June 01, 2021

Saskatchewan Updates Captive Wildlife Regulations

Saskatchewan has modernized and strengthened its rules related to the import and possession of native and exotic wildlife here in the province.  This includes those that are kept as pets, or being cared for by wildlife rehabilitators and held in zoos.​

The Captive Wildlife Regulations have been updated to help protect native wildlife and ecosystems, and to ensure that public health and safety are maintained.​

“A lot has changed since these regulations were introduced in 1982, the types of pets people are looking to acquire are changing and how they are procuring animals is also evolving,” Environment Minister Warren Kaeding said.  “After careful consideration and consultation these changes provide more clarity around what types of animals are and are not allowed in Saskatchewan.  They also align with current animal welfare expectations for captive wildlife.”

The growing interest in exotic wildlife as pets and the rehabilitation of native species has raised concerns regarding public safety, animal welfare and increased focus on maintaining the integrity of the province’s ecosystems.  The amended regulations focus on areas of highest risk to people and the environment.​

“These new regulations will help protect and preserve Saskatchewan’s native wildlife species by preventing the potential introduction of invasive species to the landscape,” Saskatchewan Wildlife Federation Executive Director Darrell Crabbe said.  “This law also addresses conservation issues associated with the illegal wildlife trade.”​

The province engaged with an expert panel and stakeholder groups to help modernize various aspects of the legislation, including the list of species that can be held without licensing and the licensing requirements for people or facilities that hold restricted wildlife in captivity.​

The panel included a veterinarian with exotic species expertise, a pet industry representative, a ministry ecologist, a conservation officer, a reptile ecologist and a wildlife health specialist from the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative.​

The panel developed risk criteria to evaluate hundreds of animals, and the appropriateness for each species to be kept in captivity.  The changes ensure that exotic wildlife in Saskatchewan’s pet trade are suitable based on an established risk criteria.​

The review resulted in the modernization of an Allowed list of species that can be kept for personal possession without a permit, and a Restricted list for species that may only be held by qualified individuals or in appropriate facilities.​

More than 600 exotic wildlife species that pose minimal risk make up the Allowed list of species.​

People with wildlife species listed on the Restricted list will need to notify the ministry by November 30, 2021, via an online notification app.  These species fall into one of two categories:​

  • Division 1 species. These animals are considered overtly dangerous, or have never been legal pets in Saskatchewan.  They must be removed by November 30, 2021.  This means the animal must be shipped out of the province, transferred to a licensed facility (e.g. a zoo), or humanely euthanized.
  • Division 2 species. These animals are currently pets, and may be kept for the remaining life of the animal – but only if the ministry is notified of their presence by November 30, 2021.

Pets such as domestic dogs, cats and agricultural animals are not regulated as wildlife.  Owners of these animals will see no change.​

Also included in the regulations are stricter requirements for native wildlife rehabilitation, zoos, the import and export of live wildlife and other general improvements that align with other provincial legislation and regulations.​

The fine for the illegal possession of a restricted species is $1,000.  The fine for the illegal import or export of a restricted species is $400.​

Information, species listings and notification procedures on the province’s new Captive Wildlife Regulations, is available online at www.saskatchewan.ca/captive-wildlife.