Domestic ferrets are just that – domestic pets. It’s been domesticated for thousands of years. Domestic ferrets are legal in 48 states, without issue. You never hear about feral ferrets running amuck or ferrets attacking people in the streets. Not hardly – I’m not sure what people think these animals are capable of, aside from play.
Interestingly, the state with likely the greatest ferret population is likely California. Yet, California is the only contiguous state which bans ferrets. The reason? I don’t know? Sadly,California public officials don’t seem to know either?
The contention is that ferrets may get out and reproduce, creating feral populations and impacting the environment in the process. There are several problems with this argument. For staters, nearly all (and I mean at least 99 percent) of pet ferrets are spay/neutered. Reproducing would be quite a trick. When ferrets get out, unlike domestic cats, they sadly are ill-equipped to hunt on their own. The California Fish & Game Commission (they’re the group blocking legalization) say they’re worried about ferrets hunting chickens. Thing is, that’s not happened in any other state. Outdoors on their own, ferrets are far more likely to become prey than to act as predators, if they don’t actually starve to death.
Ferrets are also particularly prone to environmental extremes, which may occur in some parts of California. Moreover, as mentioned, there isn’t a known population of feral domestic ferrets anywhere in America.
The truth is that in California the ferret ban continues to be a travesty, a waste of dollars when ferrets are confiscated. Don’t the California Fish & Game Commission and animal control officers have better things to do?
Efforts to legalize ferrets has originated with a non profit called Legalizeferrets.org but they’ve failed. Despite starring in a film with ferrets,Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (“Kindergarten Cop”) failed to act. Currently, Governor Jerry Brown says he has bigger fish to fry . Local legislators in the state are too intimidated to stand up to Fish and Game. Now, apparently assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez is willing to step up; I hope so.
To demonstrate that science is on their side, Legalizeferrets.org commissioned a study (Preliminary Environmental Impact Report on the subject from Sacramento State University). However, Fish and Game really doesn’t want to hear the facts.
I offered a solution – which seems to make sense – mandate all ferrets are spay/neutered (which as I said, they nearly are anyway), and mandate rabies vaccines.
California Fish and Game, meanwhile, offers no logic whatsoever as why they continue to block the legalization of pet ferrets. Should California finally legalize the small mammals (who, by the way are not rodents and therefore not related to rats – which are legal pets) lives will be saved, veterinarians (who sometimes treat ferrets anyway) will be free to do what they’ve taken an oath to do, and the state will save money.