Are servals legal in British Columbia?

The answer is slightly complicated, indeed a mishmash. Servals are not in the Controlled Alien Species (CAS) list for the province of British Columbia. I take that to mean that there are no laws either allowing or prohibiting the possession of a serval in British Columbia. Therefore, you have to drill down to municipalities and cities and other smaller areas for laws on the possession of servals in British Columbia.

The British Columbia law on owning a serval is a mishmash.
The British Columbia law on owning a serval is a mishmash. Image: MIkeB based on Image by wendy CORNIQUET from Pixabay.
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I’m told that many municipalities and cities in British Columbia have strict regulations and bans on the keeping of servals and F1 and F2 and other high filial Savannah cats.

I take this to mean that over most of British Columbia it is illegal to own a serval, but you will have to drill down to a municipal level and look at local legislation, I would suggest through a phone call, to find out the position where you live.

To stress (and I repeat): looking at the answer on a provincial basis, servals are allowed in British Columbia but if you drill down to smaller jurisdictions, you will find restrictions and bans. Therefore, you must drill down in my view. I know for sure Savannah cats of any and all generations are banned in Chilliwack & Fraser Valley.

It is impossible to provide the law verbatim because there is no federal law against owning a serval in British Columbia but there will be ordinances i.e., local laws which you won’t find on the Internet, or you might but with great difficulty.

The reason why I looked up this answer – and I’m sorry the answer is not super precise – is because the news media reports a large exotic cat on the loose near Victoria on Vancouver Island which is in British Columbia. Worryingly, it is the third African serval to escape on that island this week.

And bearing in mind what I’ve just said about ownership of servals in British Columbia (BC) this either means that the people who own these domesticated or semi-domesticated wild cats are in breach of the law or Vancouver Island (or parts of it) allows citizens to own a serval.

Perhaps the capital of BC, Victoria, allows ownership of servals. The trouble is you have got to keep them indoors all the time for their own protection. This is very uncomfortable for a serval because in the wild they will naturally roam over 10-20 km², an area that they call their home. As an exotic pet they are confined to a home of say 5,000 ft². They are captive animals. It is no better than being in a zoo in that respect.

And they are smart. They will find a way to dash out of the house whenever they can. In the story that I have read, the serval’s owner, Sylvia Lammers, said that her serval learned how to open the back door. I sense that Sylvia goes out to work or is away from her home throughout the day or part of the day leaving her serval alone.

This, for me, is a recipe for disaster because not only will this cat suffer from separation anxiety but also a compelling desire to get out and they did. Lammers said that her serval, Cassia, “camouflages so well in this habitat”.

A pair of servals owned by somebody else escaped from their home on Vancouver Island last Sunday. One of them has been recovered. They apparently attacked and killed a domestic cat.

British Columbia’s SPCA are campaigning for a bylaw to ban exotic pets in the province. They will agree with what I have written on this page.

Lammers believes that cassia has “hunkered down somewhere”. The last report is that they “created a little scent trail for her”. “We put out her litter pads at the end of our driveway in hopes that she will catch the scent and find her way back.”

In the meantime, Cassia is at risk because being a lanky medium-sized wild cat some people will be frightened of her, and they might take extreme action which could harm her.

Many pet servals have escaped in North America over the years. Some have been killed once outside the home. Servals sometimes spray urine in the home when stressed or for territorial reasons. And their claws are heavy. Declawing is banned in BC as I understand it. Servals can harm their owner. Don’t adopt one just because you want to possess and exotic creature.

Another African Serval Escapes and Gets Run Over

Serval Cat Escapes

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