Is it Legal to Own an Owl in Connecticut? The Answer is a Bit Surprising
It's an odd question, I know.
Recently, I was speaking with my colleague Large Dave about an absurd but real life scenario. Dave informed me that this time last year, he and his family were attacked by an owl.
I didn't even know this was a possibility but he says it's true. He, his wife and his dog were traveling through CT in their Subaru and he saw the owl coming with his peripheral vision. The moment of impact was startling for all of the people in the vehicle and when he checked, the owl had left a massive dent in his car and disappeared.
Just as I was thinking that is a once-in-a-lifetime long-odds situation, we received a text message from "trashman" in Brewster who wrote:
"I know just how you feel Dave, I hit an owl this past summer with my CRV. It hit the passenger side, top corner and completely shattered the windshield and ripped off my antenna right out of the fende...I know just how you feel Dave, I hit an owl this past summer with my CRV. It hit the passenger side, top corner and completely shattered the windshield and ripped off my antenna right out of the fender. And I never found a body."
This was followed up by a text from our wildlife correspondent Jen the Zookeeper who wrote:
"Birds of prey (hawks, eagles, owls, and Falcons.) are my specialty! I’ll just say this about your owls hitting windshield comment: birds of prey eyesight is so acute, but they cannot see glass/windows. So when an owl is about to cross the road, it does not see a windshield, it sees the blue sky past the windshield and thinks it can write fly right through it. That’s why there’s so many collisions on roads with birds of prey. And Dave mentioned talons… Great Horned Owls can exert up to 750 psi at the tips of their talons. To put that into perspective, a healthy 20 year old human male has a grip strength of around 125 psi. They use their powerful talons to capture prey including their very favorite food, skunks."
Holy hell, not only is this not a one-off, but there is a reason why, they cannot see glass!? After telling the story, we wondered aloud if a person could own an owl as a pet?
As far-fetched as that sounds, it is legal to own an owl in some states, like:
You'll notice that CT is NOT on that list, according to laws101.com Connecticut is one of a handful of states where keeping an owl is outlawed. There are other states where you can get an owl but there are some legal hoops to jump through. For instance in Idaho, they say "as long as you can prove that your pet owl will not be a threat to agriculture, livestock, and the environment, you can apply for a permit to keep the bird as a pet."
When I set out to see if you could own an owl in CT, I was certain the answer would come back absolutely not. I also figured that I'd read there is absolutely no place in the U.S. where you could but we have some states in this country that are "different."