Is it legal to own a wolf in Texas?

On my assessment of the Texas law (2022), it is illegal to ‘possess’ a wolf in the state of Texas. Please read the entire page. I had believed that there were no regulations in Texas regarding wolf ‘ownership’ but at the time the picture was unclear. It would certainly pay to telephone the local authority to firm up the issue (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department).

This is a tricky area of law partly because there is conflicting information on the internet. Michigan State University has a comprehensive website on US statutes, and they reproduce: Vernon’s Texas Statutes and Codes Annotated. Parks and Wildlife Code. Title 5. Wildlife and Plant Conservation. Subtitle B. Hunting and Fishing. Chapter 63. Game and Nongame Animals. Subchapter B. Nongame Animals as follows:

§ 63.102. Wolves

(a) No person may possess, transport, receive, or release a live wolf in this state.

(b) Subsection (a) does not apply to the transportation of a wolf by a state or county official while performing an official duty or to the possession or transportation of a wolf by the owner or agent of a licensed circus, zoo, or menagerie for exhibition or scientific purposes.

(c) Repealed by Acts 1985, 69th Leg., ch. 267, art. 3, § 110, eff. Sept. 1, 1985.

This seems to be unequivocal namely that wolf ownership is illegal in the state of Texas. Although interestingly the statute uses the word ‘possess’ not ‘own’. These words have different meanings. You can possess something but not own it. If you own something you also possess it.

Wolfdog ownership is illegal or regulated in many areas of the USA. There have been some bad incidents which appears to have resulted in a general shift in attitude about ownership of wolves and wolf-dog hybrids in the USA. The One Green Planet website advises that there are no federal laws regarding the ownership of a wolf or wolfdog in the USA.

Each state takes their own stance on this issue. I would certainly drill down to county and perhaps even city level just to touch base to make sure that there are no animal laws at a very local level.

The ownership of wild animal/domestic animal hybrids is always problematic. The wildcat hybrid is popular in America and once again there are issues regarding legal ownership because of restrictions. You are, after all, incorporating the DNA of a wild animal into a pet. It’s like living with a wild animal to a certain extent and this changes the complexion of the human-animal relationship dramatically.

Wolves and wolfdogs as pets
Photo (improved!): texaswolfdogproject.org

It may interest readers to note that the Tex. Health and Safety Code, Chapter 822, Subchapter E, lists what Texas considers to be a “dangerous wild animal”. They do not include the wolf in this list. They include: lion, tiger, ocelot, cougar, leopard, cheetah, jaguar, bobcat, lynx, serval, caracal, hyena, bear, coyote, jackal, baboon, chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla or any hybrid of these animals. It surprises me that they list the bobcat as being a dangerous wild animal but not the wolf. But that is the law as I understand it as of December 2021.

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