Feline Conservation Federation


Michigan Regulations on Wild and Exotic Felines

Department of Natural Resources
P.O. Box 30444
Lansing, MI 48909

State Web Site: http://www.michigan.gov/
Department Website: http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/ 

Short Summary: Must have permit to hold wildlife for native species cougar and lynx are state-endangered specie and cannot be privately owned for pets, though a few of these cats are held as pets, having been purchased before this law was passed. Bobcats in MI are regulated by the DNR. Separate enclosure must be built first, and then a special permit called "Permit to Hold Wildlife in Captivity" needs to be obtained BEFORE getting the animal and are issued by the DNR Permit Specialist, James Janson. Inspection may be required before permit approval and Monthly Inventory Reports are required after obtaining the permit. Minimum Enclosure Requirements for a Bobcat: 8ft x 6ft x 6ft for a single animal with 24 sq ft of floor space per additional animal, clawing logs, 2ft x 2ft den box per animal, climbing tree 3 or 4 in diameter branches for each animal, and a 14in x 36in lounging shelf located at least 3ft above the floor per animal.

On July 7, 2000, Michigan passed new legislation prohibiting tiger, leopard, lion, jaguar, panther, cheetah, cougar, and hybrids of such to be owned by private individuals. Circuses are exempt.  The prohibition on possession and the microchips and enclosures do not apply to animal shelters, state or US Fish and Wildlife Service licensees, AZA facilities, sanctuaries under the Association of Sanctuaries or American Sanctuary Association, law enforcement officers or vets, and USDA Class C business that presents animals that does not allow direct contact with large carnivores or close contact with those over 20 weeks and does not sell them except to other exempt businesses or breed them.  The prohibition of Class C Exhibitors using their animal business to attract customers to another business was removed in March 2013. 

Existing large felines owned by those without this federal permit must register their feline with the state and a variety of regulations must be complied with for the animal to continue to be possessed for its lifetime. The new regulations forbid the breeding of any large feline. Importation of other non-native species is regulated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Division.

The state does not regulate small exotic felines at this time.