from improper collection.
Third, as soon as you take in a wild animal, you have
interfered with its ability to survive on its own. The
one part of the state while on vacation and releasing it in
longer a wild animal is kept in captivity, the more difficult
your backyard in another part of the state introduces new
it will be for that animal to readjust back in its natural set-
genes to the turtle population that evolved in your area.
ting if it is released.
Although the effect of this example may seem insignifi-
If a student does bring in an injured bird or animal,
cant, it is the cumulative effect of our actions over the cen-
instruct the student to take that animal to a licensed wildlife
turies that have such a great impact on our wildlife popu-
rehabilitator or veterinarian who has the proper training
lations, often with irreversible results.
and facilities to treat and care for it.
Because of all these reasons, it is unlawful to liberate
within the Commonwealth any wild animal unless otherwise
specifically permitted by law or regulation (4 VAC 15-30-10).
A Note About Releasing
Also, although exotic animals not classified as predatory,
threatened/endangered, or undesirable may be pos-
sessed and sold, they shall not be liberated within the
Once an animal has been kept in captivity for any
Commonwealth (4 VAC 15-30-40F). In addition, any
length of time, its chances of surviving when released
into the wild are very nominal. This is because the time
or animals otherwise classed as predatory or undesirable, may
that it takes for the animal to adjust successfully to its new
not be imported into the Commonwealth or liberated therein,
environment is longer than the time it takes to be preyed
except under a special permit(4 VAC 15-30-20).
upon by a predator, succumb to disease, or die of starva-
What This Means to the Educator ...
tion or thirst.
Also, because of the nature of captivity (close quar-
Since we know from the above law that you cannot
ters, for example, or inadequate hygiene), captive ani-
legally release any animal into the wild, it should be clear
mals are more likely to contract diseases that their wild
that any animal you buy or legally collect live must re-
counterparts may not have been exposed to. Hence,
main in captivity for the rest of its life. Therefore, you
when the captive animal is released, it may introduce dis-
should not acquire any animal unless you are prepared to
ease to the wild population that could impact the latter’s
care for it the rest of its life or to make future arrange-
ments for its care.
There is also a genetic issue when one considers cap-
If, for example, you have been legally holding a na-
tive-bred animals. Animals which have been crossed and
tive wild animal in your possession for several months
re-crossed with different gene pools and have been bred
and you decide you no longer wish to keep it, you might
for new characteristics no longer represent the gene pool
give the animal away to another permitted or licensed
of the wild population that they originally came from.
person or institution who will take care of it, with the un-
There is therefore a concern for the potential negative en-
derstanding that they will not release it. Alocal veterinar-
vironmental impacts of a release.
ian or the Permits Section of the Department of Game and
Similarly, picking up a wild animal like a box turtle in
Inland Fisheries may also suggest other options (see last
page for more information).
Buying and/or Selling Wildlife
chase from an out-of-state supplier, the species must have
been legally collected, propagated, and/or sold accord-
Buying and/or selling wildlife in Virginia is also
ing to the laws of that state.
strictly regulated. In general, it is unlawful to buy or sell
• The bullfrog, gre n frog, southern leopard frog, and
any wild bird or wild animal or the carcass or any part thereof;
green tree frogcan only be bought for educational or re-
except as specifically permitted by law (29.1-521). Here are
search purposes if they are purchased from a permitted
some other regulations and guidelines regarding buying
captive breeder in Virginia or from a properly permitted
business out-of-state (4 VAC 15-360-50).
• Game fish are only sold under certain conditions,
• When taken in accordance with the provisions of law or
namely for the purpose of stocking private waters (such as a
regulation, muskrat, opossum, rabbits, raccoon and squirrels
pond or lake), for stocking public waters(butonly with ap-
may be bought and sold during the open hunting season only,
proval from the DGIF),and for human consumption (4 VAC
but the hides, furs or pelts of fur-bearing animals legally taken
15-320-40). This regulation is not intended to allow the
and possessed, and the carcass of any fur-bearing animal may be
sale of game fish for display in an aquarium. Aschool
sold at any time.... ( 29.1- 536 )
teacher or other individual may possess and display
game fish in an aquarium provided that they hold a valid
fishing license andprovided that the fish were legally ob-
tained by an individual possessing a valid fishing license.
The following 12 animals are officially considered
• Minnows and chubs can be purchased for any pur-
nuisance species in Virginia and may be taken (harvest-
pose, as well as crayfish and hellgrammites, provided
ed) at any time without a collector’s permit (4 VAC 15-20-
they are purchased from a dealer who is authorized by
the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to
collect, hold, and sell them (4 VAC 15-360-20; 4 VAC 15-
• The Game Department is now issuing permits to li-
censed pet stores and captive breeders for them to sell
three species of captive-bred snakes (4 VAC 15-360-50):
eastern kingsnake, mole kingsnake, and corn snake. No
other snakes native to Virginia can be bought or sold in
Virginia, and there are size limits as to what can be sold.
• No threatened or endangered species may be
bought or sold for any purposes at any time, whether
English (house) sparrow
dead or alive, including their parts.
Pigeon (rock dove)
• Because the Lacey Act restricts the interstate trans-
port of birds and other animals, federal laws prohibit
moving fish and wildlife into the state if they were illegal-
Historically, many of these animals were associated
ly taken elsewhere. Therefore, if you make a wildlife pur-
with significant economic concerns or health problems,
and over time became viewed as “nuisances.”
It is also lawful to take striped skunks(Mephitis mephi-
tis) at any time (4 VAC 15-220-10), although this species is
not technically part of the nuisance list.
For further information on this topic of what, when
and how nuisance animals may be taken, please contact
the Permits and Lifetime License Section.
Threatened and Endangered
Currently, there are a little over 100 wildlife species
that are officially listed as threatened or endangered in
Virginia, and over 900 worldwide ranging from milli-
pedes to whales. Some of these species are considered
“federal endangered,” while others are “state endan-
gered.”Over 50 additional species are now being considered
as federal candidates for the list. While the list is too long
Wild mammals may appear cute and
cuddly, but it is illegal to collect them
to include here, it is available on request and should be
consulted before conducting any wildlife collecting activ-
“Wild Bill’s Fate” gives students an opportunity to
ities. (See the section “Official Listings Available.”) Under
compare the different viewpoints that people have about
the provisions of the law, it shall be unlawful to take, trans-
pending wildlife legislation. “Know Your Legislation:
port, process, sell or offer for sale within the Commonwealth
What’s in it for Wildlife?” carries the process further by
any threatened or endangered species of fish or wildlife(4 VAC
guiding students in selecting a piece of current wildlife
legislation that they’re interested in and getting in touch
with elected officials to express their views.
Another approach is to try the “Cabin Conflict” activ-
ity in which students set up their classroom as a court-
There are additional requirements regarding exotic
room and role-play various points of view of a land-use
or non-native species which are animals that do not occur
issue that affects wildlife. “To Zone or Not to Zone” is a
naturally in Virginia. Biologists view non-native species
similar activity that illustrates the complexities of land-
with caution because these animals can cause irreparable
use planning and decisions that must consider differing
harm to a habitat and/or an entire population of native
species. Some examples of prior introductions that easily
Students might even be encouraged to write their
come to mind are the English house sparrow, the
own proposal or bill about a wildlife issue and submit it to
European starling, the gypsy moth, and more recently,
their General Assembly representative. Or, have a local
the zebra mussel.
elected official visit your school and talk with the students
Educators should be particularly aware when order-
about a local issue.
ing lab specimens from mail order catalogs that availabil-
Although the above activities are geared towards
ity from a catalog does not necessarily mean that you can
upper grade level students, lower grade level students
lawfully possess that animal in Virginia. For example, the
might also explore their opinions on a simple issue that
marine toad, African clawed frog and piranha may be
concerns their local community, as in the activity
popular catalog items, but they are included as predatory
“Changing Attitudes.” Students might interview parents
and undesirable in VAC 15-30-40.
and friends and record their different thoughts and views
When a non-native or exotic species is introduced to
in a journal-writing activity. They could follow this up
a new environment, it competes with native species that
with some research in local newspapers and the library to
were previously well-adapted to the way things were.
find out more about both sides of the issue, then write
The non-native population therefore creates additional
what their conclusion is about the matter.
pressure on the native wildlife population by introduc-
ing new diseases and by competing for suitable nest sites,
Types of Permits
food, and other habitat requirements.
In addition, the non-native species may now be liv-
Although the regulations are rigid and all-encom-
ing in a new ecosystem where its natural predators do not
passing, teachers and other educators do have a few av-
occur to keep its population in check. The net result is
enues open to them if they are serious about wildlife con-
often that native species have difficulty adapting and
servation but still want to bring wildlife into their schools
competing, and their numbers subsequently decrease.
for educational purposes. The following permits are those
Importation laws and multi-state policies protect
that the Virginia Department of Game and Inland
against such introductions of non-native species. Aspe-
Fisheries may issue. Applications, instructions, and re-
cial permit is required to import, possess, or sell a whole
range of exotic species that are classed as predatory or un-
desirable within the meaning and intent of Title 29.1-542 of the
Code of Virginia, in that their introduction into the
Commonwealth will be detrimental to the native fish and
wildlife resources of Virginia (4 VAC 15-30-40).
Using This Information in the
There are several Project WILD activities you can use
to help teach about the legislative process. Project WILD
is a supplementary wildlife curriculum for teachers of
students in grades K-12. The curriculum guide is only
available by attending a free six-hour workshop spon-
sored by the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
(call the WILD Coordinator for more details at 804/367-
The marine toad is an exotic species that is considered
predatory and undesirable; it is illegal to order this
species from a catalog and possess it in Virginia.
Illustration by Mike Pinder.
porting forms may be downloaded from www.dgif.vir-
Complete listings of all native and naturalized
• Scientific Collection Permit:for research or educa-
species, threatened and endangered species, and species
tional purposes. This permit allows you to collect live an-
of special concern are also available from the “Wildlife”
imals from the wild and possess them for scientific or ed-
page by selecting “Virginia’s Wildlife.”
ucational purposes. You will need an additional federal
permitfrom the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in order to
For More Information
perform research on birds. You will be required to report
each year what was collected, where it was collected, etc.,
• Main Agency phone number (804) 367-1000.
or the permit will not be renewed.
• Salvage Permit: for research or educational pur-
• Exhibitor’s permit: Permits Section (804) 367-9588.
poses. This permit allows you to collect dead animals or
• Scientific collection, salvage, or threatened and en-
parts and parts for scientific or educational purposes.
dangered species permits, and issues regarding
You will need an additional federal permit from the U.S.
nongame wildlife: Wildlife Diversity Division, (804) 367-
Fish & Wildlife Service in order to collect dead birds, bird
parts, feathers, or nests. You will be required to report
each year what was collected, where it was collected, etc.,
• Game mammals: Wildlife Division (804) 367-0904
or the permit will not be renewed.
• Exhibitor’s Permit:for educational or scientific use
• Game fish: Fisheries Division (804) 367-0509
to hold and display wildlife. This applies to game fish,
• Violations, licenses, and the law: Law Enforcement
birds, mammals, as well as non-game fish, amphibians,
Division (804) 367-0171.
reptiles, and aquatic invertebrates. Nature centers and
parks which do not charge a fee typically fall under this
• Federal laws and permits: Northeast Region of the
category, as might a school system which is planning sev-
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (413) 253-8643.
eral exhibits in an environmental education facility.
There are fees associated with these permits. Please
• Wildlife Crime Line: 1-800-237-5712 or e-mail
call the number at the end of this article and ask for the
• To view the complete wildlife laws in the Code of
Virginia, go to the web site of the Virginia General
Assembly at www.legis.state.va.usand click on “Code of
Official Listings Available
Virginia.” Then click on “Table of Contents” and scroll
The Virginia Department of Game and Inland
down to “Title 29.1—Game, Inland Fisheries and
Fisheries has a web-based, computerized system of data-
bases, the Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information System
(VAFWIS) that provides users with information about
wildlife in the Commonwealth. This may be accessed
through the Department web page at www.dgif.vir-
Originally published April, 1998 with the assistance of
ginia.gov by choosing “Wildlife,” then “Wildlife
Fred Leckie, Jeff Uerz, Becky Wajda, Bob Ellis, and
Information and Mapping Services,” and finally
Dave Dowling. Revised March, 2004 with
“Virginia Fish and Wildlife Information Services.”
the assistance of Kathy Graham.
Last revised January 2005.
Produced by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries
P.O. Box 11104
4010 West Broad Street