Ferrets pose no threat to agriculture or wildlife. All fifty states report that there are no feral populations of ferrets, and no adverse effects on wildlife or agriculture. Recent successful legislative efforts to end the ban on ferrets in both Michigan and Massachusetts had the full support of their respective wildlife agencies.
Concerns by veterinarians that prohibition of the domesticated pet ferret is not in the animals' best interests, that unvaccinated animals are not in the public's best interests, and that treatment and vaccination of these animals may lead to a compromise of their licenses, have led the California Veterinary Medical Association to strongly support legalization.
Historically the California Department of Health Services has claimed the domesticated ferret is a threat to children. In fact, studies on comparative animal bites from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association and the Center for Disease Control show that the domesticated dog is over 200 times more likely to bite and severely injure a child, or adult, than is a pet ferret on an animal per capita basis. The Center for Disease Control describes ferrets as docile and cat-like.
The domesticated ferret has not had a measurable impact on municipal animal control facilities or humane society shelters. Facilities contacted throughout the United States reported an insignificant impact on their resources. If the ability to establish feral populations, overwhelm humane agencies, or inflict bodily harm, were a litmus test for domestic pet ownership, both dogs and cats would be banned ahead of the ferret.
The inclusion of a single domesticated species in a list of prohibited wildlife clearly violates Article 1 of our State Constitution which protects Californians' right to private property. Civil Code sections 654 and 655 define private property to include all domesticated animals. Historical legislative intent surveys reveal, not surprisingly, that the Department of Fish and Game's mandate never contemplated control, let alone prohibition, of domesticated species.
The domesticated ferret is a legal pet in 48 states, in Canada, Mexico, Europe, Japan, New Zealand and Australia. The U.S. Department of Agriculture, Smithsonian Institute, Museum of Natural History, as well as over 155 zoos and zoological societies all classify the ferret as domesticated. As such it cannot belong in a list of prohibited wildlife. Banning the domesticated ferret in California is an example of blatant overreaching by a state agency.
Can 48 states be wrong on this issue? Are the states recently giving ferrets and their owners the legal status they deserve knowingly headed for disaster? California should decriminalize hundreds of thousands of people for owning a pet that is considered the same as a cat or dog everywhere else. California must put an end to this senseless waste of taxpayer dollars. It is time our State honors Article 1 of its own Constitution and ends this shameful waste of governmental good will.