Information Concerning Captive-Raised Waterfowl in Florida
Because most species of ducks, geese, and swans are considered wildlife, their acquisition, possession, keeping, selling, etc. are regulated by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Florida law (F.A.C. 68A-4.005) requires that you keep captive-reared waterfowl (either exotic or native species) on your property and not release them into wild situations, because they are potential carriers of disease to wild waterfowl. To acquire and possess waterfowl, Florida Statute 372.16 requires you to have a game farm permit ($50). This license covers the protection, preservation, propagation, rearing, and production of game birds and game mammals for private and commercial purposes. You can apply for one of these online at our permit page or by contacting the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission regional office nearest you.
Most waterfowl species, other than Pekin ducks, are protected by federal law under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. No federal permits are needed to buy or keep captive-reared waterfowl, but the protected species and any of their resulting offspring must be properly marked as captive reared (50 CFR 21.13 and 50 CFR 21.14). Proper marking consists of at least one of the following: removal of right hind toe; pinioning; banding with a seamless, metal leg band; or tattooing the web of the foot. Federal law (50 CFR 21.14) also requires you to obtain a copy of Form 3-186, Notice of Waterfowl Sale or Transfer, from the person from whom you are buying the federally protected species. You should keep this form on file as long as you possess the birds or their eggs or offspring.
If you sell federally protected waterfowl species (other than mallards) or their offspring, you need a federal Waterfowl Sale and Disposal Permit (50 CFR 21.25). You also need to provide completed copies of federal Form 3-186, Notice of Waterfowl Sale or Transfer, to anyone who buys birds from you. To get an application for the federal permit and Forms 3-186, visit the US Fish and Wildlife website or contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's regional office in Atlanta, 404-679-7049.
Any species of domestic or captive-reared waterfowl can transmit disease to wild waterfowl. All confirmed outbreaks of DVE, also known as duck plague (a sometimes-devastating viral infection), in wild waterfowl have been linked to domestic or captive-raised waterfowl. Fowl cholera is another serious disease that is transmittable between domestic and wild waterfowl. Although we have had no major outbreaks reported yet in Florida, the potential for captive-reared or domestic waterfowl to spread disease to wild waterfowl remains a biological concern. We consider domestic or captive-reared waterfowl to be undesirable in the wild because of their potential to transmit disease and because of the potential (in the case of mallards) to interbreed with Florida's native waterfowl. Therefore, relocating or releasing captive-reared or domestic waterfowl into a wild situation is not legitimate or appropriate. Captive-reared waterfowl should remain confined to the owner's property, where the birds do not come into contact with wild waterfowl.
You can find a listing of businesses selling waterfowl and other game birds at the North American Game Bird Association website.