Ferrets are illegal as pets in California but are legal to import, transport or possess if a permit has been granted, according to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. Medical research is one scenario in which ferrets may legally be in California.
California banned ferrets as pets in 1933, according to the Department of Fish and Wildlife. It lists ferrets as prone to getting loose, possibly breeding in the wild and becoming a threat to poultry and other animals as one reason for the ban. The government says that ferrets in Ohio quickly became a scourge for poultry farmers and cites problematic issues of ferrets and poultry in New Zealand and elsewhere.
A 2013 article in Business Insider states that a pet owner caught with a ferret in California may be fined $500 or sentenced to six months in jail. An estimated 50,000 to 500,000 pet ferrets live illegally in California, and because California lacks enough officials to find violators, the ban is not comprehensively enforced. California pet stores even stock supplies and food for ferrets. A commission vote or legislation can overturn the ban on ferrets as pets. In 1994, legislation got as far as the desk of then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, but he vetoed it.