Buying and Selling Wildlife in Virginia

Buying and/or selling wildlife in Virginia is strictly regulated. This Web page contains general information and examples only and should not be considered a complete listing of all relevant laws and regulations. Specific laws and regulations are found in the Code of Virginia and the Virginia Administrative Code. Please consult these resources for more information.

It is unlawful to "offer for sale, sell, offer to purchase, or purchase, at any time or in any manner, any wild bird or wild animal or the carcass or any part thereof, except as specifically permitted by law."29.1-521)

Penalties for Violation

  • "Any person who offers for sale, sells, offers to purchase, or purchases any wild bird or wild animal, or any part thereof, or any freshwater fish, except as provided by law, shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor." (§ 29.1-553)
  • "However, when the aggregate of such sales or purchases or any combination thereof, by any person totals $200 or more during any ninety-day period, that person shall be guilty of a Class 6 felony." (§ 29.1-553)

Examples of Circumstances Where Permitted By Law

  • NOTE: Other laws and/or regulations may apply. Consult the Code of Virginia, § 29.1, Chapter 5 and the Virginia Administrative Code for more information.
  • "… [A]ny American Indian, who produces verification that he is an enrolled member of a tribe recognized by the Commonwealth, another state, or the U.S. government, may possess, offer for sale or sell to another American Indian, or offer to purchase or purchase from another American Indian, parts of legally obtained furbearing animals, nonmigratory game birds, and game animals, except bear. Such legally obtained parts shall include antlers, hooves, feathers, claws, and bones." (§ 29.1-521)
    • "'Verification' … shall include, but is not limited to: (i) showing a valid tribal identification card, (ii) confirmation through a central tribal registry, (iii) a letter from a tribal chief of council, or (iv) certification from a tribal office that the person is an enrolled member of the tribe.
  • "… [A]ny nonprofit organization exempt from taxation under § 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code, which is (i) organized to provide wild game as food to the hungry and (ii) authorized by the Department to possess, transport, and distribute donated or unclaimed meat to the hungry, may pay a processing fee in order to obtain such meat. Such fees shall not exceed the actual cost for processing the meat."
  • The "bullfrog, green frog, southern leopard frog, and green tree frog" can only be bought for educational or research purposes if they are purchased from a permitted captive breeder in Virginia or from a properly permitted business out-of-state (4 VAC 15-360-50).
  • "When taken in accordance with the provisions of law or regulation, muskrat, opossum, rabbits, raccoon and squirrels may be bought and sold during the open hunting season only, but the hides, furs or pelts of fur-bearing animals legally taken and possessed, and the carcass of any fur-bearing animal may be sold at any time…" (§ 29.1-536)

Other Regulations & Guidelines Regarding Buying and Selling Wildlife

  • NOTE: Other laws and/or regulations may apply. Consult the Code of Virginia, § 29.1, Chapter 5 and the Virginia Administrative Code for more information.
  • Game fish are only sold under certain conditions, namely for the purpose of "stocking private waters" (such as a pond or lake), "for stocking public waters" (but only with approval from the DGIF), and "for human consumption" (4 VAC 15-320-40). This regulation is not intended to allow the sale of game fish for display in an aquarium. An individual may possess and display game fish in an aquarium provided that they hold a valid fishing license and provided that the fish were legally obtained by an individual possessing a valid fishing license.
  • Minnows, chubs, and hellgrammites can be purchased for any purpose provided they are purchased from a dealer who is authorized by the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries to collect, hold, and sell them (4 VAC 15-360-20; 4 VAC 15-360-30).
  • It is illegal to sell any species of crayfish live as bait or for personal use, except for personal consumption. (4 VAC 15-360-70).
  • The DGIF is now issuing permits to licensed pet stores and captive breeders for them to sell three species of captive-bred snakes (4 VAC 15-360-50): eastern kingsnake, mole kingsnake, and corn snake. No other snakes native to Virginia can be bought or sold in Virginia, and there are size limits as to what can be sold.
  • Except for permitted activities associated with snapping turtles, no other species of reptiles or amphibians native or naturalized to Virginia can be bought or sold (4 VAC 15-30-10).
  • No threatened or endangered species may be bought or sold for any purposes at any time, whether dead or alive, including their parts.
  • Because the Lacey Act restricts the interstate transport of birds and other animals, federal laws prohibit moving fish and wildlife into the state if they were illegally taken elsewhere. Therefore, if you make a wildlife purchase from an out-of-state supplier, the species must have been legally collected, propagated, and/or sold according to the laws of that state.