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Scientific Collecting

Back to Permits Page

Scientific collecting, federal permits (see also state permits for the states where you plan to work)

Overview
Scientific collecting permits are required for all birds, parts of birds, eggs, and nests for scientific research. This includes blood samples, feathers, stomach and crop contents, tissue samples, cloacal and tracheal swabs. However, blood and feathers can be collecting under a bird banding permit if the samples are to be taken in conjunction with banding. Specify, when applying for the banding permit, that you would also like to take blood and/or feather samples. If you are not planning to mark the bird, you must obtain a scientific collecting permit.

Application form
For species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act
http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/RegulationsPolicies/mbta/mbtintro.html

http://forms.fws.gov/3-200-7.pdf

Note: when applying for your scientific collecting permit, request authority to import and export samples, as it is quite common to move samples internationally for analysis and research. Requesting this authority when applying for the original permit obviates the need for later amendments, saving time and money! The Migratory Bird Treaty Act application form expressly provides for a request to import and export.

For species protected under the Endangered Species Act
http://www.fws.gov/endangered/wildlife.html

http://forms.fws.gov/3-200-55.pdf

Note: to import or export research samples under the Endangered Species Act, a separate permit is needed. See the Ornithological Council’s Import Guide: http://www.nmnh.si.edu/BIRDNET/documents/importguidespecimens.pdf

Limits on take

The USFWS regulations, below, set no specific limits on take. For many years, permit biologists limited take to three individuals per species per year. After extensive discussions with the Ornithological Council, USFWS staff in 1997 drafted a policy on scientific collecting that raised the limit to 10 individuals per species per year for species on the USFWS list of Birds of Conservation Concern <http://www.fws.gov/migratorybirds/NewReportsPublications/SpecialTopics/BCC2008/BCC2008.pdf> unless specific justification is given for a higher number. Otherwise, the limit would be fifty individuals per year per species, unless specific justification is given for a higher number. As of 2010, this draft policy had not yet been finalized. Some USFWS regions have nonetheless been following the policy while others have not. The Ornithological Council has asked the USFWS to finalize the policy. Meanwhile, ornithologists who face permit challenges should contact the Ornithological Council for assistance.

Regulations

CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS
TITLE 50--WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES   
CHAPTER I--UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
PART 21 MIGRATORY BIRD PERMITS

Subpart C_Specific Permit Provisions  

Sec. 21.23  Scientific collecting permits.     

(a) Permit requirement. A scientific collecting permit is required  before any person may take, transport, or possess migratory birds, their  parts, nests, or eggs for scientific research or educational purposes.    

(b) Application procedures. Submit applications for scientific  permits to the appropriate Regional Director (Attention: Migratory bird  permit office). You can find addresses for the Regional Directors in 50  CFR 2.2.

Each application must contain the general information and  certification required in Sec. 13.12(a) of this subchapter, and the  following additional information:    
(1) Species and numbers of migratory birds or their parts, nests, or  eggs to be taken or acquired when it is possible to determine same in  advance;    
(2) Location or locations where such scientific collecting is  proposed;    
(3) Statement of the purpose and justification for granting such a  permit, including an outline of any research project involved;    
(4) Name and address of the public, scientific, or educational  institution to which all specimens ultimately will be donated; and    
(5) If a State permit is required by State law, a statement as to  whether or not the applicant possesses such State permit, giving its  number and expiration date.    

(c) Additional permit conditions. In addition to the general  conditions set forth in part 13 of this subchapter B, scientific  collecting permits shall be subject to the following conditions:    
(1) All specimens taken and possessed under authority of a  scientific collecting permit must be donated and transferred to the  public scientific, or educational institution designated in the permit  application within 60 days following the date such permit expires or is  revoked, unless the permittee has been issued a special purpose permit  (See Sec. 21.27) authorizing possession for a longer period of time.   
(2) Unless otherwise provided on the permit, all migratory game  birds taken pursuant to a scientific collecting permit during the open  hunting season for such birds must be in conformance with part 20 of  this subchapter;   
 (3) Unless specifically stated on the permit, a scientific  collecting permit does not authorize the taking of live migratory birds  from the wild.
(4) In addition to any reporting requirement set forth in the  permit, a report of the scientific collecting activities conducted under  authority of such permit shall be submitted to the issuing officer on or  before January 10 of each calendar year following the year of issue  unless a different date is stated in the permit.    

(d) Term of permit. A scientific collecting permit issued or renewed  under this part expires on the date designated on the face of the permit  unless amended or revoked, but the term of the permit shall not exceed  three (3) years from the date of issuance or renewal. 

TITLE 50 WILDLIFE AND FISHERIES   
CHAPTER I--UNITED STATES FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE
PART 17 ENDANGERED AND THREATENED WILDLIFE AND PLANTS

Subpart C_Endangered Wildlife  

Sec. 17.22  Permits for scientific purposes, enhancement of propagation or survival, or for incidental taking.     

Upon receipt of a complete application, the Director may issue a  permit authorizing any activity otherwise prohibited by Sec. 17.21, in  accordance with the issuance criteria of this section, for scientific  purposes, for enhancing the propagation or survival, or for the  incidental taking of endangered wildlife. Such permits may authorize a  single transaction, a series of transactions, or a number of activities  over a specific period of time. (See Sec. 17.32 for permits for  threatened species.) The Director shall publish notice in the Federal  Register of each application for a permit that is made under this  section. Each notice shall invite the submission from interested  parties, within 30 days after the date of the notice, of written data,  views, or arguments with respect to the application. The 30-day period  may be waived by the Director in an emergency situation where the life  or health of an endangered animal is  threatened and no reasonable alternative is available to the applicant.  Notice of any such waiver shall be published in the Federal Register  within 10 days following issuance of the permit.    

(a)(1) Application requirements for permits for scientific purposes  or for the enhancement of propagation or survival. A person wishing to  get a permit for an activity prohibited by Sec. 17.21 submits an  application for activities under this paragraph.

The Service provides  Form 3-200 for the application to which all of the following must be  attained:    
(i) The common and scientific names of the species sought to the  covered by the permit, as well as the number, age, and sex of such  species, and the activity sought to be authorized (such as taking,  exporting, selling in interstate commerce);    

(ii) A statement as to whether, at the time of application, the  wildlife sought to be covered by the permit (A) is still in the wild,  (B) has already been removed from the wild, or (C) was born in  captivity;  
 
(iii) A resume of the applicant's attempts to obtain the wildlife  sought to be covered by the permit in a manner which would not cause the  death or removal from the wild of such wildlife;    

(iv) If the wildlife sought to be covered by the permit has already  been removed from the wild, the country and place where such removal  occurred; if the wildlife sought to be covered by the permit was born in  captivity, the country and place where such wildlife was born;    

(v) A complete description and address of the institution or other  facility where the wildlife sought to be covered by the permit will be  used, displayed, or maintained;    

(vi) If the applicant seeks to have live wildlife covered by the  permit, a complete description, including photographs or diagrams, of  the facilities to house and/or care for the wildlife and a resume of the  experience of those person who will be caring for the wildlife;    

(vii) A full statement of the reasons why the applicant is justified  in obtaining a permit including the details of the activities sought to  be authorized by the permit;    

(viii) If the application is for the purpose of enhancement of  propagation, a statement of the applicant's willingness to participate  in a cooperative breeding program and to maintain or contribute data to  a studbook;   

(a) (2) Issuance criteria. Upon receiving an application completed in  accordance with paragraph (a)(1) of this section, the Director will  decide whether or not a permit should be issued. In making this  decision, the Director shall consider, in addition to the general  criteria in Sec. 13.21(b) of this subchapter, the following factors:    
(i) Whether the purpose for which the permit is required is adequate  to justify removing from the wild or otherwise changing the status of  the wildlife sought to be covered by the permit;    
(ii) The probable direct and indirect effect which issuing the  permit would have on the wild populations of the wildlife sought to be  covered by the permit;    
(iii) Whether the permit, if issued, would in any way, directly or  indirectly, conflict with any known program intended to enhance the  survival probabilities of the population from which the wildlife sought  to be covered by the permit was or would be removed;    
(iv) Whether the purpose for which the permit is required would be  likely to reduce the threat of extinction facing the species of wildlife  sought to be covered by the permit;    
(v) The opinions or views of scientists or other persons or  organizations having expertise concerning the wildlife or other matters  germane to the application; and    
(vi) Whether the expertise, facilities, or other resources available  to the applicant appear adequate to successfully accomplish the  objectives stated in the application.    

(a)(3) Permit conditions. In addition to the general conditions set  forth in part 13 of this subchapter, every permit issued under this  paragraph shall be subject to the special condition that the escape of  living wildlife covered by the permit shall be immediately reported to  the Service office designated in the permit.    

(a)(4) Duration of permits. The duration of permits issued under this  paragraph shall be designated on the face of the permit.    

(b)(1) Application requirements for permits for incidental taking. A  person wishing to get a permit for an activity prohibited by Sec.  17.21(c) submits an application for activities under this paragraph. The  Service provides Form 3-200 for the application to which all of the  following must be attached:   

(i) A complete description of the activity sought to be authorized;    

(ii) The common and scientific names of the species sought to be  covered by the permit, as well as the number, age, and sex of such  species, if known;   

(iii) A conservation plan that specifies:   
 (A) The impact that will likely result from such taking;   
 (B) What steps the applicant will take to monitor, minimize, and  mitigate such impacts, the funding that will be available to implement  such steps, and the procedures to be used to deal with unforeseen  circumstances;    
(C) What alternative actions to such taking the applicant considered  and the reasons why such alternatives are not proposed to be utilized;  and    
(D) Such other measures that the Director may require as being  necessary or appropriate for purposes of the plan;    

(b)(2) Issuance criteria.
(i) Upon receiving an application completed  in accordance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the Director will  decide whether or not a permit should be issued. The Director shall  consider the general issuance criteria in Sec. 13.21(b) of this  subchapter, except for Sec. 13.21(b)(4), and shall issue the permit if  he or she finds that:    
(A) The taking will be incidental;    
(B) The applicant will, to the maximum extent practicable, minimize  and mitigate the impacts of such takings;    
(C) The applicant will ensure that adequate funding for the  conservation plan and procedures to deal with unforeseen circumstances  will be provided;    
(D) The taking will not appreciably reduce the likelihood of the  survival and recovery of the species in the wild;    
(E) The measures, if any, required under paragraph (b)(1)(iii)(D) of  this section will be met; and    
(F) He or she has received such other assurances as he or she may  require that the plan will be implemented.   

(ii) In making his or her decision, the Director shall also consider  the anticipated duration and geographic scope of the applicant's planned  activities, including the amount of listed species habitat that is  involved and the degree to which listed species and their habitats are  affected.   

(b)(3) Permit conditions. In addition to the general conditions set  forth in part 13 of this subchapter, every permit issued under this  paragraph shall contain such terms and conditions as the Director deems  necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of the permit and the  conservation plan including, but not limited to, monitoring and  reporting requirements deemed necessary for determining whether such  terms and conditions are being complied with. The Director shall rely  upon existing reporting requirements to the maximum extent practicable.    

(b)(4) Duration of permits. The duration of permits issued under this  paragraph shall be sufficient to provide adequate assurances to the  permittee to commit funding necessary for the activities authorized by  the permit, including conservation activities and land use restrictions.  In determining the duration of a permit, the Director shall consider the  duration of the planned activities, as well as the possible positive and  negative effects associated with permits of the proposed duration on  listed species, including the extent to which the conservation plan will  enhance the habitat of listed species and increase the long-term  survivability of such species.    

(b)(5) Assurances provided to permittee in case of changed or  unforeseen circumstances. The assurances in this paragraph (b)(5) apply  only to incidental take permits issued in accordance with paragraph  (b)(2) of this section where the conservation plan is being properly  implemented, and apply only with respect to species adequately covered  by the conservation plan. These assurances cannot be provided to Federal  agencies. This rule does not apply to incidental take permits issued  prior to March 25, 1998. The assurances provided in incidental take  permits issued prior to March 25, 1998 remain in effect, and those permits will not be revised as a result of this  rulemaking.   

(i) Changed circumstances provided for in the plan. If additional  conservation and mitigation measures are deemed necessary to respond to  changed circumstances and were provided for in the plan's operating  conservation program, the permittee will implement the measures  specified in the plan.    

(ii) Changed circumstances not provided for in the plan. If  additional conservation and mitigation measures are deemed necessary to  respond to changed circumstances and such measures were not provided for  in the plan's operating conservation program, the Director will not  require any conservation and mitigation measures in addition to those  provided for in the plan without the consent of the permittee, provided  the plan is being properly implemented.    

(iii) Unforeseen circumstances.
(A) In negotiating unforeseen  circumstances, the Director will not require the commitment of  additional land, water, or financial compensation or additional  restrictions on the use of land, water, or other natural resources  beyond the level otherwise agreed upon for the species covered by the  conservation plan without the consent of the permittee.    
(B) If additional conservation and mitigation measures are deemed  necessary to respond to unforeseen circumstances, the Director may  require additional measures of the permittee where the conservation plan  is being properly implemented, but only if such measures are limited to  modifications within conserved habitat areas, if any, or to the  conservation plan's operating conservation program for the affected  species, and maintain the original terms of the conservation plan to the  maximum extent possible. Additional conservation and mitigation measures  will not involve the commitment of additional land, water or financial  compensation or additional restrictions on the use of land, water, or  other natural resources otherwise available for development or use under  the original terms of the conservation plan without the consent of the  permittee.    
(C) The Director will have the burden of demonstrating that  unforeseen circumstances exist, using the best scientific and commercial  data available. These findings must be clearly documented and based upon  reliable technical information regarding the status and habitat  requirements of the affected species. The Director will consider, but  not be limited to, the following factors:    
(1) Size of the current range of the affected species;    
(2) Percentage of range adversely affected by the conservation plan;    
(3) Percentage of range conserved by the conservation plan;     (4) Ecological significance of that portion of the range affected by  the conservation plan;    
(5) Level of knowledge about the affected species and the degree of  specificity of the species' conservation program under the conservation  plan; and    
(6) Whether failure to adopt additional conservation measures would  appreciably reduce the likelihood of survival and recovery of the  affected species in the wild.     (6) Nothing in this rule will be construed to limit or constrain the  Director, any Federal, State, local, or Tribal government agency, or a  private entity, from taking additional actions at its own expense to  protect or conserve a species included in a conservation plan.    
(7) Discontinuance of permit activity. Notwithstanding the  provisions of Sec. 13.26 of this subchapter, a permittee under this  paragraph (b) remains responsible for any outstanding minimization and  mitigation measures required under the terms of the permit for take that  occurs prior to surrender of the permit and such minimization and  mitigation measures as may be required pursuant to the termination  provisions of an implementing agreement, habitat conservation plan, or  permit even after surrendering the permit to the Service pursuant to  Sec. 13.26 of this subchapter. The permit shall be deemed canceled only  upon a determination by the Service that such minimization and  mitigation measures have been implemented. Upon surrender of the permit,  no further take shall be authorized under the terms of the surrendered  permit.
(8) Criteria for revocation. A permit issued under paragraph (b) of  this section may not be revoked for any reason except those set forth in  Sec. 13.28(a)(1) through (4) of this subchapter or unless continuation  of the permitted activity would be inconsistent with the criterion set  forth in 16 U.S.C. 1539(a)(2)(B)(iv) and the inconsistency has not been  remedied.