So, you are now the proud owner of a reptile or amphibian. Congratulations! Did you know that in New Jersey you need to file an application for a permit to possess exotic or nongame animals for hobby purposes? There is a nominal fee, and you can put all your animals on one, easy to fill out, permit. Permits are due January 31 for animals you already own. As you acquire new animals, you can add them to the same permit.
Responsible pet owners are not the only ones who need permits. Researchers need them too. Most states, including New Jersey, require permits for scientists to conduct research on reptiles or amphibians in the wild. Research activities include taking blood samples, DNA samples, collecting animals for lab experiments, putting a radio-tag into the animal, observing the animals in the wild, and basically any type of work a scientist wants to do using wild animals. New Jersey Fish and Wildlife reviews the proposed activities to determine if the research is reasonable and does not tax wild populations unnecessarily or cause too much stress to the animals. Scientists even need permits in order to pick up road-killed animals in NJ, called a salvage permit. These dead animals can be extremely useful for collecting DNA samples, determining distributions, and estimating road-mortality rates.
The NJ Department of Fish and Wildlife’s website is: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com. More than likely you will need to fill out the EXOTIC AND NONGAME WILDLIFE SPECIES POSSESSION PERMIT APPLICATION INDIVIDUAL HOBBY located at: http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/exotic_apps.htm
For a list of animals requiring a permit, visit http://www.njfishandwildlife.com/pdf/xotic_permreq.pdf
For specific questions, please contact the Wildlife Permits Unit at firstname.lastname@example.org or 908-735-5450.
Sara Ruane, PhD, Assistant Professor,Department of Biological Sciences, Rutgers University-Newark
Lisa Rothenburger, County 4-H Agent, Rutgers Cooperative Extension