Michigan Large Carnivore Breeding License

The law allowing the licensure of large carnivore breeding takes effect March 28, 2019.

Michigan Large Carnivore Breeding License Details & FAQ

A large carnivore is any of the following “big” cats, regardless if wild or captive or if a hybrid: lion, tiger, cheetah, leopard, jaguar, panther, or a cougar. A bear is also considered a large carnivore. Possession of large carnivores is illegal in Michigan except under special exemptions.

MDARD issues no more than ten Large Carnivore Breeding Licenses per calendar year. Licenses are issued to approved applicants in the order they are received. Each license allows the licensee the ability to breed two specific large carnivores together.

 

Who is eligible for a Large Carnivore Breeding License?

You are eligible for a large carnivore breeding license if you meet the following criteria:

  • Reside in Michigan.
  • Be a business whose primary purpose is presenting animals to the public for education or exhibition.
  • Possess and maintain a Class C license with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • In the past five years, has not had the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) confiscate an animal; or issue a finally determined direct or critical noncompliance or civil penalty (including a cease and desist order, monetary penalty, license suspension, or license revocation)
  • Not sell large carnivores, except to another entity also meeting all criteria.
  • Not allow the public direct contact with large carnivores.

 

How do I apply for a Large Carnivore Breeding License?

The application is a two part process.

First, complete an application form for a large carnivore breeding license and mail the completed form with a check or money order for $2,500 payable to State of Michigan to the below address.

The application fee is not refundable. Please make/save a copy of your completed application as it needs to be part of the documents package you will submit to the Exotic Program in the Second part of the application process.   

Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development

Animal Industry Division

 P.O. Box 30776

Lansing, MI 48909-8276.

Second, email your documents package in a single submission to Mdard-LargeCarnivore@michigan.gov. Your documents package must contain: a copy of your completed license application, your completed Document and Requirements Checklist, and all required documents for your application to be considered complete. The file size of your documents package must be less than 27MB. 

If you have questions or concerns regarding the submission process, contact the Exotic program at Mdard-LargeCarnivore@michigan.gov.

 

How long does it take to process my application?

The process may take up to 90 days from the date all required application items are received.

Once all required items are received by MDARD, an application is forwarded to the Michigan Large Carnivore Breeding Advisory Committee. The Michigan Large Carnivore Breeding Advisory Committee includes the State Veterinarian, a private zoo representative, and a public zoo representative. The committee reviews the application and provides recommendations to MDARD concerning the application request. MDARD issues a license based on the committee’s feedback.

You can expedite the processing of your application by ensuring your application is complete, includes the correct fee, and contains the required documents. As a reminder, only a maximum of ten breeding licenses can be issued per calendar year. Licenses are issued to approved applicants in the order they are received. The Committee reviews applications based on preset criteria and includes a ranking system which would be used in the event completed applications are received the same day.

 

Processing may take considerably longer if your application is incomplete for any of the following reasons:

  • If the application is received without the required application fee - a letter and a copy of the application form will be returned to the sender. The application will not be processed until the form has been returned with the correct fee.
  • If portions of the application form are left blank, a letter and a copy of the application form will be returned to the sender with the blank fields marked. The application will not be processed until the form has been completed in its entirety and returned.
  • If payment is received without an application form. An application form is required to be submitted with the fee. MDARD collects fees for many different types of licenses and fees. Without the application, MDARD will not know who is submitting the money or why. 
  • If any of the required documents are not provided, a letter will be sent to the applicant identifying which required documents have not yet be received. The application will not be processed until all the required documents have been received.

 

How long is a Large Carnivore Breeding License valid for?

A breeding license is valid for three years from the date issued. The license allows the licensee to breed the animals specified on the license anytime during the three-year period. If a business wishes to continue to breed the pair again in the future, they will need to reapply for a new breeding license.

 

How does a licensee change the breeding pair identified on the license?

To modify one of breeding animals, you must complete and submit a Large Carnivore License Amendment form. The amended license form must identify the breeding license number you wish to amend, which animal is to be removed from the license, which animal is to be added to the license, and the reason for the change.

You may only modify one of the large carnivores originally licensed under the breeding license. If you wish to change both large carnivores, you will need to apply for a new license for that breeding pair. 

No additional fee or documents will be required provided the license has not expired. The amended application may be either mailed to:  Michigan Department of Agriculture & Rural Development, Central Licensing Unit, 1615 S Harrison Road, East Lansing, MI  48823, or faxed to 517-284-0458.

 

I submitted an application, but have not yet received a license, can I breed large carnivores?

Unless you meet the requirements for an exemption to breed black bears (see below), you cannot breed large carnivores unless you have received license to breed that specific pair or animals.

 

Is there an exemption allowing the breeding of black bears without obtaining a license?

Yes, there is an exemption to the large carnivore license for businesses that allow the public to have direct contact with bears (provided the business/acquired business possessed a bear on March 26, 2013) that are less than 36 weeks old or weighs 90 pounds or less, if they meet the following requirements:

  • Reside in Michigan.
  • Be a business whose primary purpose is presenting animals to the public for education or exhibition.
  • Possess and maintain a Class C license with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • In the past five years, has not had the USDA confiscate an animal; or issue a finally determined direct or critical noncompliance or civil penalty (including a cease and desist order, monetary penalty, license suspension, or license revocation)
  • Does not breed more than four female black bears per year.
  • Does not transfer large carnivores to an entity that is not qualified or capable of safely housing or ensuring the well-being of the large carnivore as determined by MDARD. An entity residing in the State of Michigan and currently possessing a USDA Class C license is considered qualified or capable by MDARD provided they can legally possess large carnivores.
  • Does not transfer a large carnivore to an entity that allows the hunting of large carnivores.
  • Does not transfer a large carnivore to an animal auction or entity intending to display or sell a large carnivore at an animal auction.
  • Does not raise large carnivores for food, fur, pelts, body parts, organs, or bodily fluids or transfers a large carnivore to an entity that does.
  • Does not perform disfiguring procedures (e.g. declawing, canine tooth removal) unless deemed medically necessary be a licensed veterinarian.

If a business meets all the above criteria, MDARD advises they maintain documentation to show they meet these requirements including USDA, acquisition, disposition, veterinary, and breeding records.

 

How do I file a complaint against a business breeding large carnivores?

If you are concerned a business is breeding large carnivores without a valid license or otherwise is not in compliance with the requirements to breed, you may file a complaint online. Please include the name and location of the business, as well as details related to the violation you believe was or is currently being violated. 

If you have other concerns related to a person in possession of large carnivores, you are advised to contact local law enforcement (animal control, sheriff, police) where the business is located. For more information regarding animal control agencies in Michigan, please see:  www.maacoweb.com/

If you believe a person in possession of large carnivores may be in violation of federal exhibition requirements, you are advised to contact the UDSA at 919-855-7100.

 

If you have further questions or concerns, contact MDARD at 800-292-3939.

 

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