Keep a dead wild animal

The rules for keeping a dead wild animal that you have found, bought, imported, received as a gift, possessed before its death or killed to protect property. This includes road kill, but not wildlife that you have legally hunted or trapped.

Effective July 1, 2013.

The law

In general, you can keep a dead wild animal or bird you have found or been given.

In some cases, you need to register that you have a dead wild animal in order to keep it.

This rule applies to certain:

  • large mammals (e.g., black bear)
  • birds of prey (e.g., bald eagle)
  • furbearing mammals (e.g., coyote)

Registration

You don’t always need to register the possession.  The process depends on:

  • the type of wild animal
  • how you acquired it

If you need to register, you register for what’s called a Notice of Possession – this allows you to keep the dead wild animal for personal use.

You cannot sell dead wild animals under a Notice of Possession.

Source law

This is a summary of the provincial laws. You can find a complete set of rules related to this activity in:

  • Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997
  • Ontario Regulation 666/98 (possession, buying and selling of wildlife)
  • Endangered Species Act, 2007

Species at risk

Special rules apply for endangered or threatened species. You can only keep a protected species under very limited circumstances (e.g., for scientific and education purposes). 

Protected species are listed on the Species at risk in Ontario list. Please contact a local Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) office for more information about the rules.

Species at risk in Ontario list

Find an MNR district office

When you need to register

Large mammals

This group includes:

  • black bear
  • white-tailed deer
  • moose
  • American elk

Yes, you need to register an animal

If you:

  • find the wild animal dead (e.g., road kill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent protecting property who has lawfully killed a black bear

No, you don't need to register an animal

If you:

  • lawfully killed it (e.g., with the appropriate hunting licence)
  • receive it as a gift from someone who lawfully killed it
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (e.g., in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist or butcher possessing it in the course of your business

What's a wildlife agent?

Raptors (birds of prey)

This group includes:

  • bald eagle
  • peregrine falcon
  • northern goshawk
  • gyrfalcon
  • northern harrier
  • American kestrel
  • American swallow-tailed kite
  • merlin
  • osprey
  • turkey vulture
  • certain hawks (broad-winged, Cooper’s, red-shouldered, red-tailed, rough-legged, and sharp-shinned)
  • certain owls (barred, boreal, burrowing, eastern screech, great gray, great horned, long-eared, northern hawk, northern saw-whet, short-eared, and snowy)

Yes, you need to register a raptor

If you:

  • find it dead (e.g., found road kill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent who has lawfully killed it protecting property

No, you don't need to register a raptor

If you:

  • receive it as a gift
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (e.g., in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist possessing it in the course of your business

Furbearing mammals (and their pelts)

This group includes:

  • beaver
  • bobcat
  • coyote
  • fisher
  • fox (Arctic, red)
  • lynx
  • marten
  • mink
  • muskrat
  • opossum
  • otter
  • raccoon
  • red squirrel
  • striped skunk
  • weasel (least, long-tailed, short-tailed or ermine)
  • wolf

Yes, you need to register a furbearing mammal

If you:

  • find it dead (e.g., found road kill)
  • are a landowner or wildlife agent who has lawfully killed it protecting property
  • buy or otherwise acquire or import the pelt of a furbearing mammal, or the carcass including the pelt, for your own personal use

No, you don't need to register a furbearing mammal

If you:

  • lawfully killed it (e.g., if you are a licensed trapper or small game hunter)
  • lawfully possessed it before its death (e.g., in a licensed zoo)
  • are a taxidermist or butcher possessing it in the course of your business

How to register/get a licence

Step 1: Download the Natural Resources Registration Guide

  • print a copy or
  • open the guide in a new window or tab

Natural Resources Registration Guide

Step 2: Create a ONe-key ID and Natural Resources client profile

You need a ONe-key ID and a Natural Resources client profile to register online. ONe-key is a secure account that gives you online access to Ontario government programs and services.

Once you have a ONe-key ID, you will be asked to create either an individual or business profile for Natural Resources registrations. Create:

  • an individual profile to register non-business activities
  • a business profile to register activities conducted by a:
    • business
    • non-profit organization
    • municipality
    • government agency
    • ministry

Open a new window or tab to:

Create an individual profile
Create a business profile

If you already have a ONe-key ID:

  • sign in to ONe-key
  • confirm your Natural Resources profile

Open a new window or tab to:

Sign in as a returning individual
Sign in as a returning business

Step 3: Register an activity

  • select My Services from the main menu
  • click on Create New Registration
  • select Notice of Possession from the registry options
  • register the activity
  • submit the registration

Step 4: Receive confirmation

  • receive an official Confirmation of Registration by email
  • keep a copy as proof of registration
  • registration is free

If you can't apply online:

  • download the registration form and user guide
  • print, complete and mail the form
  • wait for confirmation

Notice of Possession form and user guide

Buy, sell or give wildlife

In most cases, you cannot buy or sell game wildlife or specially protected wildlife, whether alive or dead, without permission.

Some rare exceptions exist (e.g., selling a pelt as a licensed trapper).

For more information, please contact a local MNR district office.

Giving as a gift

You can give a dead wild animal or bird as a gift, if you acquired it under the rules in this article.

Updated: July 23, 2014