113-272.5. Captivity license.

(a) In the interests of humane treatment of wild animals and wild birds that are lawfully taken, crippled, tame, or unfit for immediate release into their natural habitat, the Wildlife Resources Commission may license qualified individuals to hold at a specified location one or more of any particular species of wild animal or wild bird alive in captivity for scientific, educational, exhibition, or other purposes. Before issuing this license, the Executive Director must satisfy himself that issuance of the license is appropriate under the objectives of this Subchapter, and that the wild animal or wild bird was not acquired unlawfully or merely as a pet. Upon refusing to issue the captivity license, the Executive Director may either take possession of the wild animal or wild bird for appropriate disposition or issue a captivity permit under G.S. 113-274(c)(1b) for a limited period until the holder makes proper disposition of the wild animal or wild bird.

(b) Unless a shorter time is set for a license upon its issuance under the provisions of subsection (c), captivity licenses are annual licenses issued beginning January 1 each year and running until the following December 31. This license is issued upon payment of five dollars ($5.00) to the Wildlife Resources Commission.

(c) The Wildlife Resources Commission may require standards of caging and care and reports to and supervision by employees of the Wildlife Resources Commission as necessary to insure humane treatment and furtherance of the objectives of this Subchapter. The Executive Director in implementing the provisions of this section may administratively impose through responsible agents and employees restrictions upon the mode of captivity that he deems necessary, including prescribing methods of treatment and handling designed, if possible, to enable the wild animal or wild bird to become self-sufficient and requiring that the wild animal or wild bird be set free when self-sufficiency is attained. To this end, the Executive Director may issue the captivity license with an expiration date earlier than December 31 and may also act to terminate any captivity license earlier than the expiration date for good cause.

(d) Any substantial deviation from reasonable requirements imposed by rule or administratively under the authority of this section renders possession of the wild animal or wild bird unlawful.

(e) No captivity license may be issued for any cougar (Felis concolor), except to:

(1) A bona fide publicly supported zoo.

(2) An educational or scientific research institution.

(3) An individual who lawfully possessed the cougar on June 29, 1977. The license may not be granted, however, for possession of a cougar within a municipality which prohibits such possession by ordinance.

(4) An individual who holds a cougar without caging under conditions simulating a natural habitat, the development of which is in accord with plans and specifications developed by the holder and approved by the Wildlife Resources Commission.

(f) The licensing provisions of this section apply to black bears held in captivity, but, to the extent that it differs from this section, Article 2 of Chapter 19A of the General Statutes governs the keeping of black bears in captivity. (1979, c. 830, s. 1; 1979, 2nd Sess., c. 1285, s. 3; 1981, c. 575, s. 1; 1987, c. 827, s. 98; 2013-3, s. 1.)