Looking at wildlife mount and retain permits

Leko’s Conservation Corner

I have wanted to tackle the topic of wildlife mount and retain permits for quite some time. Mount and retain permits are issued for wildlife species that someone may wish to keep and have mounted. The mount can be prepared by themselves or a taxidermist. Provincial wildlife species, legally taken under a licence, can be retained and mounted without the requirement of separate permit. Examples of wildlife species that may be retained and mounted without a special permit include: upland game birds, waterfowl, fur bearers and big game species such as deer, moose, elk and bear.

An animal or bird that was found dead or accidentally killed does require a separate permit to allow possession.

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Ministry of Environment offices are often visited by people who, while walking their dog, came across a dead deer with a nice set of antlers, or who found a road killed moose, or picked up an owl lying on the side of the highway. In situations like these, the individual must contact the nearest Ministry of Environment office within seven days. The individual must provide information regarding the species of wildlife, where it was found and how it died.

If the person wishes to retain the animal, an inspection by a conservation officer may be required. If the individual is allowed to keep the wildlife, a permit to possess the wildlife will be issued. In cases where the intention is to have the animal mounted by a taxidermist, a mount and retain permit is required which carries a small fee.

There are wildlife species for which permits will not be issued. They include endangered species such as; the whooping crane, peregrine falcon and black-tailed prairie dog to name a few.

Permit requests for migratory birds found dead and not taken under a hunting licence must be directed to the Canadian Wildlife Service in Saskatoon. It should be noted that rarely are mount and retain permits issued for migratory birds that were not taken under a licence. One exception may be for instances where the wildlife mount will be on public display.

So, what is the process, and why is a permit required?

Our goal is to provide legitimate uses for dead wildlife found by the public, while at the same time protecting wildlife from unlawful harvest, possession and trafficking. There are people out there who may illegally shoot a trophy deer or kill an owl and then claim they found the animal and attempt to obtain a permit.

The bottom line is that if you are in possession of any protected species of wildlife in Saskatchewan you must either have a licence for that species, or a permit to possess it. This permit requirement does not extend to unprotected species such as raccoon, ground squirrels or snowshoe hares. Section four of the Saskatchewan Wildlife Regulations lists the unprotected species.

Legitimate use of the animal may come in many forms ranging from mounting the animal for personal or educational use, retaining the carcass for dog food or trapping bait, or in some cases salvaging the meat for human consumption.


The best way to explain the process would be to use this common scenario. You are driving down the highway and find a dead mule deer that was obviously hit by a vehicle. The animal has a nice set of antlers. You wish to retain the antlers for your own use.

·        The first step is to take photos of the scene. Many of us have cell phones, so I suggest taking photos of the animal showing the antlers and proof that it was killed by a passing vehicle. Make sure that you record the date, time, location and the names of anyone with you when you found it.

·        You can then remove the antlers or the head, at which point you have seven days to report that to your local conservation officer.

·        As I mentioned earlier, our main concern is that we are confident that the animal died of accidental means and was not taken in contravention of the regulations. In cases where the cause of death is unknown or suspicious, the permit application may be denied.

·        The next steps include presenting the antlers to a conservation officer for inspection and the compilation of a Statutory Declaration in which you will record the pertinent information.  If all is in order upon the payment of a nominal fee ($10, plus GST), you will be issued a permit authorizing the possession of the antlers for personal use only. This permit should be retained permanently. The permit number will be required by a taxidermist if you wish to have the antlers mounted.

·        Sale of the antlers will not be allowed. The permit allows you to keep the said wildlife species for your own use only. Not to be sold, traded or bartered in anyway.

If a person finds a dead hawk or owl and wishes to have the bird mounted, a similar process is required with a few additional requirements. If the cause of death is undetermined after the inspection, the conservation officer may require an x-ray to confirm the bird had not been shot. This cost is paid by the person interested in the bird and is not refundable. The bird is automatically forfeited to the Crown, if evidence is found that bird had been shot.

Requesting permission to retain found dead wildlife is a common occurrence and the ministry is supportive of this legitimate use of wildlife.

Q: Can a mount and retain permit be issued for a bald or golden eagle?

Yes. This is a recent change in the past year. As long as all the conditions have been met, a permit to retain an eagle may be issued.

Q: Can I get a mount and retain permit for a cougar?

Yes, a permit to mount and retain may be issued, but only for accidently trapped cougars or in cases where the animal was killed by landowners protecting their livestock or property. Applications for mount and retain permits for cougars found or taken under other circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Q: If I find a road killed deer, can I take it home and feed it to my dogs?

Yes, provided you call your local conservation officer, who will then issue you a permit to retain the deer carcass for dog food. Please note you may be required to produce the animal for inspection and any antlers may have to be forfeited.

There is no cost for this permit.

Q: Can I take a road killed moose or elk home for human consumption?

The salvaging of meat from road killed animals for personal consumption is allowed under the regulations.  The seven-day reporting period and the permit requirement does apply in this situation.  Persons are advised to ensure the quality of the meat has not been negatively affected due to the vehicle impact or improper cooling of the carcass.

For any additional questions, you can contact the ministry’s Toll-Free Inquiry Line at 1-800-567-4224.

If you suspect wildlife, fisheries, forestry or environmental violations, please call your local Ministry of Environment office, Saskatchewan’s toll-free Turn In Poachers line at 1-800-667-7561.

Until next time, stay safe!

(EDITOR’S NOTE: Ministry of Environment conservation officer Lindsey Leko has spent more than 25 years as a conservation officer in Saskatchewan. For many years, Officer Leko contributed a column to local papers on a variety of issues related to hunting, fishing, and other resource-related issues. If you have questions, please contact lindsey.leko@gov.sk.ca.)