Madison Area Herpetological Society

Wisconsin Native Herptile Regulations

5/1/17 Update: 4/20/2017: Chapter NR 16 – 2017-04-20 Revisions to the WI Native Amphibian and Reptile Regulations have been published in the Administrative Code and Register. These are largely housekeeping changes designed to reflect current taxonomy and statuses of species in Wisconsin. Further updates will be provided when available. 

169.12. Sale and purchase of native wild reptiles and wild amphibians

NR 16.12Reptiles and amphibians.

(1)  Applicability. This section applies to the collection, possession and exhibition of live or dead native wild reptiles and live or dead native wild amphibians in Wisconsin.

(2) Possession restricted. No person may take from the wild or possess any live or dead native amphibians or reptiles or their eggs, except as provided under sub. (3) and s. NR 19.26, or turtles taken under the authority of ss. NR 19.27521.13 and 22.13.

(3) Possession exemptions for native amphibians and reptiles.

(a) Endangered and threatened species. Endangered and threatened amphibians and reptiles may only be possessed as provided under s. 29.604 (6), Stats.

(b) Possession exemptions and additional restrictions.

1. A person may take or possess up to 5 individuals or eggs of each species of native amphibian, lizard and snake that are not endangered or threatened, except as provided under subds. 2. to 11.

2. No person may take or possess gophersnakes of the species Pituophis catenifer, North American racers of the species Coluber constrictor or gray ratsnakes of the species Pantherophis spiloides taken from within the borders of the state. Persons may possess up to 2 of each of these species if legally obtained from out-of-state.

3. A person may only take or possess up to 2 individuals of the following snake species: Eastern foxsnakes of the species Pantherophis vulpinus and milksnakes of the species Lampropeltis triangulum.

4. A person may possess more than the legal possession limit of lizards or snakes that result from live birth or eggs delivered while in captivity. All offspring that bring the possessed total for that species to more than the legal possession limit established in subds. 1.2. and 3., shall be given away within 3 months of their birth or hatching. These offspring may not be sold, bartered or traded. The release of offspring to the wild is not allowed unless a written request to release is submitted to the department and a license or other authorization is issued by the department as provided under ss. 169.06 and 169.23, Stats.

5. A person may take or possess up to one native amphibian egg mass or the larvae from that egg mass. These may not be sold and shall be returned to the same body of water that they were taken from immediately after transforming to the adult form, except that up to 5 transformed amphibians may be possessed.

6. A person may take and possess more than 5 native northern leopard frogs of the species Lithobates pipiens, 5 mudpuppies of the species Necturus maculosus, and 5 eastern tiger salamanders of the species Ambystoma tigrinum, or native amphibians and reptiles subject to s. NR 16.13 (2) (a) if authorized by the department by a class A captive wild animal farm license issued under s. 169.15, Stats.

7. A non-resident may not take or possess any native amphibian, lizards, snakes or their eggs except as authorized by s. 169.04 (3) or 169.12 (3), Stats.

8. Publicly owned museums and American Zoo and Aquarium Association accredited institutions are exempt from possession and size limits.

9. Accredited colleges, universities and other educational or research institutions are exempt from the possession and size limits of this section for the purpose of research and education.

10. A person may take and possess more than 5 individual specimens of any native amphibian not listed as threatened or endangered, which are purchased or collected as part of a shipment of live bait by a licensed bait dealer or registered fish farmer.

11. A person may possess an unlimited number and size of atypically colored or patterned native amphibians and reptiles, e.g. albinos, striped snakes that are typically blotched.

12. No person may take or possess Blanding’s turtles of the species Emydoidea blandingii within the borders of the state. Persons may possess up to 2 of this species if legally obtained from out-of-state.

(4) Exhibiting. The exhibiting of live native reptiles and amphibians possessed under the authority of sub. (3) (b) and s. NR 19.275 (2), does not require a license under s. 169.07, Stats., when those captive wild animals are exhibited exclusively for noncommercial, educational purposes.

History: CR 03-030: cr. Register October 2003 No. 574, eff. 11-1-03; CR 05-031: am. (3) (b) 8. 9. and 11. Register November 2005 No. 599, eff. 12-1-05; CR 14-025: am. (3) (b) 2., 3., 6., cr. (3) (b) 12. Register May 2015 No. 713, eff. 6-1-15.

NR 16.13Sale and purchase of reptiles and amphibians.

(1)  Applicability. This section applies to the sale and purchase of native wild reptiles and native wild amphibians in Wisconsin.

(2) Sale. The sale of native amphibians and reptiles is prohibited except as provided in s. 169.12, Stats., or any of the following:

(a) Out-of-state collection. Native amphibians and reptiles legally collected out-of-state or purchased from out-of-state may be sold out-of-state or to an educational or research institutions in-state if the seller possesses a class A captive wild animal farm license issued under s. 169.15, Stats., to possess and sell those species.

(b) Turtles. Dead turtles and their parts harvested, killed and possessed in accordance with ss. NR 19.27521.13 and 22.13 may be sold during the open season.

Note: A class A captive wild animal farm license is not required to sell legally harvested dead turtles or their parts during the open season.

(3) Purchase. The purchase of native amphibians and reptiles is prohibited except as provided in pars. (a) to (c), and under s. 169.12, Stats.

(a) Northern leopard frogs, mudpuppies and eastern tiger salamanders. Native leopard frogs of the species Lithobates pipiens, mudpuppies of the species Necturus maculosus or eastern tiger salamanders of the species Ambystoma tigrinum collected within Wisconsin may be purchased from a seller that has been specifically authorized by a class A captive wild animal farm license issued under s. 169.15, Stats., or a bait dealers license issued under s. 29.509, Stats., to possess and sell these species.

Note: Native reptiles and amphibians obtained by purchase count toward possession limits established in s. NR 16.12.

(b) Out-of-state collection. Educational or research institutions may purchase native amphibians and reptiles legally collected out-of-state from an out-of-state seller or by the holder of a class A captive wild animal farm license issued under s. 169.15, Stats., who is authorized to possess or sell those species in-state.

(c) Turtles. Dead turtles and their parts harvested, killed and possessed in accordance with ss. NR 19.27521.13 and 22.13 may be purchased during the open season.

History: CR 03-030: cr. Register October 2003 No. 574, eff. 11-1-03; CR 05-031: am. (1) Register November 2005 No. 599, eff. 12-1-05; CR 14-025: am. (3) (a) Register May 2015 No. 713, eff. 6-1-15.