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taxidermyI was sitting in The Buckhorn Exchange in Denver, Colorado in December, 2012, following an auction there — and looking around at the 100’s of taxidermy examples on the walls.

Could the owner of this famed restaurant and taxidermy hire an auctioneer to sell all these trophies? Could they be sold at all?

Those are our questions today.

The answers to both appear clearly to be held in both federal law as well as state law.

That said, even if the federal laws permitted such sale, the state where the trophies are located may have further restrictions.

Federally, there are several laws which deal with the legal sale (and purchase) of taxidermy:

Once the federal laws are checked and verified, then this is the basic outline provided by the federal government to determine the next steps:

    1. If the taxidermy involves lawfully taken and acquired mammals and non-migratory birds:
      • You do not need a federal permit.
      • States may require a permit; consult applicable state fish and wildlife agencies.
    1. If the taxidermy involves lawfully taken and acquired migratory birds mounted for personal use:
      • You do not need a federal permit.
      • States may require a permit; consult applicable state fish and wildlife agencies.
      • All requirements also apply to migratory bird parts, eggs, or nests.
    1. If the taxidermy involves lawfully taken and acquired migratory birds mounted for others:
      • You always need a federal permit.
      • States may also require a permit; consult the applicable state fish and wildlife agency to secure any needed permit before attempting to acquire a federal permit.
      • All requirements also apply to migratory bird parts, eggs, or nests.

A list of all 50 states in the United States, with links to their various fish and wildlife, natural resources, environmental, game (and the like) offices is here:

Fines and penalties for illegally selling (or purchasing) prohibited taxidermy items can total as much as $500,000.00 and six months in prison.

Before an auctioneer takes on selling (or assisting a seller with) any such items — incurring potential liability — research is paramount and prudent.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Keller Williams Auctions and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. His Facebook page is: www.facebook.com/mbauctioneer. He serves as Adjunct Faculty at Columbus State Community College and is Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School.