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DWR warns public against keeping 'wild' pets

Posted at 11:21 AM, Mar 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-29 18:52:03-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's Division of Wildlife Resources wants the public to know that even if a wild critter seems like it would make a lovable pet, it's dangerous and illegal to do so in most cases.

This warning comes after four raccoons were recently seized from a home in Roosevelt.

DWR conservation officers received a report about a family keeping the raccoons as pets, and discovered that the family had also illegally transported them from another state.

It is illegal to hold any protected wildlife captive in Utah, which includes deer, cottontail rabbits, several bird species, bears, cougars and others.

Many birds are also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Some wild animals are not protected under Utah state law, but require a permit to keep them in captivity, such as coyotes, field mice, squirrels, jack rabbits, gophers, and raccoons.

Illegal possession of these animals is a Class B misdemeanor.

“It’s important to protect the health, welfare and safety of the public, as well as wildlife,” DWR Law Enforcement Capt. Chad Bettridge said.

“These animals are wild and should be treated as such, even when they are babies.”

Diseases, viruses and parasites from wildlife can be transmitted to humans and pets via saliva, feces, or urine.

Viral diseases of raccoons include rabies and canine distemper.

They can carry and transmit leptospirosis and toxoplasmosis, which can be lethal for unborn babies.

For more information about safe interactions with wildlife, visit the Wild Aware Utah website.