In most circumstances, in order to hunt lawfully in the United States, you must get a hunting license from the state where the hunt takes place and meet the standards of the state fish and game department. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) enforces regulations regarding the importation of wildlife and animal products. These regulations are designed to prevent the spread of disease through imported animals and to protect American hunters from illegal imports. As part of its role, the USDA requires that all species be licensed in their native country before they can be hunted in the United States.
The federal government has not banned hunting entirely; rather, it has only restricted certain types of hunting. For example, the federal government prohibits hunting with lead ammunition or hunting certain protected species (e.g., African lions, Cuban crocodiles). It is your responsibility to know what type of hunting is prohibited by law where you live. If you violate these laws, not only could you face legal consequences, but so could any other hunters who follow the rules.
States regulate many aspects of hunting, including when and how far you may go in pursuit of game, whether you can use a cross-bow, air gun, or firearm, and even restrictions on where you can hunt. Some states also require you to have a hunting license if you want to take an animal.
Nongame species must be taken with a hunting license. There are no closed seasons, bag limitations, or possession limits, and they may be hunted on private land at any time using any legitimate means or tactics. Certain nongame animal species may be subject to restrictions, including possession limitations (see below).
Non-hunting individuals can help manage populations of some nongame species by controlling their access to food or habitat. However, because these animals are not raised for sport or sold at markets, there is no market mechanism to promote conservation. Without financial incentives, it is unlikely that many people will make a commitment to conserve these species.
The best way to protect endangered species is through legislation designating protected areas or banning certain activities within them. For example, Congress has banned the sale of ivory products to prevent further loss of elephant population.
State governments have the authority to protect endangered species within their borders. Some states have enacted laws prohibiting the possession of certain endangered animals as well as all forms of wildlife trafficking. Other states permit the taking of certain species if done in compliance with a lottery system designed to ensure that hunters don't take overhunted species before they become extinct.
Federal law protects several species of fish that are listed as endangered or threatened. These include the bald eagle, American alligator, Florida panther, and Hawaiian hoary skate. The Fish and Wildlife Service manages programs to save these species from extinction.
While hunting, a hunter must have personal picture identification (such as a driver's license) or a secondary form of positive identification. Hunting on private territory need written authorization. To hunt small game, you must have a hunting license (with exceptions). A small game hunting license is required for the taking of squirrels, white-tailed deer, and any other species included in the small game rule.
If you are not a citizen of the United States, you must have a valid foreign passport to purchase a hunting license. If you lose your passport, you will be unable to renew your license until it is replaced with another type of ID. Citizens of the United States who are not citizens of Canada or Mexico are eligible to buy small game licenses online at www.mdwildlife.org. Visitors from these countries who want to hunt small game in Maryland must purchase a general hunting license and a specific small game hunting license.
General hunting licenses are available online at no charge. You can also purchase them through a license agent. Small game hunting licenses cost $10 for residents and $25 for nonresidents. They are good for one year and may be purchased every year thereafter. There is no charge for purchasing a small game hunting license online or by telephone. The fee includes all costs associated with licensing, tagging, and monitoring wildlife taken during the season.
How Can I Obtain a State Hunting License?
It is illegal to hunt or trap wildlife unless you have a hunting or furtaker license. Aside from their license, sportsmen are obliged to carry extra cards or papers that must be provided to a police or landowner upon request to authenticate identification. These include driver's licenses, state ID cards, military IDs, and citizenship papers.
The only animals that cannot be hunted in Pennsylvania are those protected by law. This includes all species of deer, bear, elk, moose, turkey, and most other game and fish. It also includes some birds such as eagles, hawks, and owls. Licenses are required for all species of wildlife in Pennsylvania.
Hunting without a license is a criminal offense. First-time offenders can receive a citation, but more serious violations can result in charges of disorderly conduct, harassment, or unlawful possession of game.
License requirements vary depending on the species and activity desired. Hunters under 18 years old can usually obtain a special permit from their local district office. Those who are 17 or older can apply online at www.conservationdistricts.com. Permit holders must show an ID matching the age listed on the permit to prove their identity before being issued a license.