(a) Except as provided in subsection (c) of this section, no person shall import or introduce into the state, or possess or liberate therein, any live fish, wild bird, wild mammal, reptile, amphibian or invertebrate unless such person has obtained a permit therefor from the commissioner. Such permit may be issued at the discretion of the commissioner under such regulations as the commissioner may prescribe. The commissioner shall by regulation prescribe the numbers of live fish, wild birds, wild mammals, reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates of certain species which may be imported, possessed, introduced into the state or liberated therein. The commissioner may by regulation exempt certain species or groups of live fish from the permit requirements. The commissioner shall by regulation determine which species of wild birds, wild mammals, reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates must meet permit requirements. The commissioner may totally prohibit the importation, possession, introduction into the state or liberation therein of certain species which the commissioner has determined may be a potential threat to humans, agricultural crops or established species of plants, fish, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates. The commissioner shall by regulation exempt from permit requirements organizations or institutions such as municipal parks, zoos, laboratories and research facilities maintained by scientific or educational institutions, museums, public nonprofit aquaria or nature centers where live fish, wild birds, wild mammals, reptiles, amphibians or invertebrates are held in strict confinement. For the purpose of this subsection and any regulation adopted pursuant to this subsection, ferrets (Mustela putorius), hedgehogs of the family Erinaceidae, genera Atelerix, sugar gliders (Petaurus breviceps) and degu (Octodon degus) shall not be deemed to be wild mammals.
(b) Any such fish, bird, mammal, reptile, amphibian or invertebrate illegally imported into the state or illegally possessed therein may be seized by any representative of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and may be relocated or disposed of as determined by the commissioner. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection shall issue a bill to the owner or person in illegal possession of such animal for all costs of seizure, care, maintenance, relocation or disposal for such animal.
(c) Except as provided in subsection (e) of this section, any person who violates any provision of this section or any regulation adopted by the commissioner pursuant to this section shall be assessed a civil penalty not to exceed one thousand dollars, to be fixed by the court, for each offense. Each violation shall be a separate and distinct offense. In the case of a continuing violation, each day's continuance thereof shall be deemed to be a separate and distinct offense. The Commissioner of Energy and Environmental Protection may request the Attorney General to institute an action in Superior Court to recover such civil penalty and any amounts owed pursuant to a bill issued in accordance with subsection (b) of this section and for an order providing such equitable and injunctive relief as the court deems appropriate.
(d) Any person who wilfully violates any provision of this section or any regulation adopted by the commissioner pursuant to this section shall be guilty of a class C misdemeanor.
(e) Any person who imports, introduces into this state, possesses or liberates live fish or aquatic nuisance invertebrates, in violation of the provisions of this section or any regulation adopted pursuant to this section, shall have committed an infraction and be fined not more than eighty-five dollars. The importation, possession or liberation of each live fish or aquatic nuisance invertebrate shall be a separate and distinct offense. In the event of a continuing violation, each day of continuance shall be a separate and distinct offense.