home >> WHY ARE THEY ILLEGAL? >> current law
current law ...

The Queensland Department of 'Natural Resources, Mines & Energy' (NRME)

Under the QLD Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 it is illegal for ferrets to be kept in Queensland as pets.

Prior to 1985 ferrets were not prohibited in Qld.
In 1985 ferrets became a declared animal under the Rural Lands Protection Act.
1st July 2003 the Rural Lands Protection Act was replaced with the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 and Regulations 2003 and lists ferrets as a prohibited/declared Class 1 pest.

Class 1 Pest under the Act are animals which represent a threat to primary industries, natural resources and the environment. Under the Act it is an offence to introduce a ferret into Qld, feed a ferret, release a ferret or keep a ferret, unless issued with a permit to do so, permits are only issued to bona fide zoos & wildlife parks.
(Qld Government NRM facts pest series Declared animals of Queensland. 2003)

* See comments the QFWS received from the Farmers Federations of other Australian States regarding the threat to primary industries! on our 'wild ferrets?' webpage

Under the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 and Regulations 2003 the fine for keeping a ferret - a maximum of $60,000.00 - 800 penalty units.

NRME correspondence

Mr John English MP, Member for Redlands wrote to Stephen Robertson MP, Minister for Natural Resources, Mines and Energy on behalf of the President of the Queensland Ferret Welfare Society, Barbara Cowell. The following reply was forward to Barbara from John English.

“Thank you for your letter of 30 April 2004 making representation on behalf of Mrs Barbara Cowell of Macleay Island concerning the keeping of ferrets as pets in Queensland.

Only zoos or wildlife parks are able to apply for a permit to keep ferrets in Queensland.
There are no provisions in legislation for the keeping of ferrets as pets due to their pest potential.

Ferrets are not native to Australia and have the potential to establish wild (feral) populations, as they have already done in New Zealand and the British Isles. In New Zealand, ferrets and stoats have become serious predators of native bird-life and their eggs, particularly ground-nesting birds. Ferrets are also known to be vectors for dangerous exotic diseases such as rabies.

Although other states have failed to restrict the keeping of ferrets, they are taking a major risk by allowing these animals to be kept as pets. This concern is highlighted by a recent report of wild ferrets being seen in Tasmania. Also, ferrets established in Western Australia were controlled by trapping.

Several states have banned the keeping of wild ferret breeds, known as polecats even though there is no reliable way of differentiating between wild and domestic breads. Queensland, therefore, considers that it is sensible and important to prevent the keeping of this potential pest.

I have noted the suggestion for regulation or licensing of keeping. Restricted keeping using permits was investigated for pet domestic rabbits and found to be prohibitively expensive.

Section 274(3) of the Land Protection (Pest and Stock Route Management) Act 2002 provides the power for an authorised person to destroy or dispose of a seized pest if a permit for keeping is not produced within 48 hours. An authorised officer cannot dispose of a seized ferret by handing it to someone to transport to New South Wales because a permit can not be issued to the person transporting the animal. The authorised officer would need to drive to the border with the animal and it is not appropriate for an officer of my Department to spend time doing this.”

Stephen Robertson MP
2 June 2004