Are Wolf Hybrids Legal Pets in Missouri?
Ryan Bradley | May 5, 2023 | Missouri Law
While not a mainstream pet, there is a sizable portion of the population that enjoys owning and raising wolf hybrids, or wolfdogs. The Atlantic reports that some owners enjoy keeping these creatures because of their beauty, while others seek the challenge of keeping an animal that is even a part wild.
Legally owning a wolf hybrid is regulated by both state and federal laws, and people who want to own a wolfdog must be prepared to comply with both authorities. Depending on what state you live in, your local municipality or county may also have enacted restrictions on the ownership of wolf hybrids.
In Missouri, there are a number of laws regarding wolf hybrids.
Wolf Hybrids Include Dogs With Any Amount of Wolf Blood in Missouri
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service defines a wolf hybrid as any domestic dog that also has at least some amount of wolf blood. Many states, including Missouri, similarly define wolf hybrids by their genetic composition and not by any physical features.
The Missouri Department of Conservation identifies a wolf hybrid as any dog that has at least some amount of Canis lupus DNA in its genetic makeup. Any amount, no matter how small, qualifies the animal to be considered a wolfdog.
Moreover, the state’s definition is expansive and includes domestic dogs that are the result of the crossbreeding of dogs with wolves, coyotes, and dogs that have Canis blood in their ancestry.
While there may be some consistency in defining what is a wolf hybrid, the same consistency doesn’t apply to how they should be regarded. The federal government, for example, does not consider wolfdogs to be wildlife, while the State of Missouri does consider these animals to be wildlife and subject to regulations.
The Legality of Owning a Wolfdog in Missouri
Missouri does permit people to own wolfdogs in the state, but such ownership is subject to restrictions. These restrictions are meant to help assure public officials and the community at large that you are capable of properly caring for your wolfdog and that the community is safe from the animal.
For example, regulations from the Missouri Department of Conservation describe the type of enclosure that a wolfdog must be contained within. The fencing needs to be at least nine gauge and of a specified height — eight feet tall with a three-foot lean-in. The total square footage of the enclosure should be at least 200 square feet.
In addition, some local communities, such as Cole County, require owners of exotic animals to register their animals with local authorities. This helps the community know where potential dangers lie and who the owner of these animals are in the event of an escape or attack.
If you are looking to own a wolfdog in Missouri, you must comply with both state regulations as well as your local community’s ordinances. Failing to do so can result in the confiscation and forfeiture of your wolfdog.
Safely Owning a Wolfdog in Missouri
While owning a wolfdog is permitted in Missouri, unlike some other states, Missouri does regulate your ownership of this animal. For instance, you will need to obtain a permit and have a suitable enclosure available in order to legally keep your wolf hybrid.
Not following these regulations can also put your community and neighbors at risk if the animal were to escape or attack a visitor. By following local, state, and federal regulations for wolf hybrid ownership, you can keep your community safe and ensure you continue to enjoy the companionship of your wolfdog.
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