Are servals legal in Colorado?

Servals are not legal in Colorado, a pet-loving state. Before I explain why this is my answer, I would like to say that it is very hard to find the answer to the question in the title from Colorado State legislation. I wanted to find the exact laws which listed servals as illegal or legal to own in the state and I failed to find that legislation. I would like to see online access to this sort of legislation facilitated.

Lanky serval
Lanky serval. Photo: Tambako The Jaguar on Flickr
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats


I did find a document in PDF format which is headed Exotic Pets and Prohibited Wildlife written by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and dated 1996. You can see it by clicking on the link below:

Colorado – what animals you can possess

This document does not state that servals are illegal or legal and is therefore not very helpful. It doesn’t list wild cat species although it does mention wild cat hybrids as being legal. The F1 Savannah cat is a serval/domestic cat hybrid with the father being a serval. So that cat would be legal but the medium-sized wild cat species, the serval, is illegal and we have that from a good authority, Jim Haskins, area wildlife manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife who is quoted in an August 8, 2007 article on the Big Cat Rescue website.

It appears that Jim Haskins sent an email to an employee at Big Cat Rescue (BCR) believed to be Alexis DeLaCruz. Although I could be wrong about the last name.

The email concerns a serval who escaped from its owner’s possession at Steamboat Springs which is in the Heritage Park Area (not sure which town). The man was living in a motorhome. The owner was named as Ken Coster and he named his serval as Sir Sydney. He offered a $500 reward for the return of his pet.

Jim Haskins makes it quite clear that, “It is not legal to own one of these things in Colorado regardless (of weather Koster has) got the appropriate permits in another state… They’re just not legal in Colorado”.

I hope that that answers the question. The only possible failure in the answer is that the law has changed since 2007 in Colorado. However, I would very much doubt that as, if anything, the law has been tightened up across America with respect to the ownership of wild cat species and exotic animals since 2007.

If you have a different opinion and a different experience as a Colorado resident then please leave a comment. And my message to Colorado state legislature: please make access to your laws easier. My thanks to BCR.

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