New Mexico prohibits private possession of some big cats. It is unlawful for any person to possess an animal classified as a restricted species under New Mexico law and the Department of Game and Fish classifies leopards, clouded leopards, snow leopards, jaguars, Florida panthers, tigers, and ocelots as restricted species.
Additionally, the importation of big cats into the state is regulated. New Mexico classifies non-domestic wildlife in four groups and species listed in Group IV may not be imported for the general public. Group IV species include the cheetah, caracal, Florida panther, ocelot, lynx, jaguarondi, Geoffroy’s cat, tiger, margay, serval, lynx, bobcat, leopard, lion, jaguar, tiger, and snow leopard. However, an exception to this importation restriction may be granted for scientific studies with approved restoration and recovery plans, zoological displays, temporary entertainment, or for importation by qualified experts.