The caracal is neither listed as a ‘deleterious exotic animal’ under WAC 220-640-200 nor as a ‘potentially dangerous animal’ under RCWs, Title 16, Chapter 16.30, Section 16.30.010 and as a consequence, the caracal is legal to own in Washington state by an individual without a permit on my assessment.
Under RCWs, Title 16, Chapter 16.30, Section 16.30.010, “Potentially dangerous wild animal” means one of the following types of animal whether bred in the wild or in captivity, and any or all hybrids thereof: Family felidae, only lions, tigers, captive-bred cougars, Jaguars, cheetahs, leopards, snow leopards, and clouded leopards. It is illegal to own a potentially dangerous wild animal.
Caracal kittens. Picture in public domain in my view.
I would suggest that you ring up Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife and discuss the detail with them if you have doubts about my assessment. No doubt they will get to the point very quickly and tell you the sort of permit you need in order to own and possess a caracal in this state. Note: I have telephoned them in the past but sadly no one was there to provide an answer.
It might be wise to cross-reference federal animal laws and more local animals laws i.e. city regulations, to make sure that there isn’t a clash. However, I believe my assessment is correct. Please comment if you can add some details.
Owing a caracal as a pet
I have said it before which is that both the caracal and the cheetah are two wild cat species which are amenable to becoming “pets”. This is not to say that I personally recommend possessing these wild cats as pets. I don’t agree with it. Not at all because it is poor for conservation purposes. Keeping a caracal as a pet reinforces the belief that a wild cat species can be a companion animal which undermines their position in the wild. It encourages young people to believe that these wonderful creatures are ours to possess and do as we please with them. This is incorrect. Leave them alone in the wild where they belong. But protect them in the wild. Give them space in which to live natural. They have the right. That’s the best way forward. It is time that conservation was taken seriously by which I mean businesses and politicians should get involved with it seriously rather than dabbling in it and pretending.
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