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Captive Game Bird and Waterfowl Frequently Asked Questions

I am having problems with waterfowl on my property.

If you’re having problems with waterfowl, such as coots, ducks, and geese, please see our section on Depredation.


I am interested in keeping captive-bred Waterfowl

What species are considered Waterfowl?

Any birds from the family Anatidae, including swans, geese, and ducks.

Can I take waterfowl from the wild?


Do I need a permit to keep captive-reared waterfowl?

NO.  Anybody can lawfully keep and transport captive-reared waterfowl (alive or dead, including eggs) without a permit as long as:
1) Birds are lawfully acquired from someone with a valid Waterfowl Sale and Disposal permit
2) All birds, including progeny, are physically marked
3) Birds are only disposed of by someone with a valid Waterfowl Sale and Disposal permit
4) Birds are disposed of by means other than shooting, unless allowed by stated hunting regulations
5) A copy of the original Form 3-186 Notice of Waterfowl Sale or Transfer is kept with the waterfowl, including the method(s) by which individuals are marked

Do I need a permit to sell or dispose of captive-reared waterfowl?

Yes.  You need a Waterfowl Sale and Disposal Permit.


I am interested in keeping Game Birds

What species are considered Game Birds?


Common Name


Common snipe and American woodcock


Band-tailed pigeon, Bridled quail-dove, Common ground-dove, Inca dove, Key West quail dove, Mourning dove, Plain pigeon, Red-billed pigeon, Ruddy ground-dove, Ruddy quail-dove, Scaly-naped pigeon, White-crowned pigeon, White-tipped dove, White-winged dove, Zenaida dove


Sandhill crane (except Mississippi subspecies)


Clapper rail, King rail, Virginia rail, Sora, Purple gallinule, American coot and Common moorhen

Can I take game birds from the wild?


Do I need a permit to have captive-reared game birds?

Yes.  If you wish to do anything with Game Birds, you need a Special Purpose - Game Bird Permit.


What is the Application Process?

What permit types are available?

For waterfowl there is a Waterfowl Sale and Disposal permit.  For game birds there is a Special Purpose – Game Bird permit.

How do I apply?

  • Submit a complete application.  Please use the check sheet to ensure your application is complete, including fees.
  • A Permit Biologist will review your application.  Applications are reviewed in the order received.  Most applications are reviewed within 90 days.  A Permit Biologist will contact you if further information is needed regarding your application.
  • A paper copy of your permit will be mailed to you.

What is the fee?

Waterfowl Sale and Disposal - $75 (no amendment fee)
Special Purpose - Game Bird  - $75 (no amendment fee)

What else do I need?

  • Most states require a STATE PERMIT
  • You will need to submit annual reports each year to keep you permit in good standing.  Permits cannot be renewed if all annual reports are not on file.


Permit Details

How long is the permit good for?

Waterfowl Sale and Disposal permits are good for 5 years.  Special Purpose Game Bird permits are good for 3 years.

How do I submit an annual report?

Annual reports are needed for each year your permit is valid, EVEN IF YOU HAVE NO ACTIVITY DURING THE YEAR.  Waterfowl Sale and Disposal Annual Report and Special Purpose - Game Bird Annual Report forms are available online but will be mailed to you as well.

How do I renew my permit?

A renewal letter will be sent to you informing you that your permit will expire soon.  If you do not receive this letter or want to renew prior to receiving the letter, you may submit a general renewal form.

I’ve applied for a renewal, but haven’t received anything and my permit has expired.

If you’ve submitted a renewal application prior to the expiration of your permit, you are authorized to continue the permitted activities.  Please keep a copy of your renewal letter and renewal application with your permit.  We will process your renewal as quickly as possible.

I need to change something on my permit.

You may amend your permit at any time.  Please submit a written request for the amendment and any supporting documentation.  Follow the application check list and submit any information relevant to the change requested.


Waterfowl and Game Birds

How do I mark Waterfowl and Game Birds

All captive waterfowl and game birds (including progeny) must be marked prior to 6 weeks of age.
1) Removal of the hind toe on the right foot
2) Pinioning of a wing by removing a portion of the metacarpal bones of one wing 
3) Banding one metatarsus with a seamless metal band
4) A clearly tattooed number, letter, or combination on the web of one foot

How do I transfer birds to another person?

Complete and submit a Form 3-186 Notice of Waterfowl Sale or Transfer.  For Waterfowl, only the seller needs a Waterfowl Sale and Disposal permit.  For Game Birds, both the seller and the buyer need a Special Purpose - Game Bird permit.

Nene Geese

Nene Geese are an endangered species protected under the Endangered Species Act as well as the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.  If you are transferring Nene Geese between states, you will need an Interstate Commerce permit.  This is necessary for live or dead geese.  A permit can be obtained by applying to Region 1 Ecological Services (503-231-2071 or

If you are interested in exporting or importing Nene Geese from another country, you will need a permit from the Division of Management Authority (703-358-2104 or 1-800-358-2104)


Last Updated: March 17, 2015
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