Florida Taxidermy Laws
In Florida, a taxidermist does not need a permit from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) in order to mount non-protected wildlife for commercial use. However, since all migratory birds are protected by federal law, taxidermists need to obtain permission and a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in order to mount them. Taxidermists can write the USFWS at 1875 Century Boulevard, Suite 400, Atlanta, Georgia 30345, or call (404) 679-7188.
All birds are classified as migratory except for the starling, English sparrow, quail and turkey. Therefore, taxidermists would not be able to mount hawks, owls, herons or any other non-game migratory bird brought to them by a private individual. Federal law prohibits the possession of these specimens or the mounting of nongame birds for ornamental use. Public educational institutions may be exempted from permit requirements in order to allow for the mounting of non-game migratory birds. However, such persons must present to taxidermists a letter of authorization from either FWC or the USFWS prior to their receiving such birds for taxidermy services. Taxidermists should retain a copy of this document while they are in possession of non-game migratory birds. Taxidermists should never accept non-game birds for mounting without a copy of the customer's permit authorization.
Carcasses Salvaged From Roadways
It would be permissible for taxidermists to salvage, mount and possess the carcasses of raccoon, opossum, skunk, beaver, fox, and gray or fox squirrels found as roadkill.
Tags and record keeping
Each specimen of wildlife and freshwater aquatic life held at a taxidermy facility must have a tag attached bearing the name and address of the owner and the date that it was taken. As an alternative, taxidermists may use a log book and numbering system with the specimen being numbered and traceable to the entry in the log book. These records shall be maintained and made available for inspection by FWC officers.
Additional permits and prohibitions
A special permit authorized by FWC's executive director is required to salvage or mount any alligator, crocodile, weasel, round-tailed muskrat or any other species classified as "threatened" or "endangered."
An exception to this is that skulls and untanned skins of cougar lawfully taken outside this state may be possessed and transported.
The regulation pertaining to the possession and sale of bear is Rule 68A-12.004(12), Florida Administrative Code, which reads as follows: "The sale or purchase of any bear carcass or any part thereof is prohibited. The sale or purchase of any taxidermal specimen of a black bear is prohibited. The sale or purchase of a taxidermal specimen of any other species of bear is prohibited unless it was legally taken or acquired and has attached thereto a tag bearing the name and address of the possessor and the date when and the specific place where it was taken or acquired. In addition, the possessor shall have in his possession documentation that the specimen was legally taken, acquired, or exported from the state or country of origin. The possession or transportation of any carcass or untanned skin of any bear is prohibited unless it was legally taken or acquired and has attached thereto a tag bearing the name and address of the possessor, the species, and the date when and specific place where it was taken or acquired. In addition the possessor of the carcass or untanned skin shall have in his possession documentation that it was legally taken, acquired or exported from the state or country of origin."
Special permits are also required for the possession and mounting of deer, wild turkey, quail, otter, bobcat, and mink during the closed season. Taxidermists should never accept any protected specimen unless the customer can provide them with a copy of his/her permit authorization. If he/she has none, the taxidermist should have him/her write for a permit. Remember, you place yourself in violation if you accept and possess an illegal specimen.
Any person purchasing untanned alligator skins must be licensed as a fur and hide dealer as provided in Section 379.364, Florida Statutes. Taxidermists may purchase alligators or alligator hides only when an alligator hide tag is attached approximately four inches from the tip of the alligator's tail. Such tag shall remain attached to the alligator or alligator hide at all times, even when taxidermy services are completed. It is unlawful to possess any untagged alligator hide or any untagged mounted alligator.
Alligator farmers, alligator agent-trappers and persons authorized to take alligators may sell the feet, viscera or skeletal parts of alligators when all such sales are documented to show the type and quantity of items sold and the name and address of each buyer who purchases for resale.
Alligator products may be sold by both retail and wholesale outlets. It is unlawful for any person to sell any alligator product manufactured in the form of a stuffed baby alligator or other baby crocodilians (less than three feet in length). No person shall sell any alligator product manufactured from a species which has been declared to be endangered by the USFWS or FWC.
It is unlawful to use the words "gator" or "alligator" in connection with the sale of any product derived or made from the skins of other crocodilians or in connection with the sale of other crocodilian products.
The possession for sale, the purchase or the sale of birds and game mammals (carcass or parts), whether produced in this state or not, is unlawful, except under the following conditions:
- Game legally taken may be stored at your facility, provided that it is tagged and clearly marked with the owner's name and address (and license number when applicable), and the date of receipt.
- Game produced on a licensed game farm may be sold and transported in the state for any lawful purpose. Again, documentation is required.
- Florida law does not prohibit the sale or purchase of articles manufactured from the heads, horns, hides, teeth and feet of game mammals lawfully taken. However, the sale or purchase of any black bear (or any parts) is prohibited.
- When lawfully taken, the feathers or skins of non-protected or resident game birds or the skins of deer, squirrels, rabbits or wild hogs may be sold.
With regard to transporting specimens of game before mounting, a person may transport the possession limit of lawfully taken game. Lawfully taken game may be shipped by the person who took such game, provided that each package is marked on the outside to show the names and addresses of both the shipper and the addressee, and the numbers and kinds of game contained therein. This would apply also when the mounted specimen(s) are shipped back to the owner.
As a special courtesy to taxidermists, the FWC allows the sale of mounted specimens of lawfully taken freshwater fish. However, it is still against the law in Florida to sell black bass or other game fish (unless lawfully tagged on Lake Okeechobee); therefore, it would not be legal for individuals to sell specimens for the purpose of mounting.
If you need a copy of the updated threatened and endangered species list, please contact the Species Conservation Planning Section by writing to:
FWC, 620 South Meridian Street, MS-2A
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600
or call (850) 921-1032.
If you need additional information concerning the mounting of wildlife, please visit Ask FWC, write to:
FWC, Division of Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Section
620 South Meridian Street
Tallahassee, Florida, 32399-1600
or call (850) 488-6253.