Can You Own A Bear?

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Ian Johnson, Staff Writer

In a world without the Soviet Union, memes are lighthearted images without literal meaning. However, if you’re the president of Russia, then you might take it to heart. An image of Vladimir Putin,  the current president of Russia, riding a bear has been circulating the internet. The image was found to be edited, but it raises the question: can you own a bear?  If you take residency in the U.S. then you could be in luck!

The picture of Putin may have been fake but the yearning for a pet bear wasn’t. Who could say no to a giant, fluffy, brown, black, or white animal with a cute face? Black bears are most commonly seen in largely forested areas and mountainous terrain. This includes but is not limited to states such as Montana and California. Bearizona Boulevard in Williams, Arizona is famous for its bear sightings just 58 miles south of the Grand Canyon. 

Not many U.S. states actually allow citizens to own bears. Six states have a get out of jail free card. Carla Sinclair with Boingboing.net says, “The six U.S. states that have no restrictions on keeping large cats, primates, and bears include Nevada, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama, North Carolina, and South Carolina.” If you live in any of these states, congratulations! You get to live the ultimate dream. This makes a lot of sense considering Wisconsin has a thriving bear population, and Nevada is very close to California and Arizona. Along with these six states that allow you to own a bear, “even more states allow all three of these exotic animals to be kept as pets once a permit is obtained,” says Carla Sinclair, American writer and co-founder of Boingboing.net.  

The United States alone has a population of over 300,000 black bears and 30,000 brown bears. The abundance of bears explains why U.S. states allow for the possession of such animals. In the states that allow exotic animals, “many owners keep bears at home and treat them like gigantic dogs” says Geozoo.org. Although you could possibly own a bear, the process can be lengthy. Geo Zoo explains, “there’s a series of legal paperwork and equipment you’ll need to keep your bear, your neighbors, and yourself safe. As always, check with your local government.”

Many states adore bears enough to make them the face of their state flag or mascot for the state University. Next time you think of getting a new furry friend, ask yourself: Does my state bear the right to own a bear?