The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency is responsible for issuance of permits for certain captive wildlife species. In order to legally possess certain wildlife species, persons must do so in accordance with specific regulations:
- No one can possess a Class 1 or Class 2 species without first obtaining the appropriate permit.
- Class 1 species are considered inherently dangerous to humans and may only be possessed by permitted exhibitors or commercial propagators.
- Personal possession of any Class 1 species is not allowed.
- Class 1 species permits will only be issued if the applicant has met all requirements in T.C.A. 70-4-404 and T.C.A. 70-4-405 and has passed a Class 1 facility inspection.
- No Class 4 species are allowed for possession including white-tailed deer, American black bear and wild turkey except for bona fide zoos and TWRA authorized wildlife rehabilitator's.
- Bona Fide Zoo is an institution operated wholly or in part by a political subdivision of the state to display wildlife to the public.
- Any person possessing Class 1 or 2 wildlife species must have documentation indicating the animal originated from a legal source.
- No importation permit for Class 1 or 2 species will be authorized until all information is supplied that the source is legal in the state of origin and does not possess a threat to human or animal health.
- Please reference classification list for those species considered Class 1, 2 or 4.
- For inquiries concerning Captive Wildlife permits, please call the TWRA Law Enforcement Division (615) 781-6652.
Tennessee Code for Exotic Animals
- TCA-70-4-401 - Prohibited Acts
- TCA-70-4-402 - Part Definitions
- TCA-70-4-403 - Classifications of Wildlife
- TCA-70-4-404 - Permits/Fees
- TCA-70-4-405 - Housing & Transportation of Wildlife Requirements
- TCA-70-4-406 - Liability for Escape-Limitation of State's Liability
- TCA-70-4-407 - Transfer of Class I Wildlife--Notification
- TCA-70-4-408 - Owners of Unpermitted Wildlife - Disposition of Such Wildlife
- TCA-70-4-409 - Inspections
- TCA-70-4-410 - Propagation of Class I or Class II Wildlife - Permit
- TCA-70-4-411- Importation of Wildlife - Permits/Papers
- TCA-70-4-412 - Release of Wildlife
- TCA-70-4-413 - Private Wildlife Preserves- Hunting
- TCA-70-4-414 - Raptors - Falconry Permit
- TCA-70-4-415 - Authority of Officers of Agency- Violations, Penalties, & Forfeitures
- TCA-70-4-416- Notification of Escape - Injuries
- TCA-70-4-417 - Cost of Administration
- TCA-70-4-418 - Implantations of Microchip in Class I Carnivores
Wildlife preserves are controlled areas where certain game species can be released for the purpose of hunting. The preserve owner must have a TWRA Preserve Permit in accordance with the agency Rules and Regulations Governing Wildlife Preserves. These permits are issued in conjunction with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture as indicated in their Rules and Regulations. (Please see Rules and Regulations below)
- As of July 1, 2009, no new Big Game Preserve Permits can be issued. However, big game preserves in existence prior to that date may renew their permits.
- No Wildlife Preserve Permit will be issued unless the application is accompanied by an inspection form filled out by the local wildlife officer indicating the preserve is in compliance. Please call your TWRA Regional Office to schedule an inspection.
- Wildlife Preserve Rules & Regulations (1660-01-11)
- Wildlife Preserve Permit Application
Any person, before engaging in the practice of taxidermy, which includes stuffing, mounting, and preparing skins of wild birds, animals, and fish for sale or for hire, must first obtain a permit to do so.
TWRA does not guarantee the quality of work for any permitted taxidermist. We recommend that you contact several permitted taxidermists to find the one that best suits your needs.
Do I need a taxidermy permit to mount my own trophies?
No, mounting your own trophies does not require a taxidermy permit.
Do I need a taxidermy permit to do European mounts?
Yes, European mounts fall under the business of taxidermy.
Do I need any other permits to mount waterfowl?
Yes, you will also need a federal taxidermist permit. You may obtain a permit from the USFWS (Southeastern Office, Atlanta GA). For a pdf version of the application click here: www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-8.pdf
Can I sell unclaimed trophies?
Yes, by law, you can only sell the unclaimed trophy for the original price. You may not sell unclaimed trophies for more than the original quoted price. You may not sell any bear mounts or parts of bear.
What animals may I mount?
You may mount any game animal that has been taken by legal means.
Is “road kill” a legal means?
Yes, as long as the person presenting the animal has followed all the guidelines concerning the road kill law.
What documentation do I need for trophies I’m preparing?
When you purchase a taxidermy permit, TWRA provides a binder containing all the forms you will need to conduct your business.
How do I order new forms?
You may order new forms by contacting the Program Coordinator, Russell Boles, at 615-934-7505 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
All persons who take or attempt to take wildlife and aquatic specimens for education, research, or collection must possess a SP or be in the presence of a SP holder. All persons who enter any WMA for scientific or educational purposes, must possess a WMA or Research Permit. Sub-permittees listed on a SP may collect outside the presence of the SP holder. Scientific Permits will not be issued to students. Professors may apply for the permit and add the student(s) as sub-permittee(s).
The SP does not relieve you of compliance with other state and federal regulations and does not authorize trespass. Collecting on public lands not owned by TWRA may require a separate permit.
A FEDERAL PERMIT is required to collect MIGRATORY and/or FEDERALLY ENDANGERED OR THREATENED WILDLIFE and BAT projects where there is a potential for take of federally protected bats. A Federal Permit is also required in order to salvage whole or parts of migratory birds, owls, and raptors.
YOU MUST PROVIDE A COPY OF YOUR FEDERAL PERMIT ALONG WITH YOUR APPLICATION.
The SP Final Report is due within thirty (30) days of permit expiration. Failure to submit the Final Report may result in future permit applications being denied. Prior to conducting any field work, the permit holder or sub-permittee is required to file a report with the appropriate regional TWRA Dispatcher (Contact information supplied with permit).
The information you collect is very important and contributes to the body of knowledge regarding our natural resources. TWRA requires that you share your information with us so that we can better manage our fish and wildlife resources.
All equipment or gear left unattended in the field must be marked with the permit holder’s name and permit number. Failure to do so, may result in loss of equipment/gear.
Terrestrial Permits are for people who wish to conduct research/consulting on wildlife (mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians-does not include amphibians that spend their entire life in an aquatic habitat).
Aquatic Permits are for people who wish to conduct research/consulting on fishes and amphibians (who spend their entire life in an aquatic environment) or any type of water quality testing when fishes are collected.
WMA (Wildlife Management Area) Permits are for people who wish to conduct research pertaining to wildlife and/or fishes solely on a WMA. Same as Terrestrial and Aquatic permits.
Research Permits are for people who wish to conduct any type of study or fieldtrip on a WMA that does not include wildlife or fishes.
An educator wishes to study frogs and will be conducting their study on public and private lands throughout the state.
A person who is authorized to band birds wishes to set up mist nets to capture migratory birds to band them.
A researcher wishes to conduct a study on hellbenders. They only wish to study their habitat. They only wish to observe the hellbenders in their natural environment.
A consulting firm bids on a job to do a presence/absence study on a stream.
An educator wishes to take their students out to a stream to demonstrate proper techniques for electroshocking and identification of all fishes in the stream.
An educator/researcher wishes to study wildlife or fishes on one or more WMAs. Their study area does not include any other public or private lands.
An educator wishes to take a class to a WMA to teach students how to identify trees by their leaves, bark, and twigs. Students will be taking samples from trees for their lab books.
A researcher wishes to study the butterfly lifecycle.
Once you have received your permit, prior to any fieldwork being conducted, you must notify the appropriate regional TWRA Dispatcher. You must report who, when, where, and what you are collecting prior to collecting in the field. A document containing all the contact information will accompany your permit. Failure to do so, is a violation of the law.
All persons who receive a Scientific Permit must file the required reports at the end of the permit cycle (one year). Final reports shall be filled out accurately and submitted in a timely manor. The reports are located in your account. You may either upload the report using the form supplied or fill out the on-line form inside your account.
For all questions concerning Scientific Permits, prior to selecting the desired application, please contact:
Investigator Russell Boles
To apply for a permit, you must first register for an account.
If you already have an account, simply log into the system using your user name and password.