Is it legal to own a caracal in Michigan?

COMMENT: It is legal for an individual citizen of the state of Michigan, USA to own a caracal because the ownership of this medium-sized wild cat species is unregulated in that state. This surprises me and it is in quite stark contrast to, for example, the state of Florida where a permit is required to own a caracal. And in Florida an application for a permit is quite demanding.

Captive caracals in Michigan
Captive caracals in Michigan. The owner of four Caracal cats in Royal Oak has agreed to relocate the animals after they had escaped multiple times. (WDIV)
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles: Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

In Michigan, the possession of lions, tigers, cougars, cheetahs, leopards, jaguars and panthers is illegal. This includes the importation of the animals except under certain special exemptions. Michigan’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development are imprecise and need to study the wild cats because they refer to “panthers”. This is a generic term. It is not a species of cat. It describes either the puma or when black the jaguar or leopard. I presume the reference is to the puma but they could be more precise about it.

There is a persistent story, indeed a saga, coming out of Michigan about the owner of four caracals who has belatedly agreed to relocate them after they had persistently escaped from her Oakland County property. The owner has been issued with five violations after the most recent escape. Three of her caracals were found quite quickly while the fourth was located later.

The police deemed that she was unable to keep the cats contained on her property. She was encouraged to move them to a more suitable environment. She agreed.

Her problem highlights what can go wrong when the ownership of caracals and other medium-sized wildcats are unregulated. In my view they should be regulated because caracals are highly athletic. They have the highest standing start vertical jump of any cat. They will want to escape because in the wild their natural range would be many square kilometres and not an enclosure of 20 yd² or thereabouts. And if they can’t escape from confinement they will be unhappy so what’s the point in keeping them?

The only point is that people like exotic creatures. They like them so much that they want to possess them. It goes against conservation because it is treating a wild animal that should be living in the world, in their natural habitat, as a human possession like a beautiful car or a fancy watch. That is not the attitude you want from the citizens of the world when there is a necessity to enhance wildlife conservation because of the pressures placed on nature by human activity including global warming.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

2 thoughts on “Is it legal to own a caracal in Michigan?”

    1. Absolutely correct. You are spot on. They are much better observed in their own habitat where they feel at home and where they are at their happiest. Everyone should enjoy looking at wildlife in their natural home and stop trying to possess individual animals in a self-indulgent way. I might be out on a limb with that kind of thinking but I don’t think I am nowadays. People are gradually realising that we have to protect nature. We manage the planet. And by nature, I mean all the flora and fauna. Thanks for commenting, Sherry.

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