Are caracals legal to own in Florida by an individual person? That is what the question in the title is asking, in my opinion. And the answer is, yes, provided you have a permit because the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) classify caracals as class II wildlife, which can pose a danger to people.
The restrictions on ownership of a caracals in Florida by an individual is carried out under the application for a permit. The application for a licence to possess class II wildlife ‘for personal use’ is quite rigourous and demanding. The fee, incidentally is $140.
You can read details about the application process by clicking on this link (note: sometimes external links break). I’ll cover some basics here.
Applicants for class II wildlife must submit 1,000 hours of experience in the care, feeding, handling and husbandry of caracals. And they need to submit two reference letters. One of these must be “licensed by the commission for the authorisation the applicant is seeking or a representative of a professional organisation or governmental institution”. FWC provide examples of the sort of institutions they are referring to which include: universities, public service agencies, zoological associations and veterinarians. A family member can only provide one reference letter.
The applicant will also have to provide details of a captive wildlife critical incident/disaster plan. FWC require full details of the action plan plus a detailed list of all equipment utilised for chemical capture of an escaped caracal. And they need to know where the equipment is stored. They need to know details of the equipment utilised for physical capture plus information about equipment utilised to temporary house and transport and escaped caracal. These are just examples as to the kind of detail and planning that they require.
You have to complete an ‘experience log’ to tell them your experience in looking after a caracal or similar wild animal. Further, you will need to provide details of your facility which must meet the requirements of 68A-6.003, Florida Administrative Code. Applicants need to complete a “Facility Location Information form” with their application.
As I understand it, a class II wildlife facility shall not be sited on less than 2.5 acres. The property must be owned or leased by the applicant (formal documentation). FWC specify certain construction aspects of the cages.
As stated earlier, if you are considering purchasing and looking after a caracal in Florida as an individual you will need to meet a lot of rigourous standards in order to obtain a permit. It is these standards which present a barrier. This is a useful barrier because it prevents casual or careless adoptions of this medium-sized wildcat. You’ve got to be serious about it and experienced. And, on a personal note, I think an applicant needs to think about the wider issues such as conservation and how they going to contribute.
A person should not want to adopt and look after a caracal just because they are an exotic animal and its gives them pleasure to own such a creature. That isn’t good enough. You have to think about where the animal came from and whether it is better for them to live in the wild in an environment away from human interference. This should be the objective of people, not the possession for pleasure of exotic creatures.
My thanks to FWC who have an excellent website. Their information is clearly presented. Many states are nowhere near as good.
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