15 Surprising Animal Laws That Are Still on the Books
Things can get wild when humans interact with animals, which could explain why some places around the country still have wacky, animal-related laws on the books. Here are a few animal interactions you'll be surprised to hear are allowed—and a few you probably won't be shocked to learn are off-limits.
1. NO BEAR-WRESTLING (OKLAHOMA)
It should go unsaid that things won’t end well when one wrestles a bear—but the state of Oklahoma decided otherwise. Effective May 1996, anyone promoting, engaging in or employed at a bear-wrestling event can spend up to year in jail.
2. NO PIGS ALLOWED (MIAMI BEACH)
Leave the pig pals at home if you're headed to the beach. The city of Miami Beach, where the infamous South Beach is located, prohibits the possession, control, management or custody of swine.
3. NO ANIMAL GIVEAWAYS (ATHENS-CLARKE COUNTY, GEORGIA)
Don’t expect to win a goldfish, cute puppy, or cuddly cat at Thursday night’s Bingo tournament. An ordinance in one Georgia county forbids citizens to “give away any live animal, fish, reptile or bird as a prize for, or as an inducement to enter, any contest, game, or other competition …”
4. NO CATCHING FISH WITH YOUR BARE HANDS (INDIANA)
Gear up if you're heading out on a fishing trip in Indiana. In addition to prohibiting the capture of fish by electric current, dynamite, or a firearm, the state's fishing regulations forbid catching fish by "hands alone." But if it's noodling or nothing for you, head to one of at least a dozen states where it is legal, including Arkansas, Illinois, Kansas, and Oklahoma.
5. DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE ... YOUR HORSE (COLORADO)
In Colorado, horses are considered vehicles, meaning, “Every person riding or leading an animal or driving any animal-drawn conveyance upon a roadway shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this article," according to the state's regulations. Those duties include not riding under the influence. While the penalty isn't as severe as a DUI conviction (there's no jail time involved), it is still considered a traffic infraction with fines up to $100.
6. NO TATTOOING PETS (NEW YORK)
You may feel like your pet is an extension of you, but that doesn't mean they can share your body art. At least not in New York, where the governor signed a law banning pet tattoos and piercings in 2014. Support grew for this law after a Brooklyn artist tatted a dog who was still under anesthesia from surgery. Penalties include up to 15 days in jail and up to $250 in fines.
7. DON'T GIVE MOOSE A SANDWICH (ALASKA)
They take moose very seriously in the frosty state and there are plenty of existing laws to prove it. Some of the more famous laws like the ones stating that citizens aren't allowed to push moose out of planes, view them from planes, or give them a brew, are either myths or have been repealed. Still, plenty are still on the books, including that is illegal to feed moose anything.
8. YOU CAN PUT ON A FROG-JUMPING CONTEST, BUT IF THE FROGS DIE, YOU CAN'T EAT THEM (CALIFORNIA)
If you're in the Golden State, go ahead and put on the frog-jumping contest of your dreams, but if things go south and one of your amphibious contestants dies in the process, don't add them to the dinner menu. California Fish and Game code states that "Any person may possess any number of live frogs to use in frog-jumping contests, but if such a frog dies or is killed, it must be destroyed as soon as possible, and may not be eaten or otherwise used for any purpose."
9. COLLECTING CERTAIN ROADKILL IS OK (MONTANA)
If you’re looking to round up some roadkill for dinner or your prized collection, it’s OK to do so in Montana. The 2013 Legislature passed the bill, but requires salvage permits for anyone scooping up any deer, elk, moose, or antelope killed by cars. Just make sure you take the whole thing. The permits require that you collect all of the animal remains, leaving nothing behind. And if you hit another animal like a sheep or a bear, you'll have to walk away. The permits only apply to some animals.
10. DON'T BRING YOUR SKUNKS INTO THE STATE (TENNESSEE)
These smelly animals cannot cross state lines into the great state of Tennessee, according to lawmakers. “It is unlawful for any person to import, possess, or cause to be imported into this state any type of live skunk, or to sell, barter, exchange or otherwise transfer any live skunk…”
11. DON'T SCARE THE HORSES (SOUTH CAROLINA)
Railroad companies can get in big trouble in South Carolina for scaring horses while removing hand or lever cars from the tracks: “Any railroad company shall be liable for damages for any horse frightened as a result of the violation…”
12. NO DOGS IN THE BACK OF A PICKUP (ANCHORAGE, ALASKA)
It can get awfully cold on the back of a pickup in Alaska. That’s why in Anchorage, officials prohibit the “transport [of] any animal in the back of a vehicle in a space intended for any load on the vehicle on a street unless the space is enclosed or has side and tail walls…”
13. NO DYEING CHICKENS (AKRON, OHIO)
They only like natural chickens in Akron. The city banned the dyeing of any rabbit or baby poultry, such as chicks and ducklings. Also, no person should sell or give away any dyed rabbits or baby poultry. Dyed moose, on the other hand, seem to be legal.
14. IT'S OKAY TO SCARE BIRDS AWAY FROM YOUR SUNFLOWERS WITH FIREWORKS (SOUTH DAKOTA)
Consumer fireworks are banned in three states and heavily regulated in a dozen others, but it's okay to light them up in South Dakota, as long as you're protecting your sunflowers. According to a South Dakota codified law, "Any agricultural producer may purchase and use explosives, pyrotechnics, or fireworks for the protection of sunflower crops from depredating birds in accordance with rules promulgated pursuant to § 34-36-8."
15. NO HUNTING RACCOONS AT 2:01 A.M. ON A SUNDAY (VIRGINIA)
In Virginia, it is illegal to hunt on a Sunday, except for raccoons, which can be hunted until 2 AM. The current law is actually an improvement for raccoons—the old wording said “Sunday [is] hereby declared a rest day for all species of wild bird and wild animal life, except raccoons.”