Dedicated to making the world a
better place one squirrel at a time
Both Washington and Oregon have protections in place limiting what the public can do with wildlife. It is illegal in both Washington & Oregon to keep wildlife unless you hold special permits. The penalties for being found to break these laws are steep! Permits are usually restricted to zoos, research facilities, educational institutions, and wildlife rehabilitators. In neither state is it legal for a member of the public to keep a squirrel as a pet unless,1) purchased through legal means with documented proof that the animal has been inspected, imported and sold through legal channels or 2) granted special dispensation or permitting through written approval from the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
In both states, it is unlawful to relocate squirrels from the property where it was trapped to anywhere in the state without a permit or written approval from the Department of Fish and Wildlife. In Oregon, pest and animal control operators must euthanize wildlife that must be removed from the property (ie. attic, crawl space, etc.).
Transporting wildlife between Washington and Oregon is banned with the exception
of migratory birds protected under the Migratory Bird Act (reference the Protected
Bird link for a complete list of birds). These may be taken from Washington into
Oregon for the purpose of surrender to a licensed rehabilitation facility with a
permit to rehabilitate federally protected migratory birds. The intake facility
will usually complete the necessary import paperwork. This is a vital service that
these facilities provide completely voluntarily and without compensation for residents
for Clark County. Without their voluntary acceptance of these birds, they would need
to be transported by the finder over a hundred miles away to the nearest Washington
rehabilitor with a Federal Migratory Bird permit -
In Washington, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator may keep squirrels for the purpose of rehabilitation for up to six months. The Western Gray Squirrel is classified as a threatened species and cannot be hunted, trapped, or killed. The Douglas squirrel (Tamiasciurus douglasii) and Northern flying squirrel (Glaugomys sabrinus) are protected species and can only be trapped or killed under special conditions where damage to property or domestic animals is at issue. Special permits must be obtained in advance.
Other squirrel species protected under Washington law include: the least chipmunk
(Tamius minimus), yellow-
Washington does allow the sale of some species of ground squirrel, such as Prairie Dogs, in pet stores as exotic pets. Always ask for and verify breeder information when selecting a pet to ensure the animal came from a legitimate captive breeding program and is legal
for you to own. Never support the sale of wild caught squirrels such as communal ground squirrels and prairie dogs which rarely
breed in captivity. These rely on their communities for normal mental development and will go insane when torn from their
communities as babies and sold into a life of solo confinement. Please don’t support the inhumane business practice of
abducting baby wildlife for sale in the exotic pet industry!
It is illegal to keep squirrels in Oregon with the exception of those permitted under
It is illegal to transport into the state or own Prairie Dogs in Oregon.
No. Squirrel Refuge is licensed by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. This licensure ensures that we follow the laws related to how we manage wildlife in our care. This does not convey any legal powers of enforcement. Only a police or wildlife officer may legally confiscate wildlife. We are a public service with the fundamental dictate to first and foremost ensure qualified care is provided to injured and orphaned wildlife and to assist the public in helping them to make informed decisions in the best interest of public safety and wildlife care.
Oregon requires that all species designated as ‘non-
For Squirrels, this generally covers most found in urban settings; as well as, little
eastern cottontails and opossums. If you take wildlife to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator
or center and they inform you that the animal is non-
It is important to note, many Oregon wildlife centers and the rehabilitators that
do this work at great sacrifice do not relish this policy and do it under the enforcement
and duress of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife or lose their license to
help any wildlife at all. They make an understandable choice, so please do not be
disrespectful of their position. Instead work to educate and to change laws that
are harmful to both native and non-
When euthanasia is the right thing. If the animal is mortally wounded, in extreme
uncontrollable and long term pain, or has a severe injury (such as a broken back),
then bringing the animal to a veterinarian, humane society or wildlife resource for
euthanasia is the humane thing to do -
Never euthanize a federal or state threatened or endangered species without first contacting your local state fish and wildlife authority. Severe federal and state penalties may apply. Washington state and federal species list
Legal status, wildlife holding and trapping restrictions; as well as, other information related to the treatment of native squirrels are subject to change, information should be verified through your local Departments of Fish and Wildlife or Conservation organization.