Remove or "Take" Nuisance Animals Legally
Identify If You Need a Permit or License
This page is intended to help you identify whether a permit is required to legally "take" an animal that is causing a nuisance, damaging your property or threatening your safety. "Take" or "taking" means to pursue, shoot, hunt, kill, capture, trap, snare or net wildlife and game-or perform acts that disturb or worry wildlife. Taking an animal is only suggested if other best practices do not help alleviate the problem.
Taking During Recreational Sporting Seasons
Relocating an Animal
It is illegal for you to move or relocate an animal off your property. You cannot live trap an animal and release it in a park, on State land or anywhere other than on the property where it was captured. If you need a wild animal removed from your property, contact a Wildlife Control Operator. Relocating an animal can create problems for neighbors, can move diseases like rabies or ticks and can cause unnecessary stress to the animal, so this task must be handled by a licensed professional.
Use the Tables Below to Identify if You Need a Permit
- For a DEC Permit - Contact a regional DEC Wildlife Office. DEC may deny a permit if the nuisance, destruction of property or threat to public health and welfare will not be effectively abated by taking the animal.
- For a Federal Permit- Contact the US Fish Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Program (External link) at 413-253-8643 or by email permitsR5MB@fws.gov
|Animal||Take if a Nuisance||Take if Damaging Property||Take if Threatening Public Safety|
|Bats||Please contact a DEC Wildlife Office or a NWCO when dealing with bats. Some bat species are protected and require experts to identify them. For some helpful tips on safely removing a bat from your home, visit the little brown bat webpage|
(More information on handling beaver conflicts)
|DEC permit needed - refer to note 3||DEC permit needed - refer to note 3||n/a|
(More information on handling bear conflicts)
|DEC permit needed||If destroying livestock or an apiary, no permit is necessary to take a black bear; however, you must promptly notify the nearest Environmental Conservation Officer (ECO) to make arrangements for delivering the carcass (find an ECO near you). Also, DEC may issue a permit for a landowner to take if there is proof that the bear is causing property damage||DEC may issue a permit for a landowner to take if there is proof that the bear is threatening public welfare or safety.|
|Bobcat||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
(More information on handling coyote conflicts)
|DEC permit needed||Yes||DEC may issue a permit for a landowner to take if there is proof that the coyote is threatening public welfare or safety|
|Deer||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
(More information on handling wild hog conflicts)
|Please contact a local DEC Wildlife Office|
|Fisher||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
Red Fox and Gray Fox
|DEC permit needed||Yes||n/a|
|Hare - Snowshoe/Varying||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to notes 1 and 2||n/a|
|Marten||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
|Mink||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
|Muskrat||Yes, refer to note 2||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
|Opossum||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
|Otter, River||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||n/a|
|Rabbit - Cottontail||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to notes 1 and 2||n/a|
|Raccoon||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
(except Allegheny woodrat)
|Skunk||Yes, refer to note 2||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
|Squirrels - Gray, Black, and Fox||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
|Squirrels - Red and Flying||Yes||Yes||n/a|
|Weasels||DEC permit needed||Yes, refer to note 2||n/a|
|Animal||Take if Only a Nuisance||Take if Damaging Property|
|Blackbird, Red-winged||No||If destroying crops, may be taken without a permit during June - October, for all other damage refer to note 4|
(More information on handling Canada goose conflicts)
|Federal permit needed||Federal permit or DEC authorization needed, refer to note 5|
(More information on handling cormorant conflicts)
|No||Federal permit needed|
|Cowbirds||No||If destroying crops, may be taken without a permit during June - October, for all other damage refer to note 4|
|Crow||No||If destroying crops, may be taken without a permit, for all other damage refer to note 4|
|Ducks||Federal permit needed||Federal permit needed|
|Grackle||No||If destroying crops, may be taken without a permit during June - October, for all other damage refer to note 4|
|Great Blue Heron||Federal permit Needed||Federal permit Needed|
(More information on handling gull conflicts)
|Federal permit needed||Federal permit needed|
|House (English) sparrow||Yes||Yes|
|Pigeon without leg band||Yes||Yes|
|Pigeon with leg band||No||No|
|Snow goose||Federal permit needed||Federal permit needed|
|Mute swans||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed|
|Turkey||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed|
|Woodpecker||Federal permit needed||Federal permit needed|
|Animal||Take Anytime||Take if Only a Nuisance||Take if Damaging Property||Take Under Special Circumstances|
|Snakes||No||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||Contact a local DEC Wildlife Office|
|Turtles||No||DEC permit needed||DEC permit needed||Contact a local DEC Wildlife Office|
The following notes apply to specific areas in the tables above.
- Note 1 - May not use ferrets, fitch-ferrets, or fitch to take
- Note 2 - If taking during the closed hunting or trapping season, the animal must be buried or cremated immediately
- Note 3 - Contact your nearest Regional Wildlife Office. Permits to remove beaver can only be issued to the landowner of the property on which the beaver control activities will take place. Permits to remove beaver dams can be issued to anyone but do not authorize trespass and require permission from the landowner on which the dam is located. Depending on the location, you may be required to obtain other permits as well. Wildlife staff will advise you on what additional permits, if any, are necessary. When contacting the Department, you will need to provide your name, address, phone number(s), e-mail address (if available), and the location of the beaver problem(s).
- Note 4 - Blackbirds, cowbirds, crows, and grackles may be taken when they cause serious injuries to agricultural or horticultural crops, when they cause a health hazard or structural damage, or to protect state or federally threatened or endangered species. Each calendar year, the person experiencing damage must attempt to control these species using nonlethal methods such as neeting and flagging or other deterrents. For more information, please visit the United States Fish and Wildlife Service electronic Code of Federal Regulations (leaving DEC website).
- Note 5 - Under certain circumstances, property owners are allowed to remove Canada geese during specific time periods. Please contact your nearest Regional Wildlife Office or visit the Nuisance Canada geese page for more information.
- Nuisance Wildlife - A wild animal that may cause property damage, is perceived as a threat to human health or safety, or is persistent and perceived as an annoyance. Examples include a skunk or fox living under the porch or shed. If an animal is not causing any concern, for example, it is simply passing by, is observed only once or twice and does not cause any harm, then it should not be considered a nuisance.
- Damaging Wildlife - A wild animal that damages property, for example, digs up your yard, eats your landscape plants or vegetable garden, kills or threatens your livestock or pets, fouls your lawn, eats the fish in your pond, damages your home, etc.
If you are unsure of whether an animal is a "nuisance" or "damaging" in any circumstance, please contact your local DEC Wildlife Office
Visit DEC's main Nuisance Species webpage with information and links to multiple helpful resources.